Interlude: Shadow Song Review


Pictured above: SUGA in the music video for Interlude: Shadow Courtesy of StyleCaster

Erin Krska, Staff Writer

On January 10th, 2020, BTS released the music video for their song “Interlude: Shadow.” Although BTS has been around for seven years, this was the first time their fans had seen anything like this before. Two days before the song meant to kick off the comeback of one of the biggest bands in the world was uploaded to YouTube, a schedule was sent out regarding the releasing sequence of songs, music videos, photos, and more spanning from January 10th to February 28th.

The ‘Interlude: Shadow’ Comeback Trailer music video is the solo song of SUGA (also known as Agust D) and focuses on his relationship with fame. To better understand this song, it is important to note that these lyrics are translated from Korean, so they are not exact. SUGA, whose real name is Min Yoongi, released a solo mixtape under the alias Agust D in 2016 which is a collection of songs tackling heavy topics such as mental health accompanied by signature aggressive rapid-fire lyricism, the album Agust D received a lot of praise upon its release in 2016.

Pictured above: SUGA’s 2016 mixtape Agust D 
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Starting off Interlude: Shadow, the first two verses are in English. SUGA names the aspirations he had in his earlier years-

“I wanna be a rap star

I wanna be the top

I wanna be a rockstar

I want it all mine

I wanna be rich

I wanna be the king

I wanna be me

I want a big thing

Oh boy let me see

I got a big dream yeah”

SUGA lists all these “successful” attributes he wished to have in his career, but what’s interesting to think about is what he DOESN’T say. Notice how he never says that he wants to be famous, only to be successful. In the YouTube Original Series Burn the Stage he is quoted saying “I never intended to be famous, I just wanted to succeed. When I became a trainee, I was supposed to just produce songs and rap.” SUGA is known to be a very reserved person, and although he’s always sought out success, he never thought of being famous.

“Yeah, hmm, the shadow at my feet

I bow my head to see it’s grown even larger

Even if I run away, it’s sure to follow me,

my shadow that’s as dark as that light is bright”

The brighter the light shines on my face, the darker the shadow is behind me. There are many references to SUGA’s “shadow” throughout the song, and although we might not know what he defines as his own personal shadow, we do know how it is supposed to behave. BTS bases a lot of their songs/albums off books, and the book this shadow is referencing is called Map of the Soul – Persona: Our Many Faces by Murray Stein. This book discusses the work of Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst most widely known for his theory that the soul can be divided into the archetypes of persona, shadow, anima/animus, and ego. A quick summary of the properties of the shadow: It is the opposite of the persona, which is the part of yourself that you display to the public. The shadow is the part of yourself that you don’t want other people to see. It is the internalized “bad” that we all possess. SUGA describes that his shadow only grows the more exposure he gets, and he fears that one day it will get too big for him to manage.

“I mean, nobody had told me

how lonely it is here –

how my leap could be my fall

Only now do I know

that running away is sometimes the next best thing, pause”

With the rise of “cancel culture” on the internet, celebrities must carefully consider every single action they take or thing they say, no matter how uncontroversial it seems. One minute you could be performing at a sold-out concert, next someone finds an old tweet from 2012 that might be considered offensive and your career is over. There are even times where celebrities do or say something unintentionally offensive and receive major backlash from the online community. SUGA expresses his fear of how unstable the life of a celebrity/entertainer can be. In the last line, for a second, SUGA even considers leaving his career. In a 2018 award show, BTS confessed that at the beginning of the year, they thought of disbanding due to certain hardships. It shows us that even when artists are succeeding and topping the charts, we never truly know what goes on behind the scenes and how certain thing affect them.

“Try smiling – what’re you hesitating for?

Wasn’t this the kind of thing you were hoping for?

Or cry instead – what’re you scared of?

Wasn’t this the kind of thing you’d been wanting?

The life you hoped for, the life you wanted,

the life you chose: you achieved everything without regrets

And on top of that, you have a big house, big cars, big rings

All the things you wanted, you’ve got it all

So what’s the problem? Just enjoy it”

At this point in the song, SUGA is questioning himself and how even though he got what he wanted, he is still unhappy. In the line “big house, big cars, big rings” he references BTS’s 2013 debut song “No More Dream” where he raps the same line. In 2013, a young 20-year-old hoping to succeed, in 2020 an experienced 27-year-old wondering why he isn’t content.

Pictured above: SUGA in BTS’s 2013 debut music video No More Dream
Courtesy of We Heart It

Towards the end of the song, the first verse is repeated twice. The first time, the verse sounds like every other time it is sung, but the following verse has a more ominous sound manifested strongly in the vocal effects and beat, signifying a change is about to take place.

“Yeah, I’m you and you’re me, do you finally get that now?

Yeah, you’re me and I’m you, do you finally get that now?

We’re one body, and at times we’ll probably clash with one another

You’ll never be able to get rid of me, you get that?

Yeah, yeah, never able to get rid of me, whatever you do

Yeah, it’d be easier to accept it

Yeah, wherever success or failure is

Yeah, you can’t run away, wherever you go”

The last two verses are what can only be assumed is SUGA’s “Shadow” finally having a turn to speak. The vocals are slightly distorted and SUGA’s voice is pitching up and down, giving these last verses a more frantic and aggressive tone than the rest of the song. It’s his shadow saying that they are one and the same, you can’t separate them, you have to take the good with the bad.

Interlude: Shadow is a very emotionally charged and reflective piece. While SUGA is known mostly for his rapping and producing skills, there are a few verses where we hear his singing voice, which is unique in its own way. This song is overflowing with references to books, past songs, and documentary interviews. Before Map of the Soul: 7 was released, BTS said in an interview with Billboard that this album was intended to be a love song to their career, so there is a lot of references which might be hard to spot if you aren’t too familiar with them.