8 Times K-Pop Gave Us Meaningful Commentary About Social Media
There’s plenty of socially conscious K-pop out there, from music videos that challenge beauty standards to songs that critique cultural or generational mindsets. But one theme that has been picked up on in K-pop of recent years is our increased use of social media: its effect on how we live our daily lives, how we interact with other people, and even the opinions we form about ourselves. Here are 8 K-pop songs and MVs that all have thought-provoking messages about how social media impacts our lives — and not always in a good way!
1. Sunmi – “Noir”
First up, Sunmi’s recent hit “Noir” is a blatant commentary on how we tend to lose ourselves in an effort to craft an interesting online presence. The song’s MV features scenes of the K-pop queen nonchalantly staging herself in various dangerous situations so she can post them on social media.
Sunmi highlights the acts we put on through our social media personas, begging the question of whether we care more about the attention than what is actually going on around us — as well as what we may become desensitized to just to get likes and views.
2. Dean – “instagram”
Dean’s “instagram” gives voice to a feeling that most of us have likely experienced: the loneliness of sitting home alone at night scrolling through our social media feeds. When everyone’s lives appear so interesting on social media, looking at these posts can easily make us feel inadequate or lonely, especially in moments when we’re by ourselves.
“This damn information age
There is definitely a problem
These days, knowing more
Makes you more miserable.”
But instead of enjoying our alone time, we often get sucked into a social media black hole:
Just wasting time like this
Inside your Instagram.”
3. Block B’s Park Kyung – “Instant” feat. Sumin
Park Kyung himself wrote the lyrics for “Instant,” which explores the idea that technology has cheapened our interactions with others. Thanks to social media, dating apps, and the ability to constantly communicate via messaging apps, it’s easier than ever to talk to friends, meet people, date, etc… but does that make these interactions shallower and less meaningful? If we can meet people more easily than ever, does this also mean that everyone is just that much more replaceable?
“Things got quicker and easier but I don’t really like it
Just feels light and empty
It did get more comfortable
It did get easier
But it’s strange
I feel empty.”
4. EXO – “MAMA”
EXO’s “MAMA” was more than just a hit debut track; the song’s lyrics are about the way technology has changed how we connect with others, friends and strangers alike.
“Why won’t we look each other in the eye anymore?
Why won’t we communicate? Why won’t we love?”
EXO’s lyrics ring true especially about the unrealistic online world we have crafted through social media:
“At some point, we have voluntarily
Trapped ourselves in a smart prison
We base our personalities from
A digital world made of 0s and 1s
There’s no life, emotion.”
5. BTS – “Can You Turn Off Your Phone?”
As the reigning kings of socially conscious K-pop, BTS of course has a song that addresses this issue as well! In “Can You Turn Off Your Phone?” the guys beg their friends to get off the grid so they can enjoy hanging out face-to-face. And many of us could use the reminder to be more present when we’re spending time with others, rather than posting photos of our get-togethers on social media or scrolling through our feeds!
“Could you turn off your cell phone?
Everyone says it’s smart
But we’re all getting dumber
Could you turn off your cell phone?
Look at my face and give me a mention
I don’t need a like.”
6. B.A.P – “Back In Time”
B.A.P’s Japanese release “Back In Time” is nostalgic for an era before the dawn of perfectly curated media: the lyrics long for more natural connections in which people appreciate each other for being real rather than filtered to fake perfection.
“In a world where you can swipe away the past
Hiding your body with present filters
You’re beautiful so you don’t need that makeup
‘Cause I want to love you without any embellishments.”
7. TWICE – “Likey”
Thought “Likey” was just a cute song meant to work its way into your head forever? Think again! Cheerful as it may be, the TWICE mega-hit also sheds some insight into just how manicured we tend to be for our social media presence, just to catch others’ attention:
“Put on BB cream, pat pat pat
Put on lipstick, mam mam ma
Shall I make a pretty pose for the camera?
Look at this and smile for me
And please press it
On the bottom, that cute and red
As well as how much emotional energy we spend hoping for validation from others via likes and reactions:
“I’m upset because you’re not reacting at all…
Ooh, wait, wait
I’m finally getting something from you, woo!
All day, my mood goes back and forth
Up and down, now I’m dancing.”
8. 2NE1 – “Come Back Home”
While “Come Back Home” is not about social media per se, the dystopian MV for 2NE1’s popular song takes our current obsession with fabricated online perfection to an extreme, depicting a future in which people choose to live in an idealized virtual world rather than the real one — which, when you think about it, isn’t too crazy, given how much time and effort people currently invest in their online personas.
Watch the ladies make a point of smashing the false utopia to pieces in this thought-provoking MV!
Hey Soompiers, what are your thoughts on these songs? Have any of them made you think about how you use social media? Let’s discuss in the comments!
hgordon stays up way too late on weeknights marathoning K-dramas and trying to keep up with the latest K-pop releases. Follow her adventures in Seoul on Instagram.