Welcome! First time with BTS?
It's been almost a month since BTS dropped their newest album Map of the Soul: 7. And if you're someone who's accidentally stumbled upon their latest single "ON", fell into the rabbit hole, and is now looking for more content to get to know their music better, then you've come to the right place!
For the uninitiated, BTS – which stands for Bangtan Sonyeondan (Bulletproof Boyscouts in English) – is a 7-member group that debuted under Big Hit Entertainment in 2013.
The group is composed of members RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook, and is originally a hip-hop group before their music evolved to a wide range of genre. The members themselves usually write and produce their own music, so it's only natural that their songs talk about themes that people their age can relate to – from the woes of having (or not having) dreams, the story of their youth, self-love, and now, confronting their own shadows.
Since their debut, the group has released 6 mini-albums, 4 studio albums, and 2 repackaged albums, with their most latest release being Map of the Soul: 7, led by the title track "ON".
There are so many songs to discover and listen to from BTS' 7-year discography, but we're giving you a rundown of some of the most essential songs you need to check out when getting to know the group and their members' heart. Here are 10 songs to get you into your BTS deep-dive, new ARMY!
** All lyric translations are taken from: Doolset Bangtan's page
"No More Dream", 2 Cool 4 Skool (2013)
The song that started it all, "No More Dream" is a heavy rap song questioning whether the dream that the youth has is really theirs or if it is just instilled to them by the adults. With the competitive background of South Korean society, the song asks "What is your dream?" before encouraging its listeners to become the boss of their lives and decide what they really want to be.
Our favorite lines: "What is the you that you've dreamed of // Who do you see in the mirror now, I gotta say // Go on your own way // Even if you live only one day // do something // Put your weakness away"
"Cypher Pt. 2", Skool Luv Affair (2014)
The second of the four cypher tracks, this song comes from rappers RM, Suga, and J-Hope as they showcase their skills on spitting fire verses. Here, the three rappers take turns in calling out the people from the underground hip-hop community who were dissing them for being idols, the contradiction of what hip-hop is supposed to be.
Our favorite lines: "If I'm the sun, you're the moon // because when I rise, you fall // You, b*stards judging the value of hip-hop // step down from the bubbles // Hey, you mischievous boys // Your mischievous raps are just whining about your lives"
"Hip Hop Phile", Dark & Wild (2014)
Released during the time when hip hop seems to merely be just a "concept" for most groups, BTS came up with "Hip Hop Phile", a more R&B track where the members tell their stories of how they came to love the genre, as well as their musical influences. Paired with a chorus from the vocal line, the song is a love letter to the genre that let them express their stories and thoughts for the world.
Our favorite lines: Everyone around me asks me, "What is hip hop?" // I answer with pride, "It's my everything" // As a result, I buried my life in music // If loving this culture was a sin, I would have died hundreds of times"
"I Need U", The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, Pt. 1 (2015)
BTS kicked off the HYYH era with "I Need U", moving away from the heavy sound of The School Trilogy as they started to explore more genres that would help them tell the story of the youth. The song is paired with a cinematic music video set in the so-called Bangtan Universe, a fictional world which now spans several music videos, a webtoon, a book, and numerous notes found in their albums.
Our favorite lines: I need you, girl // Why do I love alone and say goodbye alone // I need you, girl // Why do I need you again, knowing that I'll be hurt?
"Butterfly", The Most Beautiful Moment in Life Pt. 2 (2015)
First teased on their On Stage: Prologue video, "Butterfly" is a heartfelt song co-written by Suga and explores the themes of losing someone close. They use the imagery of a butterfly to symbolize something that is fleeting – perhaps a memory or a person that could disappear once they try to get close.
Our favorite lines: "Don't think of anything // Don't bring up any word // Please just smile at me. // I still can't believe it // All of this feels like a dream // Don't try to fade away."
