Tuesday, December 26, 2017

4 Reasons Why B.A.P's 'Wake Me Up' is My Favorite Song of 2017

I don’t claim to be a music expert in any way, and I definitely have my own quirky tastes, but I felt compelled to claim B.A.P’s Wake Me Up as my favorite for 2017. There were many other incredible K-Pop works this year, but this one grabbed my philosophical side, which is what gives it a special spot in my heart.

(Side note: The other song that hit me this this year was the collaboration of BTS's RM and rapper Wale, which I wrote about in When's it Gonna Change? Right Now.)

B.A.P has been a group since 2012 and in their most recent years, have focused on songs with messages covering important topics often avoided by many, whether performing artists or not. Columnist Jeff Benjamin highlights their history and his own support for this song in his March 2017 Billboard article, Why B.A.P's 'Wake Me Up' Is the K-Pop Act's Most Personal & Accomplished Single Yet. Here are my thoughts on why this song is my 2017 favorite.

  1. Lyrics of physical & mental reality
The lyrics to Wake Me Up aren’t revolutionary but they are important and forcefully presented. They speak a good therapist’s truths, but based in their own experiences. B.A.P knows the reality of the warfare we wage on the inside. “Wake my other self within me, fading light that was dim” “To the soul deep inside me, burn up everything. Wake me up, wake them all.” 

Let me make clear what I think is expressed in this song: we have social and emotional barriers that we must break down and connections to make.

We try to hide our misery, and we know hate and anger are around us more and more. Something has to give- we need and deserve to live our supportive truths- but we can’t do it alone. We need others to help us out of our dark times. We need to call other people out of their darkness, as well.

  1. Inclusive video  
The actors in the Wake Me Up video clearly come from all racial and social backgrounds and all suffer from deception, alienation and violence. This is a critical part of the video’s success. By coming together and being willing to struggle as a group, they *may* overcome. 

Initially blinded by choice and manipulation, the people start to see reality. One woman finally sees that her food isn’t really food. Another stops hiding behind masks and vomits out the pills and alcohol she’s been using to deal. A man, desperately trying to clear the puppet-inducing darkness people are walking through (he promotes an Emotion Revolution), smashes a stalled car before tiny lights start to appear: first from the band members who want to share their light, and then larger and varied types of fires as people come together.

  1. Melody that supports the lyrical call to arms
Of course, this song's addictive sound was what first drew me in. It's been a mainstay of my workout soundtrack. B.A.P are masters at layering beats, vocals, and instrumentals. 

The song first whimpers, then cries, yells, howls and finally explodes in a crescendo as you’re moved to an energized, hopeful energy as the group paints a picture of What Could Be. The singers glare and the music lacks any fluff but is not all gloom, either. There are no guarantees. However, we absolutely must try to reach up and out so we can all experience a bit of the warm sun.

  1. KPop tragedy affirms this song's truth
B.A.P’s great strength is rooted, in part, to the huge problems of their industry. Illnesses based in depression, anxiety and other mental conditions connected to isolation and feelings of lack of control are part of the modern world on the whole, however, and we all have to face that fact. Thankfully, they have dealt with their trials openly. SHINee’s Kim Jong-hyun’s magical talent was no match to what he felt he was facing, alone. He didn’t escape his pain. His fans embraced the symbol of a hand holding a red rose after his death: the rose of love. In B.A.P’s video, you see the newly awakened, in their new world, holding red roses and smiling.

Many fans are making connections between this song and that tragedy. For all of us who see the sun rise in the morning, we have the choice, opportunity and obligation to try for that new world for everyone to feel respected, loved, and valued. Together. 

The alternative? Our destruction.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this or your own 2017 favorites. Please comment below.

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