Let me start first by saying I am a multi group fan. I do not just support just one group, listen to just one group or talk about only one group. With that being said BTS, them Bangtan Boys, are without a doubt my ultimate group. They were not the first group that started me on my K-pop journey, that is and forever will be EXO. However, when I look back on the my discovery of Korean Pop music the discography from BTS hits in a way that I can not always put into words, but for the first time I will try. With BTS celebrating their 9th anniversary since debut and YouTube Shorts asking A.R.M.Y. to share their BTS Story, I decided to share mine on this blog.
Songs with Meaning and a Message
BTS or Bangtan Sonyeondan which literally translates into Bullet Proof Boy Scouts came onto the scene 9 years ago represented by a small entertainment company literally on the brink of bankruptcy . The reason for the group name is “to block out stereotypes, criticisms, and expectations that aim on adolescents like bullets”. When the group debuted in 2013 their ages ranged from 15-21 (Korean age) so the topics of the trials and tribulations of youth were something that was important to them and other young people. They spoke out about the societal expectations placed on young people, education, the government and the war on hormones. They faced a lot of criticism in the early days about the topics they spoke out about.
They were questioned about the misogynistic lyrics of War on Hormones in which these young men talked about the physical attributes of girls and how it make them feel. To put in mildly, if you’re not use to young men openly talking about girls and the hormonal feelings that come at that age, then some of the lyrics are a little to honest. For a very conservative society like South Korea this song for many was a bit too much and BTS and their label Big Hit Entertainment had to issue an apology for the lyrics and theme of the song (https://www.soompi.com/article/873927wpp/fans-request-statement-bts-misogynistic-lyrics-bighit-responds). However from my perceptive, the message of the song and its lyrics were an honest representation of how many young males talk about girls when their hormones are at an all time, hence the title War on Hormones. They made up for their transgressions with their 2016 song 21st Century Girl that was an anthem to young women to live life with confidence and self esteem regardless of what any one else says.
That was not the only controversial song or topic that caused criticism for BTS. You have songs such as Spine Breaker, that calls out fellow Korean youth on their materialism and pressuring their parents to buy them expensive items to keep up with there peers. Then there is the fan favorite of ARMY, for various reasons, Baepsae or Silver Spoon, which they not so subtlety call out the older generation for their unfair critics on the younger generation and how the previous generations greed and unfair treatment has affected the next generation. Again, a lot of these songs are speaking out to and for a generation who have not always been heard nor accurately represented in Korean Pop music. But, as much as BTS songs are written by youth, for youth and representing their thoughts and struggles, too often I found their songs and lyrics also represented exactly how I felt. ** For a list of song of their most controversial songs please click on the link for SBS Pop Asia-BTS songs with strong social messages https://www.sbs.com.au/popasia/blog/2018/03/16/12-bts-songs-strong-social-messages **
Lessons to be Learned at any Age
I started my BTS journey in 2018. I was aware of who they were and had seen them on American talk shows such as Good Morning America and the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. I decided to start down the BTS rabbit hole from the beginning as I do with any new artist I discover for the first time. The first song that hit me to my core was Tomorrow from the 2014 Skool Luv Affair album. Musically, the song was different from what I had heard from them so far. It is a song steeped in R&B, evoking emotion and commanding attention. After the first listen, I knew there was something special about it and I needed to find the the English lyric translation ASAP. Through some guidance from other A.R.M.Y.’s they directed me to Doolset Lyrics who has an extensive catalog of English translations of BTS songs. The English lyric translation was like a gut punch. Lyrics such as:
“Every day repeats itself like Ctrl C, Ctrl V”…. “That tomorrow will be somewhat different from today, I only beg”….”Even if you collapse, oh don’t run back, never”…”Because the dawn right before the sunrise is the darkest,”….”Wherever you’re standing right now, you’re just taking a short break”…”there will be a bright light shining on you when tomorrow arrives, so don’t worry about a thing”. https://doolsetbangtan.wordpress.com/2018/06/07/tomorrow/
Even now recalling these lyrics bring tears to my eyes. At the time I was going through a very difficult time. I felt stuck in my life and I felt that even at my age I had no direction and no way out. I couldn’t believe that this song, this pop song from a group of late teens/early twenty year old’s from thousands of miles away were singing the very words I so desperately needed to hear. I needed someone else to tell me that what I was feeling was okay and that some how there was hope and it would be alright. Those lyrics were and still today are like a life line for hope and encouragement.
There have been many BTS songs that have had significant impact on my life and resonate on a emotional and, at times, spiritual level. Fast Forward to 2022 and the release of their anthology album Proof. The new single Yet to Come for me is another anthem that calls for reflection and a promise of what is to come. Again, this song comes at a time when I am having one of the biggest transformations and growth in my life. These seven young men are speaking exactly what I need to hear. I have only been able to listen to it once without tears, the emotions it evokes are just to high. However the following lyrics give me reassurance and hope for my future yet to come:
“Yeah the past was honestly the best, But my best is what comes next”… “Somewhere deep inside your heart, still lives a boy who is ever young, My moment is yet to come”…”Do you have a dream? What would be at the end of that path?”…”There’s still a lot to learn, and in my life there’s still a lot to fulfill”. https://doolsetbangtan.wordpress.com/2022/06/11/yet-to-come/
I am a believer in signs from the universe, that, when needed, will give you exactly what you need when you need it the most. For me, Yet to Come is the song that gives me comfort for the new journey I am embarking on. That, just like the Bangtan Boys, there is so much to still look forward to, still to learn and grow and that, even past my twenties, my best moments in life are still yet to come. **For more BTS English translations, that include all their albums, solo projects and mixtapes, please visit Doolset Lyrics https://doolsetbangtan.wordpress.com/ **
What these Millennials have Taught Me
When you spend so much of your life living for others, not even knowing what your own dreams are you can feel lost and confused. You have your own ideas of where you would like your life to go, but at the same time, you find that you don’t want to disappoint those that have supported you and have stood by you. Ultimately, what I have realized, through a lot of work on myself and therapy is that no one in this world is going to make me happy other than me. I fear disappointing others, but when my time on this earth is over I want to know that I lived the best life that I could by being authentically me. That is what these seven young men have taught me through their music. That even in my forties, I have so much to still learn. That I can find encouragement and inspiration from those 20 years younger than myself. As RM, Jin, Suga, J-hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook take time away to set forth on a new journey in their life and career, I wish for them the same type of hope, inspiration and comfort that they have given me.
Until Next Time….