Learn Why BTS Are The Reigning Champs Of Boy Pop With Album Love Yourself ‘Her’
Arguably the most popular boy band from South Korea at the moment, 2018 was certainly the year of BTS, and progressing into 2019, their music is still relevant because of some smart stylistic choices which makes their music very modern to my ears. While I would have preferred a bit more of a New Jack Swing style on some of the tunes, I concede that that fad may be over in Korean music for the time being, and themes are probably going to lean more towards Hip Hop and Urban for the while – yet album Love Yourself ‘Her’ isn’t an aggressive sounding album by any means. The digital Trap elements are modest, and the bass lines are not intimidating, but rather chill. While I found that I dug, as a whole, more of the songs on previous album Love Yourself ‘Tear’, for their sheer Neo-Soul R&B power, Love Yourself ‘Her’ has some truly excellent music too, but in general, it leans more towards a popular instrumentation that marries electronic elements with Pop writing (on the ballads at least) and perhaps a little Soft Rock instrumentation here and there which makes the music sort of middle of the road and uber crowd pleasing, like that of Maroon 5 – but nonetheless, it’s all really well executed. And when it’s not a ballad or a dance groove but rather straight up rap song like “Outro: Her”, I swear to god – the rapping is ridiculously authentic – but more on that later. This was a successful listening session for me from a successful international megastar group, and obvious proof for why these 7 gentlemen have legions of ultra loyal fans. I don’t know if BTS moves me so much that I would want to start stanning with everyone else as a full fledged ARMY member (as the fan base is known), but I can absolutely understand the demand for their music – thanks to a mix of BTS’s attention to musical detail, and, though I do not speak Korean, I am of the understanding that the lyrics are much more open and meaningful than your average group’s output, as they wrestle with themes of anxiety, mental health, and the balancing act of personal freedom versus career obligations. BTS has always been known to be a band that is more open about their individual lives and struggles, whereas other K Pop bands have historically had to operate under contracts which aim to restrict personal expression, for ‘fear’ of muddying the carefully groomed ‘idol’ façade. A looser media relationship with the public allows for BTS to be more forthcoming lyrically, and for that matter, more truer musical artists.
A Spiritual And Physical Connection Is Paramount Within BTS’ Love Balladry
The album couldn’t open up more romantically, from the gorgeous arrangement of the echoing love melody to the truly deep and almost unisex language used on “Intro: Serendipity.” This song, because of it’s tenderness, would melt the hearts of any gender. The translated lyrics are heart-achingly beautiful; “when you called me / I became your flower / as if we were waiting / we bloom until we ache.” Now, granted, the singer refers to flowers in the sense of the flowers girls receive on Valentines – yet, a man presenting himself as a flower – in terms of phrasing, is going to illicit different interpretations from culture to culture. What makes the text masculine though here is the roughing up of the falsetto, which expresses very seductive emotions. If you are a fan of popular hitmakers The Chainsmokers, you should be happy to know that they produced BTS on a lively and original number with “DNA.” Two truths to be told – for one, I personally can’t stand The Chainsmokers, and two – this is one of the best productions of their’s I have ever heard, therefore, perhaps everyone has their day in the sun. The acoustic elements that they are known for infusing with electronica and EDM are actually quite minimal, and speaking of minimizing, the expected EDM ‘drop’ is also not overly done, but rather subtlety supports the BTS energy here. The song continues the previous track’s theme of being inextricably linked with a lover (although it could always be a friend as well, knowing how this boy band values brotherly and professional relationships). The lyrics could be said to be in fact incestuous, but certainly, they express a deep connection; “At first sight, I could recognize you / as if we were calling for each other / the DNA in my blood vessels tell me / that it’s you I was looking all over for.” So his DNA recognizes her DNA? Meaning they are related perhaps? Probably reading too much into the translation.
Familiar Melody Lines Shine, But Original Ones Shine Brighter
I am struck by the well executed mimicry exhibited on two tracks in particular; “Best of Me” and “Dimple.” On many of the vocal parts, I hear Ed Sheeran’s iconic hook for “Shape Of You” imitated on the line “when you say that you love me” on “Best of Me”, yet thankfully, there is plenty of room where originality triumphs, from the crisp digital noises being applied to the song’s complete surrender to a bright and exciting House beat. When the lite Trap elements transition back in, I feel the song looses some momentum due to a lack of ‘bottom’ to the song, yet everything returns to it’s former club worthy excitement before long. “Dimple” has the same hazy cinematic melody line in the background as Kendrick Lamar’s “Swimming Pools”, while mixing in some Maroon 5 ‘ooh-oohs’ into the vocals, but though it follows the urban trend laid down by Lamar’s iconic “please don’t kill my vibe” vibe, BTS truly do make this song their own thanks to much harder club percussion and a very bright and overarching harmony. This is one of the several examples of a commitment to heavier American Hip Hop – albeit a soulful version that retains enough prettiness and lightness to attract the meeker, more innocent crowds with promises of sweet, rather than raunchy, love. These aforementioned songs really rely on all ready established source material, yet “Pied Piper” comes with a ton of originality, bumping with an electro funk melody and rhythm and a great balance of sweet falsetto R&B hooks and very baritone rapping. I actually hear the influences of DNCE, The Weeknd, and Bruno Mars rolled into the vibe of this package, but what makes it more BTS’ sound is the asiatic tone of the arrangement. These songs, and this last especially, sure shine brightly.
Boy Bands Of The Moment Must Try To Catch Up To BTS’ Eclectic Energy And Excellent Execution
After hearing the excitement of a skit where BTS receive the award for Top Social Artist at the Billboard Music Awards, it’s hard not to get caught up rooting for the band amidst all of the audible fanfare. They are the first Korean band to receive such a top spot award, and I even remember at the time during 2018 award shows where American artists from Ariana Grande to Lil Pump were all vying for photo ops with the group of the hour. Shoot, they are also in the Guiness Book of World Records for Highest Tweeted Band of all time. One clear sonic clue to their success is their absolute diversity of sound. Now this is a real Pop band; a group that can take on any style and make it their own, while also doing the original material proper justice. “Outro: Her” opens with a jazzy classic boom bap beat and – mark my words, a dead-on homage to the rapping style of 2Pac from member RM, as he raps in a mix of English and Korean in a deep timbre and Shakur-like flow, translated in full here as “the world is a complex / we wus lookin’ for love / I was just one of those people / didn’t even believe in true love / just said I wanted to be in love like a habit.” Then on one of the hardest beats I’ve heard in a minute, “MIC Drop” blows me away with an aggressive (the only aggressive track on the album) mix of both Boom Bap NY rhythm mixed with both Trap and straight up stripper club buildups – before the song breaks down in a major way. Add to this flows with tons of attitude, and explosive triple time drum fills for some color – and you have everything you need to break it down on the dance floor. BTS really ‘get it’ when it comes to adopting and executing international sounds – which must be why so many Americans have touted this group as artistic and authentic. Because Tropical Trap music is often a must on Pop albums, “Go Go” is on the album to motivate even more booty shaking and two stepping – sure to impress the R&B and Hip Hop crowds with it’s perfect dedication to the pulse of what the world digs right now. BTS – this is a great album and you very well may be the best boy band of the moment right now.
2. Track List (8)
3. Official (8)
4. Live (5)
5. Featuring Remixes (8)
7. Similar Albums (1)
8. Similar Artists (11)
9. Album Info