By Tássia Assis
It's finally that time of year all Leos have been waiting for: their own astrological season. Last week, the sun slipped away from the nurturing waters of Cancer to take the spotlight on the Lion's blazing stage. There's no hiding in the coziness of a shell anymore — this is a time to bask in the glow and glory of your own power.
Even if you're not that into astrology, chances are you have met at least one person who was boastful about being a Leo. It's because the natives of this sign embrace the characteristics of their representative animal — the lion — quite literally: they are proud, extremely loyal, and will do anything to protect their pride. However, that apparent self-assurance often hides deep insecurities. On a bad day, Leos can be arrogant, jealous, and even aggressive. Some go to the extremes of seeking validation under any cost, and others isolate themselves out of fear of rejection. No matter what the behavior, a Leo's ego is a Big Deal.
And while not all lions feel confident under the spotlight, there's always a little something making eyes turn and jaws drop in their presence; magnetism is part of their cosmic constitution. And so, Leo season is the time to assess our own egos. To get inspired, take a seat, and watch how the lion's energy unfurls in this K-pop playlist:
(Lyrics via Color Coded Lyrics)
There's no better lioness to open this playlist with than Mamamoo's effervescent maknae (youngest member), Hwasa. In her catchy solo debut "Twit," the powerful vocalist flows between singing and rapping, suave and rough like a feline. Complaining about a guy who only has eyes for her, she attempts to infuse him with some Leo self-confidence, while strutting around in golden jewelry, long white claws, and a luscious black mane. However, the music video has a bitter ending, proving that behind the fierce facade and penchant for drama, Leos just want to be deeply loved.
Biggest mood: "You make me loyal / You make me hero / You make me genius / You give so much but why are you the only unhappy one? / Cuz you only breathe for me / You look so lonely."
RM's opening verse makes it clear what "Idol" is about. Hint: It's not to please you. The song poses a collage of diverse influences (from South African Kwaito to traditional Korean music), and its lyrics are not only confident, but also savage in their "you can't stop me from loving myself" hooks. Matching this frantic profusion, the music video offers a horn of plenty of colorful scenarios, optical illusions, and artistic references, taking an unexpected turn on what was expected from BTS's carefully crafted narrative by the time it was released. Straightforward, daring, polarizing… "Idol" is all that, and whether you like it or not, it is also unashamedly proud of itself. And that's what makes a quintessential Leo track.
Biggest mood: "You can call me artist / You can call me idol / No matter what you call me / I don't care / I'm proud of it / I'm free / No more irony / Cause I was always just me."
CLC, "Me (美)"
With two Leos in the lineup (Yeeun and Yujin), CLC seem to have found their strength in empowerment anthems. "Me (美)" is the latest addition to that growing roster, emphasizing the girls' self-esteem while they claim that "beauty is beauty me." Reggae verses, powerful raps and a magnanimous beat drop echo that sentiment. Lush sets and flawless close-ups form most of the music video, but one particularly poignant moment is that of Seungyeon trapped inside the classical painting The Birth of Venus — an allusion to imprisoning beauty standards. When Seungyeon escapes the painting, CLC's leonine message is reinforced, and the group's self-assuredness shines through.
Biggest mood: "It's not obvious / It's new to me / Mediocrity no, no, I'm special / Something is different (I know)."
A.C.E, "Under Cover"
Usually, you can spot the Leo in the pack quite easily. That's the case of A.C.E's main dancer, Byeongkwan: In a yellow fur coat, cheetah-printed crop top, and silvery pigtails, he proudly stands out in the group's latest single, "Under Cover." Impossibly sharp and spitting fiery bars, his magnetism serves as an anchoring point to the thrilling rock track. In the eagerness to be no. 1, many Leos tend to upstage others, but fortunately that's not what happens with A.C.E. Sure, the rapper is a remarkable figure, but he also cedes the stage to let the group stand out as a whole. Balanced Leos know that there is enough space for everyone, and that's arguably Byeongkwan's biggest talent.
