Chung Ha’s new single ‘Killing Me’ is a powerful ode to the frustration of the times

On the follow-up to her glitzy debut album, the singer confronts vulnerabilities that hit a little too close to home

Amid infectious anthems and glitzy pop tracks like ‘Bicycle’ and ‘Snapping’, Chung Ha herself admits that there’s a fear of stagnation that motivates her musically. “The fear of always being the same is greater than the fear of trying something new,” the singer once shared in an interview with ELLE Magazine.

Introspection is not a foreign concept in the music industry, but it does come off as particularly striking from like Chung Ha, whose music is largely defined by confidence and energy, even on her more emotional songs like ‘X’. Coming down from the high of her debut album ‘Querencia’, ‘Killing Me’ taps into an emotion that hits close to home for a lot of her listeners – helplessness.

At its core, ‘Killing Me’ is rooted in the confusion that accompanied the early days of the pandemic – and, coincidentally, looms over many of us now with the appearance of the Omicron variant. It’s not like we need another reminder of just how much our lives have changed over the past two years, but Chung Ha excels at taking what’s familiar to us and using it as metaphors for her own heartbreak. “Everything feels so strange / In my changed daily life / The door is closed and my heart is closed,” she laments on the opening verse.

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The consistent references to the sudden monotony of everyday life lays bare the undercurrent of fear and vulnerability that permeates the vocalist’s latest release. “Every day is a long tunnel / I am yet again tired of its endless darkness,” she cries in the chorus. “I’m again inside a time stop in a forgotten daily life / When does this end?”

But the real highlight in ‘Killing Me’ lies in its production, with the track driven forward by bounding synth beats that transition into a EDM-heavy chorus with the help of a sleek drop, giving momentum to the vocals. Chung Ha’s normally self-assured vocals are tinged with heartrending emotion, one that rides with the urgency of the track’s synth elements. Combine all of that with a music video that confronts the waves of grief in the aftermath of a heartbreak, and you’ve got a powerful track that speaks to the collective hurt for the times.

For all its despair and frustration, the track ends on a seemingly hopeful note. It’s so easy for ‘Killing Me’ to really lean into the vulnerability that’s brought the track forward, but Chung Ha changes tracks and shows us that there is light at the end of the proverbial tunnel (“Shining from far away like a new season / There’s the warm heat of a beautiful light”) – even if it might not resemble what we’d initially envisioned. “Miss the future so bad / I wish that we could go back.”

‘Killing Me’ is, ultimately, an ode that speaks to the frustration of the times. It speaks to people who have had their hearts broken over a romance that didn’t pan out and to people whose plans got put on hold in the face of a global crisis. It’s certainly a great reminder that, in the middle of the escapism and nostalgia for better days, it won’t hurt to acknowledge the hurt we’re all collectively feeling over the past year.

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