Before I even start, this is my 6th comeback with this band and I was never more excited, because now more than ever before you can really tell they did what they wanted to on the album, expressed what they needed to and enjoyed all of it. Full warning, this is going to be LONG, as it is music I am very passionate about.
A lot of people dismisses BTS or likes to ride on the wave now they’ve become phenomenon, its natural. But BTS and their new album present more than phenomenon, its more personal that that. Its everything they have become in the last 7 years, expressed through this 4th studio album.
What makes BTS truly unique is the message they carry without halting, through all the hate, xenophobia and discouragements. And that is something to admire. They value their fans and they value the platform they have, which is lot more than can be said about many artists or public people. Now, onto the album.
PERSONA VIBE SETTING
The whole album starts with a selection of songs from the previous mini album “Map of the Soul: Persona”. It sets the vibe of the album, which feels very genuine and more personal in both the production and lyrics part. Since “7” features a lot of sub units songs, it also feels nice having more full band songs, even though we know them already. The songs also create the transition between the set concepts. The whole concept for Persona draws from Carl Jung, which is why there is a whole study on this album by Murray Stein, Ph.D., you can read in a book “Map of the Soul, Persona – Our many faces“.
One of the many songs featured on “Map of the Soul: 7” is also “Make it Right” song co-produced by Ed Sheeran. In his interpretation Murray Stein says:
“This song seems to embody a journey inward to discover a sense of soul” and continues “Our experience in life, especially in the first half of life, like with the BTS members in their 20s, is that we discover the Self in others and through others”.Murray Stein, Map of the Soul, Persona, page 21-22
INTROS TO GUIDE YOU THROUGH IT
Following on that, what is typical for BTS are Intros and Outros to their albums, opening and closing the story and concept they want to say and want to share. We start with RMs “Intro: Persona” opening the conversation on who are the BTS members and what they want to become, or who are and want the listeners to become and what is their “persona”.
With the “7” we continue this journey of self-discovery with SUGAs “Intro: Shadow”, opening the second chapter. The consequences you face when you do follow the path you want, give it your all and become the person your persona wants you to become.
And when you do become that, what is left is what you create, closing the album with “Outro: Ego” performed by J-Hope, definitively closing the 7 years and opening the new 7 years.
SWEET AS HONEY ARE THE SOLOS OF OLD
This album, similarly to “WINGS” has number of solo songs and sub unit songs that are as sweet as honey and as diverse as the members themselves. While Jimins “Filter” feels very sexy and sensual, Jungkooks voice in “My Time” cuts right through you. On the other hand V delivers “Inner Child” which has very raw and welcoming emotions. Jin and his song “Moon” urges you to run and find what ever it is that you are longing for.
THE MANY SUB-UNITS
Given the BTS is a seven member unit they have many voices, many inputs into music, lyrics and production itself. This creates perfect opportunity to try new sub-units, their sounds and possibilities. Tradition on BTS album by now is “rap line” and “vocal line” track. Rap line delivers “UGH”, the hardest track on the album, following on the tradition of Cyphers. While UGH makes you want to run an underground gang and fight at the very least an eastern-European Tarantinoesk ansámble, the “00:00 (Zero O’Clock)” makes you want to put them all to bed with lullaby.
Jokes aside, in many ways “UGH” is a follow up on “DDAENG” a side single from the rap line (RM, SUGA, J-Hope), which got famous for its play with single Korean expression “ddaeng”, that can be both negative and positive (listen here) and serves as a message that BTS made it, from their own blood, sweat and tears and now its up to you to deal with it while sitting on your pitiful (hater) ass. So said.
““00:00 (Zero O’Clock)” on the other hand, performed by Jin, V, Jimin and Jungkook relates message of both hurt and happy heart with idea of reaching a happy timeless moment exactly at 00:00. Its a beautiful song with catchy chorus melody and stage that will surely delivery beautiful colours and atmosphere.
“Friends” is a whole new sub-unit delivering beautiful and touching duet by Jimin and V. While clearly about their own friendship the lyrics can be adapted to any sort of friends, that go through all sort of turmoil, between love, hate, devotion, happiness and sadness. After all “You are my soulmate”, is what applies to our best friends as it does in the “Friends” song.
