Bang! (뱅!) by After School (애프터스쿨): Lyrics & Translation

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Remember my plan last month “to find out how actual fans respond to various girl groups’ song lyrics, music videos, and on and off-stage behavior and so on, rather than simply speculating like I’ve done previously”? Alas, I haven’t been able to do any as much work on that as I would have liked to by now, but I have completed a necessary first step: translating After School’s (애프터스쿨) songs into English, so as to get a better grip on what is actually being discussed. Starting with Bang! (뱅!) here, I’ll be passing on the results over the next few weeks, before moving on to 2NE1′s songs.

Actually, there are already numerous translations of the song available, so you may wonder what the point of adding one more is. But then song lyrics in any language can be very ambiguous even to native speakers, and so some of those translations can ultimately differ quite widely. And as you’ll soon see, a mistranslation of just a single line can have a huge impact on the perceived character of a song too, so I’m glad I decided to engage with the original Korean instead.

A quick note on the music itself first. While my predilection for trance music is already well known to regular readers (not that this really qualifies as such), I do genuinely believe that, objectively speaking, DJ Areia’s remix above is far superior to the original below. For not only does it have a faster tempo (134 bpm vs. 120) that is much more appropriate for its youthful, energetic theme, but more importantly because it has a clear climax at 1:29-1:43 which flows well into the melodic, dreamlike sequence from 1:43-2:15. In contrast, the original seems to be almost, well, passing the time at the equivalent period of 1:39-1:54, in a sense waiting for the climax that never comes; instead, you merely get the melodic sequence at 1:54-2:27. This ends up leaving me feeling very unfulfilled, and many fans have also commented that it seems somewhat out of place (but not that I dislike that segment in itself).

Hence the original literally feels somewhat lacking to me, and the first time I heard it I was reminded of playing my father’s singles at 33½rpm rather than 45rpm for fun when I was a kid. Here it is if you prefer it though, and I’ll be briefly referring to the some of the translations in this particular video of it in the text:

T.R.Y. Do it now! Can you follow me? Yes!! Uh-ha~!!

T.R.Y. Pick it up! You’ll never catch me!! Oh~ No!!

눈부시게 빛나는 나를 따라 Oh! Oh! Oh!

가식적인 말들은 비웃어버려 Ha! Ha! Ha!

예쁘기만 한 너는 더 이상은 No! No! No!

짜릿한 음악 속에 던져버려 Bang! Bang! Bang!

Follow my dazzlingly shining self Oh! Oh! Oh!

Laugh out your pretentious, affected words

You only being pretty, no longer

Throw yourself/it into the thrilling music

As you can see, I’ve decided to stick to very literal translations this time: partially because I’m sure readers can already think of phrases that would be more appropriate for English audiences, and partially because with all the ambiguity and different translations as mentioned, then knowing the gist of the song is more important.

Indeed, this helped me to overcome the difficulties which I had as soon as line 3, very literally  “prettiness-only-(having)-you-more-more-(than) No! No! No!”. Not unreasonably I first translated that as “you have no more than your prettiness”, but I found that a little cynical and odd in light of the girl-power vibe of the song as a whole, so I checked out the translations that DJ Areia used, but which also came up with “the only thing you have is being pretty, you’re no more”.  Still dissatisfied, I eventually found the video above at NME.com then (which has many more translated K-pop videos), and it had “All you do is being pretty, no more No! No! No!”, which seems much more logical. And later, my wife also confirmed that “더 이상은” is almost always used in a negative sentence, and means “no longer” in a time sense.

Hence, detailed translations of songs often belie how open to interpretation they really are, and so never take them for granted (including mine!): it would be a pity if anybody got entirely the wrong impression of After School because of something like that. Meanwhile, is one supposed to throw that attitude or oneself into the thrilling music in line 4? The original Korean doesn’t say, but like much of the song, I suspect that it doesn’t really matter.

우리는!! Oh~ After!! School Up!! 너흰 모두 비켜라!! Check it out!! 다 가져봐!! A-ha! A-ha! A-ha!

Right now!! Oh~ After!! School Up!! 모두 미쳐라!! 외쳐라!! 또 이렇게!! A-ha! A-ha! A-ha!

Us!! Oh~ After!! School Up!! All of you get out of the way!! Check it out!! Take it all!! A-ha! A-ha! A-ha!

Right now!! Oh~ After!! School Up!! Everybody be crazy!! Shout!! Do it like this again!! A-ha! A-ha! A-ha!

Those seem quite straightforward, but a quick cultural point: while it is perfectly normal to say “비켜” to children, literally “Get out of the way”, my wife has advised me that adding a respectful “주세요” at the end like with most verbs doesn’t make it an acceptable request to strangers, just like “Could you please get out of the way” isn’t that bad(!) but still wouldn’t always be the most appropriate thing to say in English either. Instead, simply “실례합니다” is best.

