On Album ‘Love Yourself ‘Tear’, K Pop Group BTS’ Music Sounds Much Like The West’s Various Mainstream, Hip Hop, And Neo Soul
Perhaps switch out the Korean and Japanese language on album Love Yourself ‘Tear’ for English and you will have a standard mainstream album on your hands, incorporating familiar elements such as EDM Pop lite and international Latin Dance beats (think Despacito) and the infusion of certain Trap and R&B influences which have permeated into Pop. This is of course a smart business move from production company Big Hit Entertainment, with designs on world domination, and thus, there are plenty of expected flavors to choose from on this pretty decent album. I remain a little non-plussed though, not honestly on the same wave as everyone else out there, because at the end of the day, I’m less interested in albums designed by process of box checking what sounds various audiences will respond to. Alas, I’ll probably die penniless, whereas BTS will live a rich life indeed, already showing signs that they are currently the most popular and successful boy band since EXO. What works here are the slick and polished productions on each song, and additionally, the impressive rapping displayed herein. Vocals are pretty good too, yet perhaps unavoidably, there is some definite processing that can be heard here and there, plus the occasional unintentional comical phrasing of an English word which sort of snaps this American listener out of an almost seamless fantasy – which honestly would not even occur if K Pop groups would do the revolutionary thing and sing in all Korean, on all parts of all songs for an album. Now, would that even work, in an industry that is committed to being bilingual lyrically? On the subject of pronunciation, yes, BTS do a mostly fine job, but does anyone ever really stop and ask ‘why speak English’ and run the risk of not knowing what you are talking about, or, God forbid, mispronounce something pivotal which kills the vibe. I strongly feel I would like BTS and other K Pop groups even more if they would stop pretending so much to be something they are not and just give their own language a proper chance to shine in all its history and nuanced complexity. But it doesn’t look like that will happen anytime soon, and rather, that musical content of this genre will just get more and more Americanized.