Despite the fact that the world is in the midst of a pandemic, BTS has managed to stay busy, relevant, and connected with fans. Through periodic live streams and Twitter posts, they've brought fans along on the journey of creating their latest release BE. In the kpop industry, BTS stands out for playing an active role in their music, with members often receiving production and lyrical credit. In BE, they play an even larger role in the creative process, contributing to the music video, the promo materials, and even the design of the physical album. In a time where most of us are stuck at home, the constant fan engagement and increased member input give BE a special homey and intimate feel.
The influence of COVID-19 on the album is obvious from the opening lines of the first track, “Life Goes On”: “One day the world stopped without warning.” Back in March, BTS had been preparing for a 17-stop world tour across 3 continents. The track “Flying in My Room” expresses the frustration of being stuck at home. In “Dis-ease,” rapper j-hope comments about the anxiety he felt from the sudden, forced vacation. In pop-ballad “Blue & Grey,” the global superstars introspectively ask, “I just wanna be happier, is this being greedy?” But despite the timely and difficult topic, the tracks of BE are resoundingly hopeful. The disco-pop track “Telepathy”—my personal favorite—and the concert-ready house track “Stay” are upbeat and energetic, boldly declaring we are together even though we are apart. Thanks to their social media engagement with fans throughout the pandemic, this message rings true. The album ends on this positive note with the colorful, all-English single “Dynamite” which debuted at the top of the Billboard HOT 100 and received a Grammy nomination, two firsts for the group.
In a time where merely being is difficult, BTS has presented BE. Despite everything that is happening and has happened, as the catchy chorus repeats in my head and I sing along, I find myself starting to believe that “life goes on like this again.”
Gene Kim is the Local Spotlight Editor and a sophomore studying theology in the College.