Okay, okay. I know, I know. BTS had a comeback and I haven’t said shit about it. I have zero excuses and zero need to explain myself for this. What I will do is outline what this post is going to be about.
Yes, I have obviously seen “Idol” and listened to the album – there will be no MV First Look or Album First Listen for this era. This post is going to be an overview of the songs individually as well as collectively. My first impressions of the songs are no longer valid, I’ve listened to them too many times to have maintained my initial reactions to them. Feel free to keep reading this post though I’m sure a lot of you will already know how I feel about these songs, but for those of you who are just nosey, keep reading!
ALBUM: Love Yourself 結 ‘Answer
BTS’ third and final instalment to their Love Yourself trilogy was released 24 August 2018 with title track “Idol”. As the group has done in the past, they’ve accumulated songs already released in the two prior albums (Her and Tear) as well as included some brand new songs. They did the same as 화양연화 Young Forever back in 2016 so it’s nice to see they’ve continued with this template. For me, seeing the most important and crucial songs of both the albums and the stories they’re portraying is amazing and I’m constantly floored by how thoroughly their content is produced.
While it should be clear to most of you – I am an ARMY and have been since 2015. My involvement and love for these seven boys and the stories they tell run so deep I don’t think I will ever not be in love with them. While they are visually stunning and have such in-depth and intense storylines, my interest in them starts and ends with the music. I don’t really know why I’m putting this in here but I just wanted you to know how much I love these boys and the way they affect me. Hopefully in doing so, you’ll be able to relate as well as understand where I’m coming from.
Going into this post I have a clear formula and direction – I want to outline the story they’ve laid out perfectly for the listener but only with those absolutely crucial to the story or the brand new songs. I will get to “I’m Fine”, “Idol” and “Answer: Love Myself” later on, too. I also want to completely disregard all theories around Jin and his potential time-travelling self. To me, that is an important point for the visual side of things but in this post I want to talk about the lyrical and musical points – if I include the visual aspects as well, you guys will be here for hours.
This Love Yourself series was kicked off (album-wise) in September 2017 with Love Yourself 承 Her, continued with Love Yourself 轉 Tear in May 2018 and finally finished with of course Love Yourself 結 Answer in August 2018. While they have managed to stay true to the theme of loving oneself I find that they’ve also been able to delve in to previously uncharted waters which, as a listener, I love.
When looking at the tracklist for Answer there are a lot of things to note. Other than the newer songs, there are a lot of already released songs, which do add to the overall narrative they’re trying to portray, but the seven newer songs are more crucial to the story. These are the songs I will be talking about in relation to the journey we as listeners and them as artists have gone through.
There are four steps to the Love Yourself storyline – beginning, development, turn and conclusion – all of which are represented by the seven solo songs. I’m unsure which step I like the most as they all contribute to the overall message of the conclusion which is the most important step.
The beginning is explained using two songs: Jungkook’s “Euphoria” and J-Hope’s “Trivia 起: Just Dance”.
“Euphoria” was released as a trailer titled ‘Euphoria : Theme of LOVE YOURSELF 起 Wonder’ on 5 April 2018. The trailer provided extra content and information in reference to their Highlight Reels a year before, the song was also featured though not in its entirety with the full version only becoming available with the release of this album. The song describes the feelings of a new romance which Jungkook portrays beautifully. RM said in a VLive that Jungkook worked hard in finessing the particular nuances and vocal projections to do such beautiful words justice.
“You’re the sun that rose again in my life
A reincarnation of my childhood dreams
I don’t know what these emotions are
Am I still dreaming?”
“Even if the desert becomes cracked
No matter who shakes this world
Don’t let go of the hand you’re holding
Please don’t wake up from this dream”
While I do love this song a lot, I wasn’t totally sold on it when I first heard it in the trailer. I’m not sure if that’s because of the visuals but I definitely appreciate it now.
“Trivia 起: Just Dance” is perfect for J-Hope, not only musically but also lyrically. The way this song is laid out is smart as J-Hope uses his love of dance as a metaphor of falling in love for the first time.
