Over their 20 year career, Epik High has mastered quite a few aspects of their craft, but the skill that has become most prominent over the last few years is their ability to weave lyrics that are simple and heavily personal yet simultaneously forge a vicious connection with the audience. Their latest single, “Rain Song” featuring Colde is a stunning example of this.
It starts to rain, a sad song comes on, and suddenly you’re missing your ex and dealing with feelings you thought long since buried. It is one of the most used stories in songwriting, across language, genre, and time, and while it is very hard to mess up, there is also not a lot anyone can do with it anymore. But this is Epik High. “Rain Song” does not reinvent the wheel, it transforms the generic into the universal.
Truly, that sense of universality is the core of “Rain Song”. That feeling of having a nice day, only to glance out the window, see bad weather, and now you’re hip-deep in an old melancholy is one every person on the planet earth has had at some point. The production is equally universal– piano-driven, light touches of synth, the kind that just sounds dreary. Yet, it retains that specialness through lush layering and emphasis on the snare drum that mirrors thunder, resulting in a track that is instantly recognizable as rain.
The MV is heavily atmospheric and symbolic. The shots are of ubiquitous images of rainy days– puddles, cars, feet, umbrellas. By shooting at night, it gives everything a depressing pall, while simultaneously hiding the shooting locations. The result is an international montage of loneliness. Mute the audio, and “Rain Song” could be from anything in any country, but the meaning of “drizzle-induced regrets” remains clear. The shots of Colde and Epik High are much the same. Backlit, with video of rain falling on the wall behind them; it is sitting alone in the dark, in the rain and just wallowing in the expected emotions.
That is the entire point of “Rain Song”. Colde’s chorus embodies the dread and unpleasantness of seeing the rain fall and feeling yourself fall down a spiral of missing someone who you thought you were over. However, Tablo and Mithra Jin’s verses see them letting themselves have these emotions. They know the relationship is over and their ex will not take them back, and that does not change things. They have feelings and regrets that need to be dealt with.
In Epik High’s hands, rain becomes a nature-made excuse for catharsis. It is already a bleak, miserable day filled with old pain. What is there to lose by following down that path? By taking a day to drink, cry, reminisce, pick things apart, and just grieve what was lost, Epik High are letting go of that pain rather than burying it. Much like rain is needed for the earth to be healthy, these rainy days allow for Epik High to have better mental and emotional health.
Then the bridge hits and hits the audience over the head with their true meaning. A stunning female vocalist breaks in to lament that “all these rain songs keep on being made when it rains”. While is a clever poke at just how common these types of song are, this unnamed woman neatly nails how these songs are common because the feelings are universal. (The knowledge that this is an uncredited Younha makes this cut even deeper if you remember her track “On A Rainy Day”.) By bringing the subtext of “we’ve all been there” into the text of the song, it allows the audience to internalize the feelings described, differing coping mechanisms and specifics pushed aside for the acknowledgement that other people have felt that anguish and come out the other side.
In “Rain Song” Epik High neatly flip the idea of the rain song from “everyone has done this” to “everyone has felt this”. It invites the audience to ruminate on and form their own rain song, while offering comfort in the knowledge that the rain ends, and you can be better for it.
(Images via William Morris Endeavor, YouTube)