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방탄소년단 (BTS) : Love Yourself ‘Her’ Album Review

Track list:

  1. Intro: Serendipity*
  2. DNA*
  3. Best of Me*
  4. 보조게 (Dimples)
  5. Pied Piper*
  6. Skit: Billboard Music Awards Speech
  7. Mic Drop*
  8. 고고 (Go go)*
  9. Outro: Her*
  10. Skit: 망설임과 두려움 (Fear and Hesitation)
  11. 바다 (Sea)

*Songs I’ll be analyzing

Intro:

BTS, known by other names such as Bangtan Sonyeondan (방탄소년단), Bangtan Boys, or Beyond the Scene. They’re a K-pop group that debut in 2013 from Bighit Entertainment, while their company was small, their success led to them being one of the highest paying and well known K-pop groups in the world. The group consist of 7 members: Rap Monster (the leader), Jin, Suga, J-hope, V, Jimin, and Jungkook. BTS has won awards domestically in Korea, such as “Mnet Asian Music Award Artist of the Year”, a high honor for Korean artists. BTS’s influence has won them Billboard Music Award for Social Artist and reached into US music charts as well, their new album’s title song, DNA reaching in the Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. They’re the new symbol of national pride for South Korea and their success is still ever growing.

 

Album initial thoughts:

As a long-time fan of BTS ever since they first debut with “No More Dream”, I’m glad to see they progressed from having little-to-no backup dancers to hosting one of the largest and popular K-pop acts in the world. Even though, I’m younger than the youngest member, I can’t help but feel proud on how they’ve have grown over the years. From their vocals to their music styles, they continue to mature and dominate the world as they’ve always dreamed. Any thoughts I’ve written through this article is reflecting out my respect for them, so please be courtesy on constructive criticism for this article.

BTS’s new album is Love Yourself: Her, a continuation of their previous album, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” with their title song being “DNA”. Now, a lot of people will hate me for saying this but in my opinion, this album was not my most favorite from them. Was it good? Yes. Would I listen again? Yes. Would you actually spend your money on getting a physical album? Yes. Is it one of your top 3 albums from them? Yes, but it did not knock the pedestal of my heart for number one. While I do like certain songs from the album more than the others (I’ll go in depth later). It felt that they were trying to surpass the bar they set for themselves but to me, did not hit it all the way. My opinion of the Chainsmokers are not going to influence my thoughts on their collaboration but I do believe that Chainsmokers is not a good role model. I’m a very advocated music listener, a very picky one in fact, I’ll be giving my opinion on certain album songs I chose as well as in depth analysis about lyrics and instrumental background. There will be the original Korean lyrics and the English translation, where I’ll give my interpretation. This is not a theory article; I have no time or energy to do that.

Song Review:

  1. Intro: Serendipity, Produced by Slow Rabbit

This is the first song on the album track list is sung solely by Park Jimin, one of the main vocalist of groups. Jimin has an impressive vocal range that’s very flexible ranges from E4 to C#5 and can peak around G4; basically, Jimin’s voice can reach six times higher than the average man. Jimin’s vocals are very soothing melody that gives the listener a sense of security along with the gentle ballad, trap tempo that gives a beautiful balance to some of the deep and high tone of Jimin’s voice. The track starts off very gentle opening as the lyrics building up the tempo until then the beat drops slightly, it quickens the tempo beat from quarter beats to half notes, almost as if the music was to represent a heart beating after a new discovery.

“너는 나, 나는 너” : “I am you, you are me” – This is common idea that everything in life is a part of a connected consciousness where you should respect everything life has to offer. I find that this lyric reflects the universal theme of respecting things around you and this reflects the idea of the song, “Serendipity”, refers to finding a discovery by chance and wisdom as reflect by the first lyrics said, “이 모든건 우연이 아냐”: “All of this is no coincidence”.

