Gain (가인) – Tinkerbell (팅커벨): Fairy Tale Sexualization

gain talk about s album cover

Korean singer Gain from girl group Brown Eyed Girls released her second mini solo album “Talk About S” in October, which is full of sensualism and sexualization. Surely the title song “Bloom” has received mass acclaim, but I found it too flat and flowery. Compared to “Bloom”, in this album I prefer “Tinkerbell” (it’s actually my favorite song from this album), a very bouncy and tender song that delivers a very interesting sexual implication.

The song is grabbing from the beginning when the first guitar sound drops then stops radically, giving an unexpected pause. In a way, the guitar sounds resemble the sound of the wings of Tinkerbell: the swiping chords and the radical stops resemble the sound of wings getting stretched out, and the fast trembling/ vibrating notes resemble the sound of wings flapping.  The bouncy guitar instrumental builds a feeling of fairy tale, but the tone to this “fairy tale” is not as bright or girly as usual since the chords are of medium-low notes instead of high notes. What is more, the one odd chord before the vocal part signals the listeners that the song would more or less funky instead of light-hearted. 

Gain starts singing using staccato(jumpy short notes) with an airy voice that’s soft and sweet like a little girl who’s asking for candy – the character in that voice seems just like the common cute Tinkerbell we know. But then her voice drops low and calm when she sings the lower pitches, which reveals Gain’s true identity of a fully grown woman; then she switches back to the tender and sweet voice as the pitches goes up again, pretending that she’s still a cute little innocent girl – until she whispers ” 큰일나요 (we’ll be in trouble)” like an echo. Then she shifts her voice from airy and soft to solid and flat – it even sounds a bit haughty – as she squeezes out the refrain line “Ah, ah ah ah auh” during the transition from the verses to the chorus. Before the chorus even comes in, the sexual image is already fully drawn by Gain’s excellent interpretation with her voice: the cute and sweet Tinkerbell is indeed a mature woman, and she, just like every other woman, has sexual desire. Not that the song is literally about Tinkerbell, but it surely sets a metaphor, using sexualized Tinkerbell image to indicate girls’ – especially those innocent and cute looking girls’ – sensual nature and sexual desire hidden behind their appearance.

The chorus is where the sensualism fully gets revealed. Gain doesn’t sing with staccato any more, instead she lengthens the end of every word until the next word is spelled out. Her voice becomes airy and lazy, which, together with the seductive lyrics

“feel me, watch me 꿈이 아니야/this isn’t a dream
hold me, touch me 나를 만져요/touch me
oh kiss me, hug me 아침이 오면/when the morning comes
난 내 별로 돌아가요/I’m going back to my star”

and the rapid inhaling “hah” sounds, creates a very sensual sound effect. In fact, the lyrics itself isn’t minor-inappropriate originally, but together with the sound effects, the lyrics sounds like an inquire for sex. The “Ah oh”‘s then adds a playful taste to the sexual message in the lyrics and the music, as if saying “oops, it’s a mistake, but who cares?”

In the second verse, the one-measure-long pauses between the first, second and third lines (compared to the first verse) are now gone, and as a result, it seems like the pace of the second verse is faster. Also, Gain doesn’t use that cute and sweet voice with staccato anymore, instead she just says the lines out steadily and smoothly. This shows the progression of the Tinkerbell girl’s mentality: she has become franker,and she is more eager and daring to ask for sex, showing her mature side.

The whole song’s composition is rich and playful: it is full of sudden stops, conversions between long dragging notes and short bouncy sounds, and shifts between left sound tracks and right sound tracks. These sudden shifts and pauses may be disturbing to some listeners, but they surely adds funkiness and irregularity of the song, building the novelty and fantasy of the “fairy tale”. As the song progresses, layers of instruments and sound effects add in, layering on the playfulness of the song while subtly describing a sensual love story – or a sex scene. The rapid thrumming sounds that come in and fade randomly resemble rapid heartbeats; the jazz instrumental represents the romantic yet frivolous vibe during the sex scene, indicating that the sex isn’t really serious or responsible. The short “Ah-auh auh” sounds, the “ah-oh” sounds, “the rapid gasping “hah” sounds, and the long sighing “Ahh” sounds all resemble sexual moans and heavy breathing during sex. With all the different elements integrated together, “Tinkerbell” becomes a sexualized and altered “fairy tale”. The “fairy tale” is till very light-hearted and sweet, but just in an adult way.

Funny enough, though the sexualization and the sexual message imbedded in the song are so evident (at least to me), “Tinkerbell” is still rated as minor appropriate in Korea (k-pop industry strictly censors anything that could be interpreted to be sexually inappropriate). In my opinion, the original Peter Pan fairy tale shelters the sexual message in the song to the extent that it wouldn’t be censored; if you just look at the lyrics plainly, it doesn’t seem too sexual. However, the music and the emotion Gain expresses through her singing sexualize the song. After all the effects, the story of “Tinkerbell” becomes a sexual story in which an innocent and cute looking girl – maybe also a girl of petit size like Gain – expresses her hidden sensual nature and seeks guilty pleasure in “Peter Pan”, a man she is sexually drawn to.

Though the song is so fantastic (in my opinion of course if you bare with me 😉 ), no music video of it is released so far. Nega Network did release a teaser for it, however I doubt that they are going to film an entire MV. Check out the sensual fairy tale teaser below:


*All rights related to the picture and the song reserved to rightful owners. All rights related to the writing reserved to Asian Music Invasion.

**Hope you guys enjoy this song, and this long post attempting to analyze the song! If there are some very serious grammar problems in the passage, please accept my apologize. I haven’t been writing recently, but I promise it will get better!

This entry was published on December 13, 2012 at 12:15 am. It’s filed under K-pop, Review and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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