Dec 13, 2015

BTS Concludes The Story With "Run"

With every comeback I'm more and more astonished by this still relatively new group, and what huge progress they're constantly making. When BTS first debuted I wasn't really into what they were trying to do, as I liked the fact that they were singing about social issues and teenage related problems but their "try-hard" hip-hop image with the baggy clothes, gold chains and loose shorts didn't work for me as you know by now is one the images I've come to dislike the most. Then somewhere about a year into their debut something happened.  Although the music didn't change that drastically (at least when it came to B-sides) their title tracks started to sound more mature and their styling and overall look changed completely. Looking at them now and where they were back then makes me both impressed and also immensely proud, and with their new single "Run" as well as the second half of their mini album series out I couldn't be happier.

When "I Need U" came out earlier this year (and the amazing, amazing video that came along with it) I knew this year would be a fantastic one to be a BTS fan. "I Need U" is one of my favorite songs of the entire year and definitely my favorite of theirs, and although it was quite the departure from the sound they're usually associated with I liked this new direction and hoped I would be seeing more of it. Knowing this you'll surely understand that I'm also completely obsessed with "Run", which is both similar and different. The vibe of the song is definitely similar, as it's more of a temporary pop track with more focus on vocals than rap, but it's much more upbeat and uplifting then "I Need U" was (but who are we kidding, that song was depressive as hell). I don't like it as much as the former because it's a hard one to beat, but it's still a fantastic tune and one the best title tracks this year.

The video for the song is, on the other hand, quite a different story. Like with "I Need U" the lyrics of the song can be connected to the video (it does involve a lot of running), but the two are somewhat in different dimensions. The MV tells a story of its own, and like one would have expected it doe require some knowledge of what has happened in their earlier videos ("I Need U" and the prologue) to understand this one better and even so, it's hard to dissect and analyze.

Since BTS' main project this year are their two connected mini albums it makes sense for the videos to be connected as well, and I think that everyone was hoping for more answers after the whirlwind of emotions that was the MV for "I Need U". I was both heartbroken and intrigued and wanted to know more about why the members acted the way they did, and this video provides both answers and more questions.

There were many theories circling around the web about what had actually happened in this year's earlier comeback video, and most of them involved death in some form. While I personally didn't think anyone of the members were dead or died (more so hurt, heartbroken and torn), it seems fans and critics thought differently.

Some of them even suggested all of them were dead except from Jin, and the prologue that was released later on sparked even more ideas about the circumstances of their said deaths. With this video however it appears as it the tides have turned, because now the most logical explanation is that it is in fact Jin who is dead, if any of them are.

I must say I was skeptical to these theories, because I couldn't really find anything myself in the first video that pointed in that direction. But with the evidence I've read now, especially after this release I'm becoming more and more inclined to believe that that is the case. Many thought that "Run" would be a continuation of the story that was presented in "I Need U", but it makes more sense that it actually takes place beforehand. Or it's possible it does take place afterwards depending on how you interpret it, but there are some clues in here that point towards the former more so than the latter.

In the very first scene of the prologue we see a scared and confused V washing blood of his hands (which due to what happens in the first video makes us think this scene takes place afterwards), and he makes a phone-call in which he asks, trembling for his hyung and tells him he wants to see him. The following ten minutes are most likely flashbacks and the actual prologue, and although Jin is present he is mostly seen with a camera in his hand, filming the rest of them.

The theories say, and I find this believable, that he's not actually there and the video camera represents that. Either way the video ends with V jumping into the water from a dangerously high position, and we're left to wonder about his fate. After the credits roll we see Jin alone in the car he was previously driving, and it appears the car is in the sea as there are waves around him, and I can't help but think that he might have died right there as a cause of drowning. Whether it was self-inflicted or not I cannot tell and I don't know how chronological this video is either, so although some questions are answered even more are asked.

If "Run" is the video following these events then what we see is the intimidate aftermath of his death, possibly mixed with some flashbacks of when they were all alive and well, but there are some definite indications that something's about to break loose. At first they're seen partying and having fun, but as the video progresses the mood gets darker and the consequences of Jin's said death starts to show. They become even more rebellious and mischievous, and start taking their anger and frustration out on each other and their surroundings.

