a closer kpop reading of ateez’s fireworks

explore the meaning of the visuals in the new music video

Less than a week out from it’s release, ATEEZ‘s new MV Fireworks has already racked up more than 15 million views on YouTube as I’m sitting here to write this. You’ve probably watched the video at least a few times by now, but how closely did you really study the imagery? Let’s take a look at how the visuals reinforce the meaning of the song.

What Is Fireworks by ATEEZ about anyway?

Since I don’t speak Korean very well, I never know the exact meaning of a kpop song until I study the English lyrics, but usually, I have a pretty good idea of what a song is about just from listening. That wasn’t the case with this Fireworks. I don’t know what I was expecting but it wasn’t a song about how you can have fun and get wild without being drunk, but that’s exactly the wholesome message this deceptively fiery song is sending.

The song describes being around a bunch of drunk people and thinking that there are better ways to have fun. It literally invites the listener to join ATEEZ to get fiery other ways, to be big and bold all on your own.

The Post Apocalyptic Setting

Fireworks is set in a world that has clearly seen some bad shit. Ruins of a city rise above a sandy barren landscape. At other times, the boys are underground singing and dancing around and in an abandoned subway car. Quarantine signs are posted in places, suggesting that it was an outbreak of something that let everything fall into ruin.

When you consider the meaning of the song, the setting becomes very symbolic. ATEEZ describes being the only sober ones left at some kind of gathering. That can feel a lot like being the last person alive at the end of the world.

It’s significant that something contagious that would require quarantine is the cause of it all, too. The use of intoxicating substances usually spreads from one person to another. You show up at an event sober but then someone hands you a drink. Then, you get drunk and encourage someone else to join you.

The Radio

At one point, the video shows this CB radio. On the screen, words from the song appear. Specifically Mingi’s signature “fix on” and then “invitation” and “eyes on.” In one way, I feel like this allows Mingi to be present even though he is not in the music video due to his hiatus. We can imagine that he still exists in the world of Fireworks. He’s just somewhere else, and the other members are communicating with him.

In another way, the words can be thought of as going out to us. As I already said, the song is an invitation and that word is shown right on the display of the radio.

The Mining Site

When the boys are above ground, we see them in this construction-type setting. After some online sleuthing, I believe it’s meant to be an open pit mine. But instead of digging for coal or some other precious natural resource, they are excavating the city itself, removing the dirt from it so that it can be inhabitable again.

In light of the lyrics of the song, this seems symbolic of the message. ATEEZ are building something different, wanting to start a movement that they’ve invited us to join. They want to shake the dirt off and allow people to break out of conformity. It’s like clearing away social pressures to give you the space to live your life how you want and to enjoy your life in the way that you wish.

It goes way beyond making a decision to not drink. The idea is that you can measure happiness and fun for yourself. You don’t have to compare to others. It’s better to break out and be your own person, to follow your own passions.

The Fire

By the end of the video, there is fire everywhere. The subway tunnel went up in flames, and the dead tree from the beginning is burning. Obviously in a song called fireworks with lyrics that describe playing with fire, you’d expect to see this, but it’s important to tie the fire into the rest of the visuals.

Fire doesn’t just destroy. It also gives room for things to be reborn like the metaphor of the phoenix that rises from its own ashes or how natural non-manmade fires help forests grow. In order to move forward, sometimes you have to burn down the old way of being. Here, ATEEZ is doing that literally.

The fireworks described in the song represent living brightly and beautifully, of not being afraid to attract attention with your gorgeous colors lighting up the sky. And of course, we get to see some fireworks exploding in the video to drive the metaphor home.

That wraps up my analysis of ATEEZ’ Fireworks. What did you think of the video? Let me know in the comments.

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