Oct 20, 2016

BTS' Comeback Is The Gift That Keeps On Giving

BTS is really something special. Their popularity is unlike of any other group at the moment and not only in Korea but arguably equally as much in the rest of the world. If you meet someone who's a K-pop fan, chances are extremely likely that they stan BTS. That also includes me, and although I do try to stay away from groups are are too hyped there's just something about this group that pulls me in. Their gravitational force is too strong and I honestly wouldn't have it any other way. Being someone who's been around since their debut it's extremely awarding just watching BTS grow more and more with each comeback, and this time around it's unusually noticeable how much different of a group they are compared to three and a half years ago.

Title track "Blood Sweat & Tears" is another instant BTS classic, and it's incredible to me that this is their fourth comeback in a row where they've managed to pick a title track that hits all the right notes. It's like they can't produce anything less than stellar at this point. The song is quite different from most of their previous work and sort of marks a shift in sound for BTS as they turn to a more contemporary electronica sound that sounds slightly more westernized. "Blood Sweat & Tears" has a wonderful structure that centers around a reggaeton beat, mixed with smooth rapping and a lovely falsetto breakdown. All of the members carry an equal load in terms of vocal and rapping (apart from Jin who has very few lines, sadly) and it's clear for anyone to see that this group has talent, and tons of it.

The lyrics also show another side of BTS that's up until this point been undiscovered; sex, lust and desire, and it matches the more mature vibe of the comeback. Going from a concept centered around wanting to be young forever they've made a 180 degree turn and are now adult men that aren't afraid to sing about their desires. The lyrics are interesting in the sense that they are showcasing a submissive form of sexual desire, as they're putting everything they have on the line for their lover. Lines such as "Tie me up, it's ok if it hurts. So that I can't run away" make it clear that they're not in a dominant position, but  I actually like that they're embracing this kind of submissiveness as not many boy groups tend to since masculinity is a fragile institution.

In this video BTS manages to portray this sexual submissiveness without loosing an inch of their masculinity or coming across as "weak", both in terms of the dancing but also the members individual portrayals and actions. I would think is the main reason most boy groups do not go down this path is because of the fear of appearing fragile, but BTS takes this fragility and turns it into something beautiful and, at least to me, ridiculously attractive. They're sexy and gorgeous but at the same time soft and tender; not turning into aggressiveness as a way to express lust which is unfortunately quite common for boy groups. It definitely helps that the video is also very beautiful in a classy and high-quality way, with the use of art to enhance the theme of the song.

I'm going to be completely honest when I say that I don't fully understand what the video is about despite being able to pick out some themes and important plot sequences. I wouldn't say the MV directly correlates to the lyrics of the song apart from the dancing portions and the some of the members' individual scenes, but the fact that the meaning of the video is hard to pick apart it doesn't really make the video any less worth enjoying. However I do think that the one and a half minute long interlude in the middle of the video is unnecessary as it ruins the flow of the song and doesn't really add much to the viewing experience as a whole.

Apart from that the video really is aesthetically pleasing to look at with many beautiful shots, beautiful sets and beautiful boys, and I wonder who their art director is because the quality of BTS videos have really shot through the roof since "I Need U". Other favorite moments include Jin kissing a statue, Suga looking hot in black hair (finally!), V's bare back, Jungkook's lethal crotch grabbing and Jimin's, well, everything. He is doing the absolute most in this MV and I love it. The entire choreography is amazing in general too and the boys look so perfect doing it.

As for the album "Wings", which is their second full length album, I have nothing but praise. I know this review is awful because there's really no critique, but BTS are that good and I don't say this because I'm a huge fan because I have no problem dissing a bad song even though it's by one of my favorite groups. It's simply the fact that this group is really talented and put out great songs with great lyrics, and there's not an inch of their success that they don't deserve.

With that said I don't think "Wings" can beat "The Most Beautiful Moment In Life" because the emotional value and song quality of that era is pretty much in it's own game, but it's a big improvement from their first full album "Dark & Wild". I didn't really like that album all too much, if you can remember the review I wrote two years ago, and comparing that to this is like it's hard to believe it's even the same group. Not only have their come into their own and have found their identity as group, but the change in quality of the songs and the vocals and rapping is mind-blowing. Listening to this album truly does feel like a start of a new era because although their mini albums last year showed development too this album feels like the beginning of something entirely new. If you can't tell I'm literally swelling with pride.

One of the biggest differences is that each member gets their own solo track, which of course is very exciting. It's no secret that all of them can hold their own in their respective fields but this allows them to really show what they're made of, and that's exactly what they do. It's incredible to me how suiting all of the solo songs are for the member singing them, and although all of them are different from each other there is still a cohesiveness between them. My personal favorites are Jungkook's "Begin", Jimin's "Lie" and J-Hope's "MAMA". I'm especially impressed with Jimin as he's really showing improvement with his technique, which I think is what has been holding him back since his tone is wonderful.

The other four are good too but both Suga and Rap Monster's tracks take a bit too long before they get going and I'm not quite happy about V singing in falsetto for almost the entire song. He's got a nice voice but I don't think it's best utilized in that register. Jin's ballad "Awake" is actually really beautiful but his vocal tone isn't my favorite, unfortunately. As a whole I'd say that the group tracks on this album are much better than the solo tracks, but I do appreciate that each member does get the chance to shine.  As for the group tracks I obviously love this album's "Cypher" as well as the emotionally heavy "2! 3!" and the fun yet impressively empowering "21st Century Girl", which is a song all dedicated to lifting up and celebrating girls without sexualizing them. I didn't even know that was possible.

Overall this comeback has been giving me life on so many levels, from the sexy live performances to the gorgeous styling and fantastic music. I can't count how many fancams I've watched of either Jungkook or Jimin nor how many times I have squealed over the very deep v-neck shirts they've been sporting. They know what the fans want and they give it to us in the best way possible, and that goes both for visual appeal and music quality. This might not be my favorite title track or album but it shows incredible growth and development and watching them conquer new land each comeback is the biggest gift you could possibly receive as a fan. I don't know where BTS will aim for next but I do know that with this group, there seems to be no limit of what they can achieve.

MV: 4,4/5
Album: 4,35/5

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