  1. DNA, Produced by P Dogg

     ‘DNA’ is BTS’s title song in this album, it includes all the members of BTS, where their vocals come together into a very catchy song. It’s even have gotten recognition onto the Billboard’s Top 100 chart. While it’s very popular, it’s surprisingly not my most favorite song out of the album. The first few seconds starts off with whistling and a beat that is on sixteenth note beats then progresses into four quarter notes into beats with acoustics, then the song progresses into a slightly slower beat then the beat drops and raises it the tempo, and repeat. The beat fades away into the bridge that’s sung by V, where his deep voice comes in play very well when the beat fades into an almost silence. Normally, I’m prefer faster tempo songs but the background synthesizing and auto-tune effects makes the song melody and lyrics so crammed. The two beat drops before Suga’s rap for example, was a bit to excessive for me.

“우리 만남은 수학의 공식/종교의 율법 우주의 섭리/내게 주어진 운명의 증거” – “Our meeting is like a math formula/ Commandments of religion, providence of the universe/ The evidence of destiny given to me.” While Rap Monster is a known atheist, the other member’s religions are unknown; the lyric uses the idea that meeting their lovers is universally destiny regardless of faith, belief, or religion. DNA is song that seems to be a continuation of Serendipity with the scientific references.

 

  1. Best of Me, produced by P Dogg and Andrew Targgart

Best of Me is a collaboration song with Chainsmokers. While I do not necessarily like the Chainsmokers, not just personally but their music is very mainstream and repetitive. I do respect that they are popular music artists and that I’m sure BTS is honored to collaborate with them, but the song seems so ordinary, it has all the group members’ voices in it but the EDM section of the song sort of takes away from the romantic lyrics of the song. Isn’t that what all Chainsmokers’ songs are like though?

“어떡해 너의 언어로 말을 하고” – “What do I do? I’m speaking in your language”. Rap Monster is portraying his hesitation on what to do to comfort his lover, trying to reason with them and understand them. I take it as a perspective of one side in a relationship who is trying to satisfy and keep their lover.

 

  1. Pied Piper, produced by P Dogg

Pied Piper is one of my favorite songs on the album, I can’t help myself but laugh when I translate and think about the meaning of the song. “Pied Piper” is based off the German folk tale, “Pied Piper of Hamelin” where a piper came to a town named Hamelin, that was suffering of a rat infestation. The piper offer his services in exchange for money, when he finished his job, the town did not pay him for his services; instead, the mayor insisted that the piper was setting up an extortion act and ban him from the town. Later, the piper came back for revenge by luring all of the children from the town with his flute to their deaths (or returned them after getting paid) but a mentally-slow child, a deaf child, and blind child. This ties in with BTS, as they become for famous and has helped promote diversity in music acts; their fans (ARMY) have become lured by the consumerism and fanaticism that the fans will continue to follow mindlessly until it becomes like a purposeless life, where they’re not focused on studying.

“이제 그만 보고 시험공부해/니 부모님과 부장님 날 미워해/봤던 영상 각종 사진 트위터/브이앱 본보야지” – “Stop watching and study for your test/ Your parents and manager hates me/ Video clips, pictures, Twitter/ V-live, Bon Voyage”. BTS is telling ARMY (their fandom) to focus on their personal life and study for any test they might have, as most of the fandom are school age. They make the point of the parents of those in fandom would blame BTS for their child’s grades because of their dedication to BTS and this sort of BTS way of saying to pursue a good future before putting BTS concerts as a priority. V-line is an app and website, where K-pop celebrities can live stream and connect with fans, while Bon Voyage is a web series on V-line that follows BTS traveling to different countries.

