BTS – Spine Breaker (English Translation + Ramblings)

 

So I thought I’d do Spine Breaker/등골브레이커(track 8 from Skool Luv Affair) .  This song needs more appreciation!!

Lyrics from Naver Music


First, let’s start with Suga’s review of “Spine Breaker” on his Skool Luv Affair Album Review.

To translate:
The 8th track…  “Spine Breaker”..  

I had a lot of thoughts writing these lyrics..  Truthfully, this is a social issue these days… and an issue that effects teenagers.  I wondered, “wasn’t I like that as well when I was a teenager?”   

But still, I didn’t wear jackets worth hundreds of dollars back then.   I think I wrote this, remembering what I was thinking when I saw my friends back then.   Personally, I didn’t wear expensive clothes in high school…so.. I took the opinion of, “I don’t really understand why…”

And Rap Mon took the view of, “Why can’t you understand?  I’m spending my own money.”

There’s no one answer to this.  It’s based on personal preference and taste…  You could wear something expensive… and there could be people like me as well…  There’s no right answer.. but you can listen to it and make your own decision. 

 

When I first heard this song, I thought both Suga and RM were against wearing expensive clothes to fit in.  Listening to it more carefully now, it seems Suga is against it but RM is explaining how you sometimes end up following the trend.  I kinda like the song better with the two different points of view.  Instead of all of BTS having one view that is only critical, it’s nice to see them own up that some of them can fall into the same pitfalls as everyone else.

Whether you wear expensive clothes or not, RM, Suga and J-Hope all seem to agree that at least, you should not burden your parents with expensive clothes.   If you’re going to buy expensive clothes, make money and buy them yourself!

I don’t know if the opposing opinions of Suga and RM are personal preferences (RM does seem to care more about fashion).  But then, at times they’ve also taken opposite sides of opinions just for the hell of it, like when Suga decided to say he doesn’t like Converse shoes in “Converse High,” just to interject opposing view to RM.

 


Note that this song was released in early 2014.

To appreciate this song, you need to know about North Face Outerwear Company and its relationship to Korea.   North Face padded jackets became popular for their warmth and good quality in ~ 2009.  Usually, the least expensive jacket (~ US$250) is more than warm enough in Korea, and 2-3 times the price of no-name brands.

It was so popular that the sales in Korea apparently brought the company out of financial crisis…

nf
If you have enough friends with this jacket, you can do this….

The problem is that they have slightly different designs with increasing prices, with most pricey being about $800.  Teenagers started competing to buy more expensive jackets, not just to keep warm, but as a status symbol.  Really, nobody who sits in class and studies all day needs a jacket designed for hikers to Himalayan Mountains.

Around 2012, there was a backlash of bad press, of how these jackets were “breaking the backs” of parents of teenagers.  Soon, by 2013, they were  no longer in fashion.

It’s funny that the year after they were popular, they were looked down upon as something worn by wannabes who are behind on the trend.  Teenagers no longer wanted to be caught wearing these, which meant that their parents/grandparents often took up wearing them instead of letting them go to waste… which made them even less cool.

One of the unfortunate side effects of this issue, is that a portion of these teenagers moved on…to brands like Moncler.  It was no longer cool to wear a $300 padded jacket from North Face that everyone else wears.  Not when you can wear $1000-2000 (!!!) padded jacket from Moncler.  Sigh….  Or, wear whatever jacket and accessorize with an expensive watch…

Considering how the popularity in my daughter’s kindergarten class (in Canada) seems to depend on possession of limited edition Shopkins, this tie to consumerism and peer pressure/social labels seem to be a global thing.

Fortunately, most people (although not all) seem better about peer pressure once they start earning their own money…    Trying to not give up hope…..


some minor adaptations were done in translating the lyrics.

