Released a little less than two months ago, DEAN’s last MV dayfly joins the category of those works which intrigue as much as they fascinate – Back to a metaphor about the feeling of emptiness induced by the addiction to One Night Stands:
Dean has several times shared his unrestrained admiration for the cinema and maybe more precisely for the scriptwriting. That’s something quite significant in his universe. He already showed it through his album 130 Mood: TRBL since the common thread was none other than the story of a relationship that blooms in passion but then finally withers in the distance.
The artist – also known as Deantrbl – chose not to stop here yet as he seemingly decided to deepen this inspiration drawn from the film writing for his coming album. He indeed explained in an interview that he literally wrote the scenario for his next album before actually starting to compose the tracks.
As a result, the metaphorical dimension is really asserted in the artist’s last production, as much in Instagram as in dayfly in collaboration with Sulli and his friend – also in the label/collective you.will.novv – Rad Museum. This makes even more sense if you consider that Dean actually specified he wrote not less than five scripts before starting the production of the dayfly MV.
In this way, with dayfly the artist decided to talk about sexuality, kind of a taboo in the Korean society and especially about one night stands. More precisely about the emptiness you can start to feel with one night stands, a feeling which doesn’t deter from keep on doing it yet, like an addiction.
Hence the intention of this article is to see how it is shown by the lyrics and the visual narration. Or at least, it’s one of the possible interpretations ~
One night stands to feel alive
In an Instagram story, Dean gave some instructions in order to have a better understanding of the dayfly MV meaning. The main key was to watch the prologue and then the full MV.
What are we learning from this prologue?
At first glance not that much. We can see Dean playing a retro racing game. Captivated by his game he then suddenly paused his game. His phone is vibrating, he answers a call.
We can also see this setup at the end of the MV of dayfly with the videogame pause screen. Given the topic of the song and other points which will be explained later, one of the possible interpretations would be that the character played by Dean paused his game to answer the call of his one-night stand.
This one-night stand is going to stay faceless, an unknown entity with for most explicit allusion the relatively stripped bodies of the trailer.
This choice of the anonymity is surely not a mere hazard. It’s totally in keeping with the script since we clearly understand in the lyrics of the song that if it takes two to a one night stand, the identity of the other doesn’t really matter in the end.
In this way, the song literally starts with this point:
“You’re filled in my eyes as they just naturally opened up,
Oh oh who is it,
No need to say
One thing more important is
That we’re alive like this”
With the one-night stands, the character is eventually more looking for a sensation, a desire to feel alive, rather than a true human interaction. And finally, it seems that it would be the same for everybody as it is implied in Rad Museum’s first verse.
“Wandering around Night Street
You’re looking for one night
What feeling do you have standing in front of me
Can’t you just tell me all
Your heart is so different
It’s all the same by this time”
This unknown person was also looking through the night for somebody, and if there is intercourse between the characters, in the end, the other remains a complete mystery for the protagonist, a mystery which is never going to be solved and it was the same with the previous affairs, it’s just an endless cycle.
Once again, for the protagonist, the only purpose of the one night stand is to feel alive.
The one night stand, a paradoxical reality
Besides this need to feel alive, the lyrics suggest that there might be a more concrete reason which would explain the current behavior of the protagonist. Or more accurately an event and more precisely what seems to be a romantic disappointment.
Dean explained that:
“Nothing is for certain
In every relationship
Even if it’s coincidence
I’ll be the one getting hurt”
On which Rad Museum added:
“I don’t want nothing
From this day on
In one single day
We’re saying farewell”
The character seems to think that the relationships with commitment are inevitably going to result in pain, therefore he took the firm decision only to do no-strings-attached relationships. From this day on, his relationship will only last for a day, like the lifespan of this insect, the mayfly also called dayfly.
However, despite this firm decision, there is a sort of double meaning in the lyrics which bring to light a certain paradox.
