In the My Chemical Romance classic “Welcome to the Black Parade”, death is seen from a different light. Despite it literally blowing up the “emo fad” (arguably and for a lack of a better term) in the mid-2000s, the iconic song actually projects a message of hope and resilience in the face of such an event, especially for those left behind. Death, despite being a part of human nature, is still considered a taboo discussion among us so MCR bringing the sensitive subject to the table while still being able to pander to pop culture trends is perhaps the band’s greatest contribution to the modern music canon.
Ga-In’s “Carnival (The Last Day)” also echoes the same perspective towards death except that the sultry songstress drops the eyeliner and the skulls and replaces it with bursting colors and big band music, K-Pop style.
Some (a lot, actually) would say that the song shares a lot of similarities with IU’s 2014 hit “The Red Shoes” and while that’s true (no point in denying it), “Carnival” is still able to keep its individuality intact. The subject matter at hand is perfectly contrasted with Carnival’s baroque and vibrant production. As a result, some listeners ended up assuming that the song is actually your standard joyful pop fare about first loves (and what other clichéd K-Pop theme there is) when in fact an extremely bittersweet love story involving death lies underneath.
Aptly called “The Last Day”, Ga-In aka Carrie, somehow returns from her eternal slumber for one last time to spend a brief and precious moment with her love.
Being the brave soul that she is, Carrie acknowledges and embraces the fate that she must face with all of her, that is why she wants to make the most out of such a rare opportunity.
She alludes her demise to that of a carnival whose end is that of a spectacle of bright lights and majestic fireworks. Carrie knows that she must call the curtains but not without leaving a memory that they will share – one that is grand, majestic, and beautiful.
“There’s a night like that. A night when I became a different person. I became the brightest light and danced.”
This is seamlessly integrated in the song, particularly towards the end with its explosive close filled with orchestra strings.
Any Ga-In release is always weaved into a singular narrative and this cohesiveness is seen through the music video as well. It perfectly provides a clear illustration of what the song is all about from every single detail.
Similar to the songstress’ fantastic EP last year “Hawwah”, the accompanying mini is also a necessary listen to appreciate the whole spectrum of “Carnival” as it guides you through the life of Carrie. Album opener Carrie is lures you in to the character as it narrates the life of a young (and sometimes clumsy) woman whose only fault is to fall deeply in love.
Songs that follow after Carnival explore the theme even further with “The Forest of the Fireflies” as she bids her final goodbey before she is consumed into the deep of the night just like the fireflies. Such is reminiscent of the metaphor highly mentioned in the popular animated film “Grave of the Fireflies”. “Secret”, on the other hand, sees Carrie longing for her life back as she pleads to be in the arms of her love just like before in their secret rendezvous.
The five-track EP closes with “Begin Again”, an instrumental track which happens to be my favorite because of what it contributes to the totality of the album. Towards the end of the track, Carrie utters “My name is Carrie.” in an extremely assured tone, a confirmation that can only come from someone who highly values her life. Once you play the album in loop, it seamlessly connects with the opening track which tells us that our existence is a cycle and there is always an opportunity to begin again.
Ga-In and her team has been pushing the envelope in K-Pop by releasing great stuff since 2010. I’d sometimes feel drained as to what she’s going to offer because you know it’s gonna be good. However, Ga-In has been fantastic in maintaining a level of diversity to her work wherein one EP never overshadows another and that’s because it is something new. That is what exactly the whole “Begin Again” EP did and we can’t do anything but stan. Damn.