Spinning Top: Between Security & Insecurity

  • I. Introduction


    Spinning Top is the ninth extended play by South Korean boy band Got7. It was released through JYP Entertainment and Dreamus on May 20, 2019 to commercial success. It peaked at No. 1 on the Gaon Album chart, and No. 5 on the US World Albums chart. It sold 314,948 units in South Korea at the end of 2019, becoming the 18th best selling album of the year, and was certified platinum by KMCA on July 11, 2019. The group followed it up with a world tour from June 15, 2019, visiting 16 cities in Asia, North America, Europe, Latin America and Oceania.


    II. Background and Composition


    On April 26, 2019, JYP Entertainment announced through a teaser video that Got7 would release an album on May 20. On May 6, two group teaser photos were revealed. From May 9 to May 12, individual teaser photos were released with four different concepts: the first is colorful, the second is black and red, the third is blurry and in black and white and the last one consists of portraits. The album's online cover was revealed on May 13 and the track list was released the following day, "Eclipse" being the album's title track. The first teaser for the music video was released on May 15, the second teaser which offers a glimpse at the choreography was posted the following day. On May 17, an album spoiler was released and the lyrics of each song were revealed on May 18.


    Quote from — JB on Got7's source of anxiety and the concept of the album, Media SR

    Anxiety for the future. As the goal is large, the expectations are high, and there's anxiety that it may return to disappointment. We got to see the light through "Fly" activities, and that's how happiness and anxiety came at the same time. It's an emotion that started with the question "when these times or good times will disappear, and when we have to admit and accept them later, will we be able to fully accept them?" [...] I can't help but worry about the future. As musicians, we'll continue to do music, but as we get older and a new trend comes, the public will find it and we will be pushed out. Thinking about those things, I came up with the message and concept for this album.


    Evaluating ideas to use as the theme of the new album, the word "anxiety" was chosen and, collecting other people's stories, Got7 decided to make an album to help them overcome it. Reflecting on a way to reach the goal, and re-reading his old diaries, JB had the idea of using the symbol of a top, discovering that, even with the passage of time, he had cyclically worried about the same things and had repeatedly gone through periods of anxiety, staying still in the same spot like a top that can't get out of captivity. The toy that rotates in balance was then associated to security and light, while the moment when it tilts and falls was associated to insecurity and darkness. In addition to memories and experiences taken from JB's diaries, another source of inspiration was the opposition between the darkness backstage before a concert and the light of fans' light sticks during the performance on stage.


    The group took part in composing and writing the lyrics of all the tracks, reflecting on previous releases and expressing both "the universal theme of both security and insecurity within oneself", communicating the message to overcome anxiety and move forward heading towards the light, and the pressure experienced over its career in relation to the results of its musical production, and the anxiety towards an uncertain future and of losing what had been achieved up to that moment: on Got7's personal level, it is an invite to overcome the regret and anxiety felt when expectations towards an album are not met. Overall, Spinning Top follows the process of a mind starting to get anxious, reaching the peak and finally finding a sense of stability. The disc consists of six tracks, which become seven in the physical edition with the instrumental rendition of "Eclipse", and is divided into two halves. The first three tracks represent the moment when darkness falls and anxiety sets in: "1°", whose lyrics were partly written by Yugyeom, compares the inclination of even one degree of the top, which leads it to an extreme destabilization, to how getting caught up in a minimum of insecurity does nothing but make it bigger and bigger. The future bass track "Eclipse" sees the participation of JB both in the lyrics and in the composition, and expresses the anxiety of not potentially being able to protect loved ones, and at the same time the fear of making them feel oppressed and end up alienating them. On a personal level, it raises questions about the group's future, capturing the anxiety felt "in the brightest moment" thinking of when popularity and love will disappear. To make the first version of the song, JB took two to three months; "Eclipse" was initially "harsher and full of catchy melodies", but the score underwent numerous revisions following producer J.Y. Park's instructions, given his demand for more melodic and lyrical parts. On Park's advice, part of the lyrics were also modified to change the way the feelings were expressed. The eclipse was chosen for the title as a metaphor, because the process by which insecurity comes and fills a person is gradual, similar to the sun covering the moon. The third song is "The End", written and co-composed by Jinyoung thinking about what could have made him feel more insecure, namely the end of the group, and talks about the anxiety and sadness one experiences at the end of a relationship. As the end of something represents, at the same time, a new beginning, "The End" marks the turning point on the record, introducing the next three tracks, which narrate the return of the light. "Time Out" asks the listener to take a break and get rid of negative thoughts, focusing on overcoming insecurity, and was co-written and co-composed by Youngjae. On the other hand, BamBam participated in the composition and the lyrics of "Believe", in which he invites someone to trust him again and support him, so that he can find the light, similar to how a top, once it has fallen, needs someone who throws it again to resume spinning. The sixth and final song, "Page", was co-composed and written by JB after reading a diary entry from a few years earlier in which he talked about the people he cared about. The song expresses his desire to get in touch with many people and continue to write beautiful stories in the diary, and contains the theme of trusting each other and going together hand in hand towards the future. The album cover is divided into two halves: the upper one represents security and is white, with a standing spinning top; the toy is reflected in the lower half, where it is instead tilted and on a black background, representing the insecurity and darkness that comes when the top is tilted by one degree.


    III. Tracklisting

    IIII. Digital and Physical Editions

    Number Name Length
    1 3:16
    2 Eclipse 3:30
    3 The End 4:05
    4 Time Out 3:04
    5 Believe 3:05
    6 Page 3:44


    IIIII. Physical Extra Track

    Number Name Length
    7 Eclipse (Instrumental) 3:30



    IV. Packaging

    V. Key Videos from the Era


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