Life Goes On, Even During a Pandemic

BTS Stuns In New Release

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Kaleigh Zollman

“BE” comes as a comfort to fans who are struggling with the pandemic.

In 2017, I stumbled across a music video for a song called “DNA” by a K-pop group called BTS. Little did I know, clicking on that video would lead me to my new favorite band. I was drawn in by their electric stage presence and charming personalities. While the group was already gaining traction in the US during this time, soon after, their careers skyrocketed. After an explosive 2019, BTS headed into 2020 looking to grow their fanbase and expand their discography. The group’s fourth studio album, “Map of the Soul:7”, was released in February and shattered records such as the biggest album debut of 2020 and the second best selling record of the year. A massive stadium tour announcement followed the release of the album, with tickets selling out in seconds. Shortly after, COVID-19 began to spread and the tour was postponed until further notice.
As the first Korean act in history to reach #1 on the Billboard charts and three live stream concert events with massive turnouts, BTS decided to spend the upcoming months producing a new album. The septet took a much different approach to this album. They planned to create the entire album themselves, with each member fulfilling a specific role in the production such as producer, videographer and project manager. The group officially announced the new album, “BE” in September with the message, “even in this new normality, our life goes on.”
The 7-track album is a perfect narrative of living during a pandemic. As a whole, “BE” is the most important body of work for the group so far. It differs from their other albums while showing growth and maturity as artists. Rapper j-hope said on a live stream that they had “ground their souls into this album” and it shows. It provides an important message of hope in an otherwise very dark time.
The title track, “Life Goes On” discusses the members’ feelings surrounding how the pandemic made the world stop one day. Penned by group members RM, j-hope and SUGA, the song expresses the feelings of anxiety of not knowing when this will end or get better. With a relaxing, mid-tempo beat in the background, the group sings a message that everyone can relate to, feeling guilty for feeling upset and angry at what is happening in the world, but remind listeners that everyone is only human. It is worth mentioning that although their music is in Korean, reading a translation of the lyrics is more than worth your time. This song stuck out to me not only because it was a single, but also because of its relatability.

Big Hit Entertainment

The music video that accompanies “Life Goes On”, was directed and partially shot by group member Jungkook. It showcases the group spending time with one another to get through this hard time. As V drives by the Olympic Stadium, where the group was supposed to play on their now postponed tour, he glances over wistfully. As a fan who had tickets to see them in concert, the ending shot of the video resonated with me the most. As the other members are asleep behind him, Jin stares into the camera and then the screen fades to black. Next, it cuts to the group performing the song in an empty arena, with lightsticks sitting in the same seats that should be filled with fans.

My personal favorite song of the album, “Dis-ease”, is a hip-hop track that is reminiscent of the sound on their 2014 release, “Skool Luv Affair”. The song has a slow, captivating bridge that made it an instant favorite for me in BTS’s extensive career. It talks of the “disease” of their profession and also the diseases of the world.
Although “Dis-ease” and “Life Goes On” are highlights, the other tracks are just as important. From the unique EDM sound on “Stay” to the colorful lyrics of “Blue and Grey,” each song is worth the listen. While pop music might not be for you, everyone can find joy in at least one of their songs. It is safe to say that BTS has accomplished their goal. “BE” diversifies the group’s discography, while still keeping to their classic sound. It is a cohesive record that takes listeners on a journey. This album is purely BTS, from beginning to end.