Biggest moment: "I'll approach you stealthily / without anyone knowing / I'll protect you when you need me / I'll come running / You can't stop me / Everybody move."
Don't be fooled by Apink's affinity for the rosy color and its sweet meanings. The longstanding group has proven that they have many shades yet to reveal, and "%%" is one surprising hue on that spectrum. Ethereal synths and marimbas fuse to form an atmospheric bubblegum bop, with eerie whispers and addictive vocal samples adding a touch of mystery. The music video incorporates those elements in a quirky, glittery show where the group brews a magical potion to create the perfect man. Eunji and Bomi — as the prideful Leos of the ensemble — know that it's easy to assume no one is good enough, especially when you're safe inside a pink world. This release reminds Leos to keep their haughtiness in check, or they might end up with a floating suit instead of flesh and bones.
Biggest mood: "I'm like an ice cream on the outside / I'm colorful and pretty but a little cold yeah / If you're ordinary, you can't see who I am / Someone real recognizes what's real."
UNIQ's "EOEO" is a warning siren to those entering their territory. Loud horns and an ominous, jungle-sounding bassline set the mood, but it's particularly rappers Seungyeun and Yibo — the group's lions — who set everything ablaze. With their aggressive flows, Leo's most feral instincts come through: This is a sign that doesn't think twice when threatened, and hits straight back to protect what they own. This sense of danger is heightened by a music video that features the members dancing in front of a burning letter sign and stained from head to toe with neon paint. In the lyrics, UNIQ is menacing and boastful — and if anyone doesn't like it, let them "call 911," as Yibo says.
Biggest mood: "If I do something, / More than half of people here come to me / Most of those who said "I'm better than him" / Look at me saying "Wow".
LOONA/Haseul, "Let Me In"
Not all Leos are flamboyant regents. Some are more of the introverted kind, staying in their lane until the world invariably catches their spark. That's where LOONA's Haseul fits on the Leo spectrum, with her sweet and unassuming exterior that holds a shiver-inducing roar inside. "Let Me In," her pre-debut solo, follows that intensity — it's an orchestral production with hints of tango and fluttering strings, overflowing with emotions. The music video was shot in Iceland, and serves as a cold wasteland for a girl falling in love and maturing. Catching her bird-like, innocent self with a wooden slingshot, Haseul questions herself in the lyrics. Is she able to retain her identity, or does this new person have the power to define who she is? "Let Me In" is an introspective dive into Leo's deepest fears, and that's a struggle Haseul translated with a lioness's characteristic majesty.
Biggest mood: "You there, knocking / I hesitate / When I wake up from this dream in the long night / Will I be you? Or will you be me?"
G-Dragon, "(Outro) Divina Commedia"
One of the most influential figures in K-pop, G-Dragon is unsurprisingly a Leo. With his unique voice, fashion style, and trendsetting talents, the industry wouldn't be the same without his contributions. Best known for his more ostentatious works, the prolific artist exposed a more vulnerable side of himself on his 2017 release, Kwon Ji Yong. "Divina Commedia" is a painfully honest meditation on the other side of fame. Inspired by Dante Alighieri's poem of the same name, a sparse instrumental mixes the medieval with the futuristic in a dimly-lit atmosphere. G-Dragon spills his golden heart out using the metaphor of a stage where everyone's living a spectacle, and confesses his deepest insecurities about life, fame, and relationships.
Biggest mood: "We're each living in our own world (On stage) / Planning, producing, writing, directing, everyone's the main character (In their dreams) / Fantasy becomes surrealism."
Momoland, "I'm So Hot"
With one-third of its members (JooE, Nayun and Yeonwoo) being Leo natives, Momoland is a group that undoubtedly benefits from the sign's fire. Their latest single, "I'm So Hot," couldn't be more upfront on that aspect — what other sign could flaunt their appeals so unabashedly? The track's brassy, over-the-top melody pairs well with the flashy confidence of the lions, and it's the perfect score to play while they take over the stage.
