BE BTS

Stars: 4/5

BTS breaks any mold that you think is related to Korean pop. They are more than K-pop. “BE” is an album different from anything that we have heard from BTS.

Over three years, I went from a retired Directioner, who survived the K-pop versus Directioner fandom war of the 2010s, to a secret member of the BTS ARMY.

The band’s latest release does not allow me for a second to regret anything. BTS’s “BE” is their second studio album of 2020. “Map of Soul: 7” was released earlier this year before the pandemic halted all our lives. This standstill sparks the genesis of “BE.”

Hope, optimism and healing is packed into this eight-track album.

“Life Goes On” paints the picture for “BE.” Few months before the album’s release, the band gave a speech at the UN's 75th General Assembly, where “life goes on, let’s live on” was the main message. The song itself has beautiful lyrics. I was shocked to hear an acoustic guitar in this song. It makes the song so warm and full of hope. The production of “Life Goes On” sits as my favorite on the album.

Featuring V, Jimin, SUGA, and J-Hope, “Fly To My Room” sounds like someone sitting in their bedroom, staring at the ceiling and singing to themselves. Yet, the rap line’s transition was not as smooth; it was abrupt and came out of nowhere. Maybe the abruptness represents how frustration comes to one during this pandemic. Frustration gradually builds up.

My favorite song, hands down, on the album is “Blue & Grey.” Throughout the song, the guys use the colors blue and grey in different ways - it's meticulously crafted. It is the emotional peak on “BE,” with each member expressing their pain.

The acoustic guitar compliments and made the production. The guitar mesmerized me, especially the opening; it's light and soft. Then, V’s outro is “after secretly sending my words up into the air/now I fall asleep at dawn, good night.” How beautiful.

I usually skip skits during BTS’s albums. I don’t know why. The only skit I listened to was their Billboard Speech on “Love Yourself: Her.” Luckily for my bare minimum Korean comprehension skills and switching between several tabs, I learned that this skit was about “Dynamite” reaching number one on the Billboard 100 before they were going to choreography practice. Ironically, they were going to practice their first lead single, "No More Dream." It gave me goosebumps. 

The fifth song on “BE” is “Telepathy,” which continues to the ‘80s elements introduced in the first single of this project. It melts away the sadness and pain listeners endured during the first half of the album.

“Dis-ease” brings an old-school intro by J-hope. BTS’s rap line (RM, SUGA, and J-hope) shines on this song. This is probably the closest to the typical BTS rap line song in each of their albums or projects. Do not let the song’s title turn you away, it's not about a disease. Instead, the meaning is about being uncomfortable.

“Dis” is the prefix meaning not and “ease” is comfort. No ease or simply uncomfortable. Get it?

“Stay” is performed by Jungkook, Jin and RM. They have the best chemistry on the album. EDM gets to shine on this song. The premise of the song is how the band’s fans, the ARMY, never leave and stay no matter what.

No lie, I found “Dynamite” the most annoying song by BTS, but now it’s probably one of my favorites from them. It’s as if happiness, cute cat videos, and sunshine were mixed together in a song. “Dynamite” is the first Korean pop song to be nominated for a Grammy and BTS’s first number one song in the US. The song also broke countless records.

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The thing that makes BTS top tier is their ability to put their everything into an album. From choreography, vocals, lyrics, performances, concepts and production, BTS does it all flawlessly and passionately. I encourage anyone to look beyond their singles because the group epitomizes diversity in their music. “Map of Soul: 7” demonstrates it for sure.

“BE” reinvents BTS for the global —U.S.— market. “BE” does not feel exactly like BTS and a tad bit watered down. I initially noticed it during their Billboard Awards performance in October 2020.

It is not as adventurous compared to other eras and albums from the band. Yet, “BE” is a different destination and world within itself. There is no bittersweetness from the slight shift for me. It is only different.

I wished there were more songs on the album, but it’s short and sweet. I can’t wait to see how this era plays out and if BTS will win a Grammy in a few months.

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