“I like the feeling of being with you
I like the feeling of dancing with you”
“To the rhythm of the music
However our bodies move
We’re shadows underneath the moonlight
Fall in.. fall in..”
“In my muddy life
You were like a single stem flower
Even this suffocating studio
If we’re together, turns into paradise”
I like how we’re given two different approaches to this ‘beginning’ stage – two different analogies and two different genres. I particularly enjoy the house aspects of this song as J-Hope has said in the past how it’s his favourite style of music. My favourite part of this song is the break down in the chorus.
The development stage is told with two songs: Jimin’s “Serendipity” and RM’s “Trivia 承: Love”.
“Serendipity” was previously released as the intro for Love Yourself 承 Her on 4 September 2017. Up until the release of Answer we were unaware there was more to this song as Answer holds the full version. It’s a sweet and innocent song, perfectly sung by Jimin and his breathy and delicate voice which, in my opinion, could only be executed by him. The song was originally written by RM who’s stated a couple of times that he never gets sick of it. As I just stated, this song is sweet, which is only amplified by Jimin’s statement in a VLive “I hope you will listen to it when you want to fall in love or when you think of me.” An adorable statement to go along with a beautiful song and an even more angelic man.
“The universe has moved for us
Without missing a single thing
Because our happiness has been planned
Cuz you love me, and I love you”
“Now come to me
Come and let’s become a “we”
I don’t wanna let go, no
Just trust yourself
You can feel it even if you don’t say it”
“The stars are in the sky
We are flying
This isn’t a dream
Don’t be nervous, hold my hand
Now we’re becoming a “we”
Let me love you”
While I do love the original version featured on Her, the change up in the last half of the full version to a more acoustic sound gave me, and continues to give me, goosebumps.
“Trivia 承: Love” is lyrically my favourite song from Answer which is to be expected from RM and his ability to incorporate both Hangul and English in perfect unison. “Love” represents such beauty in both languages and this entire song is riddled with smart word play. The Korean word 사람 (person) is similar to the word 사랑 (love) which RM has often talked about how they’re synonymous with each other. He also does the same thing with English in regards to the words ‘live’ and ‘love’. RM has also said he wrote this song with the sole intention of performing live and has expressed his wishes on the audiences participation.
“I just feel it
Like the moon rises after the sun rises
Like how fingernails grow
Like trees that shed their bark once a year
That you are the one who will give meaning to my memories
Who will make a ‘person’ into ‘love’
Before I knew you
My heart was filled with straight lines only”
“I live so I love
I live so I love
(Live & love, live & love)
(If it’s love, I will love you)”
“You make I to an O
I to an O
Because of you
I know why human and love sound similar
You make live to a love
Live to a love
Because of you
I know why a person should live by love”
“Look, mine and yours also sound the same
Though that doesn’t make me you
I want to be part of your bookcase
I’d like to be involved in your novel
As a lover”
While this song did excite me hugely when I first heard it, it wasn’t until I read the translation that I understood what he was doing. Now, a month later, it’s one of my favourites and does have similar vibes to old school Bangtan.
The turn stage is represented by two solo songs: Taehyung’s “Singularity” and Suga’s “Trivia 轉: Seesaw”.
“Singularity” was released 6 May 2018 as the intro to Love Yourself 轉 Tear. This song wasn’t brought out as a ‘full version’ like Jimin’s “Serendipity” which I like – the song says more than enough as it is. It expresses the moment of realisation a person has as they lie about their true selves in exchange for love. This is another prime example of perfect execution as it could only ever be performed by Taehyung whose deep and husky voice toes the line of desperation and tiredness, both crucial to the songs concept. Lyrically, this is the most dramatic of the solo songs.
“It’s ringing again, that sound
A crack again on this frozen lake
I dumped myself into the lake
I buried my voice for you
Over the winter lake I was thrown”
“A thick ice has formed
In the dream I shortly went into
My agonizing phantom pain is still the same
Have I lost myself”
I’ve expressed my love of this song in my first listen to the Tear album – see (here) – and I feel even more affection for it now. I will never know how his voice expresses the lyrics so perfectly and can’t help but thank RM for writing this song for Taehyung.
