Key’s new album, Good & Great, dropped last night, and I’d like to chat a bit about the title track of the same name.
A little background for those not familiar with Key – he’s from the group SHINee, which debuted on May 25, 2008. He is still with SHINee today, but also has a prolific solo career, starting with his first album Face in 2018. Key is considered a major style icon, and is widely looked up to by many K-Pop idols. I could go into more, but I strongly recommend others take a look at his solo work, he’s an excellent artist. (Key is the main reason I got into SHINee.)
He announced the release of his latest album, Good & Great, on August 20th, through assorted social media posts. It kind of threw some of his fans for a loop, considering that the concept seemed to be…office worker?
This was unexpected, considering the concept and themes for his last three releases – Bad Love, Gasoline, and Killer – were very retro inspired and a bit campy. Bad Love was sci-fi, Gasoline was horror, and Killer was video games (think classic NES/SNES stuff).
So when people saw this theme of…working in an office?…it was a smidge unexpected. Key does have a habit of reinventing and spinning things on their head, though, so we all waited to see what came out of it. And sure enough, he delivered. A few teaser trailers were released of Key working for some odd gray stuffed monsters, and teaser pictures of him seeming to cause chaos in an office while releasing BOK-SILLee, the fuzzy pink character that he’s made popular through the fandom.
Key’s always gonna be JUST a bit weird. I love that so much.
So…back to Good & Great. The album dropped last night, along with the MV. And we’ve been seeing a few clips online of Key doing dance challenges to the chorus of the song, which seems chirpy and peppy and cute. But take a look at that middle part of the chorus. Full translated lyrics below:
I’m good I’m great I work get paid Thank god all day I love it, I’m epic All day, a dozen times and more Repeat the magic words OK, doing good I’m pulling through I’m good I’m great Because I’m grateful I’m good I’m great Because I’m grateful Wake up in the morning, mission-ready When I see myself sleepy in the mirror Man, coffee’s the only Reason I function Hurry, hit the road and get bussin’ The world is an irregular puzzle One wrong step, you’re lost in this jungle Can I be saved by the bell today? It’s a whole new vibe, again I shout out Days when you wanna let go of it all There’re more than a few, oh, do I know I wanted this so bad Chose this path, but don’t mean it’s easy I’m good I’m great I work get paid Thank god all day I love it, I’m epic All day, a dozen times and more Repeat the magic words OK, doing good I’m pulling through I’m good I’m great Because I’m grateful I’m good I’m great Because I’m grateful Stop Stop worrying ahead Feeling jump Drift away on a parachute out that window Dreaming of an escape from reality Or maybe three hours go AWOL If I’m feeling my edge has dulled Means I’ve been grinding in this world That’s Right, grateful for all this But still sometimes just wanna vanish On days when I’m having a hard time Again, believe that I’m chosen I’m good I’m great I work get paid Thank god all day I love it, I’m epic All day, a dozen times and more Repeat the magic words OK, doing good I’m pulling through I’m good I’m great Because I’m grateful I’m good I’m great Because I’m grateful Grab whatever’s in reach And fire it into the sky I’m great because I’m grateful You know that I’m I’m good I’m great I work get paid Thank god all day I love it, I’m epic All day, a dozen times and more Repeat the magic words OK, doing good I am confident in myself I’m good I’m great Because I’m grateful I’m good I’m great Because I’m grateful
Sure, the beat and lyrics are good and upbeat and fun, and I won’t lie, I’m gonna bop to this for a while. But to me, it talks more about the face that we have to put on when you’re working. You know, that mask that you show your boss and coworkers, the one that you practically live about 40 hours a week. Those platitudes of “get up, get coffee, get going” and “your daily grind”. Put on that face to everyone else, the one that says “this is who I am, this is what I do”. Those little Instagram posts of “don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee” and all that.
Deep down, though – we’re TIRED. We’re exhausted. Hustling 24/7 takes it out of us. But we don’t know what else to do, we have to make that paycheck to live, so we tell our coworkers and bosses and post on our socials that we’re good, slap a smile on our faces and just repeat it over and over and over. Because if you just keep saying it, you’ll eventually get there and believe it, right?
Meanwhile we daydream while in our cubicles, zoning out, thinking about what it would be like to just escape from reality and not have to worry. Wondering that if we could leave the office, disappear for an afternoon. Squinting under florescent lighting, thinking about how we’ve been ground down and softened from what we used to be, the passions that we used to have. And sure, we may be making great money, and we may even like what we do – but still, just wanting an escape from the same old same old of every day working.
It’s no longer an option though. We smile, we put on our mask, and when your manager asks you at the coffeepot how you’re doing, you say:
“I’m good, I’m great.”
The odd thing is, you’d think that in a song like this, there would be some sort of resolution, a reminder that our work is not all of who we are. But there’s not. You show up at that office, in that lunchroom, in that meeting room, and you just say the same refrain:
“I’m good, I’m great. I’m so grateful to be here. I’m doing good.”
As upbeat as the song is…it’s just a fact that this is who we are as adults. We’re all just pulling through, and on hard days, we remind ourselves that this is the life we chose, and this is what we have to do to get by.
To me, this song is a little more subversive – not to mention a bit sad – than we initially think at first listen.
So what do you think? Am I reading too much into these lyrics? I’d be interested in hearing what you think, so drop me a line in the comments or on Twitter!