Almost a decade ago, seven boys sporting unusual haircuts debuted from a virtually unknown label on the K-pop scene. Astronomical success was a distant dream – almost non-existent for the septet, resulting in much disillusionment and heartache at times. They couldn’t understand at the time why they weren’t getting the accolades they deserved, despite their hard work. Yet they hoped and dreamed of seeing their name shine brightly. After what seemed like years of effort, battling harsh criticism and attacks, their (literal) blood sweat and tears paid off – the BTS group, consisting of RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope , Jimin, Jungkook and V, transformed the K-pop scene and almost became synonymous with the genre. He has two Grammy nominationsas well as numerous numerous accolades and five number one albums, in addition to being ambassadors to the UN.
Due to their charismatic personalities and off-stage personas, combined with profound sanity messages, their ARMY (Adorable Representative MC for Youth) fan base has seen an exponential increase in fan base. ARMY is exactly what it seems, BTS fans fiercely protect the boys and even defend them against themselves and are the first to fight back, if they feel the group has been wronged.
June is a special month for the group, as not only will they complete 9 years (a rarity for a K-Pop group), but it will also see the release of their new album, Proof on June 10. Ahead of the album’s release, here are some of the septet’s best songs that transcended cultural barriers.
15. Butter (2021)
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A song that marked the slow beginning of the end of the strict coronavirus pandemic measures, Butter, the second English song brought a lot of hope to ARMY in a world filled with grief and heaviness. Sweet, infectious and charming, Butter topped the Billboard charts and received a nod at the 2022 Grammys.
14. On (2020)
‘You can’t hold me down, ’cause you know I’m a fighter’, Jin’s voice is clearly heard just before the chorus, which later reiterates, “Bring the pain on”. It’s symbolic of BTS’s strong attitude against their enemies. Filled with curious biblical elements, one of the best parts of the song is Jungkook’s falsetto which adds to the fire of the song.
13. Fake Love (2018)
The theme of the first single from their album Love Yourself: Tear revolved around forcing emotion into relationships. However, the real story of the song was in its powerful chorus, its drums and the anguish in the voice as well as in the rappers. The video just added to the imagination with its images of the members struggling to escape their many demons.
12. Louder Than Bombs (2020)
Mixed with angst, despair and a glimmer of hope, there’s no doubt that Louder Than Bombs is a fan favorite. The song is about the different stages of life and how they plan to cope despite all the cold weather exhaustion, just by singing. Suga’s rap is one of the highlights of the song as it mentions the inevitable misery he had to go through.
11. Microphone drop
You’ll be hard pressed to find an ARMY member who doesn’t like Mic Drop. The song addresses those who have questioned the band’s success and has scathing remarks for haters. The message is evident in the chorus itself, “Have you seen my bag, it’s full of trophies and damn thick,” as Jin balances the angst and asks, “How dare you?” The dancing break is unforgettable.
ten. Go-Go (2017)
True ARMY will only visualize V (born Kim Taehyung) dressed as Snow White for this song – a challenge he once lost. Basically sounding like a fun and cute song, it actually contains hidden messages about materialism and the constant hunt for something to fill the void. The song is biting and sarcastic, as the track calls out people who recklessly waste their money on “yolo” ends (hence the chorus).
09. Dope (2015)
Energetic, punchy with a powerful dance break to fuel the outrageous lyrics, Dope is exactly what it sounds like. The song is a celebration of youth and shows the boys having fun while the brass completes the chorus. Dope is quite the adrenaline rush.
08. I Need You (2015)
One of the songs that established BTS’s position in K-Pop, I need U sees a rapid alternation from Suga’s anguish to the plaintive pleas of Jungkook and Jimin. V enters the scene with “Everything, everything”, which is his last word on the subject.
07. We Are Bulletproof: The Eternal (2020)
The title of the song says it all. The group reflects on their incredible global fandom and their long journey, explaining that BTS is not just a group for them and that they are always with ARMY. It’s a melancholy, yet hopeful song, as the boys sing “We’ve arrived in paradise”.
06. Blood, Sweat and Tears (2016)
A powerful and ethereal song, Blood, Sweat And Tears is often referred to as Jimin’s track, as the singer’s honeyed vocals carry through the song, balanced by the quiet aggressiveness of the rap line. In every stage performance, including the music video, he possesses almost an unreal presence with his signature jacket move.
05. Black Swan (2020)
Punctuated with heavy beats and soulful instrumentals, Black Swan emphasizes that despite BTS’s astonishing fan base, wealth and accolades, they are still artists, which is most important to them above all else. The visuals are particularly artistic, and the dance break with Jungkook in the center is the icing on the cake.
04. Bapsae (silver spoon, 2015)
It’s the septet’s way of saying “OK boomer” and directly attacking stilted stereotypes about millennials not working hard enough and how kids are supposed to keep working in dead-end jobs for ” the experience”. The lyrics punch you in the face from the start and keep you in touch with the song throughout. The dance moves are so scathing, and Jungkook’s mockery “You must be kidding me” adds to the song’s pure fire.
03. Fire (2016)
A loud banger that begins with J-Hope’s vocals erupting through the music, Fire is a song of pure frustration and mockery, and is a cry to young people to “fire” any restrictions that are holding them back. V’s part “Set Everything on Fire” is a demonstration of the group’s message to young people, and the group’s coordinated work at the end of the song led by Jimin adds to the song’s magic.
02. Ddaeng (2018)
When BTS’s rap line steps in, there’s nowhere to hide. Ddaeng is a crisp track that picks up criticism from those who slammed BTS into the hip-hop scene in South Korea. J-Hope, RM, and Suga use the words “ddaeng” in the song in expressions, filled with traditional Korean instruments. The singers also gave the track an unforgettable twist, as V raps Suga’s verse and Jungkook joins RM in his dangerously quiet tones.
01. Spring of Europe (2017)
Despite its seemingly joyful title, Spring Day is about heartache, pain, and longing. While the lyrics are mostly about the Sewol Ferry disaster in 2014, the overwhelming sense of loss envelops the song, making it a unanimous fan favorite. Yet there is always a hope that will always find a way to blossom.
Considering BTS’ vast discography, it might be hard to focus, but several other songs such as Jin’s Epiphany, Suga’s Daechwita, Pied Piper, Butterfly, and Cyphers deserve special mention.
BTS’ album Proof will be released on June 10.