Love Yourself 結 ‘Answer’ – BTS album review

Before I give you my thoughts, I’d just like to clarify that I’m writing this review because I said I would listen to this new release and I wanted to honour that, as I believe the overwhelmingly positive response from the ARMY to my recent blog post warrants it. While reading through your wonderful messages (some really emotional, touching comments), someone suggested to me that I had better be wary of looking like I was trying to use BTS as a means to forward to my own cause.

And I think that’s definitely worth a little consideration – I stumbled upon BTS and the ARMY completely by accident, and I hope you can see that from the sincerity of my original piece. I do not wish to profit from your love for the band. I’m really glad I’ve become aware of the great work they’re doing (and of course the music), but for me this is still your thing. They are your band. I have my own things musically and otherwise which I really love and I don’t want anyone to think I am trying to use BTS (or you guys) just to help me get a few more likes. I really respect what you and the band are doing and I hope that seems genuine – because it is. My intention is to write a philosophy blog and that is what I’ll continue to do; only now, I’ve also got a bunch of new like-minded people with which to share philosophical ideas – and that’s great. The fact that it turns out that BTS’ music and ethos aligns with a lot of what my blog is exploring is a wonderful coincidence and I’m really grateful for all the nice things that ARMY members have said.

Anyway – back to the music!

I’ll do my best to review what I’ve experienced in a phenomenological way (the pure sounds), sometimes expanding into what I felt when listening, what the songs remind me of, make me think about, and any other relevant points I think are worth mentioning. But mostly in a light-hearted way. I have looked into the lyrics for some of the old material thanks to @ItalianARMY_BTS among others and so already have a bit of an idea of the kind of topics that the band have covered previously.

@ItalianARMY_BTS directed me to a particular fave of theirs – Life – and I gave my thoughts on how the lyrics brought up ideas of Freud’s death drive Thanatos; the notion that the meaning of life is death; that we are all trying to return to the state of peace (inertia) that we first had with our mothers as infants when we were unaware of the symbolic realm (the signs and symbols which constitute the world around us – language, culture, etc). Freud beautifully equated it to the salmon who swim back upstream to die in the place where they were born – we are all looking to return to this place where we began; to be at peace – where we are no longer conflicted, constrained and enslaved by our desires. I also listened to Love Yourself Tear on the way home from work last night – big fan of the loungey, flute/jazz guitar melty vibes on 134340 in particular.

As for Love Yourself ‘Answer’, with it apparently being a double album and featuring tracks old and new, I’ll just give a brief summary of the ones I liked the best. Anyway, here goes…

Euphoria

Nice pop tune to open up with – catchy and light. Definite single potential. Enjoyed the English language chorus hook “Are you the cause of my euphoria?” Seemed like it was like an immediate way of thanking their vast international fanbase for the “utopia” they’ve created. Had a kind of whale noise falsetto vibe which worked nicely with the driving synth. And any song which uses A Priori in the lyrics is right up my street – and yours! Because of course so much of this is about your theoretical deductions.

Serendipity

Fine falsetto work on this one – an airy ballad with some impressive vocal tricks on show. More of a classic boyband number – but nothing wrong with that! There is actually a strong scientific vibe behind the lyrics of this one linked to the founder of penicillin, Alexander Fleming. And talk of predestiny and the universe never fails in the romance stakes.

DNA

Proper catchy dancefloor-filling anthem. Felt like I wanted to be on a boat in the Med, swinging a bottle of fizz around in the blazing sunshine. Or a foam party in Ibiza.

Dimple

My fave so far – loving that catchy chorus. “I want it anyway, anyway, anyway…” I actually started this one again while getting my lunch in the supermarket because I was enjoying the vibe. I could definitely see this one being enjoyed by UK audiences on our radio stations here. There’s something quite powerful about focussing on something like a dimple to describe a femme fatale – “that dimple is illegal. Dangerous. A mistake left by an angel.” Very evocative.

Singularity

I instantly recalled listening to this track the night before on Tear. And I thought the same thing as I did then – it’s a brilliantly stripped back, cool, easy-listening song which would be quite a bold move for a more traditional boyband. It also feels more in touch with authentic Asian roots (I hope that’s okay to suggest). And I really liked that about it – it felt like a proper piece of sophisticated Korean pop; and consistent with the more-than-your-average boyband vibe I’d expected when discovering more about BTS. There seems to be an undercurrent of questioning one’s reality here – gazing into the reflection of that mirror of the surface of the cracked lake. Perhaps even thoughts of Jacques Lacan’s mirror phase of childhood development and entering the symbolic realm of which I spoke earlier. There’s a haunting quality to the lyrics – the powerful image of the lake freezing over you as you are trapped inside. Maybe it’s the feeling of being trapped in the symbolic realm of culture and yearning to return to the state of inertia in primordial infancy?