There is indeed this kind of discomfort, of awkwardness, of bitterness, almost of guilt. First in the lyrics, especially Dean’s first verse:
“Leaving aside the clothes full of unfamiliar scent,
Though washing away the memory of yesterday
It keeps coming back as I’m forgotten
Hiding behind a downright excuse
Asking and asking over and over
Am I the bad one
Am I the sick one”
This impersonal, almost mechanical relation bothers the character. He’s quite in distress. While the other is already forgetting him even though they hardly left each other, despite his own efforts he doesn’t manage to detached himself that easily. Hence he comes to ponder the virtue of his actions.
The sentences “Am I the bad one, Am I the sick one “can also by some points be interpreted as a value judgment. We are always the bad one in comparison to somebody else, the sick one in comparison to the norm. This guilt felt by the protagonist might also come from social pressure. His behavior is not in tune with what is morally acceptable, and it especially makes sense if you draw a parallel with the context of the South Korean society where sexual relationships are seemingly not really a topic commonly brought up.
The addiction, a prison
Addiction is quite a recurring topic in Dean’s last works. Instagram already has for substantive theme the addiction to the eponymous social network while dayfly is focused on the addiction to one night stands.
The lyrics previously analyzed suggested that if the protagonist had started one night stands, it was in first place in order to regain control over his relations, to not have to suffer from a relationship anymore.
But finally, by wanting to run away from this possibility to suffer, he locked himself into a habit which is literally becoming an addiction, it has become indispensable.
Among other things, the hook sung by Sulli ended with the sentence “One thing more important is we’re alive like this”. When it’s Dean’s turn to sing it, he ended it with the nuance “One thing more important is that we live like this”
It’s quite hard for me to explain it since English is not my first language, but Dean’s variation seems to be stronger. This is not about the simple fact to feel more alive thanks to the sexual act anymore, now this act truly has become vital. From these word variations we can also understand that one night stands are not a mere act anymore but a real way of life. In any case, the sense is still stronger in Dean’s version.
Therefore it’s now easier to understand the final verse:
“I’m weak to face the reality
Trying to look away but it’s no good,
On the edge of the day repeating endlessly
I was closer to being dead
The truth only hurts
When sweet lie touches my skin
I’ll live this day again just like that
As the nameless night is locked up yeah
As the night is locked up yeah”
The character felt that his behavior was not what suited him the best, as a consequence he knowingly chose to look away. Even if this choice is harmful, it’s too hard to stand the reality while it’s more pleasant to bask in the flesh, the one night stands – when a sweet lie touches my skin – a sort of artificial happiness. Then he knowingly chose to live in an illusion and to keep on looking for new sexual partners.
This last point is none other than the main topic of the MV which now takes a new whole meaning.
A metaphorical directing
Dean recently shed some light on a huge part of the meaning behind the MV.
“Let’s think that the person is a character from a 16bit game, if you look at an old racing game, the character can only move in a certain way.
The character is a person who can only do repeated acts, to move to a same route
The car is the spot where the character returns when the game is over
So the person in the game has to do the same thing again if they return to the car
The situation won’t change whether he burn or smash the car
I wanted to show that situation of person who can’t escape from doing the same thing
The emptiness from one night stand, regretting but doing the same thing again
A human has a stupid mind and they repeat the same mistakes”
This “spot” brought up by Dean, so the car, can be seen as a metaphor of the one-night stands. As a consequence, the flying cameras (which are maybe present in the retro racing game, the kind of white round cf the pictures below) could be a possible metaphor of the fact that the scene we are currently watching would be the product of the protagonist’s subconscious. The MV would more generally be a metaphor for the character’s introspection.
And here once again, like with the lyrics of the track, the protagonist seems to pass through several phases. We can notice that the MV starts with Dean getting out of the car. At first, all the characters present in the shot are quiet. While Dean is singing the others including Rad Museum are playing cards. But this calmness is only precarious since they suddenly start to smash the car.
The more obvious meaning is that at first the protagonist didn’t have any problems with the one-night stands. He was just making the most of the moment. Therefore, in the MV it matches with the moment where the characters in the back are quietly playing cards. But little by little, as we already saw it, a feeling of guilt and discomfort starts to hit the protagonist. He begins to question this kind of behavior and hence tries to stop with the one-night stands. Since in the MV the one-night stands are represented by the car, the willingness to stop it is hence conveyed by the attempts to destroy it.
