ALBUM REVIEW: BE by BTS

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WRITTEN BY: Ruby Lee

Be. It’s a simple message, but important. At a time and in a year when it seems everything has gone to shambles, it is becoming increasingly difficult to embrace the present and be in the here and now. 

BTS’ new album BE, released on November 20, is all about their own thoughts, feelings, and experiences throughout the pandemic. It is an honest, vulnerable, and authentic snapshot of what their own struggles looked and felt like throughout the past year. 

Not coincidentally, it is also the first album in which the members have participated heavily in the creation of from start to finish. From writing and contributing to the songs themselves, to coming up with concepts for the photoshoots and lead single’s music video, all seven members – RM, V, Jimin, Jungkook, Jin, J-Hope, and Suga – played significant roles in the album creation process and worked exceptionally hard as a group to make this album a genuine and accurate representation of their states of being as of late. 

A brief description of each track can be found below:

1. “Life Goes On

The lead single off of BE, “Life Goes On” can essentially be considered a microcosm of what the album as a whole is all about. It acknowledges the pain of the past year and recognizes the many uncertainties that still exist but ultimately points to the more powerful truths that life will go on and better days will come. The soft vocals and harmonies on the track definitely underscore this message of hope, as do the mellow and minimalist instrumentals of synth, acoustic guitar, and simple drums in the background.

2. “Fly to My Room”

A subunit track performed by Jimin, V, Suga, and J-Hope, “Fly to My Room” gets at the monotony of quarantine. The title in Korean (내 방을 여행하는 법) actually translates more closely to “Trip/vacation to my room” but the idea of flying to one’s room is definitely at the heart of this song, as it is all about feeling trapped and confined in one’s small room but trying to make the most of it. The track itself is very bounce-y and upbeat and decorated with catchy, earworm-inducing melodies, perhaps to match the overall optimistic and resolute perspective of the song. 

3. “Blue & Grey”

This song was written by V and is arguably the most emotional song off the album. A pensive and melancholy acoustic pop ballad, “Blue & Grey” articulates feelings of anxiety, loneliness, and depression, and does not shy away from exploring the chilling depth of those emotions. In an interview with Weverse Magazine, V shared the following sentiment about the song: “‘You’re depressed lately? Me too. We’re in the same boat. Wanna talk about how you’re feeling? You wanna feel better, right? I know, but sometimes it feels like you’re being washed away by a whirlpool of stress. I want the listeners to hear me saying that to them.” 

4. “Skit”

Rather than a song, this track is a raw recording of the group’s reaction to achieving their first #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with “Dynamite.” Having been a huge accomplishment and incredible celebratory moment for them, including it in BE seems only fitting, as their unfiltered excitement and joy at the news is nothing if not a testament to the fact that life DOES go on and there is always good to be celebrated, even and especially in the midst of hardship. 

5. “Telepathy”

This retro masterpiece was written by Suga and is all about the group’s relationship with their fans. It brushes past the sadness of not being able to meet together in person and instead draws listeners into a fun, lighthearted, dance club paradise: “Let it go for a whilе / Let’s have fun together.” It is super fun and one of the best tracks off of the album. The vibes are immaculate.

6. “Dis-ease”

This song can be described as retro as well but has more of a distinct old school hip hop feel to it. It was written by J-Hope and describes the unique struggle of not being able to rest and always needing to work. The restless lyrics are complemented by playfully dramatic ad-libs, the recurring sound of a CD skipping/scratching, and exasperated yet dance-inducing vocals. What’s more, the title itself is a genius play on words: in Korean, it’s 병 which translates simply to sickness/disease but in English, the hyphen makes it so it can mean both Disease and Dis-ease, as in lack of ease or rest. 

7. “Stay”

A subunit track performed by Jungkook, Jin, and RM, “Stay” is EDM pop perfection. The song talks about missing the fans and wanting to be together, yet knowing they will always “stay” and be by each other’s sides no matter where they are. 

Pro Tip: listen and pretend you’re jumping in the pit at a concert, it’s more fun that way. 

8. “Dynamite”

“Dynamite” is and will always be That Queen but that’s not news. What is news is the fact that BTS actually debated over whether or not they should include this song in the album. Ultimately, they decided yes, and RM explained the rationale behind it as wanting “Dynamite” to be like the fireworks at the end of their concerts, except here it is the fun, explosive finale for their album. *sobs* 

What makes BE so special is how very human it is. It is hurt, it is pain, it is confusion, and it is uncertainty, but it is also forward-looking, celebratory, hopeful, and encouraging. Jimin shared that he was able to heal a great deal in the process of making this album, and what makes that sentiment so remarkable is the fact that the healing truly goes both ways.

Be. Simple but important. Instead of fighting your emotions, simply be. Instead of focusing on the past or worrying about the future, simply be. Be present. Be hopeful and ready for better days. As BTS once said, “Life goes on. Let’s live on.”

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