We’re back with a new Ode To The Artist, this time about none other than BTS. I was a bit hesitant in writing this feature because they’re already everywhere and there are so many amazing in-depth articles out there. I wasn’t sure what I could bring to the table that would change the perspective or add something unique.
That’s why I decided to make this Ode about BTS a bit more personal. I’m going to write about some of my favorite lyrics, favorite performances and my own journey with their music.
Fall into the Fandom
My journey into K-pop started in 2017 with ‘DNA’ by BTS. The music video had only been out a month but it had such a high view count that I was really curious because I had no idea who BTS was at that point.
‘DNA’ blew my mind and I was in awe with the use of colors, the choreo, the outfits and the charisma BTS exuded. So I watched a couple more videos and then before I knew it, I was following them on Twitter and I had tailored the algorithm of my Instagram explore page to be almost exclusively BTS content.
As we pretty much all know by now, BTS debuted in 2013 with the single album ‘2 cool 4 skool’ with the title track ‘No More Dream’. They came from a small company BigHit Entertainment, when it still mattered that you came from one of the Big Three to be successful.
Nowadays, with a huge international following, I don’t feel like it’s that important anymore. Just look at the success of Ateez who are signed with KQ Entertainment. Will it make someone’s career easier because they’re from a big company? Obviously, unlimited resources are always a win. However, smart marketing and good music will always find a way.
New Sound, Same Message
In 2015, with ‘The Most Beautiful Moment in Life Pt.1’ they changed their sound drastically but still spoke about the same topics like societal criticism and internal struggle. They did expand though, with topics about youth both the good and bad and the pressure that comes along with it.
Take for example Suga’s intro for that mini-album. The translated lyrics are amazing and heart wrenching.
“Along with the thrown ball, laughter starts to spread
My breath rises to my chin, my dreams squirm about
The dribbles get faster, my heart gets happier
This moment feels like it’ll last forever but the sun is setting
When the night comes again, reality gets destroyed
When I snap out of it, I’m just a scared idiot again
I keep getting scared at the looming sense of reality
Others are running ahead but why am I still here?”
If you compare that intro with the 2020 release ‘Interlude: Shadow’, there’s an interesting growth. While in the intro he was rapping about dreaming and not knowing where to go, in ‘Shadow’ he raps about how he made his dreams come true, but how there’s a flipside to the fame and how scary it can be. First of all, the growth is incredible and amazing to see. However, the pain and fear feels quite the same, if only on a bigger scale.
The circular motion in BTS’ works makes their discography quite unique. Every time they release new content ARMY is looking for references in the lyrics, music video, interviews to see if there’s a callback to their previous works.
Just an example; the music video intro of ‘O!RUL8,2?’ is used in Suga’s ‘Shadow’. While ‘Persona’, the intro by RM uses a vocal sample of ‘Intro: Skool Luv Affair’.
These are just examples of the intros, there are countless other references I could give, but I think we would lose the gist of this feature.
Formula of Success
I’ve been wondering a lot lately what caused the success of BTS. Is there a formula to their global success?
I believe it’s a mix of a couple of things. There’s the fact that they have a heavy hand in the production and creation of their music. Dissecting those and trying to uncover what the members were feeling, makes any ARMY feel closer.
The message of the music is also a big selling point. You will have teenagers, young adults and adults who can relate to the lyrics. If any single person could find comfort in the lyrics or melody then I think they succeeded.
Then there is the undeniable charm of the members. If you watch any video content like ‘RUN BTS’ you’ll be sucked in by their lighthearted humor, their fun dynamics and the genuine friendship. I could write an entire Ode just about the friendship in BTS.
There’s just something so wholesome about their interactions and the thoughtful responses during interviews (when they get asked good questions). It’s not by chance that they have such a massive following. There must be something that strikes listeners’ hearts or else the hype wouldn’t have lasted.
As a way to close off this Ode To The Artist about BTS, I want to end with sharing the song ‘We Are Bulletproof: the Eternal’. The music video basically pictures their entire journey and it’s incredibly wholesome.
Go listen to their discography on Spotify here.