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COURTESY OF BIGHIT RECORDS

September 18, 2017

TEST SPIN: BTS — Love Yourself: Her

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Back in May, K-Pop boy band BTS (Beyond the Scene in English, 방탄소년단 in Korean) made a huge splash in America when they won the Billboard Social Artist award with a total of over 321 million votes, while runner-up Justin Bieber garnered only 23 million. K-Pop has never been a part of mainstream music, but shortly after the Billboard Music Awards, BTS became a nationwide sensation and artists like the Chainsmokers, Halsey, Steve Aoki and more wanted to meet them after finding out how successful their music is.

Each BTS album follows a theme and their music videos never fail to accrue millions of views within hours. Every tweet by BTS receives hundreds of thousands of likes and retweets. I have come to understand that this is due to the amount of passion the group puts into their music and fans. In the midst of working on choreography, tours and writing new music, BTS does livestreams and record what could almost be called their own mini reality show, giving fans a glimpse into members’ personalities and daily lives.

Without a doubt, BTS has become one of the world’s hottest bands and now they have released new album Love Yourself: Her, the third part to their album saga that started with The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, all about youth. However, part of BTS’s success is due to the way they masterfully and carefully create a well-rounded, beautiful album with gorgeous concept photos, teaser trailers and at least two different versions of the album. In this case, four different versions of Love Yourself: Her are available: L, O, V and E. While they all contain the same album and music, each version has its own set of concept photos. L version has simple yet beautiful pictures with a light theme and the boys dressed in gentle pastel colors. O version, which I foresee will become the most sought-after, features a golden sunset theme in which the boys pose among clouds and flowers. Versions V and E are very alike, which makes O version stand out even more.

As far as the album goes, once more BTS has created a masterpiece full of emotion and musicality that can’t be paralleled by any American or Korean act. The intro “Serendipity,” is a tender, loving melody full of vocal line member Jimin’s surreal singing. The second track, “DNA,” is upbeat and full of energy. It has become obvious that this time around, BTS is trying to achieve a sound closer to pop while keeping their own signature sounds, which to me seemed hard for them to achieve. However, “DNA” has once more proven BTS’s ability to create music like no other artist.

The “DNA” music video, just as their last two music videos “Spring Day” and “Not Today,” strays away from the dark theme of their last album, Wings. While the theme in Wings revolved around the novel Demian and was all about “Boy vs. Evil,” BTS is now exploring a more colorful theme, which can be seen in their more recent music videos. In the opening of “DNA,” the youngest member Jungkook is seen whistling the song’s melodic motif. All seven members are seen wearing colorful clothes and dance in front of vibrant backgrounds. While this concept may seem simple, it becomes obvious that everything was well thought out and coordinated to perfection. As with any BTS music video, the dancing is well-executed.

The album’s third track, “Best of Me,” is a collaboration with The Chainsmokers. While it has become a popular opinion that anything by or featuring The Chainsmokers becomes tired and monotonous, BTS has managed to make this collaboration fresh and catchy without making someone feel like tearing their hair out after listening to it more than five times. The Chainsmokers’ usual electronic beats can be heard throughout the track, but the elements that BTS adds to the track fuse perfectly, creating an energetic track that already sounds fun as heck to dance and sing along to.

As usual, in the middle of the album, BTS adds an interlude. In this case, they have included their Billboard Music Awards speech, in which leader Rap Monster (Kim Namjoon) thanks ARMYs (their fans), talks about how honored they all feel to be at the Billboard Awards with so many of the artists they have looked up to since they debuted and finally tell ARMYs “love yourself.”

The next two tracks, “MIC Drop” and “Go Go” are upbeat and lean more towards hip hop than pop, but nevertheless retain the quality of the rest of the album. BTS has always leaned towards hip hop. However, more recent albums such as Wings and You Never Walk Alone, have featured more emotional tracks while keeping few that could be considered hip hop. The outro, “Her,” also leans towards hip hop and features smooth beats and rap while maintaining the album’s tender, dedicative theme.

Overall, Love Yourself: Her has proven to be another quality BTS album with an amazing music video and concept art. BTS has opened the door for K-pop in America. It is obvious that they have put a tremendous amount of work into this album, but it is also important to keep their previous work and success in mind, as they should not be considered “new artists,” just as K-pop is not a new genre.

Viri Garcia is a sophomore in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She can be reached at vgarcia@cornellsun.com