The latest album from BTS, BE, dropped on Friday, November 20, and after taking time to carefully listen to it (many times), analyze the lyrics, and really sink into the tone, I am confident in saying that this album can actually help you heal from the disastrous year that we have all endured. The deeply personal album really feels like a musical hug that acknowledges that pain, but hopes for a bright future.
As a relatively new BTS fan, I have become familiar recently with a lot of the group’s music and albums. BE is different from their other studio releases in that they were more actively involved in all aspects of the album production than they ever have been before, and it is evident throughout. Not only were the members involved directly in the songwriting and production (which they always have been throughout their discography), but even determining the songs chosen for the album, the concept visuals and art direction, and the design of the physical album itself were all crafted by Kim Nam-joon (RM), Kim Seok-jin (Jin), Min Yoon-gi (SUGA), Jung Ho-seok (j-hope), Park Ji-min (Jimin), Kim Tae-hyung (V), and Jeon Jung-kook (Jungkook).
Everything about BE is personal. The lead single, “Life Goes On”, is extremely easy to listen to and you might find yourself humming the chorus throughout the day. It is a comforting song that expresses the time we have all lost this year in the pandemic, the hope that things will end soon, and that we can all dream together for a time when things can return to relative normal. Though we were all paralyzed for a while, the song accepts that and implores us to focus on the things that haven’t changed and that those things will move us forward.
The accompanying music video for “Life Goes On” is just as comforting as the song itself. The video was directed by member Jungkook and features the members at home in their pajamas, reminiscing of the times before everything changed, and being hopeful for the future.
The overall tone of the rest of the album is upbeat and uplifting despite the turmoil that the members endured during the crafting of the songs and lyrics. Though all of the songs touch on the impact of the pandemic: loneliness, emotional fatigue, and the loss of being able to perform for their fans (called ARMY), the catchy melodies and high-energy tempos continually produce a smile for listeners.
Even if Korean isn’t a language that you understand, in typical BTS fashion, the music transcends those pesky barriers. I was immediately drawn to the song “Stay” performed by the subunit made up of Jin, RM, and Jungkook. The song itself is highly danceable (which I love), but the lyrics are drawn from the strong relationship that BTS have with ARMY. They understand that although ARMY and BTS can’t see each other just now, each will wait for the other and will make that reunion even sweeter.
“Telepathy” is another dance track, but has an unmistakable nostalgic beat and disco synth sound that will make you want to replay it over and over again. Like “Stay”, the lyrics for “Telepathy” were penned specifically as a love letter to fans in hopes that they will be together soon. SUGA, as the track’s main writer, raps “I’m the happiest when I meet you” regarding ARMY.
Perhaps the most surprising track on the album is “Dis-ease” which was teased to have a sound like old-school hip-hop. Indeed, that is how it feels, but with a modern style that only j-hope can pull off. The track (again) sounds like a fun ride with vinyl scratches and short, syncopated beats, but the lyrics are devastatingly raw. This is truly j-hope’s style of songwriting; showing the dichotomy between his hopeful, sunny persona and those raw and conflicted emotions that drive him to be that positive force. I also have to mention the incredible bridge contained in the song, which…just listen to it.
Not all of BE is that warm cup of tea, though. The song “Blue & Grey” is extremely emotional, and one that many fans may have a hard time keeping it together for. This one is for those who are still struggling with accepting the “new normal”, and it does so as an acoustic ballad with lyrics comparing loneliness and hopelessness with the colors of blue and grey (think tears and grey skies). It is an absolutely beautiful song that is a starkly different style from most of the BTS discography (and certainly the rest of this album), but conveys the emotions we have all gone through this year.
Don’t worry, though, the remaining tracks (including another upbeat song “Fly to My Room” by the subunit made up of SUGA, j-hope, V, and Jimin) will provide you with the peace and smile that so many of us have been craving for months. One track, “Skit”, is literally a recording of the members when they found out that their song “Dynamite” debuted at Number 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. Their sheer joy and excitement is contagious, even if you can’t understand what they are saying without a translation. And, of course, the extremely popular and bright “Dynamite” rounds out the album.
Those lucky enough to get their hands on a physical copy of BE will be delighted with posters, photo cards, picture books, and handwritten lyrics and notes all designed by BTS themselves. They will also be treated to an extended ending to “Telepathy’, and frankly, even adding another 20 seconds of dancing and smiles is worth it.
Even if you are not familiar with BTS or their music, BE is a great album to introduce you to them. The tone is a bit softer and more hopeful than some of their other works, and that personal introspection will leave you feeling like you are not alone. And that is something all of us can use a lot of right now.
Erin has reviewed many shows over the years including Orphan Black, iZombie, Penny Dreadful, and Killing Eve. She has a keen eye for on-screen chemistry, and loves to tackle the subject of casting. She is also our horror aficionado. She live tweets shows, and loves to share her feelings. Erin has a BA in History, and likes to analyze the lore behind historical fiction. She attends San Diego Comic Con every year and has also attended C2E2 and WonderCon.
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