Finding solace is probably one of the things a majority of people would relate to. I think that we, as human beings, are often in search of things, be it abstract or tangible to ease our minds in times of distress, sometimes loneliness.
For me, I found solace last year on a mixtape, or rather playlist, released back in 2018– mono by RM or Kim Namjoon.
I wasn’t a fan yet during its release but better late than never, right? Besides, the beauty of music is that it’s immortal. You can be right on time or years behind but it will still exist in all its glory. So, all I had to do was go online and open Spotify, YouTube or Soundcloud and I have myself before me a playlist that was undoubtedly made out of the warmest pat on the back and a thousand hugs all in one.
It may even be more than that, honestly.
So, mono— God, how can I even begin to describe something so dear to me in actual, meaningful words? I doubt mere words would actually suffice, but it‘s the only way I know how to express my deep appreciation for RM’s artistry that has become a beacon of light in the darkest days of many.
I don’t really remember the exact moment that I first listened to any of the songs off mono, since I had a playlist that had all of BTS’ songs almost always on shuffle. I do recall, however, being reminded of its existence constantly via Twitter throughout a particularly bad day. I’m talking hopelessly empty, down in the dumps, physically and mentally exhausted state of mind and body bad day. Be it destiny or fate or pure coincidence, I listened to it, specifically the 6th track entitled everythingoes (지나가).
What happened next was pretty easy to guess: I listened and I cried, and then I listened again, then cried more.
The song starts off slow and mellow until the melody builds with a soft intensity, RM‘s voice tinged with sadness and strength and hope as he sings about how eventually, everything passes. It’s bittersweet if you think about it– endings being more of a tragic thing in a general sense. But alas pain exists, and so is suffering and sadness and struggle, and how wonderful it is to be reminded that all of those have an ending, too.
It was like being able to breathe steadily again after suffocating for far too long at the bottom of a deep dark abyss, like seeing the first ray of sunshine of a new day.
It felt so damn liberating.
Listening to mono is an experience like no other, songs meticulously arranged for it to be as such. It’s the way each song paints an imagery, a memory, a feeling, and a reflection. All so different, but all the same as well.
seoul (prod. HONNE) is a love song to one’s city, which, for me, navigates through change and stillness working hand in hand— reminiscent of childhood and growing up. A love/hate relationship for a place that became different but still the same; a place that in the end, is still home.
moonchild, for someone like me who has always looked up at the night sky in awe, feels like being welcomed home. It’s a song that takes you by the hand, lifts you up, and tells you that you are not alone. A solemn reminder of fighting through pain all the while holding onto every bit of hope you could find.
badbye (ft. eAeon) is a short and haunting song, placed right in the middle of the playlist. Almost like a time to breathe where fragility is all laid out with straightforward and sorrowful lyrics. It reminds me of moments in films where the protagonists come to some sort of truth or conclusion— sad and devastating, but welcomed nonetheless.
uhgood (어곳) — [sighs dramatically] my love for this song is indescribable. It has made me cry on more than one occasion (or more precisely, on every occasion I decide to listen to it), the first beat and verse seeming like an ON switch for my tear ducts. It’s a song that hits closest to home— of disappointment and expectations for oneself, of acceptance for who you are, and longing for what you hope to be. RM had described it as heartbreaking, but it’s quite a wonder how heartbreaking songs can be so healing.
The last song, forever rain, makes me think of solitude while finding reassurance in something that exists, which in this case, is the rain. The song is dreamy, slow, and calming, which perfectly fits a rainy day. I have written about rain before and how it eases my worries— the world turning less frantic and buzzing. It’s a sad and hopeful song that makes you feel less alone.
If you ask me about mono out of the blue, my response would likely be something pretty bland like: it’s the best, it’s a masterpiece, you should listen to it, I love it so much, stream mono, etc.. RM had once said: the more precious a thing or a person is to you, the harder you can describe it in words, and he was undeniably correct.
It’s been a challenge writing this, having to dig up a mess of thoughts and feelings— more feelings than thoughts being the challenge— and having to organize it to be a piece worthy of being read and written, or just something that at least made sense to anyone other than myself. It might not be perfect, but it’s the best that my present self is able to do.
I can’t thank RM enough for sharing this piece of himself through his art. It’s something to be able to create good music, but something else entirely to create music that is regarded as something so dear that it almost feels like a lifeline. It might sound outrageous, but then again, so is life.
mono is more than a playlist. It’s a safe space that people run to. It’s the concrete ground that keeps you upright when you feel yourself stumbling; an umbrella that protects you from any storm that comes your way; and a friend you can turn to whenever you need company in a terribly dark place, and stays until you’re ready to come out. It reminds me of grassy hills and clear blue skies; sunsets and calm rain showers; and sunrises and everything light and airy and right.
It’s a place where I can be myself— where I can ache and laugh and cry and still feel at home and be enveloped in the tightest embrace of comfort. Sometimes, that is all that anyone ever needs.