Life is fun. Or at least, it is when you’re drunk on happiness, love, and alcohol. That’s what a lot of modern media likes to preach at its consumers, and that’s basically the message that BIGBANG seems to convey in the next three songs we’ll be considering. From the chaotic colorfulness of “BANG BANG BANG” that hearkens back to the group’s rise during the “Fantastic Baby” days, to the sensual undertones of “BAE BAE”, to the summer joy of “WE LIKE 2 PARTY”, this section of the MADE album seems to be a striking contrast to the more introspective nature of the rest of the songs. What’s going on in these songs? Why does BIGBANG seem to undermine the rest of their artistic vision with the poppy, almost generic vibe that comes off of these songs? All this and more will be covered in today’s post, so let’s get started!
Seungri becomes an Earthbender in BANG BANG BANG.
As a Korean group, BIGBANG has seen their share of ups and downs in popularity. From being the cute sideshows of YG to becoming a worldwide powerhouse, it’s been a long journey for the boys of BIGBANG. Their rise to popularity has taken them 10 years as of 2016, and it’s been full of blood, sweat, and tears from each member. As diverse as they are, they’re as close as brothers; you can feel the affection and love they have for each other and the work they do in their performances and in the way they express their music. BIGBANG is a group that feels very grounded and real, and a lot of it is due to them writing their own music and allowing people to get a real glimpse of them as people through their group work, subverting the idea that all boy bands are made from a specific formula.
The group has made songs of all types and genres before, but in the context of the personal, raw songs that the MADE album is known for, how do these three fit in? This is where the artistic vision of G-Dragon and the other producers of the album shine: it takes a fourth song, SOBER, in order to fully understand what BIGBANG was trying to convey with their more party-centric songs.
Each of the three party songs has a central theme that it revolves around. BAE BAE’s sultry synths tempt the listener with the idea of placing all of one’s love in the fulfilment of another person, as it whispers:
Baby baby can you stay beautiful like you are right now?
So my heart can race even after time passes
Baby baby don’t wither, this is all for the selfish me
You have to stay just as you are right now
BANG BANG BANG celebrates self-assurance and confidence as it encourages its listeners to lose themselves in its pulsating rhythms with lines like:
I’ll take you away right now,
When the red sky dances
We’re spinning and spinning, you and I, this place
Is Valhalla – Give praise and spread it out louder
WE LIKE 2 PARTY takes the past two songs messages and blends them into a smooth and catchy summer beat, singing about enjoying life to its fullest as it croons:
Because we’re young, we’ll regret tomorrow
It’s a little dangerous
(AYE MAN YOU BETTER SLOW IT DOWN)
For today, that will never come again
Cheers to the sky
If S. Korea ever does a Batman show, TOP should be Joker
Where each of these songs focuses on the immediate benefits of what the pursuit of a certain lifestyle entails, SOBER takes a different tactic, deconstructing the messages of each song as it explores the aftermath of those lifestyles. How does one end up after living like the above songs celebrate? Well, SOBER deals with the love-centered ideals of BAE BAE as it reveals:
Without you, everything is hard
Without you, this dark night, this cold world
It’s too hard for me
Without you, I’m still left alone here
I’m waiting for you, only believing in you
But I’m a fool, no no no
BANG BANG BANG’s mask of self-confidence and happiness is peeled off in SOBER, with the lines:
Stop acting like you’re all that
You’re actually the most pathetic
Yeah, try to provoke me even more
So I can have some fun for a moment
And SOBER isn’t afraid to take on the carefree attidute of WE LIKE 2 PARTY as it warns:
If you only chase after money, power, and fame
Your crotch is gonna rip and you’re gonna fall
They say love is good, friendship is good
But be warned, the back of your head might be in pain
You find the most interesting things in car trunks.
Life is full of experiences to be had, and there is a lot that can be done and learned. It’s not wrong to want to live your life to its fullest, or to find satisfaction in love or success, but in and of themselves none of those can offer lasting fulfillment. Emotions can fade, self-confidence can erode, and happiness will eventually end. The message offered by G-Dragon and the members of BIGBANG is true, but it doesn’t offer any comfort. There isn’t any avenue for lasting fulfillment in this world; pain is the only eventual certainty. With this in mind, it’s not surprising why the self-defeating cycle of looking for happiness in materialism and people is still explored by so many people today. Daesung and T.O.P don’t pull any punches as they sing:
Time is so damn slow
I’m just growing old, I live like I’m dead
I have so many damn things to do
But I have nothing that I want to do
The world is cold to me
People’s eyes are prickling on me
I seem like an adult
But I’m really a child that’s really tall
My young dreams are just faded fantasies
My mood is like a vast wilderness
People don’t understand me
So I just wanna lose it without even knowing
Get drunk, get drunk, go to heaven
After I wake, I’m in hell, I don’t last long
I’m like Popeye without spinach
The laughter bomb tempts me
Even Solomon, the wisest king who ever lived, echoes their sentiments in the book of Ecclesiastes as he writes “All that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor and this was my reward for all my labor. This I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun.” (Ecc 2:10-11).
If there’s no ultimate satisfaction to be had on Earth, why do we then even try? What’s the purpose of life if there’s no ultimate goal to strive for?
The answer lies in Christ.
A blind man can’t guide another blind man to an unseen exit, and their struggle to do so will only result in their harm. It takes someone else, a guide who can see, in order for those poor, blind souls to find the goal they didn’t know they were looking for. In the same way, sin-cursed humans can’t find a true purpose in life because we are blind. Blind to the truth that God offers through Christ, unable to see the redemption and forgiveness that is freely available to us.
Christ offers a way out of the purposelessness of this life: He gives us assurance that we can overcome life’s challenges, and He equips us with the power to change the world through the Gospel. Paul says it well when he states “to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phi 1:21): our lives are meant to be lived in service to God, the only source of true satisfaction. Apart from Him, we are lost, doomed to wander the wastelands of life looking for the next quick fix, the next party, the next high, all to keep us going in this joyless, purposeless world.