Alarms were set to 5:30 a.m. Spotify apps were open and ready. Fans scrambled to get on YouTube to be the first ones to see the new music video. Minutes before sunrise the new BTS album, “Love Yourself: Tear,” was released and it’s already breaking records. The album has already reached No. 1 on the U.S. iTunes charts.
BTS — meaning Bulletproof Boy Scouts or Beyond the Scene — is a Korean boy band that’s already collected fans’ hearts when it rose to fame in the U.S. after attending the Billboard Music Awards in 2017. The seven boys also performed at the American Music Awards in November, instantly gaining love from both fans and celebrities who performed alongside them.
Its previous album, “Love Yourself: Her,” explored the positive and satisfying sides to love while being in a relationship. Now, the band’s new album “Love Yourself: Tear” seems to touch upon the imperfect, dark and complex parts of love. Yet, the recurring theme in both albums is the trial of loving oneself and the difference it makes while loving another.
The introduction song and music video, “Intro: Singularity,” was released over a week before the entirety of the album was released as a teaser to give fans a taste of what the new album would be like. It’s a solo piece that features member V, who performs powerful choreography with deep vocals to melancholy yet jazz-like beats. Both the song and video are ideal choices for an introduction, as the lyrics encompass the idea of wearing a mask to be loved, resulting in loneliness.
“Fake Love,” the lead single, continues the wistful yet gripping soundscapes. The vocals are echoey, pouring out emotions of frustration and rage about getting caught in fake love. It’s about pretending to feel happiness or strength when one is truly hurting inside for the sake of their lover. Here, the boys long for love to be perfect, but it just can’t be. The first verse lyrics go, “I wish love was perfect as love itself, I wish all my weaknesses could be hidden.” It’s then followed by the chorus’ lyrics, which repeat, “I’m so sick of this fake love.”
The theme of wearing a mask and hiding one’s true self from a lover reappears in “The Truth Untold,” a ballad featuring producer Steve Aoki. It’s a song of yearning and insecurity, accompanied by heavy piano chords. Another track with sorrowful undertones is “134340” — named after planet Pluto’s numeric designation. BTS sings in the perspective of Pluto after being chased away by a former lover and being seen as something insignificant.
Something BTS has always done is write songs of encouragement and chasing dreams, even in the face of adversity. “Paradise” is a track that preaches this message. It’s catchy with its diverse, chill beats and its chorus features members singing in unison. “Airplane pt. 2” is just as memorable, a song about BTS itself starting off as kids who dreamed of doing music, and becoming the band it is today. The band’s success is comparable to an airplane taking off. What’s unique about this track is that it’s inspired by distinct Mexican beats and the movie “El Mariachi.”
My personal favorite, “Anpanman,” is a more upbeat tune with high energy, inspired by a Japanese character named Anpanman, known to be the weakest superhero. Here, BTS members tell their fans that they’re no Batman or Superman, but they can still be heroes through their music. The lyrics go, “I don’t have biceps or pecs, I don’t have a supercar like Batman, my ideal is a really cool hero, but all I can give you is just Anpan.”
The track concluding the somber ride of the album is “Outro: Tear,” where it begins with a fast rap, describing the regret of a breakup. The song as a whole can be characterized by a heated mood over something sad.
In the U.S., BTS will be performing at the BBMAs once more on May 20. The tickets for the band’s world tour — which starts in August — sold out in the U.S. in seconds.
The popularity of BTS has never ceased and the sophistication and profoundness of “Love Yourself: Tear” will have fans engaged in a new perspective of its music and view on love. Every album BTS released has been refreshing and contrasting to one another. This new release truly does that statement justice.
Contact Kailey Cheng at email@example.com. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.