FAKE LOVE

Very catchy chorus – and I like it when the bass and beat drop in at 1.28. I suspect this one is probably quite popular among the fanbase, but I think the band’s skill really comes across in the more gentle tracks like…

The Truth Untold

I’ve been intrigued by Steve Aoki ever since my colleague showed me an awesome video of him throwing a cake into the face of a wheelchair-bound fan (this is much nicer than it sounds – give it a watch online. The distance is incredible). Anyway, while I’m not a big fan of the autotuning, the soft “I still want you”, stripped back keys and subtlety of this track are really nice. And then when it goes full Westlife at 3.00 for the power finish (Westlife were known for jumping out of their stools for big key-change song-enders), it gives the track a rousing and fitting conclusion. I like this one so much it’s been given the special honour of winning a place on the exalted Joe’s Playlist!

Epiphany

The track which started this whole adventure! It’s certainly not Smells Like Teen Spirit! But it is a beautifully constructed ballad and will always be special to me after everything that has occurred in the past week. I can see many a school disco romance blossoming to this track, much in the same way as that wonderful Lord Huron track The Night We Met hits the spot in 13 Reasons Why. It’s got eyes-meeting-on-the-prom-dancefloor oozing from every note. The lyrics seem to be a call to the Love Yourself theme. “I wished to tailor myself to you” suggests that the BTS boys have realised that being something you’re not to please someone else is not helpful to either party. While the lyrics may come across as perhaps a bit selfish at a superficial level(?), I think it’s perhaps just a realisation that we all need to be happy with who we are. “I’m the one I should love”. We all need to give love to each other, yes of course. But make sure you appreciate how special you are, too.

IDOL

It’s a decent club banger – and definitely benefits from Nicki Minaj’s presence on the second outing. But not so much my thing.

Answer: Love Myself

I didn’t instantly find anything particularly special about this song. Which I guess I was anticipating due to its title. Sorry!

Airplane pt.2

Oh yes – I like the Iberian flavour of this one. Can definitely see some flamenco shapes on the floor with Airplane pt.2. My mother lives in the south of Spain and I could just picture myself drinking a nice glass of sangria and singing “Mariachi” on the terrace with this tune blaring in the Andalusian evening sun. Good times.

Go Go

Like the previous track, this feels very ‘of the moment’. I don’t think it shows off the band at their best, but it’s the kind of chilled-out tune that would be the ideal backdrop for some Instagram stories of a bunch friends having a wacky day sight-seeing in Seoul. And who wouldn’t love that?

Anpanman

What a great chorus – I defy anyone to resist getting involved in that catchy sing-a-long. “Let me hear your say, let me hear you say…” I could just about make out Bangtan, but I wish I’d known the rest of the words because it was infectious. I expect that’ll be a good one to watch live at the tours.

MIC Drop

Very interesting. Kind of has a grime mood going on at the beginning – before kicking into something more familiar, but still with that main minor key melody framing the song (which also has Asian overtures). I personally would’ve liked to end the album on the spectacular The Truth Untold, but that’s just my preference for the big, glorious finish.

That’s all, folks…

So there you have it, my brief-ish review of BTS’ Love Yourself ‘Answer’. I hope it seems fair and sincerely done. Apologies if any bits offend anyone. I’ve done my best to be honest and try to evaluate it with both seriousness and a bit of fun. Thanks for reading. Enjoy the tours.

If Love Yourself is the Answer, then perhaps the question should be: what must you always remember to do? Because you’re all good people who are there for each other, and that’s very special.

To find out more about how I first became aware of the BTS ARMY, click here

Click here to vote for Being & Niceness in the 2019 UK Blog Awards!

24 thoughts on “Love Yourself 結 ‘Answer’ – BTS album review

  1. Hi. Thank you so much for taking time to actually listen and write your opinions about all those songs. I love Dimple too,such an addictive song!
    Can’t wait to read your philosophical writings 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you very much for giving LY:Answer a serious listen. It means a great deal to us that you gave their music a chance. Because of the language, their lyrics might not retain to your brain, but at least now, BTS themselves has left an impression in your memory. That’s enough for us.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. All we ever need is open minded people like you. Thankyou so much for your genuine input! Respect from armys for including that disclaimer of not trying to benefit from their success.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That was beautifully written and very genuine. I agree with a lot of what you’ve said, and I’m so glad you enjoyed the album! Thank you for sharing this amazing review with us 🙂
    Have a lovely day ❄

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen, look up the lyrics, and write this review. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts. The Truth Untold is also one of my favorites from them!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hey! Thanks so much for your article, it was so refreshing to read about the group from an outsiders point of view. I’m super happy you found at least one of them worthy for your playlist. Much success for your future articles/projects.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you so much for providing a fair and sincere review from a unique perspective. I found your thoughts on Singularity to be particularly interesting. I’m not sure if you know, but this song was actually co-produced by Charlie J. Perry, who previously worked with R&B singer Jorja Smith, both of whom are from the UK. RM, the BTS member who co-produced the song and wrote the lyrics, likes Jorja’s music and wanted to work with her producer for that reason. So I think the roots of the song have more to do with their mutual appreciation for R&B and neo soul music combined with RM’s unique lyrical style, which tends to favor layered metaphors, wordplay, and philosophy – and stands out in both Korean pop and Western pop.

