“Army, remember what we say: love myself, love yourself” – was part of the acceptance speech Rap Monster delivered for BTS’ Billboard Music Awards win back in May, but who knew it would be a major spoiler that leads up to their Love Yourself: Her series? Upon release, the album has already sold over 750,000 copies in its first week and chalked up a whopping 60 million views for the music video of ‘DNA’. If that’s not impressive enough, these K-pop trailblazers have also achieved their goal of cracking into the Billboard Hot 100! Guess we can safely say it’s in their DNA to break records.
Their massive success lies in the fact that they let their music speak for itself. “[‘DNA’] is very different from our previous music, technically and musically,” says Rap Monster in an interview with Billboard. “I believe it’s going to be the starting point of a second chapter of our career.” Marking a new era with Love Yourself: Her, the concept draws upon their earlier hip-hop influences and builds up to a fuller, more mature sound served with a dollop of R&B and EDM. What also sets them apart from their K-pop counterparts is that they don’t shy away from taking risks with their lyrics – from an upbeat earworm that playfully disses fans, to a Barack Obama-inspired proverbial bird-flip to the band’s naysayers – and they ain’t sorry about it either.
Ahead, we dissect what each track is all about and how it fares in our books.
1. ‘Intro: Serendipity’
When you called me, I become your flower
As if we were waiting, we bloom until we ache
Similarly to how the ‘Boys Meet Evil’ comeback trailer for Wings featured J-Hope, Jimin gets his two-and-a-half minutes turn in the spotlight in this melodic album opener. Our resident little prince sounds ever so emotive over the stripped-back instrumentation, all atmospheric whispers and smooth falsettos while allowing listeners to really immerse themselves in his vocals.
Jimin’s angelic voice aside, what further piqued our interest is the gender-neutral lyrics – a refreshing twist from the typical heterosexual love songs out there. “The lyrics were based on rare and special things in life, so I thought those feelings transcend genders, cultures and barriers between people,” Rap Monster explains.
From the day the universe was formed, past infinite worlds
Probably in our past live and in our next lives, we’ll be together forever
You know ‘DNA’ is gonna be an instant earworm when it opens with the grooviest whistle hook ever (fun fact: the whistling was done by Rap Monster and Jungkook!), before letting V’s breathy vocals lead us into an all-out dancefloor assault of club-ready beats and throbbing bass. The mainstream appeal is undeniable, what with its radio-friendly production and universal theme of love, but we gotta give kudos to the band for experimenting with their sound. If anything, Love Yourself: Her is arguably BTS’ most sonically-diverse offering to date.
3. ‘Best Of Me’
You just give me the confidence to myself, that’s all I wanted
There may not be rules between us, but the way to love exists
It’s finally here: the much-hyped surefire smash in collaboration with Andrew Taggart of EDM outfit The Chainsmokers. ‘Best Of Me’ doesn’t strike us as a definite The Chainsmokers tune however – think a watered-down version of ‘Closer’ meets ‘Paris’ – but instead incorporates the boys’ distinct flavour to make this electronic-tinged banger their own. In contrast to its heavy instrumental delivery, BTS serves up their signature dose of positive vibes through the uplifting lyrics, which makes it easy on the ears.
That dimple is illegal, ille-gal
No, it’s dangerous, so I call you ille-girl ille-girl
BTS had us at “ille-girl”, ’nuff said. Whoever came up with the clever wordplay got our tiny ARMY hearts all fuzzy inside (we’re looking at you, Jin). ‘dimple’ slips further into the romance territory, which borderlines dangerously on corny, but heck – we ain’t complaining. It’s a feel-good slice of pop that’s straight-up fan service material, what’s not to love about that?
5. ‘Pied Piper’
You already have plenty of my pictures in your room
Not one hour, but a year or two flashes by
This song is a reward I give you, good girl
While you’re still swooning over ’em from the last track, these dudes just had to destroy the mood in four minutes flat. But hey, they wouldn’t be BTS if they weren’t trolling, amirite? Easily one of the catchiest songs in the album, ‘Pied Piper’ is a mid-tempo summer jam that would sound right at home in a Calvin Harris record. Don’t be fooled by the funky beat though; the roast is real as the members poke fun at fans who abandon all their responsibilities to chase their idols (“Now stop watching and study for your exams / Your parents and boss hate me)”.
In all seriousness – although it may read as a cheeky dig, it also reflects a deeper issue of the unhealthy fandom culture at hand. And we applaud the boys for speaking up on that.
6. ‘Skit: Billboard Music Awards Speech’
And the Billboard Music Award goes to…BTS!
It felt like just yesterday that BTS was making history on the Billboard stage. Their monumental win was definitely one for the books, and what better way to celebrate the milestone than reliving Rap Monster’s legendary acceptance speech all over again?
7. ‘MIC Drop’
There’s too many trophies in my hands
It’s too heavy, my hands aren’t enough
While the first part of the tracklist showcases a softer side of BTS, the latter half sees the band going back to their hip-hop roots. Inspired by former President Obama’s famous mic drop, BTS hits back at their haters with this unapologetic follow-up straight after the skit interlude. “[It] was a big moment, so we put ‘MIC Drop’ next because it’s like a flex,” says Rap Monster. “Like, ‘Okay, we’re done. We don’t need to give a sh*t about anything.'” You tell ’em, Rap Mon!
8. ‘Go Go’
I worked so hard and earned my pay, all of it into my tummy
I collect every drop and have fun wasting every drop, I spend it all
We’ve always known BTS for their societal-fuelled lyricism, and it comes in the form of ‘Go Go’ here – a thought-provoking piece that stretches the self-defeating message of YOLO. “It’s about how our young generation are living their lives with low expectations so they are upset with reality,” the leader explains. “We wanted to emphasise to the world that it’s not their choice, but brutal reality that forces people to spend as if there’s no future.”
9. ‘Outro: Her’
I didn’t believe what real love is
I used to say habitually that I want to love
But I found myself
Among all the songs in this album, it’s the closing track that really tugged at our heartstrings. Reminiscent of old BTS vibes, this hard-hitting number lets the rap line take centre stage as they open up about struggling between loving themselves and love others – hence going back to the subject matter of Love Yourself: Her.
Suga’s verse particularly struck a chord with us (“Because within this mask, I am not the guy that you know / I always try my best to be the best for you, I hope you don’t know this side of me”), which can be interpreted as them putting on a picture-perfect image to please fans. We often forget that idols are humans after all, and the fact that they are unafraid to pour their hearts out makes us love them more.
Love Yourself: Her is now available for streaming and purchase, but you don’t want to miss out on the two hidden tracks in the album so be sure to get a physical copy too!
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