Korean boy band Tomorrow X Together, or TXT for short, debuted in 2019 with 5 members: Choi Yeonjun the eldest Choi Soobin being the leader, Choi Beomgyu as the “middle child” of the group and lastly, we have the younger two (maknaes as they are called in Korean) Kang Taehyun and Hueningkai, with Kai being the youngest. Since they debuted, TXT has been known for making music that represents Gen Z, while simultaneously experimenting with multiple different genres, and slaying as they do so.
The latest genre they’ve experimented with is pop-rock with their song “Lo$er=Lover”. Not only will the song’s lyrics break your heart but so will the angst of the music video paired with the pure raw emotion the members put into their vocals. Honestly, there’s a lot to unpack here, and TXT has truly outdone themselves with this comeback and the number of YA problems they have managed to represent in just four minutes. Before you guess, no, it is not the “confused coming of age trope” nor does it have to do with romance alone.
In the music video, we see 4 of the members in their individual settings, with “you” who is supposed to be their significant other (or as the members stated later on this is the perspective of their fans). We first see Yeonjun at a bank getting cash out of an ATM, but it’s shown he doesn’t have all too much money. The shot then cuts to Soobin at a diner goofing around and tossing french fries at the camera. After that, Taehyun is shown skateboarding as he’s hanging out with his significant other, and Hueningkai is shown to be working at a diner (not to be confused with the diner Soobin was at).
This is how the video starts and all seems fairly well until things start to go a little haywire. Here is where things get gritty; Yeonjun sees he doesn’t have a decent amount of money, and so, after giving a panicky look at the CCTV camera, he steals money from the ATM. One interpretation of this can be how poverty due to bad wages or even unemployment can lead to acts of desperation.
Meanwhile, Soobin is scolded and chased out of the diner by a middle-aged server, a way of showing how older adults at times tend to frown upon kids, simply for having fun. Taehyun, while skateboarding, falls and injures himself and is then shown to look let down and disappointed, and later on in the music video, he throws his skateboard to the ground. One speculation of this could be that he represents the way teens tend to be too hard on themselves, simply for making one small mistake that leads to them giving up.
The next shot is of Hueningkai side-eyeing his boss as the boss pushes and scolds at the camera, the viewer. It’s a reminder of situations and times when bosses mistreat, and at times even abuse, their employees, and that the employees (who are sometimes teenagers working for minimum wage) are forced to put up with it because they need the money.
Finally, we see Beomgyu on screen. He doesn’t seem to have a significant other; instead, he rocks out on a live stream, wearing a skirt and enjoying himself. Though the comments on the live stream are positive, things take a turn when his father enters and becomes physically abusive, leaving Beomgyu on the bed, crying and alone. Throughout this traumatic situation, the comments on-screen change from supportive to vicious, calling him an ‘attention-seeker’.
Later, Beomgyu cycles away from home with bruises on his face; he falls and laughs, cynical and distraught. One of the more painfully real scenes to watch, TXT reminds us of how many children leave their homes because of parents who refuse to accept them as they are, or because of abusive households, and that these situations can be unbelievably frustrating, represented by Beomgyu’s cynical laugh.
Their lyrics reflect this idea, too: “Fighting, bleeding, losing, now I’m sick of it. If I can’t have it f****n keep it low. Crying, crying, crying, forget it now,”. The song also talks about the idea of hopelessness; with lyrics like “I’m a lo$er, this life is like a war I’m always the loser” while keeping the bittersweet sentiment of hope “I’m a lo$er, this life is like a war I’m always the loser,” aptly capturing the sense of disenchantment and emptiness that so many of us feel when things go awry.
When it comes to trying to fight the chaos, the members try their best to establish a sense of control; Beomgyu escapes his abusive home, Kai is close to attacking his boss, and Soobin retaliates against the server.
The end of the video is interesting, an homage to the film Thelma and Louise, when the members are in a car, together, and drive off a cliff, each of them giving the others reassuring nods before they do so. One interpretation of this is that the members are driving to the land of “Blue Hour” – a reference to their song, Blue Hour, which represents a land that’s free of worries, where everyone is content. Another darker interpretation is one where the band chooses to keep on going, right up to the very end.
In the real world, too, both are viable options – either turning to escapism (I’ve been using K-pop to escape from my problems for the past 4 years), going up to the very end, or simply giving up are all options that we’ve thought out, especially considering that so many of our problems – like climate change, or unscrupulous politicians, or even the worker shortage – are completely out of our control.
TXT did an incredible, heart-wrenching job of portraying the struggles that young adults go through, and I for one am glad. Seeing picture-perfect shows of people in their 20s conquering life felt alienating, and TXT stepped up when they showed us that things can, and do, go wrong. This is the representation that I’ve been waiting for, and TXT did not disappoint.
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