HONOLULU — In my corner of the world, people seem to need three weeks to recover from the holiday season, as slowly the social calendar is beginning to fill up with events.
But K-pop never rests, and in my anguish over the terrible treatment of X1 and their disbandment and the excitement of Treasure being liberated from its prison at YG, I overlooked the Jan. 7 announcement that BTS will drop the next chapter of its “Map of the Soul” series on Feb. 21.
Pre-orders for “Map of the Soul: 7” is going on now, and two days later Big Hit Entertainment released a beautiful comeback trailer, “Interlude : Shadow,” featuring Suga (Min Yoongi). This song makes me feel really sad to think of all that he and BTS have been through to get where they are, only to find how lonely it is at the top.
Ah, it’s so good, but I’m glad I didn’t know this was going to be out ahead of time. I probably would have tried to record a reaction video and end up crying as soon as his singing kicked in.
So instead, check out this explainer from DKDKTV’s Danny Kim on the Jungian perspective that defines the “Map of the Soul,” and a music producer’s perspective on the song.
The central idea behind Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Batman trilogy is that the Batman exists as a symbol of hope that allows people to wake up every morning in hope that today will be a little better, a little safer than yesterday. Symbols/ideas are important because they live on beyond an individual’s lifespan and transcend geography.
In the music world, BTS was created by Bang Si-hyuk, also known as “Hitman” Bang or PD Nim, to fulfill that need.
That might sound like hyperbole, but consider that Bang, who got his start within the idol-making machine, wanted to fix what he thought was wrong with K-pop. That is, the industry is built on blank slate talents that can adapt to any music trend, whether they like it or not, to serve the need of their puppet-master producers. The result is “artists” that have no control over the style or message of their music.
Bang worked as a songwriter and producer with one of the Big Three companies, JYP, until 2005. He was disillusioned by the lack of personal expression in the music and set out to establish a different kind of company, one willing to support individuals who could express themselves through their art and storytelling. This was the root of Big Hit Entertainment.
In 2010, he began to assemble a rap group reflecting youthful resilience, that he named Bulletproof Boy Scouts to express toughness needed to navigate modern life, along with strong moral character to be a source of sincerity and goodness lacking in public figures ranging from entertainers to politicians. In interviews, he said he thought of BTS as sympathetic role models or heroes for fans who don’t need someone dogmatically preaching at them from above, but is peer who shares similar trials and anxieties, who can empathize and offer words of support.
As underdogs in an industry that did not receive them well, BTS members did not shy from speaking their minds in songs ranging from “Not Today” to “Dope.” They spoke up for a generation that feels powerless in society, reflecting on a wide range of issues, from job insecurity to prejudice and human rights.
Even so, it was still hard for me to imagine BTS as a significant force for greater good. That is probably the cynical journalist in me, thinking that the world is doomed by a larger population of haters and bigots, who are fearful and close-minded, and don’t hesitate to drown out any voice of reason.
But what changed my mind about social change being possible for the next generation is the online exchange that followed Suga’s (Min Yoon-gi) appearance at a Los Angeles Dodgers game, while he was in town for concerts, to support South Korean pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu. The Dodgers posted a series of pictures of Suga at the game, that were picked up by ESPN’s social media channels. Harmless sharing, right?
But some sports fans responded with racist, sexist, xenophobic comments such as “Americans don’t like that crap, except pre teen girls,” and, “JUST Another rich Chinese kid,” which set Army into caption to shut down the haters.
I was heartened that Army, once again, was there to take a stand against the haters accustomed to drowning out other voices by sheer show of force and puffery. Clearly, BTS’s message is getting through to the 94,000 who appeared on ESPN’s Twitter page in defense of Suga, with messages like this one from @taeyeol_bts: “Bts teach to love yourself and accept yourself whatever you are. (Haters) please learn to respect and love yourself first. Then you can love and respect other people! I am Army who loves bts with all my heart. I’m proud of BTS.”
I’m proud of Army fighting hate by spreading BTS’s message of love and acceptance.
BTS made history April 13 as the first Korean group to perform on “Saturday Night Live” in its 44 years. It was a big night for both parties, and my feeling is that SNL needed them more.
After telling all my friends to watch the show for BTS, I actually fell asleep for about 15 minutes while waiting for them to appear. Part of it was the result of being in a food coma from having dinner at GEN Korean BBQ’s official grand opening Pearlridge Center. The other part was that the rest of the show hosted by Emma Stone was soooooo boring. It just reaffirmed why I stopped watching the show a year ago after discovering K-pop.
Here’s a quote from Bustle.com that echoes my sentiment:
“While an SNL performance is usually a big deal for musical artists, this episode marked the rare occasion that getting a particular musical guest seemed to actually be a big deal for SNL. It’s not every week that SNL ends up being the top trending topic in America, and the group’s presence seems to have brought a whole new audience to the show that may not usually stay up to watch live.”
😋: How I ate that sent me to sleep
I was able to catch the performance of “Mic Drop” but it’s an old one for them. I guess they chose to perform that song because it’s one they haven’t performed on any of their American award show appearances, and their last album, “Love Yourself: Answer’s” most powerful group song was “Idol,” which they’d performed a lot in this country. Much of the album was filled with solo songs from each member that help to give the group a rest from strenuous choreography during their live shows. While one is on stage, the others can take a breather.
I was able to catch their performance of “Boy With Luv” online after the show, and over two days probably watched it about 30 times. I loved seeing how happy and relaxed they were on stage. I loved seeing Taehyung’s (blue hair) smiles and expressions, and of course Jimin (orange hair) was as sexy as expected. They were all in such a good mood.
In a previous post I mentioned that I was really looking forward to hearing Halsey on the new BTS song. I have to admit I was a little disappointed by how small her vocal part was in the music video, but she does get a verse in the recording. I believe they downplayed her vocal because they don’t want audiences to get accustomed to hearing her voice and miss it when she’s not there during their concerts.
With 74.6 million views in one day, the MV for “Boy With Luv” broke the record for the biggest 24-hour debut, that was set by compatriots Black Pink just one week ago for “Kill This Love.” That video had 56.7 million views in 24 hours.
Although fans loved the colorful MV, they seemed to enjoy the SNL performance even more for the same reasons I did. It was trending at No. 2 on YouTube for two days, topped only by the new “Star Wars Episode 9” trailer.