Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

It seems like the K-Pop sensation BTS didn't take a break throughout this entire year; they were one of the most active artists in 2020. This Korean boy band is not only widely popular for its intense choreography and its member’s looks or personalities, but also for its ability to create music that impacts, inspires and touches the listeners. BTS has showcased all kinds of topics through their lyrics, such as criticizing educational systems, society’s toxic behaviors, mental health, finding our paths in life, to empowering women, gender neutral lyrics and much more.

Here I will only discuss their 2020 musical releases both as a group and as solo artists (Japanese album and 2020 collaborations with other artists not included). Within these song recommendations, I will give a brief insight into their meanings. 

Note: most of the lyric translations are from Genius

Map Of The Soul: 7

They released this album on February 21, 2020. It was inspired by Carl Jung’s Map Of The Soul psychological theory and Greek mythology. This entire album is a masterpiece. With their songs, they portray the explanation of the psychological theory by Carl Jung involving distinct aspects of both our unconscious and conscious mind. They also give us an insight into their story, the hardships they have gone through these seven years alongside the ARMY (their fandom) and some of their individual battles. All of this will be briefly discussed throughout this article. 

It is important to highlight that, according to Jung’s Map of the Soul theory, the persona is how we present ourselves to the world; the ego is the central part of consciousness (commonly related to identity), and the shadow is the unknown dark side of the personality. Throughout the discussion of the album, I will provide primary sources of information about the theory.

Intro: Persona  

According to Jung, persona is how we present ourselves to the world; it's the public image/mask with which we conceal our true nature. In this song, the rapper RM is asking himself who he is, what he wants, and what is his real dream. It seems as if he is questioning his inner self in order to find his true self. 

“Who am I? The question I had my whole life

The question which I probably won’t find an answer to my whole life”

Jamais Vu

“Jamais Vu” is a French saying that describes the psychological phenomenon for when an individual is doing something they are familiar with, but it seems foreign to them; this is the opposite of déjà vu. The beautiful balad is a subunit BTS song comprising singers Jin and Jungkook, and rapper J-Hope. This introspective track talks about our tendency to repeat the same blunders over and over again. In the chorus the two singers beg for someone to "please give me a remedy."

BTS leader RM stated during a global press conference: "The song talks about how there might be unintentional mistakes and setbacks but we will keep getting up and keep on running." The song appears to be dedicated to the members and their fans. Even when they lose themselves, when they stumble and fall, having each other and their fans could be the remedy to relieve their pain. 

Interlude: Shadow 

This song features the group’s rapper Suga as he recounts the struggles of not wanting to reach his dreams in fear of the shadow that comes with them. Opening with the narration of his aspirations, the song devolves to reveal the fear of the loneliness that comes with the success they have and being consumed by his ambitions (his shadow). The track then ends with the sentiment that everyone could feel this at some point, and that this feeling is unavoidable. The rapper ultimately shows a sense of acceptance at the end of the track. This track can also be interpreted as him battling his shadow (according to Jung, the shadow is the unknown dark side of the personality). 

“You are me, I am you, now do you know

We are one body and we are going to clash”

Black Swan

This song is a personal favorite. The R&B track recalls the pain of growing distant from one’s passions— in this case, dancing and making music. The members use the song to express their feelings about how artists view their craft, and how they feel when their love for it is lost. 

BTS dropped an art film featuring a performance by Slovenian modern dance troupe MN Dance Company before the release of their official music video. The visual explores the struggles put forth by BTS in the lyrics as interpreted by the dancers. It is fronted by a quote from modern dance legend Martha Graham: “A dancer dies twice–once when they stop dancing, and this first death is the most painful”. BTS said in an interview for a Podcast on Spotify that the song lends voice to the band’s darkest fears- that the music they do will one day cease to touch or move them. As the verse of the rapper Suga says:

“The heart stops beating

When the music starts to play

… Seems like time has stopped

Oh, that would be my first death

I been always afraid of”

Black Swan could be linked to Jung’s Map of the Soul theory because it portrays aspects of the shadow, which for them are their inner fears as musicians. When someone loses the passion for doing what they love the most, it can feel that it happened out of nowhere. The individual could feel like, no matter what they do, they can not feel passionate about their art anymore.

