BTS – Serendipity (English Translation and Ramblings)

 

Serendipity – Track 01 on Love Yourself: Her album.

Korean lyrics referenced from Naver Music.

Written by:  Slow Rabbit, Ray Michael Djan Jr, Ashton Foster, RM, Bang PD


 

I can’t believe this is the 6th song I’m translating from this album.

I feel like BTS writing style has changed a little bit.  In their earlier works, they would use a lot of references but while they’re more numerous, it felt like the songs just quickly linked to these references.

The songs on the Love Yourself album don’t seem to use as many references, but the ideas in those references seem infused more subtly and deeper into the songs.   So on first glance, the songs seemed simple enough without too many references… but the more you listen to it, the more you realize you might have missed stuff.

And then you start to think, “Am I over-thinking this?”  Knowing Big Hit, probably not.

The two obvious references in Serendipity are the poem “Flower” by Kim Chunsu and “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.    Of note, the poem that J-Hope was reading on their Run BTS! Ep 11 is also by Kim Chunsu.


 

-FLOWER-

by Kim Chunsu

 

 

Before I called his name
this line gives feeling of more like, “Before I gave voice to his name”
He was merely
But a gesture.

The time I called his name
He came to me
And became a flower

Just like I’ve given voice to his name
As fitting of my hue and fragrance
Someone please say my name.
Here, it is not specific whether the hue and fragrance is supposed to fit the “someone” or “my name.”
ie.
Someone who is fitting to me, please say my name (eg. feeling of destiny)
or:
Someone call me a name that is fitting to my hue and fragrance (eg.  give me a fitting name so that I can exist/become meaningful)
I want to go to him as well
And become his flower. 

We all
Want to become something
Me to you, you to me
Want to become a meaning that will not be forgotten

 

The he/his here is both male/gender neutral pronoun.  It is the default pronoun so sometimes not gender specific.

 

 


 

-THE LITTLE PRINCE-

by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

 

This book is very popular in Korea.  I’ve yet to meet a Korean who has not read this book as a kid.  I’m sure every Korean would watch the MV and immediately go “The Little Prince!”  Especially, Jimin’s fuzzy blond hair, the yellow blanket (or the yellow scarf in the book), and the starry blue sky are pretty iconic.

Little Prince

I re-read this book for this post but lost the paper where I wrote down my notes.  Very sad…

The book is about alien Little Prince, who loves his beautiful flower with thorns, but doesn’t know how to deal with her when she is at times difficult.

He comes to Earth, only to find out there are thousands of roses in the world and maybe his flower is not special after all.  But then he meets a very wise fox that teaches him that it is not the beauty that makes his rose special, it is the time the Little Prince spent with her that makes her special.

 

“People have forgotten this truth,” the fox said. “But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed. You’re responsible for your rose.” 

 

“If you love a flower that lives on a star, it is sweet to look at the sky at night. All the stars are a-bloom with flowers…” 

 

The protagonist of this book is not the prince, but a pilot who crashes in the middle of a desert.  He serendipitously meets the Little Prince.  And he too, learns how love gives meaning to little things.

“You – you alone will have the stars as no one else has them…In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night…You – only you – will have stars that can laugh.”

 


 

On initial glance the song’s lyrics sounds like typical love song.  Oh, we’re destined to be together, etc. etc.  Sounds like love at first sight.

But because the song references works of literature that emphasizes that it is the interaction between the two people that gives meaning to the love… this gives the song a very different meaning.

Is it really the destiny of meeting the right person that is important?  Or is it the act of fostering a relationship that gives meaning between two people?  Do you have to be special from the beginning?  Or can you be just one out of five thousand roses and still be made special by the time you spent together?

 

The other contrasting idea of love I found is the idea of what makes you meaningful as a person.  Both the “Flower” and “The Little Prince” suggest that you’re made more meaningful by your relationship and love with other people.  Your existence is made more meaningful by something external to yourself.

Obviously, this is very contrasting with even the album title, “Love Yourself,” which generally assumes that you have to love yourself first and find meaning in yourself first before you can love others.

 

Having all these contrasting ideas in a song is fine, of course.  Everyone can interpret it the way they like and love is such a multi-dimensional thing anyway where one idea is not mutually exclusive of another.

 


 

All this is not a coincidence
Just..just..with how I feel
The whole world is different from yesterday
Just..Just.. with your happiness.

