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Review: Wetter Returns With “GGONDAE” – Arts + Culture

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Review: Wetter Returns With “GGONDAE”

April 18, 20197 min read

After almost half a month of teasing fans, Wetter, an up-and-coming K-Indie band, has finally released their latest single, “GGONDAE”. The word “ggondae” in Korean refers to the when older generations (baby boomers) try to force ‘outdated’ ideas onto the younger generation, kind of like how baby boomers find new things to criticize and bash millennials for. South Korean young people have often accused ggondae’s of displaying “authoritarian behaviours,” and this is reflected in Wetter’s latest single. This kind of subversiveness has always been an undercurrent in Wetter’s music ever since they debuted with “Who?” back in 2016 and it’s part of the reason why they’re one of my favourite bands at the moment. However, rather than having a loud and almost chaotic feel like their previous mini-album (bar the last two songs) did, this time it’s more laid-back and almost melancholy at times which I find really interesting.

image credits via MAPPS Entertainment

The song opens with the beautiful Kuciia Diamant, a Korean drag queen, walking down an aisle in a convenience store while the band’s frontman, Wonbin, does a double take. The lines “I’m smart, you’re dumb. I’m big, you’re little,” from everyone’s favourite childhood film, Matilda, play right before the music starts. By beginning their music video like this, Wetter challenges the expectations of conservative Korean culture which, in my opinion, is what all their previous music videos, songs and albums have been building up to do. The music begins to the band pushing their frontman in a shopping cart before moving onto a scene of them performing lethargically in an almost empty, dirty grey office. The slow, almost lazy (but in a good way, if you get what I mean) start to the song, I feel, is a critique on the dreary adult life that not only South Korean young people but young people, in general, are forced into as soon as they leave education. It’s also an image of what baby boomers and ggondae’s see younger generations, especially with all the garbage in the office and how the band doesn’t really seem to be doing much in the office (except for the scenes where they’re performing). The lyrics are pretty straightforward: “난 사회에 불만이 많은데, 왜 아무도 내게 안 물어 보는 거야” (translation: I’m dissatisfied with society. Why does nobody ask me?) which I think is really bold of them.

The chorus begins, a minute into the video. It’s quite cheerful but there’s a tinge of melancholy in it. There’s something kind of sad about it which you can’t quite place which is similar to the chorus in their debut song, “Who?”. The band is still shown to be quite lethargic and almost dead inside while they perform and even when the camera shows a close up of them which kind of adds to this. “do you have money? do you have a job?” cuts through the almost cheerful chorus while a video of Kuciia Diamant doing her makeup plays followed by the lines: “you must follow my rules. You must be down on your knees. You must be my dog.” The lines would have been quite chilling had it not been for Wonbin’s rich, calming voice. Then, the video returns to the convenience store as if nothing had happened, much like how dark moments in real life are brushed over quickly.

The cashier in the convenience store throws the band’s purchases and receipt at them while in a three-piece suit which, in my opinion, could represent how older generations throw criticisms and blows at us and we’re expected to just sit there, like Wonbin in the shopping cart, and take it, not just in Korea but everywhere. Meanwhile, Kuciia is shown to be walking nonchalantly through the aisles, unaffected by the whole ordeal. She doesn’t let these things get to her, but the band does. The ‘chaotic’ feel that was present in their previous song, “Hello Sunshine,” is suddenly present in this as Jihoon pushes Wonbin (still in the shopping cart) almost angrily down the tunnel, probably as a form of release from the horrible customer services at the convenience store. The song goes from melancholy to angry in the span of a minute and the guitars, as well as the drums, get louder and more aggressive. Wonbin, rather than singing calmly into the microphone is now shouting and the lyrics get more obscure with lines like: “circle the square,” before Wonbin falls to the floor unconscious.

The music video and the song, as a whole, did not go where I, and probably other fans, thought it would go based on the teasers and the whole feel of the first couple of minutes but I think that’s what makes this song really unique. This is probably the only song on Wetter’s official discography with this kind of surprise in the last minute and I hope they do more like this. Not only is it a good song,  the video is also beautiful, especially with the talented Kuciia Diamant making an appearance. While they are inspired heavily from other artists such as the Arctic Monkeys and the Beatles, this song is unlike any I’ve heard before, mainly because of the last third of the song.

“GGONDAE” is now available to stream on Spotify and Apple music.

Featured image via MAPPS entertainment