Now Playing… is a biweekly column that releases every other Friday at 5 p.m. EST. Every other week, I will spotlight a lesser-known song or artist from a variety of genres. It will be a bit of music analysis, arts education, blogging, and more. Love it or hate it, I won’t let you down at exposing you to the cool art that is being made today from songs, to music videos, to live performances. If you’re also a cool young person constantly on the search for new music, let me supplement your listening diet!

Who are they?

I am not joking when I say 26-year-old Meaningful Stone’s first full-length 2020 album A Call from My Dream has rapidly become one of my favorite albums of all time. It is the coming-of-age soundtrack we need, one that captures the precipice of adulthood.

Especially with the rawness and new artist energy in her live performances of the album, it is a body of work I go back to time and time again when I’m feeling lost. As an early career 22-year-old teenage girl, that is too often. And her performance is just so good. This album touches on ideas of belonging, childhood, growing up, chasing your dreams, and navigating love and adulthood. Her very specific message so deeply resonates with me and feels like it was made for me in this moment in my life. That in itself is evidence of the immeasurable value and beauty of art. I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels this way.

What’s playing this week?

Beep-Boop, Beep-Boop” – Meaningful Stone

Treasure hunt” – Meaningful Stone

All the songs in Meaningful Stone’s 2020 album are amazing, but these two are knock-out hits for the way she so skillfully embeds emotion in her chords and dynamic soundscapes.

Why these songs?

Beep-Boop, Beep-Boop

When I discovered her most popular song “Beep-Boop, Beep-Boop” last year, I was entertained by the silly robot noise name. But the playful title reveals a story very profound, that came out of the singer’s own experience making it as a musician.

“When I first came to Seoul, I felt like poverty and danger were threatening me,” she explained for a live performance recording. “That made me constantly think, ‘what if I die?’” As such, the song begins with an indulgence in her overactive fatalist imagination of sudden tragedy. Your 20s are the time to explore new places and find yourself, but the isolation that comes with it is behemoth. Meaningful Stone is one of the few artists I found who so perfectly captures how it feels to just want to disappear, especially when no one knows who you are to begin with. 

“I don’t know when I’ll die. Even if I’m crushed by a construction crane while walking / This night, that night, if I disappear, wandering. At that moment, please don’t call to find me / How did it come to this? / Now people are covering their ears because of my story.”

To elaborate on how the song came to be, the description for the song reads, “This is the lyrical version of my last will.” The title is not derived from robots, but is Korean onomatopoeia for an ambulance siren. It is admittedly a tad morbid, but stay with me!

In a society that is nonchalant to our suffering, we crave any event that will make us known. Why didn’t you care earlier, she asks. Even upon hearing her tragic story, people still choose to ignore it, and it is within that her realization occurs and the narrative arc is swept up by hope.  

“I don’t know when I’ll die, but / Won’t trade it for someone else’s tears / … money / … honor.”

I don’t know when I’ll die, so I’m going to do everything I can with my life now, she says. She finds her salvation through her own commitment to herself, regardless of what other people may offer – or fail to offer. That is the very core of an artist, to feel the need to create and be authentic to one’s craft to the point that not doing so feels worse than death itself.  

The cherry on top is when we break away into the guitar solo, the lyrics melt away into just instruments. It’s a little too good to sing along with and feels like a cathartic mantra as a listener. It becomes not just a reminder to herself, but a salve for others.

Treasure hunt

In “Treasure hunt,” Meaningful Stone’s immersive storytelling absolutely shines. There is a beautiful use of atmospheric sound to bring us to the very playground and neighborhood in which the song is set. We hear the children laughing and playing, and the beginning instrumentals sound akin to a bell ringing to signal the school day’s end. I wish more songs did this, because it adds such a personal touch and submerges us even more into the story.

Yet, the singer is not happy, and this contrast is what makes the story that much more impactful. Meaningful Stone captures the fun of youthful rebellion and secrecy in skipping after school classes, and through it, reveals an even deeper wish to be removed from daily routine and mundanity. Her feelings are told through a childish lens that makes her message even more timeless and relevant as our memories of our childhood grows clouded with age. It is a meditation on all that we wanted when we were little, and how, as the years pass, we realize those feelings were immature and little. They were sophisticated, and can still resonate with us today as we navigate what it means to find freedom or be in charge of one’s own life when put under societal expectations and structures. Isn’t that an incredible realization?


We are halfway through the year. What’s been your favorite song of 2023, and why? Tweet your answer with #EnViNowPlaying, and I might share your answers in the next edition! 

Lyrics credit: https://lyricstranslate.com

Missed the debut of Now Playing…? Read it here!