“Trivia 轉: Seesaw” is the second song for the turn stage. Suga hasn’t spoken too much on this song so I don’t have a lot of information to give for this aside from my own input. Using a seesaw as a metaphor for the constant ups and downs of a relationship at breaking point is great. Suga is known for being an outstanding lyricist – this song being no exception – but his ability to both sing and dance was a shock to everyone. I also like how it features backing vocals by BigHit producer Adora who’s appeared in other BTS b-sides but more recently “134340” from the Tear album.
“Were the petty arguments the start?
The moment I became heavier than you
Because there’s never been parallels in the first place
Maybe I became more greedy and tried to fit in with you
Is there really a need to keep repeating ourselves
Saying this was love and this is love?
They’re tired of each other, they seem to hold the same hand”
“At first, we showed off who was heavier
We’d brag and smile
Now we’re trying to beat each other
We’re in a competition
The fire of a quarrel
It’ll only end if someone gets off right here
We’re acting like we’re comforting each other
But it’s mixed with thorns
Can’t keep doing this, we need to make a decision”
“(Hol’ up Hol’ up) I walk on this seesaw without you
(Hol’ up Hol’ up) Just like the beginning when you weren’t here
(Hol’ up Hol’ up) I walk on this seesaw without you
(Hol’ up Hol’ up) I’m getting off this seesaw without you”
I vividly remember hearing this song for the first time and how fast I pushed the pause button – a girl needed a minute to breathe. Out of all the solos songs, this one stood out the most for me due to its musicality and the shock of what Suga did with his voice.
The final step is conclusion which is represented by one song: Jin’s “Epiphany”.
“Epiphany” was released as the intro for Love Yourself 結 Answer on 9 August 2018. I have already explained my feelings on this song when the MV was released – see (here) – so I won’t delve too much into it. When looking at the placement of the song in the track listing, it’s the perfect ending to the story both musically and lyrically.
“So weird, I for sure loved you so much
Adapted to you with everything, I wanted to live my life for you
But as I keep doing that I just can’t bear the storm inside my heart
The real myself inside the smiling mask, I reveal it entirely”
“I’m the one I should love in this world
Shining me, precious soul of mine
I finally realized so I love me
Not so perfect but so beautiful
I’m the one I should love”
“I wanna love in this world
Shining me, precious soul of mine
I finally realized so I love me
Not so perfect but so beautiful
I’m the one I should love”
I can only describe this song as Bangtan’s own “come to Jesus” moment. Lyrically, musically and vocally – this song uses all three to deliver the conclusion to the turmoil and trials that love can bring. Having such an amazing conclusion to such a brilliant journey is so uplifting and heart breaking at the same time.
I hope the storyline I laid out and talked about above makes a little bit of sense. I know it’s been a month since the album came out and everyone knows all this by now. Usually I write these reviews and breakdowns to get everything in my head out so I don’t suffer in silence. So sorry for my long entry today.
I’m not done though.
Time to move onto the three new songs: “I’m Fine”, “Idol” and “Answer: Love Myself”.
“I’m Fine” was a shock to me within the first few seconds. For anyone who was an ARMY during Young Forever era, didn’t your heart skip a beat when this song first started? Mine sure did. But that’s where the similarities to “Save Me” ended as the song took on a more severe EDM/house approach. Or so I thought. Lyrically, “I’m Fine” has more similarities to “Save Me” than I thought it would.
“I’m feeling just fine, fine, fine
I’ll let go of your hand now”
I’m Fine lyrics
“Give me your hand
Save me save me”
Save Me lyrics
I’m always repeating myself but I really don’t like EDM that much but with this song I find myself enjoying it the more I listen. It’s like a “Save Me” 2.0, something I never knew I needed. As a fan my heart hurts over the relation between both songs and the entire concept of the ‘Save Me/I’m Fine’ movement.
