International “Idol”s Make a Stunning Comeback
By SARAH CHUN
Make way for the international sensation who keeps on breaking their own records.
Last Friday, Korean idol group Bangtan Sonyeondan (BTS) released Love Yourself: Answer, the final album in their Love Yourself trilogy. As opposed to the preceding Love Yourself albums Her and Tear, Answer is a repackaged album, which essentially means that it is a compilation of the previous tracks, with several new songs. The album includes classic hits from the Love Yourself series, such as DNA and FAKE LOVE, as well as remixed and reproduced songs, such as MIC Drop (Steve Aoki Remix) and a full version of Serendipity. Reaching over forty-five million views in its first twenty-four hours, Answer’s title track, Idol, broke the record for the biggest music video debut in Youtube history.
Through thorough production, fresh concepts and mission statement, Love Yourself: Answer makes for an overall successful album and satisfying finale to BTS’ Love Yourself series.
About two weeks prior to the launch, BTS released the album’s comeback trailer– a music video titled Epiphany. Arguably one of the strongest tracks in the album, member Kim Seokjin, more commonly known as Jin, expresses the reality, despair and ultimately, the realization of self-love through a poignant ballad.
Jin flawlessly conveys the struggles we, as humans, endure; our self-consciousness and our tendency to act unlike ourselves to gain others’ acceptance through meaningful lyrics. His repeats the line “I’m the one I should love in this world” throughout the song to emphasize to the listener that one does not need others’ acceptance for validation; one only needs self-approval.
Similarly, Trivia: Seesaw, a solo track by rapline member Suga, expresses the toxicity some romantic relationships can have. He preaches that in a healthy relationship there is no being mentally strained and intoxicated by one you claim to love. With the pressing matter of abusive and toxic relationships nowadays, Suga’s track addresses a major social issue that still promotes the idea of self-love.
Not only has BTS dropped top-notch new songs, it is also evident that, since Tear, the group has been working diligently to refine and build upon their successes. For example, Answer came with an edited outro to Euphoria, a single track dedicated to Love Yourself: Wonder, a sub-era of the Love Yourself series. Originally, Euphoria, sung solely by member Jungkook, expresses the elation felt by love through an upbeat yet delicate rhythm. He builds on this by showcasing his vocal range, reaching high notes to effectively convey the song’s ethereal nature.
In addition, Idol’s music video was visually bizarre, yet with underlying hidden meanings. Overall, its aesthetics are very abstract, with a multitude of bright colors and surreal images. Throughout the video, there are very limited real-life settings; instead, most backgrounds are computer-generated graphics. From the bright yellow Korean traditional architecture, constant color bursts and the ground plastered in the members’ faces, the production has a very surreal effect. BTS’ fanbase, known as ARMY, theorize that this was done on purpose to spite their haters, for calling Korean pop music videos to be too bizarre.
The ARMY may actually be correct in this– there are many instances of individual members underhandedly dissing their haters. From V wearing his wide-frame glasses, to multiple cute animal filters being put on RM’s face, these nuances placed in the video contradict some fans’ comments on BTS’ live streams, saying that V’s glasses are ugly and that RM should not use the filters. In addition, by incorporating Korean traditional instruments into their Idol’s background music and wearing Hanbok in the music video, they contradict the opinion that BTS is becoming too westernized. This goes to show BTS’ self-love and confidence advocacy, by intentionally going against what their haters want and believe.
With the end of an era, fans worldwide have finally obtained the answer (no pun intended) to self-love. The series began with Her, expressing the happinesses and innocence of love, continuing with Tear, conveying the dark side and heartbreak. Finally, Answer sums it up in a message of individualism– whether it is falling in or out of love, we do not need another person for us to feel accepted in this world.
This is very different to contemporary American music. In contrast to modern-day singers in the American music industry, BTS steers clear of misogynistic lyrics, profanity and a hateful attitude, and instead preaches positive messages. With such a large platform, it is crucial for celebrities to advocate for righteous ideas, which the members of BTS wholeheartedly fulfill, making the group infinitely more respectable.
Overall, Love Yourself: Answer is yet another smashing success for BTS. Their catchy new songs, successful repackaging of Her and Tear, unique concepts and mission statement make Answer a satisfying end to the Love Yourself trilogy.