Louder than bombs 

 "Louder than bombs'' mentions some of the hardships BTS has gone through and still experiments. By telling their story through this song, they motivate the listener to have hope that better days will come and that we have to continue fighting, even in bad moments. Based on what RM shared from his broadcast, this song tells a story of how sadness and fear grow as a person encounters pain/struggles in life. He also talked about relating to the stories ARMYs share with them via letters, comments and posts in social media. The rapper stated that many fans say that they find comfort in Bangtan (BTS) and that it seems unreal that they have become the motivation, strength, acceptance and love for many of their supporters. RM thought about the crowds at the concerts, how much fun their fans have with them, and he realized that beyond those cheerful faces, there are people who are going through hardships. As for BTS, who encourages everyone to ''speak yourselves", the main message of the song is that they want to continue to listen to our stories and they will never stop singing for us as long as we speak ourselves. The song leaves a clear image of the relationship between BTS and the ARMY and how they both are each other's strength. 

On 

In the chorus, the members sing that despite some situations being tough to handle, they are still going to get right back up. Every day brings new struggles, but they are not willing to let those bring them down.The track appears to represent the Map of the Soul theory as a whole. The vocalist Jimin starts his verse stating “I can't understand what people are saying, who and what do I need to follow”, which can be representative of the persona aspect of the theory. Speaking about the song on New Music Daily with Zane Lowe on Apple Music, RM shared: “It is like a big diary for our past seven years. It’s like a shrink version of the BTS identity. It’s kind of about how we could stumble from time to time, but we got back up…”; this could sum up the ego aspect of Jung’s psychological theory. On the other hand, the shadow aspect is evident throughout the song and the concept in general as we can see in the dancing and clothing for the Kinetic Manifesto Film and in the official music video, it is also directly mentioned in the lyrics.

UGH! (Trigger warning: sensitive topics such as suicide will be mentioned)

The track features BTS Rap line: RM, Suga and J-Hope. The lyrics of the song left me speechless since it appears to be a harsh rap song with repetitive lyrics. The track discusses the rage surrounding the group because of the hate comments they have received and still get. In the song, they use lots of Korean puns that hold a lot of symbolism. The title itself, “UGH!” is symbolic; Doolset in her/his article explains the different meanings of the title, goes line by line discussing the song and the mind-blowing Korean puns. 

As I stated before, the song refers to the hate/bullying artists, influencers, or people in general can face. As a K-pop fan myself I do feel like the song could be referencing the past tragedies that have happened in the K-Pop industry, where artists took their lives after receiving horrible amounts of hate. There is also a helpful YouTube video of a Korean fan explaining the context, symbolism and relating the song with 2019s K-Pop tragic losses. 

BTS promotes that rage should be used wisely, since rage sometimes can change the world. 

Zero O’Clock

I like to say that this song is a healing song. If you feel sad, frustrated or overwhelmed by day-to-day situations, this track will feel like someone is next to you telling you that everything will be alright. 

RM talked about the song on VLive:

“It’s basically about life moving forward, no matter what happens, our lives go on… This song’s theme was related to the thoughts I often have. When I get home, I lay on the bed and I start thinking: Is it my fault? No, things happen, regardless of our intentions. […] When the vocalists recorded the song, it felt like they were telling my own story, as if they were trying to comfort me. The title is “Zero O'Clock” because no matter how tiring and exhausting our day has been when the clock hits midnight, it’s a brand new opportunity.”

Inner Child

The vocalist V sings to his young self that although they may be going through a hard moment and, it may seem impossible, the circumstances will change. He encourages his young self to smile more and to stop worrying because everything will be beyond anything he had ever imagined. This track shows that no matter how bad everything could seem at the moment, things will get better with time.  

EGO

The lyrics describe the process of finding trust in one's own ego, referenced by Carl Jung, the psychologist inspiring the Map of the Soul era. The ego, according to Jung, is the central part of consciousness, meaning it is the part from which the individual is the most aware of (usually the identity). In “Outro: Ego”, the rapper (J-Hope) makes Hoseok (his real name) and himself  appear as different identities. J-Hope recounts his experiences and identities in order to reach the conclusion that he trusts who he has been, who he is now, and who he will be. The track full of happy beats invites us to accept and trust ourselves, the past us, and the present and the future that awaits us. 

 D-2 

D-2 is Suga’s (BTS rapper) second mixtape. In his solo works, Suga goes by the pseudonym Agust D— a variation of his birthplace (Suga Daegu Town). Agust D is known for having an aggressive style in his rapping. In his first mixtape he talked about his mental health conditions and the struggles he experienced before joining the band and at the beginning of BTS (before and after their debut). The most impactful songs from his second mixtape, in my opinion, were:

이상하지 않은가 Strange (ft RM)

This song is a philosophical reflection about what has become “normal” in modern society, such as letting social media dictate our identity and materialistic mindsets. The lyrics of the song are extremely deep; they make you question and reflect on how many people in our society are molded by the systems. 