 

When you called my name
reply to “Before I called his name” from “Flower”?
I became your flower
As if waiting for it
We achingly blossomed

can be both “I became your flower as if I was waiting for it” or “As if we were waiting for it, we blossomed”
Perhaps it’s the providence of the Universe
It was just like that

U know I know
You’re me, I’m you

 

As much as it’s exciting, I’m scared
Because destiny keeps being jealous of us
As much as you, I’m scared too
When you see me
When you touch me

 

The world has moved for us
There was not even the slightest error
Our happiness was destined 
Cuz you love me
And I love you

 

You’re my penicillium (blue mold)
That saved me
Penicillin was discovered from blue mold by serendipity.
My angel my world

 

I’m your calico cat
That came to meet you 
Love me now touch me now
The calico cats are very very rare, so I guess this reinforces the idea of destiny.

The lyrics are cute because in Korean, penicillium is literally “blue mold”, and a calico cat is a “three colored cat.”  The wording sounds like a kids song about colored objects.  In addition to that, “mold” and “cat” almost rhymes.

Just let me love you
Just let me love you
From the time that the Universe was created
Everything was destined
Just let me love you

 

Let me love
Let me love you
Let me love
Let me love you

 

 

6 thoughts on “BTS – Serendipity (English Translation and Ramblings)

  1. Thank you for the explanation of the references! I can understand the song on a much deeper level now thanks to your explanation. In my opinion, I think the story of the Little Prince matches BTS’s story extremely well. It’s the story between BTS and ARMY.
    “The book is about alien Little Prince, who loves his beautiful flower with thorns, but doesn’t know how to deal with her when she is at times difficult.” => Little Prince is ARMY, and BTS is the beautiful flower with thorns. Being an ARMY is a beautiful experience, but sometimes it can be tiring (from all the fan wars and scandals).

    “He comes to Earth, only to find out there are thousands of roses in the world and maybe his flower is not special after all. But then he meets a very wise fox that teaches him that it is not the beauty that makes his rose special, it is the time the Little Prince spent with her that makes her special” => When ARMYs start checking out other artists, some ARMYs do realise that there are other groups who are also talented and they start to think maybe BTS is not that special after all. But what the fox say means that, maybe BTS is not the only group with talent and visual, but the time ARMYs have spent with them is what makes our relationship special.

    Connecting this to the rest of the lyrics makes the song very multi-dimensional. I especially love this part:
    “You’re my penicillium (blue mold)
    That saved me
    My angel my world
    => ARMYs are BTS’s penicillium, ARMYs really saved BTS. They almost flopped at the beginning, without ARMYs there would be no BTS of today (they have always saying this and thanking us for being with them as well).

    I’m your calico cat
    That came to meet you
    Love me now touch me now
    The calico cats are very very rare, so I guess this reinforces the idea of destiny.
    => And on the other side, BTS is ARMYs’ calico cat. Calico cats are very rare, and so is BTS, they are different and not very often can we find a group that has so many elements like BTS: dance, visual, rap, composing, vocal, member chemistry, intellect, etc. and etc. This is kinda interesting because from the Little Prince story, it seems like they are telling us that what makes our relationship special is the time and memories we spent together, but then when looking at the lyrics it’s like they are also trying to remind us that it is true that BTS is different from the rest!

  2. I adore this song so much. Usually I find love songs boring and not very relatable, but this one just feels so sweet and pure, yet full of such profound emotion. Namjoon said it was meant to capture the feeling of first falling in love with someone, how it feels like you’ve always been destined. And the added layers of the literature references and the cute mold and cat lyrics just give it such a beautiful yet pure, innocent feeling. Jimin’s singing and performance in the mv of course was the perfect match for it I think. One of my favorite songs they’ve ever done, even if I tire of the notion that you “can’t love others until you love yourself.” Untrue, and harmful to those with mental illnesses that make loving oneself virtually impossible. You can absolutely love others without loving yourself. The message should simply be “give yourself as much love as you give to others.” Much better message. Anyway, love this sweet song and my baby Jimin so much <3

  3. I dont know if it make sense, but this is what I felt they were trying to say after reading the entire thing
    “you might think that you aren’t special and you are just a flower among thousand other flowers, but the truth is for the people around you, who has spend time with you, you are special for them. There is someone out there who want to be as special to you as you are to them.”
    I love the way u explain each and everything. It was a really good and thoughtful read.

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