BTS’ New Album ‘BE’ Is a Musical Time Capsule for 2020

The album’s single “Life Goes On,” is about holding onto hope in times of difficulty.
Therese Reyes
Manila, Philippines
Frankie Lantican
November 20, 2020, 10:24am
Photo: Courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment

About two months after their single “Dynamite” debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, BTS is back with their new album BE. Created during the pandemic with each of the seven members taking an active role, the new release is meant to be more personal — a direct line of sorts to fans who missed out on live shows this year. 

During an online press conference on Friday, band members said that they were heavily involved in the process of creating the album from start to finish, and were inspired by the world’s shared struggles amid the pandemic.

“It is very confusing for everyone. People feel a lot of emptiness … We feel frustrated, we feel sad. All of these emotions are what we wanted to contain in an honest way in this album,” member Jin said.

The comeback single “Life Goes On,” is an alternative hip-hop track with lyrics like “It looks like rain again today, I’m soaked to the bone,” and “Like an echo in the forest, the day will come back around,” that allude to healing after difficult circumstances. 

“This is what we wanted to say through this album. The core of our message is that no matter what happens, life goes on,” RM, the leader of the group, said. 

“[With Dynamite], we wanted to create a song that was not so sad, but more fun, disco, energetic and vibrant. We wanted to leave behind these doldrums. But that was ‘Dynamite.’”

“‘Life Goes On’ is a little more different. It’s a little more weighty … [It is] our way of providing healing and consolation that life continues to go on.” 

It’s a return to form for the group, which has never shied away from serious topics in songs and music videos. 

Kim Do Heon, chief editor of South Korean music website IZM, said that to fully crossover to a global audience, the group had to break away from domestic K-pop conventions like group dances, mixed genres, and complex themes. This is what we see in “Dynamite.” BE remains global in its approach but the rest of the tracks are similar to BTS’ more intimate offerings. 

“It is expected to be a work that aims for friendly pop like ‘Dynamite,’ while also capturing some realistic concerns like their early songs,” Kim said. 

To BTS fan Bel Banson, “Dynamite” was a chance to give fans “happy vibes,” during isolation, while the new album is a way of reassuring fans “that whatever happens, they'll still be there for us and we'll still be there for them.”

It’s a meaningful message, especially for fans who know that the band’s members will soon have to face South Korea’s mandatory military service

In many ways, BE is a musical time capsule for 2020. While some artists choose to work around the limitations of the pandemic, BTS leaned into it. 

The music video for “Life Goes On” opens with member V wearing a face mask while driving. It goes on to capture the mundane of having to stay home — watching TV on the couch, playing video games, napping, and day dreaming about the future. No special group dances, just the boys in pajamas doing everyday activities.

The rest of the album’s songs are just as self-aware. The second track, “Fly To My Room,” discusses how the pandemic has everyone trapped indoors, with lyrics like “Someone please rewind my clock. This year was all stolen.”

“Blue & Grey” is a guitar ballad and one of the more emotional tracks on the album. “I guess everyone’s happy. Can you look at me? ‘Cause I am blue and grey,” a lyric from the song goes.

Since the album’s release, BTS’ fans known as ARMY have flooded social media with their reactions. 

What’s next for BTS? With nominations to be announced next week, RM said that the group is hoping to get a Grammy nod for 2021.

“We are very nervous … It would be amazing if we are nominated. I think it will be announced early in the morning. We will probably be awake and waiting for that. I hope there will be amazing news waiting for us all.”