Wednesday, December 7, 2022
HomeEntertainmentHighlight's 'Alone' Grieves Over Breakups but Finds Success

Highlight’s ‘Alone’ Grieves Over Breakups but Finds Success

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Highlight, a K-pop boy band from the South Korean independent company Around Us Entertainment, released their fourth mini album, “After Sunset” on Nov 7. Alongside the album’s release, they also released a new single called “Alone.” 

The group consists of Yoon Doo-joon, Yang Yo-seob, Lee Gi-kwang and Son Dong-woon. They formed their own company in 2017 after leaving Cube Entertainment, where they were known as Beast. 

Photo from Genius

Highlight’s “Alone” is a breakup song that has received a lot of attention for an independent group that exceeded fans’ expectations for the song’s promotion and success — as it was able to exceed the group’s previous single, “Daydream”, in terms of both view count and music show wins. 

“Alone” is about a boy who is depressed over a breakup with his girlfriend. Lyrics such as “I’m barely hanging on the cliff / Just waiting for you to come to me” imply that the boy was heavily reliant on his girlfriend, while “aside from you, everything else is a bother” takes this point even further, indicating that he doesn’t even care about anyone else.   

A music video was also released that depicts a crumbling city with a single figure watching, followed by blue and red-tinted rooms surrounded by air vents and windows. It then depicts Dong-woon sitting on a chair in a black room before switching to a scene of him in a white hospital room. 

Photo from KPOPREVIEWED

After rotating between the sets, including one scene involving a mysterious man in a car, the objects in the hospital room begin to hover off the ground. The video continues to switch between different environments, including a warehouse with several cars and the members wearing red outfits, the moon, and a watery set with Doo-joon lying down. Eventually, the environments start to break as the hospital room’s walls crack, the cars in the warehouse float in the air and the car that the member is driving separates — all of which represents the boy’s deteriorating mental state after his breakup. 

The video ends with the city crumbling down again. I personally thought that the video contained several good stylistic choices. In particular, the decision to place the members in solitary environments at certain points was an apt selection, given the song’s title. 

In addition, the lyrics will occasionally match the actions in the video. For instance, during the line where the members sing, “The space called you is getting bigger and bigger,” the environments that they are in start to break up, as if the singer’s despair is too much for them to handle, and the tension causes the environment to break.

The video was a relative success, as it has over one million views on the group’s official channel as of Nov 20th. In addition, it also had over 18 million views on the reupload channel 1theK, which mid-tier and independent groups use in order to give their videos additional views and promotion, as of that same date. 

By comparison, the group’s previous video, “Daydream,” only has slightly over 1 million views on their official channel and 14 million views on 1theK, despite releasing over seven months ago. 

Around Us Entertainment also released many supplemental videos that coincide with the song’s release. For instance, they released a cheer guide video where fans are instructed to say certain phrases while the group performs the song in concert. 

For this song, the phrases included “I got a feeling for you” and “I’m alone.” Highlight also released a video where they reacted to their own music video. In it, they revealed that Gi-kwang lost weight to appear in the video and that Yo-seob was the member riding in the car. 

The group also released several dance-oriented videos, both on their own and for other companies. These included a standard dance practice video, released through their own channel, where they danced in a studio, as well as a video for STUDIO CHOOM and another for M2, a subdivision of the famous Mnet Kpop channel. The latter video includes a relay dance, which is when the members stand in a line as they dance and walk behind one another, so that the next member in line can perform the next move, instead of performing the dance individually. 

Photo from allkpop

The group also appeared on several music shows to promote the song. One important aspect of K-Pop music shows is the voting system, which determines the most popular songs released during the previous week. By streaming a song’s video through an artist’s official channel, purchasing their new single at South Korean associated sites and stores or voting for it on each show’s designated apps and websites, fans can help their favorite artists move up in the rankings. 

When the show airs, two songs are placed against each other and a combination of votes cast before and during the show, streams of the song’s respective music video and purchases of the single determine which of the two songs will win. If a group wins, they receive an award, a symbol of popularity and success in the industry. A group can win awards in six Korean music shows — Inkigayo, The Show, Show Champion, M Countdown, Music Bank and Music Core. A song that wins awards in every show is known as “perfect all-kill.” 

Although Highlight has not reached this achievement yet, “Alone” has currently won three Korean music show awards, which they received on The Show, Music Bank and Show Champion. By comparison, “Daydream” only received one music show win, on “The Show.” 

With “Alone,” Highlight has indicated that small companies can achieve success in the K-pop  industry. Currently, they are planning to release a “Season’s Greetings” set, a collection of merchandise including a calendar, a photocard, and a planner, at the end of the year.  

Bailey Kanthatham is a Entertainment Staff Writer. He can be reached at bkanthat@uci.edu