Biggest mood: "Those messages looking for me night and day / I don't have time to rest / I'm the hot sun I'm burning more and more / You can't look at me straight."
Tiffany Young, "Over My Skin"
Tiffany is another Leo woman who isn't afraid to make the world her own stage. Ever since going solo and pursuing a career back home in the U.S., the Girls' Generation vocalist has been experimenting with a variety of styles that showcase her multifaceted artistry. In her first U.S. single, "Over My Skin," Professor T (as she names herself) leads the viewer through a class on how to be a pop star — or, a class on how to be a Leo. The soulful, jazz pop track is a bold statement to Tiffany's experience both as an idol and as a woman, and how she learned to own her confidence, voice her desires, and demand respect for her majesty.
Biggest mood: "Because I’m owning what’s mine / Confident, I know I look good, babe / Hope that you can handle my shine / Love me in the way that you should, babe."
SF9, "Jungle Game"
Another group with three Leos in their lineup (Dawon, Rowoon, and Jaeyoon) is SF9. In the energetic b-side "Jungle Game," a pulsing electro beat keeps the momentum going. The lyrics tap on Leo's competitive side, making mention of conquests and enemies that parallel the cutthroat K-pop industry, but the track's most impressive feature is its jaw-dropping choreography. In live performances, the members run across the stage, ensemble in clever formations, do acrobatic jumps, and even move in a human-formed vehicle — which became known as the "Transformer's Dance" among fans. Leos are one of the most creative signs of the Zodiac, and what better place to channel all that genius than in an unforgettable performance?
Biggest mood: "Like a starved animal / Run and conquer / Run until the end / If I can touch it, it's mine / Conquer each and every one / Run until the end."
Monsta X, "Jealousy"
One of the consequences of being so attached to their egos is that Leos can be quite possessive. Jealousy is a feeling that all humans experience, but some lions are more likely to let it blow out of proportion and act out. Monsta X is a group known for their hard-hitting songs that convey strength and belligerence, with their 2018 single "Jealousy" giving a take on its namesake feeling. While the lyrics imply a love interest on the receiving end of "a little jealousy," the music video opts to further the group's intricate symbolism of their Code era, featuring the members in mysterious settings and holding puzzling objects. This choice opens up another layer of interpretation for the release, and makes us wonder if all this dramarama isn't just a leonine put-on show.
Biggest mood: "A little jealousy / Let's get closer / Let's fill this gap between us / Jealousy / I can't even imagine you / Being with someone else."
AOA, "Like a Cat"
In one of the catchiest hits of 2015, AOA showed confidence and sass like a pack of lionesses — but what else could be expected from a track with such a title? While AOA refer more to the domesticated species, their attitude is dignified enough to be classified as the proverbial queens of the jungle. While celebrating their unique glow in the lyrics, the music video is a part comical, part sexy spy-film where the group plots a diamond robbery — and succeeds. Proof that a little Leo confidence can go a long way.
Biggest mood: "I'm good, I'm hot, I'm fresh, I'm fly."
2NE1, "I'm the Best"
2NE1, despite not having any Leos in their lineup, embody the sign's best qualities with ease, bringing forth attitude and confidence to all their releases. A supreme example is the mega hit "I'm the Best." One of the best creations of YG's in-house producer Teddy, this track has a swift rhythm, contagious energy, and earworm hooks that make it easy to understand why it's such a classic. The futuristic scenarios of the music video complement the group's brash message, as if they are otherworldly beings descending to illuminate the Earth. In Leo language, "the best" obviously means themselves, and such is their compelling performance in which 2NE1 truly becomes the center of the universe.
Biggest mood: "I open my closet and put on the freshest outfit / The reflection of my face in the mirror, I carefully check it over / Right now it's 8, I'm supposed to meet up at 8:30 / Tonight I set out with bold steps."