    Interestingly, I think the song IDOL actually includes more of their Korean roots (mixed with South African house music), with the use of traditional Korean instruments and vocal interjections from Korean folk music. Appropriately, this is also the song where BTS states bluntly that they don’t care whether people label them as artists or idols. (“Idol” in the context of Korean pop carries a similar kind of stereotype as “boyband” does in the West.) They’ve experimented with a variety of music and lyrical styles for years, if you ever decide to delve further into their discography sometime outside of this blog. 🙂

    Back to your interpretation of Singularity, the desire to return to a pre-symbolic/pre-cultural state of infancy is an interesting reference I’ve never heard before, and could be connected to the mask imagery of the music video. Both the lyrics and video seem to suggest feeling trapped in a false identity and yearning to uncover one’s true self. Thank you for offering a different look into this song and album.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for such a thorough comment. There are so many interesting things here I wasn’t aware of. Where does their philosophical knowledge come from? Is it the boys themselves, writers or is it just well taught in Korea?

      We don’t really teach it here until university, which is a shame

      Like

      1. Their philosophical knowledge comes from their producer, Bang Shi Hyuk (we call him ‘Bang PDnim’), and from reading books.

        Mr. Bang graduated from Seoul National University (for reference, it’s like Harvard but in Korea) as top student majoring in philosophy and aesthetics years ago. He is a lyricist himself and may have photographic memory? In an interview, he says he is often fascinated with people’ stories and emotions; he would engage in conversations, remember them, and compose a song when a random event connects his thoughts back to the conversations he has had.

        All the members participate in writing lyrics for their songs, but the 3 rappers, Namjoon, Yoongi, and Hoseok, write the most. They read a lot to the point that some bookstores in Korea have a separate section called ‘Books recommended by BTS’ because fans would read the books they read in order to understand the mythology, symbolism, and storyline incorporated in their lyrics and music videos. If you read the English translation for songs such as: Spring Day, Crystal Snow, The Truth Untold, Love Myself, Butterfly,…you may think “Oh, they have good lyrics”; but still, ARMY who understand both English and Korean said that their lyrics were even more beautiful and poetic in Korean.

        Namjoon is known to be philosophical and often give beautiful speeches articulately. This is him explaining the meaning behind their album ‘The Most Beautiful Moment in Life’

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Okay cool. That explains a lot. It’s so interesting, because it’s miles away from what you’d expect of similar bands from over here. But I think it’s brilliant. And the fact that so many people are engaging with it means they’re becoming familiar with all these amazing philosophical concepts. It’s like a generation of philosopher kings and queens – Plato would’ve approved!

        Like

      3. Thank you for taking your time to read my long comment!

        Yes, it is indeed interesting! I have been following articles about BTS on Naver (one of the largest news outlet in Korea) and they are an anomaly on this site in term of age demographic of readers. For a good-looking boy group performing songs with full choreography in stylish outfits, you would expect a larger percent of readers to be teenagers or at most young adults in their 20s. However, this is not the case for BTS. Age of commentors for BTS-related articles have always spanned from 10s – 50s (people can’t fake age on Naver because they require ID for account registration). What is even more interesting is that the highest percentage of commentors are always in their 30s and 40s! I have never seen a single article about BTS on Naver in which the highest percentage of commentors are in their 10s or 20s.

        People are less likely to fangirl/fanboy in their 30s and 40s for superficial reasons so it’s reasonable to say that there is something about BTS that is appealing to this age group. In some interviews, older fans were asked to see what they would do if they got to meet BTS, the response was: “I want to buy them food and tell them that they did a good job.”

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yes, of course! Please include it whenever you could!
        This is another inspiring speech from Namjoon ^.^

        Thank you for sharing!

        Like

  8. Thank you for your wonderful review! The fact that you took the time to listen to their songs without prejudice, look up information about them, and just basically kept an open mind about everything means so much to ARMY. I taught Philosophy 101 in a university and it was extremely challenging for me to get the students interested in such “mental exercises”. 🙂 If BTS were already around then, it probably would have made my job a lot more exciting! On another note, ARMY gets excited quite easily and can be quite tiresome (some of us are REALLY hyper. Lol!), and some are not too trusting. So, I hope you continue have a positive view of our boys and the fandom as well. Wishing you more success and good health!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A few people have said that about the trust and hyper issues, but I’ve experienced very little negativity, which is nice. It’s so cool that you used to teach philosophy – hopefully there will be many more people around the world taking an interest due to BTS’ success.

      It was my pleasure though. I’ve found it all very interesting

      Like

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