“Answer: Love Myself” walks hand-in-hand with “Epiphany” – they can both be seen as a conclusion. While I do have some almost negative opinions on the song, which I will mention in a little bit, lyrically this song is beautiful. Even now as I read through the lyrics again, a month after the album was released, I’m tearing up. I can only describe this song with one word: P O E T R Y
“Loving myself might be harder
Than loving someone else
Let’s admit it
The standards I made are more strict for myself
The thick tree rings in your life
It’s part of you, it’s you
Now let’s forgive ourselves
Our lives are long, trust yourself when in a maze
When winter passes, spring always comes”
“You’ve shown me I have reasons
I should love myself (oh)
I’ll answer with my breath, my path”
“Maybe there’s no answer
Maybe this isn’t the answer either
It’s just that loving myself
Doesn’t require anyone else’s permission
I’m looking for myself again
But I don’t wanna die anymore
Me, who used to be sad
Me, who used to be hurt
It’ll make me more beautiful”
“From the very beginning
To the very end
There’s only one answer ey
Why do you keep trying to hide under your mask?
Even all the scars from your mistakes make up your constellation”
“The me of yesterday, the me of today, the me of tomorrow (woah)
(I’m learning how to love myself)
With no exceptions, it’s all me”
“Answer: Love Myself” is my least favourite of the new songs. Not the whole thing, though. I really enjoy the last portion of the song with the harmonies and the heavy use of falsetto, the beginning of the song is the only problem I really have. I do know they end their concert with this song which is perfect. I only wish I was lucky enough to see it live.
Their title track “Idol” was released 24 August 2018 and features a fusion of tradition Korean instruments, South African drums and choreography and EDM – genres never combined or attempted before. These three music choices were also translated to the MV with the members wearing traditional Hanboks, traditional architecture, the South African dance gwara gwara and an intense dance break. I could speak for hours about all the little easter eggs within this one MV but I’ve already written too much. Just know – I see it all, I understand it all and I love it all. Overall, “Idol” is a middle finger from Bangtan to the rest of the world – to those with preconceived expectations of them, to those who tell them what to do and those who categorise all Korean pop music to be the same thing. As someone who often has to defend K-Pop I appreciate that BTS was able to also stand up in their own way to let people know they’ll continue to do what they’ve always done – make great music that transcends prejudices and languages.
“They point fingers at me
But I don’t care at all
Whatever the reason for your criticism is
I know what I am (I know what I am)
I know what I want (I know what I want)
I never gon’ change (I never gon’ change)
I never gon’ trade
“Keep on chit-chatting, saying this and that
I do what I do, so you do you
You can’t stop me lovin’ myself”
“I’m so fine wherever I go
Even if it takes a while sometimes
It’s okay, I’m in love with my-my myself
It’s okay, I’m happy in this moment”
“Idol” was a big surprise for me and I found people either enjoyed it or absolutely hated it. People are entitled to their own opinion so don’t feel too discouraged if people don’t feel the same way as you. For me, as soon as I saw this MV and heard the song for the first time I loved it. The bright colours, the dancing and the overall concept was beyond my expectations. With the repetition of ‘You can’t stop me loving myself’ is pivotal to this album series and is a great way to narrate this stage of their careers.
Wow, what a long entry. Again, I apologise for all the words, it’s very unlike me. You can also clearly tell how much I love these boys and the lessons they teach as I mentioned right at the start of this novel. To those who have made it up until this point, well done! If I could give you all a hug in thanks, I would. Before I finish though, I do have a couple more things to say, from my heart to yours.
For those of you who feel sad, for those of you who feel defeated, for those of you who feel inadequate and for those of you who feel like they have no escape – everything will be okay. Breath. Sleep. Eat. Smile. Laugh. Repeat. You are special. You are important. You are loved.
My rating: 10/10
This high rating is purely due to having listened to this album a lot. If I based a rating on first listen it would be the full 10 marks.
How did you all like the album and this review? We’re there any songs that stood out for you? Let me know down below or leave me a message on Twitter!