Over the course of a tumultuous four-year hiatus, there seemed to be one question on the minds of fans everywhere: Where does Big Bang go from here?
What the members have been up to as individuals haven’t exactly been hidden from the public eye, for the most part: G-Dragon has gone down the fashion route with collaborations galore, T.O.P started to make a name for himself as a young art collector, Taeyang has built a family of his own and Daesung’s has become quite the popular YouTuber.
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In the face of line-up changes, numerous retirement rumours and hopes of a reunion dashed by factors out of their control (like, say, a global pandemic), the question persisted – but yet fans held on to hope. And one faithful day in 2022, their prayers were answered when YG Entertainment confirmed that the quartet would finally be returning to the spotlight.
Big Bang’s much-anticipated comeback single ‘Still Life’ may not provide the answers most have been clamouring for, but it does want to let listeners know one thing: they’re not the same men they were four years ago, and they’re all the better for it.
Through the lens of the passing seasons, ‘Still Life’ honors the distance between where the group were four years ago and where they are now. For the Big Bang of today, the glory days – selling out concerts, touring the world, back-to-back releases – are but a memory that the group hold near and dear. “Goodbye now to my beloved young days / Our beautiful spring, summer, autumn and winter,” Daesung croons in the second verse.
With production reminiscent of soft rock from the ’70s and ’ 80s, ’Still Life’ excels at bringing out the unique vocal tones of each member – an aspect that has long been lauded as one of Big Bang’s strengths. The same laid-back arrangement that brings out Taeyang and Daesung’s rich vocals also leaves a lot of room for rapid-fire introspection from G-Dragon and T.O.P.
At this point, it’s worth noting that both rappers were heavily involved in writing and composing the track and, given the song’s theme overall, it isn’t much of a stretch to assume that their verses are heavily influenced by how the passage of time has treated both of them.
Rooted in bittersweet sentimentality, G-Dragon finds himself revisiting his own struggles with personal growth. “A seven-coloured rainbow slanted like a sneer / Passed the seasons without maturing / I can’t mature (Still),” he laments on the third verse of the track.
It’s a sentiment that’s familiar to long-time fans in more ways than one. Beyond the relatability of just how hard it can get to grow into one’s self, it’s an echo of a struggle he’s brought up in 2016 track ‘Last Dance’ (“I’ve gotten older so I / Guess I become an adult / Why am I so anxious”).
With his departure from longtime label YG Entertainment, it might not come as a surprise that T.O.P’s verse is one that comes off as the most personal. Here, he doesn’t shy away from referencing what the past years have looked like from his perspective – or acknowledging the uncertainty of his own future after promoting with a group for as long as he has.
“I’m leaving inspiration’s Amazon / Burying all the trauma from past nights,” T.O.P declares. “A round-trip ship running, risking its life to start anew / I’m going to change more than before.” His words, though, hit even harder knowing that the rapper has doubts about his future as part of the group.
Paired with a music video that doesn’t feature the four members in the same shot, or even on the same set, ‘Still Life’ is a recognition that the passage of time has brought each of them to different points in life. Though their individual growth is never portrayed as the group growing apart, the track makes clear that all this is a natural, if emotional, progression from where they were.
With ‘Still Life’, Big Bang close a chapter of their lives that’s been left hanging for the past four years – whether or not this signifies a final bow from the group is something we’ll have to wait and see.