The Korea Herald/Asia News Network
Wrapping up its multiyear 'Love Yourself' saga, BTS returned with its long-awaited 'Love Yourself: Answer' album to spread the message of self-love around the globe. (Big Hit Entertainment/-)
Wrapping up its multiyear Love Yourself saga, K-pop mega group BTS returned with its long-awaited Love Yourself: Answer album on Friday to spread the message of self-love around the globe.
“As its title shows, our new album is a grand finale of our yearslong effort. As I’ve said on Twitter, we wanted to lay down our burdens and just enjoy it with our fans while working on the album,” said RM during a press conference for the new album held in Seoul on Sunday, ahead of the last concert in the Seoul leg of its “Love Yourself" world tour.
A two-disc compilation repackaged album featuring both old and new songs from the group, the 16-track “Answer” is highlighted by boisterous lead track “Idol”, which incorporates traditional Korean instrumental sounds and South African house music beats. Upon its release, the song landed atop both main charts in Korea and the US’ iTunes Top Songs chart, while several other songs from the album such as “Euphoria” and “I’m Fine” also went on to hold top spots.
The Answer, which debuted at No. 1 on the US’ iTunes Top Albums chart, also features three “Trivia” tracks from RM, Suga and J-Hope, the rappers of BTS, as well as Jin’s emotional solo track “Epiphany”.
Elaborating on “Idol”, Suga said incorporating traditional Korean elements wasn’t aimed at promoting Korean culture, but was a musical experiment.
“At the end of the music video for ‘Idol’, you can see people of all nationalities and genders dancing together. The song isn’t centered entirely on showing Korean culture. We just thought Korean traditional sounds suited the song well,” he said.
RM also chimed in and shared that incorporating traditional Korean pansori cries such as “Ulsoo” and “Jeehwahjah” into the chorus was unplanned. “Our producer had initially asked me, ‘This is a joke, right?’ when I first suggested those phrases. As a Korean and having learned pansori in the past, they kept lingering in my ears. 10 minutes later, the producer accepted my suggestion,” he said, referring to the traditional Korean genre of musical storytelling.
It’s not an understatement to call the new album BTS’ magnum opus, as it contains all the characteristics of the entire Love Yourself series that began last September with Love Yourself: Her and the release of Love Yourself: Tear in May this year, and weaves them into one full tapestry. The compilation, the fourth and final installment of the Love Yourself saga, resonates with a hopeful message that loving oneself is the key to getting through life and relationships.
“Even if I get crumpled, my wings get torn and someday I don’t get to be me, I am the only salvation for myself,” raps RM on “I’m Fine”.
The need of self-love is also reflected in Jin’s solo track “Epiphany”, in which he croons, “I’m the one I should love in this world. Shining me, my precious soul, I finally realized so I love me. It’s not perfect but so beautiful.”
The bandmates said promoting the Love Yourself series made them question and reflect on their lives as well.
“What I realized from our narrative is that we’ve been failing to love ourselves while urging others to do so. I’ve contemplated on whether I’m on the right track and what I’ve been living for,” Jimin said.
“Mostly, I realized that I was too harsh on myself, blaming myself. Sometimes I was drinking alone in a room. So I decided to try harder, believe in myself and my bandmates and have only positive thoughts.”
BTS’ mainstay Love Yourself narrative has extended to a global movement, as the act partnered with UNICEF to launch a global campaign dubbed “Love Myself”, a new initiative that calls for an end to violence against children and teenagers, in November last year.
Having debuted in 2013, BTS has become a household name at home and abroad in the last few years with its genre-hopping music, million-selling releases and jaw-dropping achievements that include collaborations with high-profile American artists DJ Steve Aoki, the Chainsmokers and most recently Nicki Minaj. Love Yourself: Tear became the first-ever album from a Korean act to hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with its lead single “Fake Love” peaking at No. 10 on the Hot 100 chart.
BTS’ roller coaster of a week kicked off with its music video for “Idol” breaking the YouTube record for most-viewed video in a 24-hour period by hitting over 50 million views in its first 20 hours on Saturday. That title was previously held by Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do”, with 43.2 million views in 2017.
Asked about future plans, BTS withheld details but affirmed the group will stay the course of focusing on itself.
“There are so many things I want to say through my music, and we are in talks with composers and staff from our company. But one thing for sure is that we will continue talking about our own stories. We expect another project pretty soon,” said RM.
Following the two-day Seoul leg of “Love Yourself" world tour series that ended Sunday, BTS heads to North America next month for stops including the first-ever stadium show by a Korean act at Citi Field in New York City on Oct. 7, then continue the tour to London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris, Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka.