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

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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16 thoughts on “Bang! (뱅!) by After School (애프터스쿨): Lyrics & Translation

  1. Nice! This is good stuff, as someone studying Korean myself it’s interesting to see thinks being picked apart to such a degree of detail. Especially since there’s some ‘poetry’ in pop lyrics that can throw you off when you’ve learned more straightforward phrases. And I often read translated lyrics and think “hmm, are you sure?” even though I’m still at the beginning stages of learning the language.

    A little music quarelling though… the remix being better than the original — seriously? I personally don’t think this is one of the best k-pop songs (it’s pretty good though), but that mix certainly did a fine job of removing every unique trait the composition had going for it. The clear, marching band-rhythm is what makes it stand out, and what makes the cut-up shouts of lyrics work with the production. The Areia mix is just generic high tempo trance prettiness thrown on top. In fact I’d make a claim that this song is one of the least fitting recent k-pop hits to be remixed in such a fashion, since the production and vocal arrangement are so intrinsically connected. No, I’d give the original song 7.5 and the mix a 3.0.

    • Well, I think the singers sound almost like they’re stoned in the original, so I guess we can just agree to disagree about which version is better!^^

      But more seriously though, in Areia’s defense (the remixer) he often complains that he rarely has access to songs’ vocal tracks that are necessary for proper remixes, and the vocals (and background things like the marching-band rythmn) suffer accordingly. If he did, then it would probably be possible to have a sped-up version that I like while also retaining those elements that you do.

    • A little off-topic, but it would be interesting to see what national ITunes sites they are and aren’t’ available on. I’m just curious because my dad often looks for track by ancient and/or very obscure bands and can’t, only to find that if he switches his iTunes home country from England to Australia say, then the tracks magically become available (even for British bands).

      You’d think they’d be available regardless of the nationality, and iTunes is presumably losing business because they’re not.

  2. hi, I’ve been lurking around your blog for a long time, mostly because I’m very much interested in the gender dynamics of Koreans…and since I am a Korean-American girl. Just a little bit of input on the translation for “예쁘기만 한 너는 더 이상은 No! No! No!” I think it might flow better if it was something like, “Just being pretty is not enough anymore”. I don’t think the “no longer” is at all necessary to convey what the sentence is saying. I don’t know, I just found the translation of it so awkward. Please keep up the good work and I look forward to future posts!!

    • Thanks for the compliments, and I fully agree that “All you do is being pretty, no more” is certainly quite awkward in English, but I just include the “no longer” or “no more” in the text because that’s what the Korean literally says, and arguably “just being pretty is not enough anymore” is subtly different too. I don’t want to split hairs though, and unfortunately the rest of the lyrics don’t provide any clues, so I’m sure both are acceptable really!^^

      • I would translate that sentence as ‘No more of you [girls] who are JUST pretty’, i.e. in the future you have to be a lot of things, and pretty may be one of them, but not the only one. That said, I think that’s pretty much the point that Sue is getting at, with the added emphasis of the fact that this is an indictment of those girls who are pretty and nothing more, not an indictment of being pretty.

  3. I’m glad you’ve somehow sticked to that project regarding kpop girl groups. While AS is not my cup of tea in terms of kpop I think that their management crew is pretty clever not to engage in a frontal battle with oh so sweet other groups I won’t name here and try instead to instill something not new but less present in popular music shows. I think that most of this feeling fans have that AS is original comes from the leader 박가희 who’s had a foot a long time ago in the american music industry and has been a featured rapper and dancer for many artists. That being said when they debuted and were sold like the Korean Pussycatdolls it was clear from that moment on that the leader who’s been a great part of choosing the founding members of AS would play a great part in where the group would be heading to. For instance Bekah the rapper is from the US (Hawaii if I’m not wrong) and has been chosen by Kahi. As far as what message their songs convey, sure they’re not whining to some oppa or imitating cats (which would be particularly funny for both Jungah and Kahi) but I find that the recent evolution of the group more interesting in the sense that the newest additions will allow founding members and those who wanted to pursue solo careers to “shine” by themselves. Kahi who was labeled since the beginning as a triple or quadruple threat even able to challenge the queen Hyori is now (in recent entertainment programs) pretty reluctant to perform dance numbers (she’s a professional dancer) and prefers showing her guitar or piano skills.

    They’re smoothly transitioning from their image of powerful-intimidating type of group to smaller units, solo artists and as far as their group activities go I think that they now have a comfortable enough fanbase to sing ballads sitting on a stool I guess…

    Your translation os very good, but I can’t fully tell what’s sharp and what’s not. Though I’ve always thought that the line “조금 더 다가와 이순간을 Catch Up!! Oh~” was “Come a little closer/ Catch this moment up!” like “Capture this moment”.

    Also “가슴 뛰는 이 밤을 내 맘은 Oh! Oh! Oh!”, 가슴 can also mean heart like in “가슴이 따뜻한 사람” a warmhearted person, so maybe just “Tonight with my heart throbbing I’m feeling like Oh! Oh! Oh!” since 맘/마음 can mean “state of mind”. :S I don’t know I’m 90% sure I’m wrong.

    Anyways thanks for this first part of your upcoming research, I’m very much looking forwarding to reading about 2NE1 and may I suggest Brown Eyed Girls who’s in my opinion a group that stands out in kpop thanks to the quality of their productions.

        • And sorry for taking so long to reply, and I’m embarrassed to say that now I’m finally sitting down to read it properly I can’t really think of what add to it sorry! But it was very helpful, so thanks VERY much for all the information about After School, and I’ll try to bear it all in mind as I move beyond just translating their songs (one more this week, then another the week after) and studying fan reactions like I said.

          p.s. By coincidence, I was reading about Kahi’s background for this unrelated post, and so I wasn’t surprised to hear about the effects of her leadership on the group that you mention. With that dynamic, it’ll be interesting to see where all these new mini-groups are heading, and also if UEE will ever return!

          • Ah don’t be sorry ^^” I was waaay too tired when I wrote my comment.
            Since it doe snot make much sense I’m gonna add a few things I aws originally thinking about.
            Since one goal of your research is to see by yourself if there actually is a different fanbase for different groups (depending on the marketing strategy they follow) maybe considering AS, other groups that have this “in yo face” factor as a whole and solo artists from girl groups too as a whole is not a waste of time.
            This is my own personal appreciation but I feel that on the “fierce scale” groups like Brown Eyed Girls, 4 Minute, 2NE1 and such stand at the very top. I’m not saying this is how a newbie to kpop perceives them but this is how they present them selves in variety programs, interviews… for instance CL the leader and main rapper of 2NE1 is the self proclaimed “baddest female”. I’ve witnessed on Korean websites the absurdity of some polls and most of the time she doesn’t even make the top 3 in terms of “badassity”. 4 Minute is a good example of how the audience expects this type of groups to put in the leader position the member with “baddest” and not so much the oldest or the best vocalist anymore. Many of the people I know who listen to kpop songs actually think HyunAh is the leader of 4 Minute. To illustrate this and maybe to emphasize the fact that this is really something specific to those groups if SNSD was to go by the same unwritten rules HyoYeon would be their leader by far, or maybe Tiffany who seems to have more natural leadership over other members than TaeYeon (the actuel leader) who’s been voted (please don’t give me a side eye for this I really wasn’t reading it by will) “person I most want as my colleague at work” or something u_u
            Going back to AS, and after throwing an eye at the teaser for “Orange Caramel” the first mini group formed by the most recent members of AS, I think this is their joker card to finally aim at people who fainted when T-ara sang Bo-bee-bop, or scream at the top of their lungs when Kara does the Pretty Girl dance without having too much too worry about having WOMEN like JungAh and Kahi risking to make a fool of themselves by dancing with cat ears.
            I really have faith in groups like Brown Eyed Girls who are slowly but surely following the steps of Jewelry and aim at an older feminine audience, or should I say don’t shamelessly aim at ajosshis only. It’s funny to look back at this group’s early performances that were really vocally challenging and did not include dancing really and see that their popularity took a lift when they became known for the hip dance u_u
            It’s unfortunate and to me the lack of credit given to them mostly is the same thing happening to Seo InYoung (who’s like Lee Hyori+actual talent). Before getting into Seo InYoung songs I was really at a loss finding a solo feminine artist in kpop who could actually sing, doesn’t live like a walking aegyo .gif file, and really embodies her songs. Because of that I think ex-members of Jewelry or Fin.K.L are/should be an inspiration for Kahi, Narsha, JungAh and such.
            Ah I was rambling again but let’s hope it’s better this time x)
            And regarding Uee, she’s too big of a commercial asset for Pledis Entertainment letting her “graduate” so easily. I might be wrong but let’s be honest who else would have been featured along with Kahi for this advertisement campaign (http://img709.imageshack.us/i/vivaldid.jpg/) if not Uee. Plus the advertising pictures for Bang! put the focus on her once again (http://yeinjee.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/korea-after-school-065-bang.jpg) on her even though she didn’t take part in the promotion on music pograms for the track.

  4. Nice! Thanks for posting this – I was actually thinking about this topic a little earlier and was going to do a blog post on it… I suppose I should now, so that I can get your opinion :) About the song though – I actually don’t like it all that much – too noisy for my liking, and I couldn’t get what they were singing about even after reading a number of translations. I think I concluded in the end that it was some sort of girl-power, confidence boosting song, and I think your translation suggests something along those lines as well. Looking forward to reading the rest of your research!

    • Thanks, and I’m glad to see that you did: have changed the link in your name to that specific post!^^

      Of course, I think you’re right about the song being some sort of girl-power, confidence boosting song, but I think the numerous different translations are primarily due to the original Korean lyrics being a bit vague and disjointed themselves, and they seem to be lacking a strong narrative too. It makes me wonder who wrote them exactly, and reminds me of the case of f(x) who didn’t even know what the lyrics of their NU ABO song produced for them meant(!).

      Have a 6 week vacation coming up, so expect a lot more progress with my research soon!

  5. …. I’m very curious as to what my drum major would think about the concept of the original MV. I’ve debated showing it to my marching band but I’ll probably be laughed at for the rest of my life.

  6. First off, I wanted to say thank you very much for these translations! I’m beginning to think that trying to learn Korean by myself from stuff that I find on the Internet is next to impossible…but I don’t believe I’ll stop trying. Anyway, your detailed explanations are very helpful. From the English in the chorus that was directly challenging the the listener (YOU’LL NEVER CATCH ME HAHAHAHA but come on! try anyway!) I could tell that this song was supposed to be sort of inspirational, and your translation really shows the full extent of the lyrics’ call to girl-power. As a girl myself, I kind of like this song more than I did before I knew what they were saying.
    I didn’t get to listen to the Areia mix because my computer blocks embedded videos and I’m too lazy at the moment to go out and search for it and use my bypassing techniques to get to it. I’m just going to say that I don’t think the original song lacks a climax. Sure, it doesn’t come before the dreamy melodic part, but I always thought that the climax was the end of the bridge when Raina ad libs her way up into that high note and then sings “yeah” at an even higher note. At least, from my experience of kpop songs, that’s one of the formats for the climax. Soft bridge that builds, and then one singer gets a moment of glory, and then they go into the chorus again. Usually with a little bit of overlap. Sometimes the glorious singer gets to vamp. In this case, she doesn’t. But I still think that part’s the climax in the original song.
    On another note, have you seen After School perform Let’s Do It (the introductory track to Bang) live?? It’s crazy. Apparently they trained for five months to learn that drum routine.

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