‘Raingurl’ is a song that envelops you. You hear it once and it seeps right into your membrane, along with Yaeji’s voice, and refuses to leave. I’m not sure whether ‘Raingurl’ is a mood, or a virus, or both. Either way, it’s insidious; a swirling evocation of what it means to be inwardly focused in a club environment full of thriving, jiving extroverts. I am fascinated by this piece of music, how it came to be and what about it has captured the imagination and enveloped so many other people. In a year full of unlikely hits, from ‘Man’s Not Hot’ to ‘Passionfruit’, there’s still something uniquely weird about Yaeji that sets her apart and has gained her a new legion of fans. It could be that she raps in Korean and English, moving so seamlessly between them in her post-robotic vocal production that it takes a while to twig to the fact that she’s doing it. Or it could be the mantra-like nature of the lyrics, which borrow from house as much as they do hip-hop but exist in this strange netherworld where lines like ‘Mother Russia in my cup’ suddenly sound like a party-starter. But ultimately, I think its the humour. It’s not that Yaeji is parodying the culture she has studied for so long, but rather, approaches it with the laissez-faire attitude of someone willing to try anything once. As it turns out, it’s a good move.
Now that you’ve heard ‘Raingurl’ once, you’ll hear it everywhere. It is the sound of post-postmodernity, of heavy, cacophonous bass drums and floating synthesisers, of seductive whispers and Daria-like delivery. An unlikely song in a number of ways, primarily for wanting to make you dance despite its quietness, maybe the quietest and loudest song at once. The parts, separated and filled with helium, threaten to float away, tied together only by the insistent clattering of snares and hats. That distance is exacerbated by the distance in tone between Yaeji’s voice and the bass so deep it barely seems to have one. If someone had told me that this song was programmed for our future, artificially intelligent overlords, I wouldn’t be surprised.
But then, it’s definitely for sapiens. It’s sexy without apologising, irreverent without justification. It may sound like cogs and flashing lights, but only we would be so utterly gullible as to fall for it. And we fall for ‘Raingurl’ hard. We sing it to ourselves nonsensically, even when it isn’t playing. We wonder what it all means. We try to dance, and look stupid, we try to sit still, and can’t. ‘Raingurl’ is a subsonic spell. It is a fever dream from which we truly believe we may never wake up. One day we will forget it ever existed, but for now it is absolutely everything. Drums echo. Knives are sharpened. It’s starting again.
Pray for us.