Welcome to the third installment of the Tomorrow X Together review series! In this blog, I’ll be reviewing the last four songs from their second studio album The Chaos Chapter: Freeze. I’m working my way back in their discography, so in the next post about them, we’ll move to min1sode: Blue Hour. Freeze was their most recent release when I discovered the group, so I hold it near and dear to my heart—-and that means you have to like it too! If you want to listen to the album yourself, you can do so here:
Before We Get Into It Because this is a blog mostly viewed by my peers, I make the choice to use the simple English translations from the reliable sources available to me and discuss those versions of the writing. They are not perfect reflections of the original writing, and unfortunately, they cannot capture the nuance of the writers’ words. If you enjoy music in languages that you yourself are not fluent in, I strongly encourage you to seek commentary on your favorite tracks from native speakers!! I find it really fun/interesting to research elements of music that cannot be conveyed through translation software, regardless of how advanced it might be, and it can be super helpful in getting you the full picture of what the artist(s) intended to capture and/or accomplish with their work.
What if I had been that PUMA
The fifth track in the album, “What if I had been that PUMA” is one of Tomorrow X Together’s most wildly underrated tracks. With a similar them to the last song featured on their first full album (The Dream Chapter: Magic), it shares the difficulties of a narrator stuck between two opposing choices: “A” or “B”. While the Korean title translates closely to “Balance Game,” the mention of a puma in the English title is a reference to the lines: “At the zoo but can’t guess when / What would the puma feel?” and “Pick your answer A or B, it’s a balance game with a puma and I in front of it.” The puma represents a more primal version of the narrator; it has the choice of staying in a cage to suffer and ultimately die or trying to escape by taking intense risks. It alludes to the human version of this struggle: deciding to live in a cycle of dissatisfaction, or take chances on themselves, their dreams, and their desires and chance losing the stability of unhappiness. “Probability is fifty-fifty / My choice will become a reality / But I’m not sure either way / Close my eyes and guess it, guess it / Choosing between A and B / Don’t know if it’s the right answer, I’ll leave it up to luck” are lines that depict the narrator’s sheer uncertainty about which choice will best serve them–they worry about being haunted by regret for their decision, so they leave it to fate to avoid feeling responsible for the circumstances they end up in.
This is one of those songs you feel guilty about bobbing your head to once you remember the meaning of the lyrics. Due to the similar titles, it can be interpreted that “No Rules” is somewhat of a sequel to the preceding track “New Rules” (also from The Dream Chapter: Magic), which expresses the narrator’s desire to make their own rules in life. Now, the narrator has achieved the freedom they so desperately desired, but it seems to have come with a cost; they realize that their youth was the real freedom, and that adulthood comes with its own set of expectations and standards. This feeling of frustration is exemplified with lines like: “I’ve never wanted a routine / The alarm that rings whenever it’s my time to sleep / Yeah, why the hell does it exist? / My stretching belly fat is a bonus / Now there’s no bruises I can hit anymore / Yeah, I wanted to be a punk / Oh, but did I just become a real idiot?” The emotional impact of still being confined by the unspoken rules that society has designated for successful adult living is very prominent in the song. “Left foot or right foot first? / Is it A.M. or P.M. right now? / I’m confused because all of the broken patterns / Don’t know what’s right, I don’t get it.” It indicates that the narrator has lost their sense of control over their life, and that they are living in bitterness about how they must move in accordance with the rules without giving thought to how or why.
“Dear Sputnik” is the superior B-Side—I said what I said. Songwriter Huening Kai captures a wonderful blend of sincere intensity with his powerful lyrics that perfectly suit the pop-punk style of the track. The title is a reference to the artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, to successfully orbit Earth; the definition of this Russian word can also be translated to “fellow traveler” or “guide.” The song describes the journey of a narrator who is lost in the frozen emptiness that is space, until they discover their own sputnik, a unique connection that helps the narrator heal and move forward with their life. As would be expected, there are many metaphors comparing love and loneliness to terms related to space, such as “Let’s engrave eternity in a starlight” and “In a crumbling world / I found a star called ‘you.'” The consistent inclusions of the onomatopoeia ” oh, oh, oh-oh” left space for the performers to show the feeling of moving toward something greater throw their singing, with each “oh” sounding higher and louder than the last. Word choice seems to be influenced by the narrator’s fierce passion for the person and relationship they are describing, and the narrator speaks in ultimatums, leaving no room for the discussion of possibility that their feelings may fade or the relationship may come to an end; the small choices solidify that the idea of this connection not lasting is too devastating for the narrator to even consider, and it further clues the audience in on how bad the mental place they were in before was before they met their “sputnik.”
“Frost” is another favorite track of mine; the concept of the song itself is a bit darker than anything featured in Tomorrow X Together’s music, although the same cannot be said for their music videos, which usually feature snippets from the group’s complex and borderline-painful original storyline. The lyrics help transfer the narrator’s feeling of claustrophobia and being trapped to the audience with lines such as “The hole stuck in my heart is getting bigger / That small island enclosed in a veil” and “At the tip of my tongue, I call out that name / See only my icy breath.” The narrator has this tortured tone that immerses in the audience in this frozen wasteland that they find themselves trapped in, and the incorporation of adlibs personifies the eeriness of the strange, isolated setting, as well as welcomes us into the mocking illusions that haunt the narrator. It does an excellent job of easing the audience from the pop-punk style of Tomorrow X Together’s other songs into something darker and more chilling.