Crayon Pop's Bar Bar Bar (빠빠빠): A Critical Analysis


For those of you who remain blissfully unaware of the far reaches of KPOP, or prefer to remain so, let me bring your attention away from the manufactured dolls and into something more amazing, a song that has both a fantastic music video AND layers upon layers of meaning: meaning I will attempt to analyse and break down so my Arts degree doesn't go to a complete waste.

I am, of course talking about the hit song Bar Bar Bar by the most charismatic of KPOP girl groups Crayon Pop. 

For those of you who haven't heard about this song or group before, what the freaking hell is wrong with you? But more importantly, you're denying yourself the chance of embarking into one of the most meaningfully layered song in all of KPOP history. Don't worry. Here's the music video. Go watch it and come back. I'll wait.

For the rest of you who know the true value of awesome, high five.

Based on thousands of repeated viewings of this song and its music video, I have come to one conclusion. Underneath all the cutesy and innocent looks of the 5 girls of Crayon Pop, Bar Bar Bar is essentially a song about the notorious underbelly of Korean pop culture and how the process of manufacturing these KPOP idols are severely affecting the idols themselves by taking away their individuality and freedom, to instead making them puppets (or robots, as some may argue) used to entertain the masses. 

On the first viewing, you'll probably pass off this music video as another by-product of the KPOP craze. It's colorful, cute and crazy all rolled up into a 3 minute video. There are cute girls just jumping around on imaginary pogo sticks, while wearing these weird helmets throughout the entire music video.

Let's look at the dance.

The dance starts off with a very weird move; wobbly legs. In most other KPOP girl group choreographed dances, the need to be "cool" or "hip", "sexy" or "amazing" far outweighs the practicality of the dance. Just look at HyunA's dance in Bubble Pop (no one human being can do what she does with those hips) or anything T-ARA does. The only wobbly legs are probably your own after you attempt to follow.

The wobbly legs are a way of saying that while the girls are standing (in a way), they are unable to completely rely on themselves. The fact that they worked their own group's name into the song; ("팝! 팝! 크레용팝!") is also proof that this song is essentially deep seated insecurity. There is no individuality, as shown by the entire dance which is completely similar. There is even a point in the dance where one member pretends falls, and the rest follow suit. There is no "I", but rather, a collective group in general. Individuality is not a thing.

The helmets. Oh the helmets. Many people have questioned the need for 5 perfectly normal girls to wear helmets while bouncing around. It's cute, some argue, while others are more scathing in their comments; 'it's retarded!''This is for children!' But think about it. What does a helmet signify? Arguably it's for protection/safety but throughout the entire music video, nothing dangerous seems to threaten the safety of our 5 heroines. Therefore, it is only safe to assume that the helmets signify the imprisonment of the girls to a power above them; i.e, their KPOP overlords. 

The lyrics support this conclusion. Look at the line, "Follow me (me). mamas and papas ("날따라 해(해) 엄마도 파파도 같이 Go")". While it sounds like they're cutely asking for parents to join in their dance, it can also be interpreted in a manner which they are calling out for their parents to accompany them down this business. Being an idol means living in a pretty lonely world; you can't just take a stroll back home to see your family without hordes of fans flocking around you. Basically, the song is saying that being an idol is tough, and that parental love and guidance are ever so limited.

Another line of the lyrics; "I don't want to stick at home now." is in English, that is to say, a universal call for help, to escape. KPOP idols are often put into dorms with their other group members, and the place can be seen as a "home" because they spend most of their careers there. The song is basically stating that the girls are sick of staying at "home" to be controlled, but want to go out into the world where they'll be able to freely wander instead of being locked away in a dorm for a huge majority of their lives. Escaping is a major recurrence in the song, appearing in the other lines of the lyrics; "Hey, you guys, escape your daily life ("Hey, You Guys 벗어나 Day Life")" and the various (Jumping, yeah, jumping, yeah EVERYBODY ("점핑 예 점핑 예 Everybody")".

ChoA and Way are twins. This is very obviously (I don't know how people miss it) a stab at the production of KPOP and how it limits individuality. Both girls look the same, dance the same and are identical in almost every aspect (because they're twins, duhh). But towards the end of the song, Way jumps away from the rest of the girls and starts rapping. She's moving away from her identical twin sister, which is also a step away from the humdrum of the "group", and forming her own "identity". KPOP groups are essentially a product of the big companies; there's hardly any time for "individuality" or "personalities" to exist at all. I seriously don't know how people don't see such an obvious fact.

Or y'know, this could just be a song about 5 girls who absolutely love jumping on pogo sticks. It's entirely your call.


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