With a hit album, a three-week top-charting single and a documentary, you would think that music icons BTS would call it a day and take a break for the rest of the year. Instead they have come out with their second album this year titled ‘BE’. It is said to be one of their most personal albums lyrically and their most intimate album musically. Sure enough the day has come and I’ve listened to it about three times at this point.
While I enjoyed a majority of ‘Map of the Soul: 7’ earlier this year, it wasn’t until they released ‘Dynamite’ that I got hooked on them again. That song has yet to escape my daily rotation and I don’t see it leaving any time soon. When they announced this new album, I was curious to see if the song would be a one-off single or a single from the new album. I was especially nervous going into the album because there was little to no information about it. The tracklist and length of the album were revealed on the day of release which is incredibly weird, then again it’s BTS everyone is going to listen to it. The album is eight songs long, seven technically speaking if you remove ‘Skit’. The members take inspiration from the overwhelming feelings this pandemic has put us through and in doing so they made a hopeful yet emotionally raw and incredibly relatable project.
The way ‘BE’ is set-up is very important to notice from a lyrical and emotional point-of-view. While I wouldn’t call the first half bleak or depressing it does touch a lot on the changes we have had to face this year. The moving ‘Life Goes On’ talks about how time doesn’t wait for us to get better or to adapt but instead forces us to do so. The uncertainty of a hopeful future numbs us for a moment but the song later reassures the listener that eventually like everything else, this too shall pass. That being said the band doesn’t shy away from the emotional darkness this pandemic has brought with the track ‘Blue & Grey’ which talks about the difficulty of finding happiness in an overwhelmingly negative state-of-mind. The members have been very open with their mental health and their struggles with anxiety and depression. You can feel the raw emotion coming off of them in these songs. You can tell this album means a lot to them which in return will mean a lot to the fans.
Interestingly enough, this is the first project by BTS that prioritizes lyrics over production, at least that’s how I saw it. I love this album lyrically, it’s one of my favourite of the year in the regard. Musically however it feels like an extension of their previous work. I can see pieces of their previous eras in each song and it’s not necesarrily a negative unless you came in expecting a new sound. It feels very BTS-friendly to put it in simple terms similar to Ariana Grande’s ‘positions’ last month. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it and I feel that BTS was wise enough to make this project as short as it is instead of the nineteen tracks on ‘Map of the Soul: 7’. The production reflects the emotion in the lyrics pretty well and the more uplifting second half has no shortage of infectious melodies with tracks like ‘Telepathy’ and ‘Stay’.
What is so interesting about an album told from the perspective that centers around a global event is that it’s incredibly open to interpretation. Everyone was touched by this pandemic and everyone dealt with or coped in different ways and the album is very relatable in that sense. While it never explicitly mentions the pandemic, it’s very clear that it is exactly what they are referring to. From the insanely relatable ‘Fly To My Room’ which talks about how we had to reinvent our rooms to make us feel more comfortable in a time where it feels like a cage to the bitterweet love-letter to the fans that were ‘Telepathy’ and ‘Stay’. For instance I applied those two songs to my dear friends whom I have barely seen this year. The lyrics work in that sense because they feel vague enough where you can apply it to your life and the experience you had this year.
The album has a couple standout songs musically. The track ‘Blue & Grey’ has a special place in my heart because it has my bias and my bias-wrecker singing lead vocals and doing so flawlessly I might add. While the other members sound great on ‘Telepathy’, SUGA’s verse make the song for me, I love how he the rappers sung more on this album. My least-favourite song is ‘Dis-ease’ purely because the first half sounds like leftovers from ‘Map of the Soul: 7’, but the last minute or so when Jimin gets incorporated into the song sounds so good that it redeems the song for me. ‘Stay’ is a weird song for me. I love the pre-chorus so much but then the EDM drop instantly reminds me of 2015-2016 songs which had a similar drop. Despite it not being my favourite, it’s definitely a grower and it’s definitely gonna get a physical response. The closing track being ‘Dynamite’ is a perfect choice, the album closes with a joyous and hopeful anthem ultimately telling us that things will get better in the end which is a message a lot of us could use right now.
Overall, ‘BE’ proves to be a lyrical standout in BTS’ discography despite not being an adventurous step musically. The passion put into this album is palpable and the lyrical content proves to be as personal for them as it for us making this album feel more like a reassuring hug in a world full capable of a lot of darkness. While it doesn’t shy away from the dark emotions it also sheds a light on hope, something we take for granted, this year more than ever.
Ranking of Songs
1. Life Goes On
3. Fly To My Room
4. Blue & Grey
‘BE’ is available to stream on every music platform as well on CD in their deluxe physical copy.