[#40] Big Bang, “Loser”

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Here is what I said about “Loser” three months or so ago:

I remember calling this song [“Loser”] an uncreative b-side when it came out, but today it’s by far the best song to come out the MADE series. Maybe it was me expecting something that made Big Bang the kind of group that it is today — the hard hitting, flamboyant, “Fantastic Baby”– but what we got out of “Loser” was a modernized homage to the group’s real roots, “Haru Haru” and “Lies.” Even if the new product lacks the honesty (and the benefit of nostalgia) that made both of these aforementioned tracks the icons that they are today, “Loser” has the regretful melody that I have been missing from the group for a long time.

[Note: Leaving the poetry aside, “Haru Haru” stands out against “Loser” (despite the production-level advantage “Loser” has) for one main reason — the dynamic piano and orchestra/piano trade-off at its center. On the other hand, “Loser”‘s core is a 12 note piano line that doesn’t change for the entire song. To understand how boring this can get, ask any cello player to play their part in “Canon in D” for an hour and see if you come out alive.]

Most of this sentiment remains true today, though I don’t think “Loser” is an intentional throwback to “Haru Haru” as much as it a motif of the G-Dragon/Teddy composing think-tank. “Loser” is far from Big Bang’s best work–in fact, M.A.D.E. is a serious disappointment–yet, in a manner in line with their American counterpart, Taylor Swift, hidden among “Loser”‘s brilliant production work, bleh vocals, obnoxious references to romance, and relentless hooks, is a story of a generation.

While I definitely will not experience the horrible job market the many/most Korean college graduates face, as someone about to wear her cap and gown in the coming months, I find the emotions of “Loser”–emotions of inadequacy and self-disappointment–to be immensely relatable. Graduation aside, who doesn’t carry self-doubt and self-depreciating thoughts every once in a while? Who doesn’t carry regrets and act in a way they’d love to take back hours/days/months down the line? For me, graduation is not a moment of relief everyone claimed it would be. Instead I’m sinking in stress finding my place in the world, feeling much like a “loser” for not having my life together.

Big Bang puts these and other universal feelings not just in words, but in their performances and visuals. More importantly, such feelings are displayed in Big Bang’s attitudes towards their performances–a juxtaposition of overbearing and understated that is more real than either/or in its lonesome. It’s why time and time again Big Bang is heralded as the greatest idol performers: they don’t perform songs, they live them. For Big Bang, life is but a stage, and we are all the players.

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