 

  1. Mic Drop, produced by P Dogg

Mic Drop is my absolute favorite of this album; you can play it anywhere near me and I’ll try my best attempt to dance the choreography. Mic Drop is very hip hop vibe song where BTS sort of goes in touch with their earlier year concepts of hip hop. Funnily, Mic Drop is inspired by my president, Barack Obama, after Obama’s last speech before passing the torch to Trump, Obama dropped his microphone as his good-bye. Thus, inspiring this track, like many songs on the album, it was written by Rap Monster or Suga and occasionally, other group members. The intro to the song is a scratch record sound then goes into quarter beats that alternates in drum beats, capturing the listener’s attention and keeping their attention to the song.

Another reason why I love this song is because of the line distribution, it’s the most equally divided screen time that features each of the members; typically, the oldest member, Jin gets the short end of the stick when it comes to his lines, this song displays his talent and ability in a hip hop based song.

“Yeah 누가 내 수저 더럽/I don’t care 마이크 잡음 금수저 여럿 패” – “Yeah, who says my spoon is dirty?/ I don’t care when I grab the mic, I make several golden spoons.” J-hope starts the song off with his rap verse, the lyrics is a continuation of the “spoon theory” in Korea and their song, another favorite of mine, “Bapsae”. The Spoon theory in Korea is similar to the saying “born with a silver spoon.” Where a person’s economic status corresponds with the spoon they “use”. In BTS’s case, their company started off at a disadvantage compared to other K-pop companies and referred to have a “dirty spoon” but due to their non-stopping and international success, they’ve boosted the company to where they’re eating with a “golden spoon”.

 

  1. 고고 (Go go), produced by P Dogg


Go go is another favorite song of mine. It does not beat Mic Drop but it talks about the social issue of youth generation or people in generally using excuses to get out of their responsibilities. This song is very clever in putting a play on words and using American slang while referencing a social issue that’s happening in Korea. The beat is like two half notes with a quarter beat on the second note, it perfectly goes with the lyrics of the songs. It gives a party vibe while a somber theme to it, symbolizing the emotion portrayed in the song.

“달려 달려 내가 벌어 내가 사치” – “Run, run, I make and spend my own money”. For those who can’t read Korean, “달려” sounds like the word, “dollar”. It’s making a play on the meaning behind the song by using the idea of escaping from responsibilities using money and spending it irresponsibly. The lyrics later in the song, further elaborate the use of money on partying and on friends, rather than focusing on one’s future makes the message clearer.

 

  1. Outro: Her, produced by Suga and Slow Rabbit

Outro: Her is the last song listed on the track list when there’s a hidden track but it’s a more somber song compared to the other songs before it. It’s like Best of Me with the message and emotion of wanting to be the right person for their lover but without the trap and auto-tune effects. I loved the fact the song used gender-neutral pronouns in the lyrics to connect to fans beyond the boundaries of gender and nationality. It’s a song that I would listen when I would be depressed, maybe before or after an exam or when I just want to cry. Their voices flow with the soft background, even during the rap verses.

“오늘도 make up to wake up/And dress up to mask on” – “Today, I make up to wake up/and dress to mask on”. Suga is expressing that speaker of the song is putting on a fake appearance to be with their lover and make them happy, even if it’s not who they (the speaker) is truly who they ought to be. I feel like I can relate to lyrics since I know what’s it’s like to be in a relationship where I felt it was my role to make my partner happy and their happiness would be reflected onto me. It helps highlight the struggle of maintaining a relationship and gives a realistic approach compared to other love songs.

Conclusion:

Overall, if y’all are still with me, I would rate this album 4 stars out of 5 stars. No, it didn’t make my cut of being the best album but the line distribution of this album made it better, along with the symbolism of the lyrics. I am glad that BTS got to collaborate with their first American artist collaboration but I feel that Chainsmokers was riding on the K-pop wave to gain more recognition but regardless, congrats to BTS. As I study more Korean, I hope I’ll be fluent enough to translate even more lyrics and potentially interview BTS.

Miracle Bui

안녕하세요! 你好!Hello! My name is Miracle, I was born and raised in Houston, Texas. Thank you for reading my articles! Please comment as you please.

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