"Blood, Sweat, and Tears" Wings (2016)
After the success of their HYYH era comes the release of Wings, an album where the group explores the concept of the light and dark sides of themselves as they go through maturity. The album – which also features solo tracks from the members – is led by "Blood Sweat & Tears", a song about facing and getting drunk by temptations. The song is accompanied by a music video heavily inspired by the Herman Hesse's Demian which tells the story of how a person is introduced to the "darkness" from the world of innocence he's raised in.
Our favorite lines: "Kiss me on the lips, lips // A secret between only the two of us // I get deeply addicted to a prison called you // I can't serve no one but you // I drank from the poisoned chalice, knowing it was poisoned"
"Spring Day", You Never Walk Alone (2017)
"Spring Day" is no doubt one of BTS' most famous songs as it's consistently been on Korean charts for three years now since it first dropped. The song itself evokes a feeling of nostalgia and longing for loved ones that are missed, with winter symbolizing the coldness that they're feeling in their absence. The music video is an equally beautiful one, borrowing elements from Bong Joon Ho's Snowpiercer and Ursula Le Guin's The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. Many also see the song and the music video as a tribute to the Sewol Ferry Tragedy of 2014, which took the lives of hundreds of people, most of whom are students.
Our favorite lines: "Past the edge of cold winter // until the spring day comes again, // until the flowers bloom // please stay there a while longer // please stay"
"2! 3! (Still Wishing There Will Be Better Days)", You Never Walk Alone (2017)
"2! 3!" is one of the many songs that BTS has dedicated to their passionate ARMY. In this song, the group opens up about how they, too, feel pain and have insecurities despite the smile they show to the world. Despite this, they thank the fans for staying and for being "that flower in the most beautiful moment in life", before reassuring them that there will be better days ahead of them. All they need to do is to hold each other's hands and smile.
Our favorite lines: "(So thanks) for believing in someone like me // for bearing the tears and wounds // (So thanks) for becoming my light // for becoming that flower i the most beautiful moment in life"
"Go Go", Love Yourself: Her (2017)
"Go Go", in all its fun and upbeat sound, is actually a satirical song that can be interpreted in two ways. Some may see it as BTS criticizing their generation for their "YOLO behavior", but it can also be viewed as a diss to the society that they grew up in. The song can be about how the youth of today sees their future to be so bleak and depressing, that they just decide to screw it all up and blow up their money to buy their luxuries and live as if there's no tomorrow.
Our favorite lines: My week is Mon-Tue-Wed-Thu-Fri-Fri-Fri-Fri // My bank account is yah // a bottomless jar // I'm pouring water into it every day
"134340", Love Yourself: Tear (2018)
In their 3rd full album Love Yourself: Tear, the group continued to explore different sounds, with "134340" having a more jazzy one. 134340 stands for the number given to Pluto when it was "demoted" to become a dwarf planet and BTS used this to create a song about a breakup. Here, they sang about how one, after losing the person they love, lost its name and identity but still continues to orbit that person even though he's been forgotten.
Our favorite lines: There's no name allowed for me // I, too, used to be your star // You must feel nice to be the light // All I do is to receive you // What would be the meaning of the remaining life for the collapsed planet"
"ON", Map of the Soul: 7 (2020)
Their newest album Map of the Soul: 7 celebrates the groups 7 years since debut, so it's only natural that their 7th full album is a testimony to all those times that they struggled to be in their position right now. "ON" is BTS' new anthem; it's about how they've finally come to terms with their shadows and their destiny, and how they're ready to take on all the hardships that comes their way because of that.
Our favorite lines: "To remain sane, one must go insane // Hey na na na // I throw all of myself into this two-sided world // Hey na na na // Can't hold me down cuz you know I'm a fighter // The beautiful prison I walked into on my own // Find me and I'm gonna live with ya"
Check out this playlist we've created so you can stream the songs on the list:
** Homestream image taken from BTS' official Facebook page.