The Triumph of (G)I-DLE’s I NEVER DIE
How (G)I-DLE’s latest comeback takes their storytelling to new heights
Minnie put it best when she said the most crucial lyrics to remember from I NEVER DIE are “Just me,” from (G)I-DLE’s new title track “TOMBOY.” This simple yet powerful statement summarizes the album perfectly. The overall premise of I NEVER DIE is a forceful rejection of labels, stereotypes, put-downs, and all other forms of people trying to turn (G)I-DLE into something they are not. The members unapologetically reject attempts to change them and embrace their truest selves, in ways that vary throughout the album. The result of this journey of self-exploration is a fierce, charismatic album that is a K-pop classic in the making.
The Careful Crafting of this Album
One notable reason for the album’s uniqueness and memorableness is the hands-on nature of its creation. (G)I-DLE members participated in the album’s production and writing, and it shows. From Minnie’s emotional intros and outros to YUQI’s powerhouse solo moments to Soyeon’s cheeky raps, I NEVER DIE establishes who the members are in an unreplicable way. Subtle details compound the sense of uniqueness and irreplaceability, such as the way Soyeon says “S.Y” before her verse in “TOMBOY,” in what is hopefully a new signature move! Smart and surprising choices are made sonically as well, such as the instrumental-only bridge in “ALREADY” that ends with a single word: “Breathe.” (G)I-DLE use instrumentals to tell their one-of-a-kind story just as powerfully as they use their voices and lyrics to do so.
The Memorable, Unique Lyrics
Speaking of lyrics, I NEVER DIE is chock-full of clever and interesting ones. The lyrics are not just humorous for humor’s sake, though; lyrics in one track often nod to ones in another track to show the links between chapters in their story. For example, on “TOMBOY,” Soyeon raps with disgust, “Do you want a blond Barbie doll? / It’s not here, I’m not a doll.” Being treated like someone’s plaything is rejected a second time on “LIAR”: “I’m losing myself so bad / Like a doll without emotions.” Story continuation is present within tracks as well. On “Never Stop Me,” one pre-chorus goes, “I’m not okay at all / Let me put on a leather jacket.” On a later pre-chorus, the line changes to “I’m not okay at all… Let me fire [one] last rocket.” There is both continuity and distinction here: in both pre-choruses, they sing about masking emotional rawness and leaving a relationship while putting up a tough front, but this exit changes from putting on a coat and leaving to leaving in a blaze of glory. The antics are heightened, but the underlying hurt that causes them remains the same. Similarly, on “VILLAIN DIES,” one pre-chorus goes, “Why don't you love me? / Look at this / It's so beautiful” (emphasis added). A later pre-chorus changes to “Why do you love her? / Look at this / You'll always hurt me anyway” (again, emphasis added). The underlying question (how can this person possibly love this specific other person but not the speaker) stays the same, but they go from centering themselves to putting the emphasis on the person of whom they are jealous.
Other lyrics are worth appreciating for less in-depth reasons, like “Your mom raised you as a prince / But this is queendom” on “TOMBOY,” “Looking forward to your wedding” on “Never Stop Me,” and “You’re the one who’s trembling between unnie and boss baby” on “MY BAG.” There are moments of emotional rawness that seep into some songs (such as the sentimental “POLAROID” and the warm, friendly “ESCAPE”), but for the most part, (G)I-DLE’s demeanor of dominance and confidence persists throughout I NEVER DIE. They consciously seek to not lose the upper hand in the relationships about which they sing.
The Take-Charge Narrative
Another way in which (G)I-DLE maintain control of their story is by likening it to a literal story, a narrative. In the “VILLAIN DIES” intro, Soyeon questions “[w]ho is a villain?” in the first place, later insisting it cannot be her: “Heroine is mine.” Later on in the song, (G)I-DLE overtly admit to being “the villain in this novel,” but they continue to insist it is also not their destiny to stay in that role: “That villain was me / I hated her for ruining everything” (emphasis added). While those against (G)I-DLE have sought to predetermine their fate as villainous failures, they refuse to accept that conclusion. They take charge of their own destiny and insist their (metaphorical and lyrical) story only stops when they say it does. “I’ll never die / Even if it’s your sad ending,” they declare.
In addition to literally and metaphorically controlling their own narrative, (G)I-DLE metaphorically control the movie of their lives. “ALREADY” begins with “Ready, action,” as if the following story is unfolding on the big screen. With this context, “There’s an idiot who’s satisfied with the seat next to me” takes on new meaning. It can refer to a moviegoer who falls for a character of whom they do not realize the dark side of, like (G)I-DLE have in real life, but it can also just refer to someone ignorantly falling for an ex-lover’s tricks outside of a movie metaphor. Either way, (G)I-DLE reiterate they are the ones who know how this story ends, and therefore they are the only ones who can edit the script and change its conclusion.
With I NEVER DIE, (G)I-DLE step into their own in every way. They solidify their unique image, both sonically and lyrically, and they continuously remind audiences they remain in full control of that image. Their story is just getting started, and they outright reject the attempts of others to write their ending for them. Naming their album I NEVER DIE does not just symbolize how they will not conform to anyone else’s ideals, but also how that will never be the case. Now that (G)I-DLE sing and rap about thriving with their newfound boldness and unabashed authenticity, they revel in the feeling of freedom too much to ever go back. I NEVER DIE is a reminder not to mess with (G)I-DLE and a bold declaration that their impact on K-pop has the potential to become eternal.