“... We’re given multiple choices

and our taste is controlled by the capital 

… However much money one has,

everyone is a slave of this system

People are busy boasting about their dog collars and dog houses,

fighting all day about whose shines”

Burn It (ft Max)

According to Elite Daily, “burning” has a double meaning in the song: “One can burn down a version of themselves and leave it behind as ash (which Suga says takes courage), or one can light up a version of themselves so it becomes as bright as the sun.” Something that is characteristic from Yoongi (the artist’s real name) is that his songs can be interpreted in many different ways. For this song, some interpret that he wants to burn his past self and others believe that he is saying that he had to burn his real self in order to become as bright as Suga from BTS. 

사람 (People)

In this song the rapper reflects on the people he has met in his life and the changes he has gone through— in either a good or a bad way. He states that people change and that you should just live your life. 

BE

BTS album BE was released on November 20th, 2020. This album portrays their feelings about the whole situation we are going through (the pandemic).The songs that speak most about these circumstances are:  

Life Goes On

This was their first full Korean song to hit number one on Billboard’s Top 100, which is a huge deal since the song is really calm, does not have choreography, and is predominantly in Korean (it has some English words). The lyrics of the song are lyrics we can all relate to since our lives seem to be stuck thanks to the pandemic: 

“One day, the world stopped

Without any warning

… Time goes by on its own

Without a single apology”

But they talk not only about the “negative” of the situation, they state that:

“Like an echo in the forest

The day will come back around

As if nothing happened

Yeah, life goes on”

This song is about giving out hope to their listeners, it tells us; to hold on to that hope that life will go back to how things were (like an echo that comes back). Life doesn’t stop and neither should we. Happiness will return. 

Fly To My Room

The song is about the frustration from the stay-at-home orders and quarantine enforced by the government due to COVID-19.

“It's so frustrating, it's driving me crazy

… Somebody turn back the clock

The entire year got stolen

I'm still in bed

… This room is all I have

Then, what can I do here?

Into my world

Let's change it, yeah”

In the last lines of the verse, V introduces a positive outlook on the pandemic by reflecting on all the things you can do in your room. This is the turning point in the song in which they stop thinking of being trapped and they start to appreciate where they are stuck. Now they are happy to be in their rooms because it is the place in which they are safe to be themselves; now they see their situation as an opportunity for self growth. 

병 (Dis-ease)

Dis-ease is a bright, old-school, hip-hop song about their own profession and the feeling of uncertainty they have experienced during the pandemic. The track parallels two different concepts, 병 directly translates to “disease,” however J-Hope, who wrote the most of the track, has written the English title of this song as dis-ease. ‘Dis-’ is a prefix meaning opposite/not, thus changing the meaning of the word. Rather than just being about disease, the song is also about the opposite of ease, hence “disease,” or “uncomfortableness.” 

J-Hope in his verse states:

“Even if I scream, I'm hungry for achievements every day

… It's unsafe, this is a disease

That job gives you a physical stun, ow!”

A lot of this song seems to be a critique of how much of ourselves and our life we sacrifice for our jobs (that is the disease). 

The song, written mostly by the rapper J-Hope, also shares the message of hope for the future. 

“Sick and tired

But I don’t wanna mess up

'Cause life goes on

… I don't know what's at the end, ayy

… I'm stronger

A spark of fire

I will never fade away”

Dynamite 

This retro track is the group’s first full English song and thanks to this song they got their first official Grammy Nomination. I guarantee you this song will get you in a good mood. If you are feeling low, you should definitely give “Dynamite" a chance. BTS released this song because of the pandemic; they wanted a lighthearted, feel-good song so people had something to dance to. 

“As you know, we released “Dynamite” because it was a rough year for many people, and we really hope to provide some excitement and spirit for everyone again,” Jin said.

BTS is way much more than a Korean group that sings and dances well. Gloria Wickman in one of her articles states:

BTS has broken countless barriers as Korean artists in the west but their greatest accomplishment isn’t chart rankings or album sales or sold-out concerts. They’ve reached countless fans and been a source of comfort and inspiration. Just like their company’s motto, which appears before every one of their music videos, they’ve become “music and artists for healing.”

BTS definitely motivated many of its listeners to keep fighting through this tough year. Here I covered some of their 2020 tracks that had a huge impact on me,—tracks that motivated me to continue giving my all in every aspect of my life despite the frustration because of the pandemic, and many other unexpected life changing situations. They are truly artists for healing, and for that reason, even if K-pop is not your thing I am sure they could serve as an inspiration either with their music, their impactful story, their touching speeches or their bright and humble personalities. 

Pre-medicine student
Similar Reads👯‍♀️