Another year begins and another year is behind us. Unfortunately, as the sun began to set on the year 2017, we lost someone in the community who meant so much to fans not only for his work, but for his golden heart and his open support of important issues that are dear to many. Though time will pass, as it always does, many are still trying to figure out how to cope with the loss of SHINee’s Jonghyun.
Even if this reality is difficult to swallow, it’s important to remember all the best things about him as the community continues to push forward like he would have wanted fans to do. As someone who has struggled with depression, I believe that messages in music are paramount in helping those having a hard time finding hope. This week we’re going to feature songs with important messages that are needed to get through tough, emotional times.
“Breathe” - LEE HI
What better place to start than with “Breathe,” a song written by Jonghyun himself and performed by YG Entertainment soloist LEE HI. When struggling with depression and sadness, it’s important to hear that you’re doing okay, and Jonghyun certainly understood the importance of that, as reflected in the lyrics. LEE HI’s gorgeous vocals add the proper emotion to the sentiment of the song. The final line “정말 수고했어요” (roughly translated as “you’ve really worked hard”), leaves behind endless goosebumps in the wake of tragedy. This song is a gift from the SHINee member to fans, and it should be cherished for its beautiful message.
“마지막 (The Last)” - Agust D
BTS’s Suga released his mixtape under the name Agust D, with the rapper known for being open and vocal about his own struggles with depression. “마지막 (The Last)” is potentially one of the most powerfully emotional tracks on the subject of depression. Suga displays unbelievable sincerity in sharing his insecurities, which is a subject fans almost never see with idols, and the depiction of his struggles are scarily relatable. What really makes “마지막 (The Last)” stand out, however, is the story arch as the song progresses. It begins soft and depressing, slowly gaining speed and intensity, like a bolero, leading to the final verse in which Suga condemns and defeats his wicked feelings. Suga’s lyrics and their emotional intensity are like a light at the end of the tunnel.
“Mask” - Lay
EXO’s Lay recently released solo album Sheep, an album full of contrasting sounds. “Mask” doesn’t only stand out for its chill R&B vibe, but for the optimistic lyrics he sings. While Lay does not speak directly of struggles with depression, the message he conveys is all about trusting yourself and your convictions, and not allowing your past scars to affect your future. I find the chorus lyrics “I don’t have to show you everything I’ve been through” particularly empowering. Whenever it seems like dark clouds are hanging overhead, “Mask” is a great reminder of the extent of personal strength.
"난 멈추지 않는다 I Won’t Stop” - KARD
Sometimes it seems as though mistakes in life are setbacks. KARD’s "난 멈추지 않는다 I Won’t Stop” discusses the idea that while we cannot change the fact that we have scars, we can decide to start over at any given point in life. In an endless spiral of depression, things in life often seem final and unchangeable, so the reminder that one is here in the present and that there is still time to turn things around is unspeakably cathartic. People aren’t often told that they can have a new start at any given moment, so the message KARD chose to convey in "난 멈추지 않는다 I Won’t Stop” is incredibly important.
“Come Back Home” - BTS
A remake of the 90s original by Seo Taiji and the Boys, BTS revamped “Come Back Home” to fit the music scene of today while preserving a very important lyrical piece. While discussing a hopeless present, the boys sing of a bright future composed of healing. What is so special about “Come Back Home” is its candor regarding the harsh aspects of life, seeing as the song doesn’t shy away from discussing feelings of hopelessness. The ability to express these sentiments is paramount to growth, so expressing negative feelings only to follow them up with a positive message allows for the release of the bad and an acceptance of the good.