Lee Su-hyun’s Debut Solo Track “Alien” Highlights the Beauty of Being Different
Lee Su-hyun strikes out on her own with her solo debut. (Illustration by Emmalia Godshall, Columbia University)

On ‘ALIEN,’ Lee Su-hyun Highlights the Beauty of Being Different

One half of the brother-sister duo AKMU, the musician is spreading a message of positivity with her debut single.

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Lee Su-hyun’s Debut Solo Track “Alien” Highlights the Beauty of Being Different

One half of the brother-sister duo AKMU, the musician is spreading a message of positivity with her debut single.

After being the main vocalist of AKMU (Akdong Musician) for six years, Lee Su-hyun finally makes her solo debut with the single “ALIEN.” Released on Oct. 16, this song introduces a distinctive beat accompanied by flamboyant character animations and flashy visuals in the video. Although labeled as pop, Lee Su-hyun’s iconic lulling vocals distinguishes her from the majority of modern music. Just one listen will get you hooked on the astronomical rhythm and pulsing energy of this song.

Lee Chan-hyuk, Lee Su-hyun’s brother who debuted in AKMU with her as a brother-sister duo, assisted with the production of the song but was not on it himself. After years of being on stage and performing together, the bond between these siblings speaks volumes. Even when not side-by-side physically, behind the scenes, they continue to support each other and their dreams.

 

The Significance in the Lyrics of “ALIEN”

The song’s uplifting lyrics and its optimistic outlook tell people that it is okay to be different when the entire world wants you to be “normal.” After a few rising beats, the single starts with: “My mama told me I’m ALIEN / Actually you’re from a galaxy far away / You in that planet used to be a champion, a winner who has won a gold medal,” which already prizes being different as being special and extraordinary.

Afterward, through a smooth transition, the steady rhythm picks up a little in the second verse, accompanied by the lyrics, “You got bigger and greater, the planet couldn’t contain you anymore.” This emphasizes the idea that being different from others does not make you insignificant or small, but rather makes you powerful and inspiring.

Over the years, Lee Su-hyun has been a target of netizens for her appearance — which only prompted her to create a beauty and life channel on YouTube. Rather than having the ideal V-line and double eyelids Koreans find attractive and getting plastic surgery to fit prevailing beauty standards, Lee Su-hyun wants to embrace her natural features and motivate others to do the same.

“I have very small eyes, and small facial features in general. In the past, I received many attacks about my looks,” she said in MBN’s variety broadcast “Cart Show 2” in 2018. “I wanted to show everyone that I was confident about myself and that I loved myself for who I am.”

To show that she was serious about loving her own appearance, she disclosed in April 2018 that she personally requested a special clause in her contract with YG Entertainment that banned them from requiring her to get unwanted plastic surgery. And in “ALIEN,” Lee Su-hyun continues to promote self-positivity, illustrating that beauty comes from within.

Once the pre-chorus emerges into the mix, the song is filled with an intergalactic resonance as if the listener is floating in outer space — possibly a way to symbolize every person’s potential; in a vast, empty space, one only has to look at the stars to realize that they have the power to shine as well. “You realized you have a special power / I’ll get weaker and you’ll get stronger.” The visuals of Lee Su-hyun’s animated character dancing among the stars only emphasizes this interpretation.

The most iconic lines in the song, in my opinion, lie in the bridge, where Lee Su-hyun sings, “No need to hide behind the veil, ALIEN / Tell them who who / Tell them who who/ If anyone asks who I am / I’m here to save this darn Earth, ALIEN.” She encourages others to be true to themselves and not to fear ridicule from others. In her case, since she is a celebrity, her elevated status comes with a lot of haters. Instead of dwelling on their negativity, she converts it into positivity for herself and others. Boldly, in the song, she states that she is trying to save the Earth, which is fitting for what she is trying to do in the real world.

In an interview after modeling for Maria Claire Korea, Lee Su-hyun explains the general takeaway she wants her listeners to focus on, which is breaking down the barriers that society imposes upon people.

“The message I want to focus on is self-esteem. The standards of the world are quite uniform and breaking these is not easy. Although many people have tried to break them, I hope that they continue to break even more. I hope our world becomes a place where different people are respected and can love themselves,” she said. “I believe that art has the power to change the world. From afar, the world looks at peace, but up close, it’s extremely dynamic. Artists are people who must express what they are thinking. They are the people who can suggest new things to our world.”

She encourages other artists to use their platforms and talents to boost positivity, just as she is doing. This makes her one of the most inspirational musicians in the K-pop industry.

The Secret to Raising Self-Esteem and Self-Positivity

Raising self-esteem is no easy feat, and standing up against society’s standards requires courage. However, accepting yourself for who you are, including all your flaws and mistakes, is the first step to raising your sense of self-worth. Realize that no one is perfect, even those who appear to be. Keep in mind that everyone has a side to them they never reveal to others.

Instead of wishing to become someone else and beating yourself over the things you cannot control, learn to embrace your own beauty and spread positivity to others. As Lee Suhyun states in the song “ALIEN,” “The planet is paying attention to you / Now you’re ready for this.” Now spread the message around.

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