Probably my favorite sub-unit is SUGA and RM, which is something I wanted to hear for a really long time. RM and SUGA, being both rappers and producers have unique styles in their rhyming that compliments each other and yet is completely different. Their song “Respect” also deals with topics Kim Namjoon (RM) and Min Yoongi (SUGA) talk about in both their lyrics, lives or interviews, and its insecurities, dealing with them and overcoming them. But also the meaning of “respect” and how sometimes the respect required is not the respect deserved. The song also has “classic” feel to it, which makes it even better.
MAIN STORY: GROUP SONGS
Main single following the “Black Swan” release at the beginning of the February is “ON”. Both songs are part of a larger concept evolving not only from Intro: Shadow, but also from the beginnings of BTS 7 years ago. The group songs take you on a vast journey through the entire concept of this album from Persona, through Shadow to Ego and eventually, the Eternal.
“Black Swan” is a song of need, of that absolute pull on your soul and life to do what you love, what keeps you alive. The main single was expressed beautifully through modern dance routine by MN Dance Company who worked with BTS on creating the visuals to the stunning lyrics, starting with a quote by an american dancer and choreographer Martha Graham:
“A dancer dies twice – once when they stop dancing, a this first death is the more painful.”Martha Graham
BTS are all very passionate artists from different backgrounds, be it producing, acting, singing, dancing or creating. And the idea of any artist or any human not being able to do what they love, what gives them hope and purpose is always extremely painful. Caged in an idea of “good life” without passion that might drive it further. That’s the strong message behind the first lead single.
Following the need to created comes “Louder than Bombs” my personal favorite from this album, delivering heavy atmosphere that grabs onto your very heart. On this song BTS worked alongside Toye Sivan and it creates unique sound I hope we will get to hear again. The main lyrics in English delivered with high and desperate sound in Jimins vocals says “Louder than bombs I break” and it follows the whole song. Appearance of shadow and its claws in you, whatever it is you are doing. Louder Than Bombs is a constant fight between darkness and light within you, that you can create yourself or that can be created by anyone else.
Straight after heavy “Louder than Bombs” comes second main single “ON”. Upbeat song that tells you clearly – that darkness may be part of you, as is the shadow, but you can fly together and become even stronger. The choreography in ON video has a direct connection to song N.O., from their very first mini album released in 2013, expressing how high, through all the shadows BTS ascended. The song “N.O.” itself was already showing what BTS wanted to say, dealing with the many issues their generation is facing.
The song has a digital version featuring SIA as well, while I enjoyed it, it also feels like such a shame to use SIA only for the chorus, which feels little unnatural to me. But still, it’s SIA and BTS, come on. This version will have an MV, premiering February 28th, so we will see what new feeling that will create with the visual side of things.
The last chapter is the song “We Are Bulletproof: the Eternal”. Now this is third part to the “We Are Bulletproof” songs. The first part is an unofficial almost pre-debut song and is mostly showing the first concept. Originally BTS were supposed to be a hip-hop group before the concept changed.
Following is “We Are Bulletproof Pt. 2” which features on minialbum “2 Cool 4 School”, now this is debut era in 2013. In Part 2 you are introduced to the members and their stage personas as the song goes. The “We Are Bulletproof: the Eternal” on this album is not following, its not really part 3, its the conclusion.
Since typically these songs were always very hard, its what fans expected, but BTS have evolved into someone else, they’ve changed over the 7 years not just musically, but as people as well. People who inspire millions worldwide, and you can hear that thought this transition. the Eternal is clearly closing an era, and while its sad its also a new BTS that we will get to meet in the future.
the Eternal is a dream coming true, its struggles, hard work, fear and happiness. It has all of these emotions combined becoming truly bulletproof not through the idea of “swag”, but the opposite, through the message and literal meaning. We don’t have to go hard or pretend to be hard, we’ve become more than you (haters) and we’ve become bulletproof. It comes to relationship between BTS as members but also BTS and their ARMY fans or society for that matter.
Throw a stone at meWe Are Bulletproof: the Eternal, BTS
We are not afraid
We are, we are
Yeah, we have you
So, this is my take on the “Map of the Soul: 7”, I hope you can listen to it with an open mind and enjoy it. And hopefully, enjoy more of the BTS music.
You can buy BTS albums through the official app “Weply“ but be ready for the shipping prices, especially to Europe.
Other than that, here are some links
Spotify | Album
Spotify | Playlist with commentary
iTunes | Album
Amazon | Album
or, you can follow this forsaken place