By, Phoenix Robertson
Kim Nam-joon, better known by his stage name of RM, released a solo studio album titled “Indigo” on December 2, 2022. The leading single of this album is titled “Wild Flower”, or in Korean, “들꽃놀이”. “Wild Flower” also featured vocals by the famous South Korean rock and indie singer, Youjeen. This song reflects on the artist’s experiences with youth, fame, and his identities both on and off stage. Join me on this musical journey, as I discuss my interpretation of the music video that was released for “Wild Flower”, as well as the lyrics and how they communicate a main idea of self discovery.
Who Is RM?
Born in 1994 in the Dongjak District in Seoul, South Korea, RM, whose real name is Kim Nam-joon (김남준), is a member of the popular South Korean boy band, BTS, or 방탄소년단. He acts as the group’s leader and as a member of the “rap line”, the rappers for the group. RM has been a member of the group since their debut in 2013. As an artist, he is best known for his stellar stage performances and impactful writing skills.
While his fame is attributed to his role as a member of BTS, he began making music as a member of South Korea’s underground rap scene under the name of Runch Randa. He was recruited by the HYBE Corporation, previously known as Big Hit Entertainment, to be a member of their new hip-hop boy band in 2010. In 2013, the group made their debut and became popular on a global scale in 2015.
An Era of Indigo
The solo studio album, “Indigo”, was released by RM on December 2, 2022. The album featured ten tracks, including duets with Erykah Badu, an American R&B/soul singer and songwriter; Anderson Paak, a rapper, singer, and drummer; and Youjeen, a South Korean indie/rock singer and the lead singer of Cherry Filter. “Indigo” is RM’s second solo album, his first was a mixtape titled “Mono”— which was released in 2018.
RM is not the first member of BTS to release a solo album during the group’s current hiatus. Earlier in 2022, group member J-Hope released his own solo album “Jack in the Box”, which showed a different side to him as an artist, similar to what “Indigo” has done for RM. j-hope, whose real name is Jung Hoseok (정호석), is typically portrayed as a very upbeat person, able to easily cope with the stress of being an award-winning, global celebrity. “Jack in the Box” demonstrated that this is not reality. He is a human being who has to work to be positive and to not lean into the clutches of greed. As a fan of the group, I have found these solo albums to be very interesting as they shed a great deal of light on who they are as artists and individuals outside of BTS.
Dissecting the Wild Flower
“Wild Flower” features RM and Youjeen singing a duet about learning to understand a sense of “okayness” with being at a certain stage in life and learning to not be ashamed of yourself. The song’s music video currently has over 20 million views on YouTube. In this section, I will discuss the song by analyzing the song’s lyrics and how the music video adds to the story-telling aspect of the song.
“Wild Flower” is sung in a mix of English and Korean, as both are languages that the main singer, RM, is fluent in. The original lyrics can be read here, while the English translation lyrics can be read here.
One of the lyrics that I found to be most impactful and accurate in depicting the theme of the song was “믿었던 게 다 멀어지던 때, 이 모든 명예가 이젠 멍에가 됐을 때,이 욕심을 제발 거둬가소서”. This can be translated to “When everything I believed in grew distant, when this fame turned into shackles, please take my desires away from me”. These lyrics found in verse 1 of the song describe the fact that RM felt that the closer BTS got to stardom, the further he was from his personal beliefs. This seems to be a common issue among popular artists, as many others have said similar things.
I feel that the lyrics and music video for “Wild Flower” attempt to communicate that every person has two sides to them. In the music video, there is a stark contrast between dark and light, the absence of nature and fields full of flowers. The music video opens with shots of what appear to be purple and pink clouds, the color purple could connect to the BTS fan base, ARMY, whose official color is purple. The purple and pink clouds concealing the view of the dark and desolate ground below could represent the idea that fans often make up their own ideas about their favorite celebrities. These ideas include things like, “They’re so perfect, nothing could ever be wrong with you” or “They can do no wrong”. This seemingly harmless idolization of average people can lead to problems for both the fans and celebrities, as fans may begin to believe that they are of less value because they are not like the celebrities that they have placed on a pedestal.
While the clouds begin to fade, another large element in the music video appears, fireworks. In my opinion, these fireworks represent bursts of happiness, and then the toxicity of the painted face that many celebrities are forced to wear. Fireworks first bring joy, as fame often does, but when left uncontrolled and unregulated, they both can be highly destructive. BTS, like many celebrities in recent years, have not shied away from showing the effects of fame on a person. Many members of the group have spoken up about their struggles with mental health, fame, and feeling disconnected from their friends and family due to their surge in popularity. The bright, gold light from the fireworks in the music video represents the spurts of joy that many celebrities feel when achieving fame; the bleak, dark sky they fade into represents how this can quickly turn into a problematic and stress-inducing environment that ultimately forces people to become something that they are not. This mindset supports the necessity for celebrities, and people of all walks of life, to create characters containing what they feel are desirable traits and leaving out the authenticity of the whole person.
A third important element of the music video for “Wild Flower” is the contrast between a dry, burned down forest setting and a blossoming field of flowers. I feel that the singed forest and the white flakes falling from the sky, which could either be snow or ash, represent the destruction caused by fame, or in the music video, the fireworks. The sky during those scenes is dark and no fireworks can be seen. The music video backdrop that is in contrast to the burned down forest is a field of flowers. The sky in scenes featuring the field of flowers is bright and appears to be a daytime scene. When the fireworks are present it appears to be night time. Night and day cannot exist without each other, just like when there is a forest that has been burned down, then it must mean that there was once a plot of flourishing wildlife there. In the context of one of the main themes of the song, which is that there are multiple sides to every person, I feel that the parallels between both of these vastly different backgrounds represent the different sides to the song’s creator, RM. Just as there is a side that is exposed to the light of day, which for the purposes of discussing the negative impacts of fame can be viewed as an “onstage person”, there is also a side that is hidden away from the cameras and judging eyes of fans. Neither side is better than the other, and they exist in harmony with each other. By having two different backgrounds for the music video, RM demonstrates the need for both of these sides to complete each other and be treated as equals.
“Wild Flower” was a fascinating glimpse behind the curtain of RM’s onstage persona and into how his lifestyle of fame has affected him. His collaboration with Youjeen on this particular song, in my eyes, demonstrated the universal nature of his experience of struggling to understand who he really is as a human being, while being tested by the struggles of fame.
Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed learning about my interpretation of the song “Wild Flower”. Let me know if you have your own interpretation of the song, by posting it in the comments below!