AKMU stands for Akdong Musician, a brother-sister duo who became the final winners of the audition program, Kpop Star Season 2. They debuted this year at 14 (sister, Soo-hyun Lee) and 17 (brother, Chan-hyuk Lee). The siblings are originally from Mongolia and signed with YG Entertainment shortly after their win on Kpop Star last year. Their first album, Play, contains 11 tracks and are all written by them. Throughout Kpop Star, Akdong Musician’s songs were praised to be quirky and fresh with witty lyrics. I would generally classify their music style with a mixture of Korean-indie and something else I can’t really define. I guess that’s just my perception on AKMU; they are artists that the Kpop industry hasn’t seen before.
I am not one of those people who only listen to sings I understand. I truly believe music is the universal language. Take a listen to their album, especially if you are interested in Kpop. I’ve also included my favorite lyrics (translated into English) and little notes of what each song talks about.
01. Give Love
Give love, give me some love
Give love, there’s not enough love
I give the love that grows every day to her but she doesn’t accept
In this song, the person you like actually dislikes you and you don’t know why. The lyrics talk about wanting to be liked in return.
I’ve never felt this way before, I can’t stop, it overflows
As if someone locked it up, my lips won’t open in front of you
When I called you and I saw your eyes as you turned around (I said)
See you tomorrow
I especially like the beginning, “Uh look at me, look at me, look at me. Look at me, look at me, look at me” and then it breaks off into this celebratory “ah” sound. It depicts the moment your heart flutters when the person you like looks at you.
03. 얼음들 (Melted)
If the ice melts, a warmer song would have come out
This song sounds fairy-tale like in a haunting way to me. The more I listen to it, the more drawn I am to it. The lyrics are pretty dark, talking about how it feels to be trapped in ice and how cold everything feels.
The MV shows the story of a boy who starts off innocent and untainted, but becomes broken from the harsh treatment of other people and reality. The ending hints that a warm gesture of kindness can melt the coldness of the world.
04. 지하철에서 (On A Subway)
Busy morning and evening rush hour
Wearing my school uniform with nothing to do
Inside this crowded subway, everyone
Starts their day and ends it
I commute to school (and basically everywhere) so the lyrics really get to me. The way they describe boys to be playing games, girls to be on their homepages (Facebook?), and young people to be plugged into earphones is the same transit scene I see everyday as well. I can totally see this song on my commute playlist very soon. It is relaxing and peaceful.
05. 가르마 (Hair Part)
You make the sun rise in my dull heart
Of course, I liked you before too
This song talks about what happens when a girl gets a different hairstyle and parts her hair, revealing her pretty face.
06. 인공잔디 (Artificial Grass)
I want to breathe too
I want to swallow the rain and lay roots
Like real grass
The lyrics talk about the benefits of being artificial grass: you never die or lose your color after getting stepped on. Yet, the song still portrays the wish to be alive like real grass.
07. 안녕 (Hello)
I secretly get upset inside in a dark place
I somehow have pride so I can’t admit that I’m alone
The lyrics to “Hello” talk about a fear of being hated or alone. It talks about hesitation on greeting first and being eventually left behind.
08. 작은별 (Little Star)
Star, beautiful star, how can I shine like you, star?
Will I be able to be someone’s star as well?
Star, beautiful star, if I could, I want to shine as well
I want to be a small star that shines on someone
When you stay up at night and think about who your soul-mate is or if you’ll ever find love.
09. 길이나 (Anyway)
Whether it’s a gravel road
Or a road with a piece of gum stuck to it
Whether it’s an ocean road
Or a road with flowers greeting you
The first lyrics to this song say “When the same sex meets on the street, there’s a power struggle. When the opposite sex meets on the street, they pretend to be chic”. I thought these lines were funny to represent what happens when a guy and girl crosses paths and check each other out. The rest of the song talks about trying to find that person again on the same or different road.
10. 소재 (Idea)
In a common place around me
I’ll discover you, then I’ll greet you
In a place I didn’t expect
You will come to me, yeah
I think this song relates closely with AKMU’s experience on Kpop Star. They started off showcasing one of their own written songs, so there was an expectation for more great songs from them throughout the rest of the battles and episodes from judges, viewers, and other contestants. It must have been hard to keep thinking of new ideas and songs in the pressuring environment and tight time schedules. “Idea” is still a happy song with amusing lyrics, such as “You’re the down feathers in the padding jacket, useful” and “Love is chocolate? Sorry, that’s too common, next time”.
Galaxy, wanna take a walk with me?
Wanna cross the twinkling Milky Way and hold hands and walk with me?
With many fantasy references, this song ponders the question on whether or not to confess. It feels like a far away and possibly beautiful world. +1 for mentioning Tinkerbell!
What did you think of the album?