Holland Bears It All with “I’m So Afraid”
In a symphony of beautiful visuals and emotional tunes, Holland is back with the second half of his twin single project, “I’m So Afraid.” A house-infused EDM track paired with airy vocals, “I’m So Afraid” is a visual and auditory reflection of a side of Holland that we hadn’t had access to before. Starting his K-Pop career with his debut single “Neverland,” Holland unlocked the treasure chest of positive representation in the industry that we have been waiting for.
Coming into the industry with confidence about his sexuality, Holland has constantly been breaking barriers down and giving himself and a vast range of youth a voice. We saw a tender world of romance through his eyes with “Neverland” and a sliver of his safe haven in “I’m Not Afraid.” But while the first half of the twin single project was unapologetic and bold, “I’m So Afraid” is the hesitant opposite of the track. Holland drops the strong outer layer of his personality and lets us into the deep doubts and fears that he holds, almost as if he is giving us a glimpse of the thoughts that consume him when he is alone.
The music video picks up right where “I’m Not Afraid” left off, giving us a vibe of him both being brought back to reality and being inside his head with him. Starting off with a melancholic melody, his airy vocals ride on top of the steadily increasing rhythm. The music video begins in the depths of a forest, the screen slowly transitioning into an abandoned street with only a sole figure in sight. This is where we get the traditional house-infused EDM drop with the phrase “I’m so afraid” being repeated in a distorted voice.
While the melody and movement of the protagonist in the forest is quite restricted, as soon as the screen moves into the abandoned streets, the beat drops and the dancer begins to move. Dressed exactly as Holland in the beginning, the female dancer begins to move in a contemporary dance. The dancer breezes through the empty streets with absolute freedom and happiness, with themes of accepting oneself and being able to be free in one’s choices quite evident, especially through a scene where the dancer kisses a reflective glass pane. These are scenes that we can only image the protagonist must want. The music video comes back full circle to Holland standing in the forest, slowly dragging his hands away from covering his eyes—a call back to reality.
Music is a way to express yourself, a way to be able to release the stress of your problems in an artistic way. Music is also what people turn to in order to escape and to feel like they identify somewhere. What I love is that through his music, Holland is creating a safe space not just for himself, but for many other individuals just like him. While the melody or music video did not feature any dynamic changes or plot twists, the emotion it carried was strong and effective. Not to mention the strongest form of bravery is being able to admit your fears and doubts and to conquer them, which is exactly what the song expresses.
K-Pop as a genre has grown to achieve worldwide success, attracting a large, mixed group of fans. While the industry is quite dynamic as a whole, catering to all kinds of music tastes, there are also a lot of social rules set in place that restrict idols from expressing themselves. This is why it is quite refreshing to see an artist not only express himself with no qualms at all, but that too in a society and culture that otherwise have quite negative views about homosexuality. It will definitely be exciting to see what he has in store for us in the future, not as Holland the first openly gay K-Pop idol, but as Holland the K-Pop artist.