BTS Love Yourself: Answer - A Review
Jin, Suga, RM, JHope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook, collectively known as BTS, is about to drop Love Yourself: Answer, the third (or fourth if you are counting the Japanese release) album of their Love Yourself Series that commemorated two years ago with Love Yourself Her.
Big Hit, BTS’ management company, clearly stated that it is a repackaged album. They rounded up songs from past albums and singles they have released in the past two years including the solo tracks of the four vocalists, Sigularity by V, Euphoria by Jungkook, Serendipity by Jimin, and Epiphany by Jin.
They also pulled extended versions and remixes of other songs such as Mic Drop produced by Steve Aoki and rock version of Fake Love.
For a repackaged album, however, it contains a number of original songs that could have very well been pulled together as a stand alone album. That’s not really a strange move for BTS, though. They are known for a discography bigger than a their closet put together.
Yet, despite the frequency of releases, the septet manages to come up with songs that are distinctly unique from each other.
Trivia: Just Dance
A solo track from one of their rappers, Jhope or Hoseok Jung, this may be the one song that will make it to EDM remixes, college parties, and demo pieces of dancers. Jhope released his mixtape early this year and has established his penchant for danceable beats. Being a dancer prior to discovering rap, it isn’t really surprising to hear a fusion of jazz, hiphop, and EDM. What is surprising is the way he would leave only one instrument as a bed for his voice in many of the parts.
Everyone has attested to his bright and bubbly personality and he let that shine in this song. It’s easy and happy.
RM, the band's leader, is known for being the most cerebral in the band. This song is like a walk through RM’s thought process about what love is and how to express it. He wonders whether the affection he receives and the happiness is brings is real love but, in the same breathe, decides that the answer doesn’t matter because loving is up to us.
Unlike Jhope, RM chooses more classical instruments, a piano and violin, giving it a more classic sound, more elite feel, a much more finesse piece that stands out from the rest of the album that riddled with synthesizers, heavy guitar, riffs, and hard pounding drums.
Suga, the most street of the three rappers, has professed his hatred for his own singing voice but this piece saw him singing all the parts in different tempos and he nailed it. He took it home.
True to the Suga signature, the sound is gritty and has the unrefined feel that opens with what sounds like a tin can flapping against the wind. Suga’s voice rescues the atmosphere with his baritone and is surprisingly soothing.
He keeps the instruments simple, consistent drumbeat as the bed that is accompanied by either an acoustic guitar or synthesizer.
What makes it markedly Suga is the way he goes in and out of singing, talking, and rapping like he is carelessly abandoning a feel just as when you are starting to latch on to it. It is slow enough for people to grasp but the sparse use of instruments and his incredible abandon with words make it sound like a surrender to insanity of love rather than a chill out song for love.
I’m Fine is the conclusion to Save Me, a song from their Young Forever album. While Save Me talks of someone in misery and their need for someone to save them, I’m Fine abandons the plea and pull back… hard.
In fact, it starts with the opening of Save Me but quickly rewinds to talk about just how they are fine all on their own, keeping with the theme of Love Yourself.
Even the tempo is faster and the tone more hyped. It inspires you to snap your fingers, raise your hand, and sway against the cold wind under the bright sun.
BTS’s decision to choose Idol as the carrier single of their latest album, Love Yourself: Answer is a statement in and of itself.
The song has everything it takes to not make it to the U.S. airwaves. The primary music bed used are Korean native instruments played in an unfamiliar tempo.
The beats are either too fast for parties where bodies sway collectively or too slow to lend itself as a background music for cafes or chill out spots where millennials hang out. Reminiscent of their early songs, the tempo shifts too often for anything to stick. You’re sliding down a smooth and easy verse by the band’s leader RM one second and then jumping in undeniable indifference with Suga’s parts. Jhope, usually the rapper that bridges the opposing tones of RM and Suga, diverts towards his markedly more friendly bops.
By the time the hook arrives, you will struggle to keep yourself grounded and grasp the theme and tone they are going for but they make no reprieve. In fact, they only add more contrasting sounds with the four vocalists’ varied approaches.
V’s deep voice seems to leave his lines hanging for a grand end but Jungkook steals the thunder with a much faster beat only to throw it towards Jimin who sings his lines with a pitch and tone nowhere near Jungkook. It’s fine but the lack of lead in only makes it harder to catch up especially with Jin’s isolated part.
What amazingly keeps it together is the consistent sound of ethnic Korean instruments and Korean sound. Whether actual Korean instruments were used in the recording is beside the point. The sound itself belongs to Korea’s ancient era, back when they were living their lives in silk robes, crowns, and soft hair… outside of the influence of men and women with white skin and blond hair.
The tempo is undoubtedly sounds like a battlecry in front of their king, hard, loud, imposing, determine, and defiant.
The lyrics is a genius play of ideas that hits a million birds with several lines. You can call me artist. You can call me idol, I don’t care, I’m proud of it. I know what I am. I know what I want. I won’t change. You can’t stop me from lovin’ myself.”
BTS has always been aware and educated about the social issues, social dogma, local cultures and beliefs. They have proven this in more than ways then one. Their entrance to the US market as a boyband comes with given hurdles - the stigma against boybands, the languages barrier, and the unfamiliar look their band is known for. The three main writers of the group all have underground backgrounds. They know the bad taste in the mouth their ‘boyband’ tag leaves behind.
The song is a defiant cry of them not caring about tags or expectations or names. They are sure and certain of who they are and they
Is this a fitting album for Korea’s flag bearers?
In several hours, BTS is set to drop a bomb that will undoubtedly shake the world. Whether the impact of the bomb will be greater than the previous ones they have dropped or whether it will explode on their own hands to destroy the groundwork they have built all these years with their own blood, sweat, and tears is up for history to decide.
What is certain is that BTS is aware of the number of eyes that are on them and how vultures are ready to pounce deep into their skin to bleed them dry with one wrong move. They are also aware that regardless of what they create, it will never be good enough for many even if it is.
Love Yourself: Answer the third (if you don’t count the Japanese release) and last installment in BTS’ Love Yourself series that began almost two years ago with Love Yourself:Her. Each part tells a certain take on love and the band has been alluding to how the series will circle back to the original theme of “Love Yourself”. They made true to this promise.
While the other installments talked about how the sacrifices we all often make for the people we love, the last installment talks about the kind of love that should begin and end all other love we feel, one that is directed towards ourselves.
All songs are, at the very least, co-written by one or more of the members. The first two parts are written like stories that BTS picks up, articulates, and tells. This approach has appealed greatly to their fans because many relate to their sentiments.
Love Yourself: Answer takes an interesting twist as they, like the message they have articulated time and time again, they go back to themselves and how they love who they are and what they stand for. Through the all the criticisms, hatred, love, and adoration, they managed to go back to what is important, loving themselves.
If the album makes people realize just how important that is, this may be the most groundbreaking album of all time.