Rap Monster and V get caught doing illegal graffiti, Suga and Jungkook get into a huge emotional and violent fight and there's even a part near the end where the music stops, and the boys block and entire tunnel with their car (driven by Jin, possibly meaning he is the one making them act this way) and start jumping on cars and pouring food and drinks on them. Sidenote: I don't know if this scene is meant to have the meaning I'm choosing to interpret it as or if they're just trying to enhance this teenage angst image that BTS has because if that's the case then I'm not as happy with it. The common divider with everything happening in the video however is that Jin is just not as present as the others in a lot of scenes. He does not have any individual scenes as the other boys have, and in some of them he looks absent and out of place, as if he's only observing. Him driving the car and not actively participating can also be a clue that hints both at his absence but also the way he might have died.

Additionally there are hints here and there that connects this video with the one that might be coming after, where things truly take a turn for the worse as a possible long-time consequence of his death. Rap Monster still appears to enjoy lollipops, Jungkook gets into fights, J-Hope is seen in a hospital which might explain his storage of pills and Jimin gets thrown into the tub as a joke, which is ironic considering his heartbreaking scene in "I Need U". There is, simply put, a lot of foreshadowing which I think is done in a cool way, and it's also exciting to know what the group was actually doing wandering around the train containers; that's where their hangout location was.

Reviewing this video is hard for several reasons, because whether or not you chose to count in the previously released ones can determine how enjoyable you find this one. Knowing what I know about the other two and pulling the strings together does make this MV have a completely different meaning, and one that is more emotional and heartbreaking than ever.

 If this theory I'm presenting here (which seems to be the fan favorite) is correct than this entire storyline from the very first video to this one is quite brilliant, but we can't be sure that is the case. I love that they make it such a hard nut to crack, because it's fun and exciting trying to decode the occurrence of the events, but I almost think it's a bit too hard. I don't know if this severe case of ambiguity is intended or if their managing team isn't quite sure what's actually happened either, but it does make this video quite abstract.

For someone who doesn't know and isn't up to date it must be very confusing, because then it appears as if the members' actions and antics are motivated by nothing, or at least nothing distinguishable. The image of them might not be as positive either, with their more-than-regular rebellious behavior throughout the video. However I won't say that the MV is bad as a stand-alone project either, because there is a high production value that makes up for most of the confusion. Like with "I Need U" the cinematography is beautiful, the locations and sets are perfect for the theme and the emotionally charged scenes are enough to make anyone feel affected.

What I love the most about this video, looking at it as an independent one, is how genuine it feels. This group has a way of pulling at your heartstrings and making you relate, whether it'd be the moments of joy and laughter or the moments of sorrow and anger. More than being a group of idols, the boys of BTS feel like that group of friends you know that might be a bit naughty sometimes but are genuinely great guys that care for each other. Someone like me, who has a thing for bromances, has a hard time sitting through videos like this one without feeling emotional, and BTS are presenting their relationships in such a realistic way.

I've realized now that this post has become very long, but it's difficult not to write this much when a video with this kind of meaning and backstory is released. On its own the video is fantastic, no question about it. The quality of every single factor is stupidly high, from the sets, the editing, the cinematography and the styling (BTS is definitely the best dressed male group right now), it all falls perfectly into place. They're progressed from your standard "wannabe swag" hip-hop group to a group of intelligent, talented and relatable young men that combine rapping and hip-hop with new sounds and a less stereotypical style, and anyone who watches this video will feel the same way.

However it is when seen with the MV for "I Need U" and the prologue that you can truly appreciate the beauty of this comeback. What BTS has accomplished this year with these releases is admirable to say the least, and the fact that they've pulled it off this good without getting too lost in the concept is astonishing, but I can't say that I'm surprised. BTS will go far in this industry I'm sure and this is only the beginning of their reign, but what a start. I come out of this with nothing but respect for them, and can't wait to see where they'll be in five years time.

Song: 4,5/5
Video (as a stand-alone): 4/5
Video (as a part of the story): 4,5/5

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