In 2013, a group of seven boys: some singers, some dancers, some rappers and even one actor debuted as the group BTS. Now seven years later, these same seven members have released their studio album, “Map of the Soul: 7." Released on Feb. 21, this album references their long history together as seven members who took the world by storm. Showcasing both the group’s vocals together and how they have changed over time, this album is a promise to fans that they will continue to grow in the future.
The album combines new tracks with the already released tracks of their mini-album "Persona." Some of the group's tracks include “Boy With Luv” featuring Halsey and “ON” featuring Sia. The track is a genuinely upbeat and fun song about falling in love and wanting to be with that person no matter the pain, according to the English translation of “Boy With Luv” on Genius.
“ON” harkens back to some of the title tracks from past BTS albums, such as “Fire” or “Blood, Sweat and Tears.” All three tracks promote messages of being proud of your accomplishments amid outside pressure and hate. From the more fluffy, generic pop pieces of recent years, such as “IDOL,” “ON” is a reminder of the hardcore, drumming beats that BTS used to produce. The video even features 12 members from the Blue Devils marching band based in California.
BTS is known for its complex universes that incorporate lyrics from its soundtracks, acting from its music videos and storylines from its side projects. This album proves to be no different. The music video for “ON” incorporates the theme of shadows and features a dystopian society that seems to be moving toward a better life.
Sung by Suga, the introductory track to this album is incidentally called “Shadow” and discusses the irony of getting everything you want and still finding yourself unhappy. Back in 2010, Suga was scouted by BTS’ company, BigHit Entertainment, in recognition of his published production work. He believed that he would only serve as a producer for the group before he was convinced by Bang Shi Hyuk, the co-CEO of Big Hit Entertainment, to become the main rapper, according to StyleCaster.
Suga sings, “And on top of that, you have a big house, big cars, big rings / All the things you wanted, you’ve got it all / So what’s the problem? Just enjoy it / Or just let it go — no?” BTS is known for referencing back to its older songs, such as "Shadow" with the lyrics of “big house, big cars, big rings” which Suga also rapped about in the song “No More Dream.” The group never loses sight of its origin and where it came from, bringing nostalgia to its tracks years later.
On this album, R.M., Suga and J-Hope once again team up to rap “UGH!,” which talks about the rage and hate that has surrounded the popularity of BTS. Just like its “Cypher” series tracks and “MIC Drop,” BTS refuses to conform to any stereotype of being an auto-tuned, talentless K-Pop group. The members always address the negative reviews and critics of their work by producing more powerful responses.
BTS was originally made to be centered around hip-hop, evident by Bang's immediate signing of R.M., the leader of the group. R.M., Suga and J-Hope, the trio of rappers, were the only hip-hop stars that were willing to join an idol group, according to an interview from Time Magazine. As much as Bang wanted to stick with hip-hop, he understood from a business perspective that idol groups made more sense.
Bang would then go on to sign the vocalists. Jin was scouted back when he was a theater major in college. Jimin was sent to auditions by his dance instructor. V attended an audition looking to support his friend and ended up auditioning himself. Jungkook was scouted by multiple companies, after gaining attention for a singing contest he participated in, but chose to join BigHit Entertainment due to his interest in R.M.’s style.
Each member brings with them their own unique talents. It’s rewarding to see how much each member has grown these past years.
“Inner Child” by V proves to be a memorable, pop track that talks about how even with all the growth the members have endured, they will still stay true to their old selves. Tracks like “Moon,” “00:00” and “Friends,” are an interweaving of the various vocal tones of the members. From Jungkook’s high notes to Jimin’s tenor, the EDM and soft-pop tracks that BTS has been more accustomed to recently have only grown stronger and more catchy.
The last track on the album before the outro track is called “We are Bulletproof: the Eternal.” With a rendition of this piece almost every album, this song’s message perfectly wraps up the message of this album which seems to be a thank you to all of BTS’ fans. They sing, “We were only seven / But we have you all now.”