#ThrowbackThurdsday: [Review] Haru Haru

Everyone who is a fan of Korean music, longtime or newbie, should be very familiar with “Haru Haru,” the biggest hit from Kpop group Big Bang’s 2008 extended play album “Stand Up.” Such a classic break up song that out of all their previous songs on this subject, I still find myself itching to listen to it time and time again. It is the kind of song that stays with you years later, just like their other classics “Lies,” “Last Farewell” and “La La La.”

I will break this review down into two parts. The first will deal with the overall theme of the MV, while the latter part will go in-depth by analyzing the lyrics

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The Video

The music video has a very simple storyline that’s been seen time and time again, but what “Haru Haru” does well is show us why we should truly feel for these characters. Each member plays their part well but the one who stood out to me was G-Dragon. In each scene he was able to display a myriad of emotions of someone in the midst of losing that special someone.

All the music video shows us is snippets of the relationship between G-Dragon and Park Min Young, so at first the viewer doesn’t understand why she has chosen to betray him but later on we find out that she has become ill. Instead of using the tried-and-true breakup storyline, Big Bang went a different route which worked wayy better than the over-used breakup scenario. Out of all the body work of Big Bang’s music videos this one can be put on my top list. Compared to the likes of “Fantastic Baby” or “Tonight” this song shies away from being too flashy and instead uses the story of the lyrics to craft a story for the audience. That is why I believe they decided not to use a choreographed routine for the song, it would take away the true essence of “Haru Haru” which lies in the music and vocals.

The lyrics coincide in synch with the music video, which is something that appeals to me. Sometimes the MV for songs don’t match the lyrics or the feel of the song but with this one it does. For instance, the scene when G-Dragon happens upon Park Min Young & T.O.P together, works with the placement of the first couple of lines.

“Like the tides my heart is broken

 Like the wind my heart is shaking

 Like the smoke my love faded away”

You can see the feelings of betrayal and anger running across GD’s face. Another scene that stood out to me was when G-Dragon was running through the streets while his ex was on her deathbed.

“Hope your heart is relieved after leaving me

 Just forget me and live on

 Those tears will all dry up, yeah

 As day by day passes”

Her death represents G-Dragon “dying” in a sense and letting go. Though it hurts to let go, he is giving her the blessing to continue on without him. Even in the midst of his angst, he loves her so much that he is willing to move on with his life in order to make her happy.

Overall the video really captures the feel of the song from the beginning to the end. It is one of my favorite Big Bang music videos because it stays true to the meaning of the song.

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The Song:
“Haru Haru” is one of the ballad songs that the group has released that I’ve loved from the beginning. The lyrics are personal,touching and relate to us on many levels. Sometimes when listening to the song I feel like I’m reading someone’s journal, or to be exact G-Dragon’s journal. Out of all the songs he has personally written, this one stands out the most.

“Haru Haru” has such sad undertones to it, this is especially true when listening to the acoustic version. The piano that starts off the song foreshadows the tone of the rest of the song. You get the sense that the singer is not just brokenhearted but lonely and maybe feeling a little regret. At first, the piano is softly played but then gradually starts to increase toward the latter end of the song. I believe the music matches the lyrics perfectly. If you notice in the beginning, the singer is brokenhearted and lonely at first, but later on urges the woman to live on. That is when the music has picked up it’s momentum but not much to give off the feeling of release from the pain. Not to say that at the end of the song G-Dragon is happier, but instead content to live his life just like his former girlfriend has.

The beginning “intro” as I we’ll call it, paints us a story of an emotional distraught person (G-Dragon) who is just coming to terms with missing that special someone. Maybe he never realized how lonely it would be without her until the day she left. There looks to be some similarities between this song and Crooked where both deal with the aftermath of a breakup. In “Crooked,” G-Dragon’s character talks about going through a self-destructive stage, acting out his frustrations rather than dealing with the pain. While in “Haru Haru” the lead laments losing that special someone. From the construction of the lyrics we are lead to believe that he was the one to initiate the breakup, not understanding how that decision would come to haunt him later on. Even though “Haru Haru” is a Big Bang production, it feels very much like a G-Dragon production.

Production-wise, “Haru Haru” veers away from being too melancholy. Besides the piano melody played throughout the verses, the up-tempo beat helps the song maintain that “bittersweet” feeling. While the song possess a mournful tone, especially in the beginning verse, the inclusion of the up tempo beat keeps the song from becoming too heavy. The arrangement of the song is quite exceptional. First the song starts out with just the piano melody for almost a minute, combining the mood with G-Dragon’s “I’m Sorry, Forgive Me” bit. Then slowly the beat kicks into the fray once T.O.P starts his rap. Where the song shines to me the most, is the marriage between the piano and the uptempo beat. Without the beat to accompany the piano part, the song would suffer from being too moody. “Haru Haru” starts out slow, even kind of haunting, pulling the listener into the music before the uptempo beat seeps in at the 0:40 mark line. This is where the song stole my heart. The listener isn’t expecting anything other than a slower-paced beat (typical of a ballad song), thus the surprise when the song becomes more memorable by deviating from the norm.

The lyrical exchange between the two rappers matches perfectly with their ability to showcase their individual talents as well as flow. With TOP’s rapsy, deeper voice and G-Dragon’s high-pitched tone, it matches perfectly. Then we have Taeyang’s smooth voice toppled with Seungri’s mellow-pitch as well as Daesung’s stronger vocal chords to balance each other out. That is another component that makes this song work is the different harmonies that go on throughout the song. The strongest vocalist in Big Bang would be Daesung, which explains him being primarily featured singing the chorus while Taeyang ad-libs. Seungri with the softer, mellower voice is used to harmonize during the chorus. That is not to say that Seungri cannot carry a chorus by himself but that he doesn’t have the vocal power for this particular song. Each member was strategically placed in the right spots in the song to heighten their particular strengths. Could you see Taeyang handling the chorus all by himself or G-Dragon singing the highest pitch in the second verse? Why not you ask? Because they wouldn’t be using their abilities for the best.

This is a classic Big Bang song because it has all the elements that distinguish it from their newer releases. First off, in most if not all their older songs, the rappers started off the song. The music would start off with either the bass line slowly making it’s way in, for instance the way Lie starts off. What this song  has that with any other group would sound completely different is how it is formatted. Most if not all of their older songs always started out with a intro of sorts, kinda of how every 2pm song you hear JYP whispering his name, well in Big Bang song’s it’s one of the members opening the song then the bass line kicks in. The song starts out with a intro then leads straight into the rap parts. The minute the song starts playing the one main instrument you always remember is the piano melody. Constantly played throughout the entire song, it’s this key component that makes “Haru Haru.” It’s the one piece I always remember, even if it’s been awhile, that melody remains. It carries the weight of the song, relying on this melody in order to bring out the true emotions of the song.

In Kpop history “Haru Haru” will always be known as one of Big Bang’s classic. I use the word “classic” because it is a type of song that you listen to 5 years down the road. What makes this song such a treasure is the overall production of it. From the musical instruments, vocals, and rap lines, each piece is beautifully crafted in the making of this song.  Throughout their many years in the entertainment business, they have sung this song many times but the emotion has always been there. That is one thing that will never be forgotten is the emotion heard from the song.

Video Rating: 5/5

Song Rating: 5/5

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