Having just concluded their massively successful Love Yourself tour in Bangkok, the boys are back to begin a new era of world domination with their comeback EP, Map of the Soul: Persona.
Despite the ambiguity of their sixth mini album throughout the month-long wait, our patience has finally paid off when it officially dropped on 12 April. Upon the availability of the EP, the group’s seven-track masterpiece quickly catapulted the boys straight to the top of the charts on iTunes, while also making them the first Asian act to surpass five billion streams on Spotify. In addition to clinching number one on six major Korean music sites with their title track ‘Boy With Luv’, its accompanying official music video had also made history with over 130 million views (and counting) garnered worldwide.
Hot on the heels of their SNL comeback stage, here’s our track-by-track review to see if the first album in the Map of the Soul series lives up to the hype.
1. ‘Intro: Persona’
Though it has been a good four years since RM last created an intro for a BTS album, it’s suffice to say that the leader hasn’t lost his touch as he marked the beginning of a new chapter for the group with a special intro using a beat sample off their 2014 track, ‘Intro: Skool Luv Affair’.
Ahead of the album’s official release, fans were given a full track preview of the song in its entirety alongside a music video where we saw RM looking old-school dapper as he consistently spit verses that depicts him exploring his identity that might be influenced by Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung’s theories on the human psyche (“Persona, who the hell am I / I just wanna go, I just wanna fly, I just wanna give you all the voices till I die”).
2 ‘Boy With Luv’
Almost three years in the making, the long-awaited collaboration between BTS and Halsey is finally here! Described as a song about finding happiness in simple love (“Love is nothing stronger, than a boy with luv”), it was easy enough to predict the likability of this instant earworm after the release of the two MV teasers which left us wanting for more.
Although the ‘Without Me’ singer had lent her voice to ‘Boy With Luv’, she didn’t let her star contribution overshadow the boys as she blended in seamlessly with a mix of English and Korean lines. In addition to the creation of the track, Halsey also made her appearance in the music video where she absolutely nailed her debut dance scene with the BTS members.
In sharing stories of their time on set with the international pop star, J-Hope had nothing but compliments for Halsey, “I think it was her first time doing a choreography, and she had already practiced before arriving in Korea for the filming. She really worked so hard!”
Lovingly dubbed by the boys as the ‘soju’ song (because of its Korean title), this electric-pop tune surprisingly offers a sense of calm that makes it the perfect track to listen to at night after a long day. Getting its namesake from the Greek word for microcosm, this Greek philosophy toys with the concept of each individual being their own world – perhaps RM was influenced by this very idea in his rap (“One star in one person / Shining with seven billion lights, seven billion worlds”).
4. ‘Make It Right’
In yet another big-name collaboration, BTS partners up with British pop singer Ed Sheeran to bring us a co-written track that showcases the unique style of both acts, although it’s got a tad bit more of the ginger-haired crooner’s vibe than we preferred.
Backed by synths with a simple repetitive instrumental, the septet sings of a desire to make this world a better place through kindness and human connection (“I could make it better, I could hold you tighter / On that long road, oh you’re the light”). Even though we haven’t had a cameo from the ‘Perfect’ singer on this track, we’re pretty sure it won’t be long until a BTS featuring Ed Sheeran remix is released.
BTS has always been priding themselves on their deep connection with ARMYs and much like how ‘Magic Shop’ is penned with their fanbase in mind, this R&B track is yet another affectionate dedication that the boys have prepared for their beloved fans. In spite of the perception that naysayers and critics may have about them, the members describe their fans as their home, where they can seek comfort, love and support whenever they’re tired or lonely (“I’ll be comfortable even if nothing is said / If I have you, everywhere is home”). If this doesn’t tug at your heartstrings, we’re not sure what will.
6. ‘Jamais Vu’
Voted as the go-to karaoke song by the members themselves, this emotional track is the product of a new sub-unit made up of Jin, J-Hope and Jungkook. Already a hit with fellow ARMYs, this poignant ballad comprises heartfelt lyrics that detail the hope of salvaging a relationship that has lost all feelings (“Please give me a remedy, a remedy that will make my heart beat again”).
As if we’re not already sold when the boys serenade us with their complementary blend of rap and vocals, it’s also especially hard not to react to the feels we get from the flawless harmonisation of Jin and Jungkook.
Probably our favourite track off the album is this head-banger, which gets its title reference from the Greek God of wine. A throwback to their old-school hip-hop days, this 80s-inspired anthem is actually co-written by J-Hope, who had painstakingly written almost half of the track. Amidst the heavy beats and rapid-fire rap verses, the members celebrate shrugging off media criticism as they transition from idol to artiste; which is evident during Suga’s portion (“Born as a K-pop idol / Reincarnated artiste”).
If this album is any indication, BTS could certainly lay their rightful claim to being one of the most revolutionary artistes in history – and they will only go higher from here.
What’s your favourite song from the album? Share with us in the comments below!