 


 

Suga


Shoes worth hundreds of dollars and padded jackets worth thousands of dollars…
With a watch worth hundreds, you feel so proud..
The education is going to the mountains, and the students are going to the mountains too.
Based on Korean saying, “A ship will go to the mountains if there are too many captains,” meaning that if you try to heed too many opinions at once, you’ll lose direction.
This line is saying that the education system and students have no direction, but also reference to the all the teenagers wearing mountain hiking wear to school to be trendy.
21st century’s social status is  divided into two.
Those who have it and those who don’t.
Those wear the shoes and those who don’t
Those who wear the clothes and those who don’t
And those who struggle to get it
What happened?  Are you falling behind on the trend?
You whined so hard to have it given to you.  Did I hit a nerve?
Just like the padding, it’s filling up with greed
Even watching your parents bent backs, you’re unrelenting
You’re whining because your friends all have it, 
So they have to buy it for you
(Ayo baby) Stop being so childish
You’re not going to freeze, just because you’re not wearing that padded jacket
Before you fill the jacket with goose down, 

Fill your head with some common decency, before it’s too late.

Chorus

Wow, It feels good putting on your dirty clothes
You’ve got a different rockin, rollin, swaggin, swagger, wrong!
Why are you doing this?  You’re crazy, baby
This will strangle your heart, the dirty clothes.

(La la la la la la la la la)
You’re the spine breaker
(La la la la la la la la la)
Your parents’ spine breaker
(La la la la la la la la la)
Someday you’ll regret it
(La la la la la la la la la)
The damned spine breaker

RM

Why are you calling me, kid?  
You guys don’t know how good you have it these days
Meddling in other people’s life is a bit overstepping your bounds.

Why do you keep saying such empty words?
I’m saying I’ll spend the money I have.
You’ll only be happy if I go along with the preferences of the 50 million 
Korean population is about 50 mil.
Please, why don’t you worry about your own life?
My life?  If you had my life, I wouldn’t say anything.
That’s right, my padded jacket is terribly expensive and terribly ugly
(But I say) But I really wanted it, what can I say?
Even the kids who are poorer than me all have it.
(And I say) If I don’t want to be ostracized, I have to buy it.
It’s often like this at this age, don’t you think?
Yeah I dunno, yes I’m loco, is it no-no?
I know they ain’t cheap but they got mojos
But I work hard in everything I need to do
I don’t break my parents’ spines
The real breaker is you, all grown up and sitting in your room doing nothing.

Chorus

Wow, It feels good putting on your dirty clothes
You’ve got a different rockin, rollin, swaggin, swagger, wrong!
Why are you doing this?  You’re crazy, baby
This will strangle your heart, the dirty clothes.

J-Hope

You have dirty clothes, I have dirty clothes too
You’ve experienced it, wearing them and walking the streets
Your shoulders held back
Everyone seems smaller than me, like Gulliver
reference to Gulliver’s Travels
I understand, whatever you wear.
But you’re too full of it,
you’ll get indigestion, and regret it
You keep swagging on, 
But do you put aside how your parents feel?
Alright, I will not stop you
But it’s time to decide. 

Chorus

Wow, It feels good putting on your dirty clothes
You’ve got a different rockin, rollin, swaggin, swagger, wrong!
Why are you doing this?  You’re crazy, baby
This will strangle your heart, the dirty clothes.

(La la la la la la la la la)
You’re the spine breaker
(La la la la la la la la la)
Your parents’ spine breaker
(La la la la la la la la la)
Someday you’ll regret it
(La la la la la la la la la)
The damned spine breaker

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3 thoughts on “BTS – Spine Breaker (English Translation + Ramblings)

  1. Honestly Spine Breaker is one of the songs that i rarely listened to and I never really got the chance to check out the lyrics translation (ah, where have i been!). But the song has grown on me lately and now after reading your analysis, i appreciate it even more. Thank you for this! :)

  2. Spine breaker is one of my favorite song from that album. It’s a pity it’s do underappreciated. I think the boys didnt even perform this song live. Probably because of the lyrics.
    I didn’t know about this jacket story so thank ypu so much the background info and the trans!

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