Big Hit Entertainment
After operating out of South Korea and converting curious Internet YouTube and kids viewers right into a full-fledged fandom army, BTS appear prepared to embrace their status as global superstars.
Enlisting famous brands Steve Aoki, MNEK and Beyoncé’s go-to engineer DJ Swivel to mix their songwriting and production talents, the K-pop boy band phenoms reveal their new album Love Yourself: Tear today with a rollout appropriate limited to the world’s biggest musicians. Tear may be the band’s first-time releasing an album on a Friday (rather than the usual early weekday releases typically observed in their native Korea), aligning with the West’s established global release day that maximizes performance on America’s definitive Billboard charts. Rather than promoting in the home before bringing the music to overseas fans, BTS’ first performance of experimental new single “Fake Love” will undoubtedly be as of this Sunday’s Billboard Music Awards, sharing a stage with famous brands Christina Aguilera, Shawn Ariana and Mendes. Even though the lead-up to the album release saw BTS shifting expectations for Korean-pop acts, the music itself positions them from any dismissive boy bands or pop star labels.
From the neo-soul-inspired “Intro: Singularity,” sung by BTS’ singer-actor member V solely, a moody atmosphere is set up because the 22-year-old grapples with falling out in clumps of touch with himself in the name of what he thinks is love. That sets the stage for the entire group to become listed on him on “Fake Love,” a shape-shifting electro-pop/hip-hop track that demands listeners to bop their cry-sing and head over warm vocal melodies. From pointed rap verses from rappers RM, J-Hope and Suga to a goosebump-inducing pre-chorus from youngest member Jungkook and V, “Fake Love” turns an identity crisis in love right into a fascinating mixture of music moods and genres.
The album continues to dabble at night with the Aoki-featuring “THE REALITY Untold” venturing into an urgent piano ballad moment with flecks of arena guitars because the boys croon, “I understand I can’t offer you me…but I’d like you still.” Meanwhile, “Airplane, Pt. 2” and “134340” (the name now directed at Pluto when it had been downgraded from planet to asteroid status), bring soothing jazz salsa and flute elements to the mix.
Yet, things begin to brighten, at least sonically, towards the finish with the synth-y mega-punch of “Magic Shop” where in fact the guys’ voices blend into an uplifting, harmonizing chorus asking a lover for empathy. By “Anpanman” (the name of Japan’s beloved cartoon superhero with a pastry for a head) this heartbreak appears like a bachelor party with the warble-laden sing-rap style employed by famous brands Post Malone, Ty Dolla $ign and Fetty Wap paired making use of their bombastic rap style, finished by the smooth off, future-bass ride of rave-ready “JUST WHAT EXACTLY.”
Final track “Outro: Tear” brings things full circle with a heart-pounding hip-hop cut As their passionately devoted fanbase referred to as Army-who look more likely to score their boys another win for top level Social Artist as of this weekend’s BBMAs after flooding Twitter with an incredible number of votes-know all too well, every BTS release is really a journey with every ending only hinting at more exciting what to come. With Tear flying right to No. 1 on the U.S. iTunes albums and its own tracks flooding the singles charts, BTS’ sonically darker chapter is looking pretty bright.