Shweta, New Delhi
How rare it’s in K-pop that we see a very varied concept? The answer is very rare! With such an extraordinary concept, SULLI dropped ‘Goblin’ on June 29, 2019, a Saturday, which is a very uncommon day for a song to be released. ‘Goblin’ features three songs – ‘Goblin’ the title track, ‘On The Moon’ and ‘Dorothy’. All three songs are co-written by SULLI. The title track ‘Goblin’ seems a bit more personal. The notion here is her musings, which make the song more protrude, along with her calming vocals and the chiming sound throughout the song. The word “Goblin” is a Korean mythological and folklore creature; the nature deities with extraordinary powers. Despite the song’s name being named after a scary creature, the song is so pristine and calming. SULLI’s beautiful vocals can touch one’s soul and also have the power to put one in a fairytale-like trance.
Goblin’s lyrics reminisce me of nursery rhymes and Disney’s fairy tales. As both of them radiates pure and magical picturesque but when we grew up and reread them, we realized they had a deeper, profound meaning. People who have heard ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ by Foster The People know how dark the song’s lyrics are behind the chilled music. ‘Goblin’, though not “dark”, is not the fairytale-like song that it sounds like. If we look at the MV (Music Video), it begins with the lines “This is a story about a person with a dissociative disorder. She is with herself and with three other personalities.” which makes it more of a “thoughts of someone who has Dissociative identity disorder.” Dissociative Identity Disorder is a psychological condition in which a person may experience a severe form of disassociation, a condition characterised by the presence of two or more distinct personality states.
As we move ahead, we see SULLI’s character articulating how the other personalities suddenly come into sight. She wonders whether these personalities are just the memories of characters or if is it because of stress. She unfolds how she couldn’t grasp reality and wonders if these personalities are hers. She wonders about her existence or if did she do something wrong, which is the first thought that people get when they learn about their disorders. She gives utterances that she wants an end to it, which is exactly what someone who has a disorder feels like. But she is considerate about her personality, saying it depends on others too. This monologue by her tells the listener about the theme of the song. As the song starts, we see SULLI with a cake which has three candles, betokening the three other personalities.
Initially, the song comprehends with SULLI lighting up the first candle, and we get evinced by the first personality which portrays an innocent introvert who is hiding from people’s eyes on her. This first personality could be the real-life SULLI, who is an introvert. The song starts with the lines which describe how a person suffering from a psychological condition feels, the lines when translated are:
“The cube pieces in my head are multiplying;
It’s time to find the swamp in reality;
It’s not a bad day, it’s just okay;
It’s true I’m very sick of it.”
The part leading to the chorus feels somewhat spine-chilling to me, it’s whispered, almost as if signifying the “sounds in the head.”
With SULLI lighting up the second candle, the second personality, which is more on the extrovert side comes into sight. The second personality wears flashy make-up and clothes, which probably signifies the SULLI we saw on screen, the idol SULLI, surrounded by the crowd. The bubbly nature of the second personality makes one remember the SULLI we saw when she was an idol. To make this song more realistic the lines “Do you feel like something is not right? Even though I’m right here” is added, a line most of the people hear, and the second personality is seen eyeing all the people around her. While lines like “Don’t be afraid of the cat without fur” can be seen as acceptance, embracing oneself as they are and it also refers to SULLI’s pet cat Goblin, which is a hairless Sphynx cat.
The third personality became apparent after SULLI lit up the third candle. This personality is very different from the first two. The third personality is clad in black and has swords and is first seen in a place which looks like a dungeon. The personality looks like the evil character we see in the fairytales and movies, who is ready to kill and is just bad. With this SULLI might be trying to portray how she is displayed in the media and by her critics. In the night we see the third personality entering the house with a sword and knocking on the first personality’s door. We then see glimpses of all three personalities and then SULLI blowing off all the three candles and ending the song with the lines “Don’t be afraid; Just wanna tell you hi”
After the song closure, we see another monologue, where SULLI says that she can understand “her”, probably talking about the personalities, saying that they just wanted to ‘say you hi‘.
She portrays how she wants all these personalities to just disappear for good as she says, “Would not it be better for everyone to disappear?” This line makes every one of us feel sad but in reality, this is exactly how most people with psychological conditions feel. It’s okay to feel a certain way but it should be important to know that people are there to help you. The song makes me feel that behind the windy chimes like comforting sounds and a fantasy-like video, the lyrics have such a deep meaning. The song offers comfort because of its soothing melodies and angelic voice despite being so profound. ‘Goblin’ is a cultural reset for the K-pop Industry which has mostly shied away from the topic of mental health.
If you or anyone you know might be having a hard time, please reach out to people you feel comfortable with and seek professional help.
Listen to Sulli’s angelic voice in ‘Goblin’ on Spotify here:
And let us know your thoughts about the song and its music video!