BTS has become a global phenomenon over the past three years, and with the release of their new album “Map of the Soul: 7,” they continue to show no signs of letting any imperfection into their discography. With a tracklist of 20 songs, 5 of which transferred over from their 2019 EP “Map of the Soul: Persona.” “7” was released on February 21, 2020, and had already sold 2.6 million copies by 10 am the same day. The new tracks all charted on iTunes’s Top 20 chart. These numbers may come as a shock to those not keeping up with one of the world’s biggest groups, but not to their fans. For weeks, their dedicated fan base (known as the ARMY) had been anticipating the album from the moment they dropped three songs before the official release date.
The album launch began with “Interlude: Shadow” performed by the group’s rapper and producer Suga (whose real name is Min Yoongi). The song sampled the group’s 2013 “Intro: O!RUL8,2?”, which allowed fans to pair their old and new music together within the BTS story timeline. The song features the rapper begging to not achieve his dreams due to fear of the accompanying darkness. The song serves as a bridge between “Persona” and “7,” aligning the fear of one’s shadow overtaking them. The group followed “Shadow” by releasing the first single “Black Swan,” which has an addictive beat, catchy lyrics, and unique style compared to its competitors. The song is inspired by the quote “a dancer dies twice – once when they stop dancing, and this first death is the more painful,” spoken by Martha Graham in the film Black Swan. BTS performed the single on “The Late Late Show Starring James Corden,” leaving the audience and fans stunned by the beautiful choreography and electric energy.
“Outro: Ego,” performed by rapper, main dancer, and producer Jhope (whose real name Jung Hoseok, was the final release before the album. The track was the exact opposite of what fans had experienced from the album rollout so far: an uplifting, joyful, and self-loving song. Being the ending song of the album, the group wanted to encourage trusting yourself and not being afraid of your dreams. The song stands out in the album, becoming a personal as well as a fan favorite. In between the three pre-released songs is a tracklist that truly stands out for being musically excellent. Title track “ON” is a powerful, independent anthem. BTS even enlisted the help of music legend Sia for a feature on a version of the song. “Respect,” performed by leader, rapper, and producer RM (real name Kim Namjoon) and Suga showcases amazing production value and the hypocrisy of respect.
“7” also features music directly dedicated to those who truly admire the band and shows BTS reflecting on how far they have come in their career. One particularly unique song is “We are Bulletproof: the Eternal,” a ballad dedicated to both the band themselves as well as their supporters. Emotional and powerful lyrics portray how BTS started with seven members and is now seven years old with an incredibly huge fanbase. Each song provides a unique and top-tier quality level of production and heart. BTS’s vocalists also shine on their individual tracks, allowing for a wide array of emotions to be depicted. Jungkook (real name Jeon Jeong-guk) and V (AKA Kim Taehyung), showcase their unique perspectives on their rise to fame with “My Time” and “Inner Child”. Jin’s (real name Kim Seok-jin) comforting “Moon” is a message of love to his fans, and Jimin’s (Park Jimin) lovely “Filter” shows different sides of his personality.
With each release, BTS continues to showcase their dynamic talent and be front runners of music, easily able to outchart and outsell even some of the biggest Western artists. With all of this success, BTS shows no signs of slowing down or forgetting who they are. With the release of “7”, it is time Western media and radio finally show BTS the respect, awards, and appreciation they deserve.