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Learn Korean with K-Pop: How Are NCT 127's English & Korean Versions of "Regular" Different?

Mwave by Deana Gulyn Kim, Vanessa A. Oct 11, 2018 19:00 Updated Oct 12, 2018 08:14

NCT 127 released the Korean version of "Regular" today and so we're going to have a special of edition of "Learn Korean with K-Pop" to examine how exactly the songs are different by taking a look at the Korean and English lyrics. 


Stay with us, it's about to get very college poetry paper in here. 


#1: Mark's First Rap

 

Lyrics

Korean ver.

원하는 거 I get them all 아직 없어 많은 buzz

도심속의 주인공 CT앞에 N붙여

우린 원을 쫓지 않아 we the one, one, one

Yeah 셀 수 없는 밤 나 주인공이 돼


Won-ha-neun guh I get them all ah-jik up-suh ma-neun buzz

Do-shim-sok-eui ju-in-gong CT ap-eh N bu-chyeo

Woo-rin won-eul Jjo-jji ahn-ah we the one, one, one

Yeah sel su eom-neun bam na ju-in-gong dwae


What I want I get them all, there’s still not much buzz

The city's star (literally "main character"), put the "N" in front of the "CT"

We don't follow the ₩, we the one, one, one

Yeah, countless nights I become the star


 

English ver.

I like shining, you be lying

I be grinding, you waste time

Know you wanna roll with me

Cause you know I put it down

 

Explanation

In an interview with iHeart radio, Jaehyun stated that, "The first half of the album is when we’re “awake,” but starting middle of the interlude, it changes into a dream state. In our dreams, we can become whoever, whatever we want." And, Mark also confirmed that, "The album goes back and forth from reality to dreams, from the ‘regular’ to the ‘irregular.’"


According to the "Regular" and "Irregular" highlight medleys, in terms of the album's movement, "Regular" (Korean Ver.) is the #2 track, while "regular" (english ver.) is the #10 track. Taking into account what Jaehyun said earlier in the interview, it's safe to align "Regular" (Korean Ver.) with the "awake/reality/regular," while aligning the "regular" (english ver.) to the "dream/dreams/irregular." That point is further driven home by the use of normalized capitalization for the songs in the "Regular" medley (including the Korean version), while those songs contained in the "Irregular" medley (including the English version) eschew normal rules of capitalization and are differentiated from each other through that trait.


What does that mean for the lyrics we put above? These first few lines from Mark, which are so different in each version, are the first hint that the Korean version = awake/real, while the English version = dream/dreams. With lines like "I like shining, you be lying / I be grinding, you waste time," the English version is all about confidence in contrast to others and the charisma that draws others to you. However, in the Korean version, while the group is aspiring to "get them all," and becomes the "star of countless nights," at times "There's still not much buzz." Meaning no matter if you're NCT 127 or anyone else living in the limelight, buzz or fame is fickle and can ebb and flow. With this in mind, it seems like the Korean version is in tune to the reality of fame, while the English version is more akin to the dream of fame or even what it looks like to others.

 

Note* In the line "우린 원을 쫓지 않아 we the one, one, one," the exact lyrics are a bit unclear, so we'll have to wait until official lyrics are out. However, it seems likely that there would be play on words with "원" (won) and "one," so this is the translation we've gone with. In addition, in the English version, during Taeyong's rap in the second verse, he says the line, "When I show up, I’m the one and only." While it's not the exact same position in both songs, it also seems like the line in the Korean version could be referencing the line in the English version by using "one."


 

#2: Swagger versus Ambition

 

Lyrics

Korean ver.

꿈이 내 손에 잡히지 머릿속 상상에 비치지

Kkeum-i nae son-eh jap-hi-ji meo-rit-sok sang-sang-eh bi-chi-ji

My dreams held in my hands, my imagination shines in my head

 

English ver.

I might pull up in a spaceship, hop out it don't look like I live here

 

Explanation

These two sets of lines rapped by Taeyong at the exact same point in each song couldn't be anymore different. While the English version is the dream of fame where there's luxury and spaceships that you can just jump out of, the Korean version is more about being awake or present to realize the dreams that are still within us. And, if you needed any more proof that that the English version is about dreams, let the television tiger tell you with his onscreen text stating,"you know, it's all in our dreams."

 


#3: Queso

 

Lyrics

Korean ver.

I be banging with my team, 우린 깨있어

I be banging with my team, woo-rin ggae-it-suh

I be banging with my team, we're awake

 

English ver.

I be walkin’ with the cheese, that’s that queso

 

Explanation 

You knew we were going to bring up the infamous "queso" line (especially since the beloved "Bust it, bust it, bust it" didn't make it into the Korean version). The difference here is more about deft word play with homophones. The "queso" line in the English version is clearly the Spanish word for cheese, used in the line "I be walkin’ with the cheese, that’s that queso," meaning "I'm walking with money" since cheese is often colloquially used to refer to money. However, in the Korean version what they're saying is the homophonically almost identical word  “깨있어" (ggae-it-suh), which means "awake."  While this line in the Korean version not only references that earlier "awake versus dream" theory, it suggests that the "team" is ready, ambitious, and awake versus swimming in luxury and "cheese."



#4. I'm not regular, irregular

 

Lyrics

Korean ver. 

우린 이 기분을 즐겨 느껴 every time

날 놓친 애들에겐 제발 stop hitting my line

점점 쌓여가지 but l'm still not satisfied, 

당연하게 on the regular, 난 보통이 아니야, irregular 


Woo-rin ee gi-boon-eul jeul-gyuh neu-ggyuh every time

Nal noht-chin ae-deul-eh-gaen jae-bal stop hitting my line

Jeom-jeom ssa-yeo-ga-ji but I’m still not satisfied,

Dang-yeon-ha-gae on the regular, nan boh-tong-ee ah-nee-ya, irregular


We enjoy this feeling every time

To all the people that let me me please stop hitting my line

It plies up gradually but I’m not satisfied,

Of course on the regular, I'm not regular, irregular



English ver.

VVS my diamonds, I don’t need no light to shine

Iced out both my wrists, now I can barely see the time

I just made a million and I’m still not satisfied

‘Cause I need a bag on the regular

I spend a bag on the regular


Explanation

The lyrics and feeling of each chorus couldn't be any more different. The feeling of the English "dream" version continues that swimming in luxury vibe ("Iced out my wrists, now I can barely see the time"), while the Korean "awake" version, the reality of fame, at least in this song, is more about wealth "piling up gradually." However, what unites the Korean version of "Regular" and its focus on the reality of striving for fame and money, and the English version of "regular" and its dreamy, luxurious version of fame, is that pursuing money alone isn't satisfactory. What the Korean versions answers is that the "reality" is that, behind the ambition for wealth, you need imagination and dreams--you need to be "irregular".


While we've been talking about "regular" and "irregular" as referring to the idea of reality versus dreams, the particular line "I'm not regular, irregular," only present in the Korean version, is more about difference between the Korean word "보통," meaning ordinary, and "irregular," meaning not ordinary. And, with the news that they trended #4 worldwide today on Twitter, there's nothing "regular" or ordinary about NCT 127.




Bonus


The Korean version mentions Kayne West in the lyrics “So fly so high Kanye처럼 we touch the sky, 구름 위로" (So fly so high like Kanye we touch the sky, above the clouds), which is interesting as you would think that they would reference Kayne West in the English version.


Watch both versions of NCT 127's "Regular" MV below and let us know your theories about what NCT 127's "Regular" means!



 Video credit: SM Entertainment

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