This destruction attempt didn’t start at a random moment of the lyrics though. There is indeed a change of atmosphere in the MV during Dean’s second verse, the one in which he shares is fear to suffer in a relationship. And hence, as a consequence, it’s possible to do a dual reading.
Since this destruction starts when Dean talks about his distrust of the relationships with commitment, it’s as if the protagonist was sealing his fate. From the moment the character is relating his distrust, it will now be impossible for him to escape from this endless cycle of one night stands. He is locking himself up in the act of the one night stands and this resolution is so strong that it will now be impossible for him to withdraw from it.
Whether it is by fire or by the physical violence, this car withstands it all and the protagonist played by Dean keeps on reappearing inside of it. Reappearing because the camera works are done in such a way that we never see if he goes inside the car on his own or if he just spawns into it.
After the attempt of the other characters and especially Rad Museum to burn the car, Dean reappears once again on the engine, and there is a striking contrast between the burning car and Dean who is almost apathetic inside of it. This might be interpreted as a metaphor of the protagonist’s boredom who doesn’t even really enjoy the torrid aspect (represented by the flames) of those intercourses anymore. It’s like he was just putting up with the moment.
Just before this extract, there is also another metaphor in the part in which the characters are becoming blurry, just as if they were contaminated by a glitch. There are at least two interpretations here. First an extended metaphor of the video game universe since it’s like a computer bug. There are also traces of this metaphor with the part with the kind of technological glasses or the system error (cf the pictures below). The second interpretation would simply be that the blurriness would be a metaphor for the characters’ state of confusion, their alienation. They don’t exist as entities led by their own will anymore but are literally dominated by this desire. This would all the more make sense that this mise-en-scene takes place when Dean sings the nuance of the “One thing more important is that we live like this “
Such an addiction that it leads to the protagonist’s alienation
As we saw it, first the characters are trying to smash the car, then to burn it up. On this umpteenth failure, there is a breach in the melody with a switch or lighter sound. This is a night scene and Dean seems to wake up in a panic in the car. In a last momentum, he switches on the light of the roof and tries to do the same with the radio. But as the control panel is lighting up, the atmosphere turns dark and the spectator sees the system error, file corrupted message appearing.
Here again, this can be interpreted as a metaphor of a person who tries to regain control, this time from the inside, in vain.
The protagonist is once again scrambled, then purely disappears for reappearing in a completely different setup. The melody starts again while there is now a scene of a phantasmagorical dimension which is a way to show all the extent of the protagonist’s torment.
But above all, this scene and those shots are somewhat reminiscent of those from the Instagram MV in which there were also shots of water and this is not some hazard.
In a previously mentioned interview, Dean indeed also explained that:
“Ocean and water were the main keywords while working on the Instagram music video
Falling into thoughts, lost in thoughts
Thoughts come to mind
I thought all of these expressions are related to water
Overwhelmed but in the end you are still alone at the same spot”
In this way, the water was a metaphor of a character who is overwhelmed by the quantity of information in the social networks, but also by their thoughts. Here, in dayfly it’s possible to understand it as a feeling of distress, and, with the computer bug, of alienation too. The protagonist is lost in this habit of the one-night stands, he can’t escape from it, but it’s at the same time a cause of torments. We can see him struggling in the water, he is pulled by different opposite forces which is especially pointed out in the last verse previously analyzed.
Yes the protagonist is troubled, but he keeps on coming back to the car, to the one night stands nonetheless. Like in the lyrics from the last verse he is determined to continue, to repeat the same mistakes to quote Dean
This analyze is once again present in the directing of the MV. After the water shots, Dean is in the car again while the landscape is gradually disappearing with at the end only the car to remain. Hence here there is again a reference to the video games imagery, but if we keep up with the principle that all this mise-en-scene was actually a sort of metaphor of the protagonist’s subconscious, then, once again, the only thing to remain is the car, the one night stands. No matter what he is doing, everything is always coming back to this car, the rest is superfluous, only contributing to the illusion of liberty.
Finally, on the final shot, the introspective metaphor ends and we go back to the reality of a protagonist who just paused his game to answer the call of the flesh.
And you, what were your thoughts the first time you watched this MV, how did you interpret it?