Why was he here?
“He” being Taehyung, man who had about five hundred other things he’d rather be doing than sitting here and enduring this. And “here” being BigCube Entertainment’s nicest conference room, sitting in a swivel chair across from Seoul’s most promising candidate for Most Punchable Face of the year.
It’s simple. Because it pays well.
“It” of course referring to Taehyung’s job of penning four-chord, vaguely-EDM inspired pop songs with catchy hooks, chantable choruses, and most importantly—
“It’s gotta be a banger,” Jungkook smirks at him, his timberlands propped up on the table in the definition of disrespect. “I want girls to—”
“Alrighty then,” Taehyung internally cringes at what the next possible verb could be and cuts Jungkook’s show of bravado off before he can say another word. He sweeps up his stuff into his bag, cueing his exit, “I think I’ve got the picture. I’m running a little short on time, so I’ve got to get going.”
“Great,” Jungkook gets up, hands jammed in his designer varsity jacket. “When can I expect a draft by?”
“Sometime next week.”
And like that, without so much as a thanks, Jungkook and his accompanying entourage file out of the door are gone. Jin shoots Taehyung a look of apology before he slips out the door, and Taehyung takes it as a cue to sigh with relief and head back to his studio, tucking his pen behind his ear as he shuffles down the hall.
If Taehyung had taken risks and followed his dreams, he’d maybe be on Music Bank, singing Adele-esque power ballads in an artistic dress shirt and tie. But for many reasons, he hadn’t. So here he was instead, sitting pretty at a stable 9-5 job desk job producing tangible products and earning a respectable salary.
Well sort of. He’s a music producer. Which, was risky by it’s own rights. But he had already front-loaded the difficult part of 1) getting into an reputable entertainment company and of 2) having a knack of churning out Top 10 hits on the regular. So here he was, a bonafide producer for BigCube Entertainment, slouched in his gaming chair and leafing at his notes from the brainstorm session an hour ago.
Jungkook, or his team at least, wanted a dance title track for his third album. Fresh into his second year of going solo after the disbandment of his boyband Beyond the Direction, he needed a solidifying statement piece distancing himself from his adolescent image and establishing himself as a young-adult idol act. Simple enough. The topic: love. The genre: house. The vibe: cool. The chorus: simple, clean, catchy. Special notes: danceable, stream-friendly, and “it’s gotta include a a sick hook” (Jungkook had insisted).
Without interruptions, with proper communication, and with a more compliable client, Taehyung could knock this out in an hour. And ordinarily he would, digging into his box of beats and finessing a song from fragments in the blink of an eye. With some iteration and a little back and forth, Taehyung could have the artist in and out of the studio and be raking in royalties as the song sits pretty on top of the charts within the same week.
But that was the catch.
Working with Jungkook was a bit like death by a thousand paper cuts. Or at least that was what Taehyung’s experience of working with the rising tweeny-bopping star had been for his sophomore album.
To get a feel for his pain, imagine this:
Getting a request for a Calvin-Harris esque EDM track for a title. Writing a draft of a song, having Jungkook listen to all of two seconds of it before he approves it. Getting a call the next day from his poor manager, Seokjin, at some ungodly hour in the morning insisting that, per Jungkook’s orders, the track needs to be done in a week instead of the two months initially planned. Frantically sending him follow ups as you carefully rush to layer details onto the song, pestering your best friend to sing the guides on short notice because his range is identical (and also who’s damn good at singing by has some sort of built up inferiority complex about it), sweating it out on 30 minutes of sleep and energy drinks until you basically have a final track. Showing up at the meeting right at the dot, and your lovely client sauntering in maybe an hour later without a single apology, only for the piece of shit himself to listen to the beginning, on his phone’s speakers mind you, not studio-quality headphones, and immediately say:
“I wanted a ballad.”
“A ballad, this is a dance track. I wanted a fucking ballad.”
“No, no, you did not. Here’s the email, ‘Calvin-Harris styled track.’ What about Calvin Harris screams ballad to you?”
“Well, fine. Now I want a ballad instead.”
Client work was just so fun.
But he’s a professional, so he grits his teeth and cranks the machine up again, this time a little more feverishly because he’s just lost a week and he still needs to churn out the second title and the ten B-sides within a tightening timeframe. This time, he pulls out a generic piano beat that’s been sitting collecting dust in his file of half-baked ideas, and his bestie finds out Jungkook didn’t even get to the part with his voice and so he straight up refuses to sing this time. And so he has to pull out his own shaky and underdeveloped vocals instead and sing almost an octave out of his range. It sounds shitty, but he’s only got about a day left and no options and so he sighs to no one about how this isn’t his best work as he wraps it up and fire it off in an email. He refuses to waste any more his blood, sweat, and tears with an in-person meeting this time around, and so he instead watches a grainy video-call version of Jungkook review it as he’s lounging with his feet propped up in a bathrobe in some five-star hotel in Osaka.