T.R.Y. Do it now! Can you follow me? Yes!! Uh-ha~!!

T.R.Y. Pick it up! You’ll never catch me!! Oh~ No!!

가슴 뛰는 이 밤을 내 맘은 Oh! Oh! Oh!

불타는 네 눈길은 내 몸을 타고 Ha! Ha! Ha!

거칠어진 숨소리 멈추진 마 No! No! No!

심장이 이 리듬을 따라가게 쿵! 쿵! 쿵!

This chest-throbbing night is mine Oh! Oh! Oh!

Your burning gaze climbs/burns my body Ha! Ha! Ha!

Don’t stop your breath (that has turned wild and rough) No! No! No!

Let your heart follow the rhythm Bang! Bang! Bang!

Again, I’m sure you get the gist above, but let me just highlight 2 points. First, line 3 is translated as the slightly perverse-sounding “the sound of your breath gets rougher, don’t stop” or “don’t stop the sound your heavy breathing” respectively in the videos above, but that’s not at all obvious from “거칠다”, which is “coarse/rough (skin); rude (behavior)/wild (nature)/harsh (tone)/violent (language); rough/slovenly/slipshod/loose; or rough/wild/raging/furious/turbulent” according my electronic dictionary, and indeed “heavy (breathing)” seems far removed from the “rough (skin)” meant in one of my daughters’ books in the first picture (in case you’re wondering, the girl is pondering what could be hiding under the blankets).

Similarly, like you can see in the bottom 2 pictures, “쿵” in line 4 is an onomatopoeia for the sound of something hitting something else, so probably “bump” in the bottom video is better than the “bang” of the first. Still, the English “bang bang bang” does seem quite apt considering band member Kim Jung-ah (김정아) dances to that part of the song by repeatedly thrusting her chest out at the viewer(!), and on a side note I’ve often wondered if advertisers for the Korean clothes company Bang Bang (뱅뱅) are aware of the double-entendre:

But carrying on:

우리는!! Oh~ After!! School Up!! 너흰 모두 비켜라!! Check it out!! 다 가져봐!! A-ha! A-ha! A-ha!

Right now!! Oh~ After!! School Up!! 모두 미쳐라!! 외쳐라!! 또 이렇게!! A-ha! A-ha! A-ha!

(rap) Bringin’ it to you daily It’s only from the best

After School Playgirlz know how to get fresh

So cool, So right, just so tasty

We bring it fast forward the fellows go crazy

좀더 과감하게 보여 주는 거야 너~ (To be raised for my life)

좀더 특별하게 춤을 추는 거야 너~ (To be raised for my life)

Show yourself dancing a little more boldly (To be raised for my life)

Dance a little more specially (To be raised for my life)

And “과감하다” means “resolute/determined/bold/daring”, so I’d say the first video’s “you should show it more dangerously” is a little off.

One! Two!! Three!!!

음악에 널 맡겨 주문을 걸어봐 Yeah~ (To be raised for my life)

(rap) Crisp clean original new quality is what we give to you.

(Check it out) a new generation and a whole new start (check it out) collaboration with a brand new heart

조금 더 다가와 이순간을 Catch Up!! Oh~

(rap) On your mark set ready to go, can you feel it in your body this A.S. flow…

Hey hey what you want ! Let’s go…!!

Entrust yourself (your body) to the music, and try casting a spell Yeah~ (To be raised for my life)

And:

Approach this moment a little more

That first line is one of those cases which would just be impossible without a native speaker: “주문을 걸다” means “cast a spell”, but naturally that compound verb isn’t mentioned in any of my dictionaries. Instead, I was struggling with “주문” as “order”, “spell”,  or “request/demand/desire” and “걸다” which has 10 meanings, but usually “hook”, “put into position”, or “install”, before giving up and consulting the videos.

And that’s about it, but here is the remainder for the sake of completeness:

우리는!! Oh~ After!! School Up!! 너흰 모두 비켜라!! Check it out!! 다 가져봐!! A-ha! A-ha! A-ha!

Right now!! Oh~ After!! School Up!! 모두 미쳐라!! 외쳐라!! 또 이렇게!! A-ha! A-ha! A-ha!

T.R.Y. Do it now! Can you follow me? Yes!! Uh-ha~!!

T.R.Y. Pick it up! You’ll never catch me!! Oh~ No!!

A-ha! A-ha! A-ha! T.R.Y. Do it now!!.

A-ha! A-ha! A-ha! Can you follow me? Yes!! Uh-ha~!!

A-ha! A-ha! A-ha!

A-ha! A-ha! A-ha!

And on that note, I hope you enjoyed the song, and/or learned a little about After School and/or some Korean in the process. As always, please feel free to correct any mistakes I may have made, and thanks in advance to those that do!

( Source, all screenshots )

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Filed under: Girl Groups, Korean Music, Song Lyrics & Translations Tagged: After School, Bang!, 뱅!, 애프터스쿨



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