At least this time, Jungkook uses a proper speaker and gets past the first minutes before he opens his goddamn mouth, and if there’s any expression on his face, it’s flattened by the quality of the video which looks like it has so few pixels that it plausibly could have been taken by an actual potato. Of course any relief Taehyung feels is immediately quashed by the next few words that will come out of his mouth:
“Who sang the guide?” Jungkook says through a mouthful of instant ramen.
“Does it matter?” Taehyung can feel his face start to heat up with impending shame and embarrassment. Why was Jungkook asking about the guides? He usually never cares.
“No. But I’d like to know.”
“It’s not important,” Taehyung just knows his face is a full-blown red at this point and just prays Jungkook doesn’t notice. “Are there any adjustments I can make the the song?”
Jungkook notices. “Was it you?”
“Me for what?” Taehyung was completely ready for Jungkook to drop it.
“Did you sing the guide?”
“Yes,” Taehyung pinches his nose bridge, closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. Supposedly that does wonders for keeping tempers in check.
Jungkook was silent for a moment, music still playing in the background. And for a moment Taehyung thinks he’s let it go, and maybe Jungkook wasn’t as trying as he gave him credit for.
Then Jungkook ruins it, “You need to work on your stability.”
Taehyung, who’s never had a strong grasp on his emotional control is almost about to tear Jungkook a new one when Jimin, aforementioned bestie, stumbled into his studio.
“Wanna get lunch?” Jimin whacks the back of Taehyung’s chair.
“Oh, yes, please,” Taehyung jumps out of his chair and envelops Jimin in a hug. He whispers, maybe a little louder than necessary, “Get me the fuck out of here.”
“Um,” Jimin awkwardly pats Taehyung on the back. “You okay?”
“No wait,” Jungkook protests, sliding his feet off the desk and scrambling to sit up straight. “We’re not done.”
“Oh shoot, you’re working?” Jimin cranes his neck in the direction of Taehyung’s screen. “Is that Jungkook?”
“Yeah,” Jungkook waves. “Hey.”
“What’s up,” Jimin nods.
“Just going over my next single.”
“Oh,” Jimin points at Taehyung. “Can I borrow him for like an hour for lunch? I’ve only got that much time until I need to coach Astro X.”
“Um,” Jungkook bites his lip and runs his hand through his hair. “No.”
“Hyung, I’m super busy—”
“You liar,” Jimin snorts. “Jin told me you have a free day today.”
“I’m spending it working—”
“You’re a chronic liar, you’ve been playing Overwatch.”
“Wait seriously?” Taehyung finally untangles himself from Jimin and glares at Jungkook. “Bye, I’m actually leaving. We can start again at one.”
“Um, Taehyung, wait—” Jungkook’s brows are furrowed as he leans in towards the camera the moment Taehyung ends the call.
“Fuck him,” Taehyung rolls his eyes as he slips on his jacket. “He made me cancel coffee with Hoseok for this shit. Insisted this was the only time he could do it.”
“Did he know?”
“Yeah, I told him that was my only constraint. Then he proceeds to insist on that timeframe.”
“What an ass.”
“You can say that again.”
“What an ass.”
“I didn’t mean that literally. But he was so cute when he was a trainee. I remember when he used to follow us around, and was super shy and stuff,” Taehyung complains with a huff. “What happened?”
“Celebrity disease,” Jimin snorts. “Gets even the best. Probably doesn’t help that since debut anything he’s touched has been at least Platinum.”
“True,” Taehyung rolls his eyes. “Still.”
“Honestly though,” Jimin snickers as they amble out into the hall, “I feel like he’s only like this to you.”
“Seriously? He doesn’t give you this much trouble?!”
“Nope,” Jimin shakes his head. “He shows up, listens, and works hard. I mean he’s slightly cocky, but nothing like what he puts you through.”
“What’s his fucking problem with me?”
Jimin shrugs, “If I could tell you I already would have.”
“I’m never working with him again after this.”
“Both you and I know that’s a lie.”
“The money is too good.”
“...okay, that’s true.”
Jimin snickers, “I know you too well.”
“Still,” Taehyung raises a middle finger into the air. “Fuck him.”