[This review reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of allkpop.]
1. Life Goes On
2. Fly To My Room
3. Blue & Grey
After the incredible worldwide let down and postponement of the coveted Map Of The Soul Tour, BTS is finally back with their latest (and self-produced!) album, BE. The album gives the 7 members a chance to express their mixed feelings and process their emotions about the COVID-19 pandemic. BTS opens up about their fear and anxiety while encouraging fans to muster the strength to overcome the hardships they've undergone. BE is representative of "to be" or "existence" as they navigate various complicated existential crises through song.
BTS' long-awaited title track, "Life Goes On," opens the album with a comforting acoustic instrumental. The song itself is written about COVID-19 and is about the struggle of having to pick up the pieces of scattered parts of your life due to the pandemic and its subsequent negative effects. The bridge is rhythmic and meaningful while maintaining a delicate simplicity. The song is healing and none-other than a BTS-level of perfection that solidifies the group's place in the industry as one of the most honest and industry-defying acts. "Life Goes On" is sentimental and comforting, like a cute band-aid over a fresh cut.
BE continues with "Fly To My Room," a SUGA, J-HOPE, Jimin, and V subunit. This subunit is a first for the group, but the balance between the two 95 liners and SOPE felt synergistic and well-matched. I felt that SUGA's vocal delivery was uniquely powerful, and J-HOPE's subsequent rap cadence felt phenomenally done. Jimin's high vocal register and high note during the choral section in the latter half of the song was the focal point of the song.
We are quickly lulled into a comfortable blanket of warmth as soon as V's vocals begin on the guitar filled pop ballad, "Blue & Grey." I commend V's versatility and range these days, as he has come a long way from the old days where the company was having him growl and strain his voice on songs. The dainty vocal nature of "Blue & Grey" is muted and mature; a progression I find to be natural at this point in their career. SUGA's cadence, again, is phenomenal, with every lyric he speaks punctuated and interlaced with meaning. The yearning for a better day is portrayed well here, and the natural progression isn't boring despite the song's downtempo. Every lyric holds weight as the group intended, and the feelings of an uncertain melancholy and sadness are conveyed spectacularly.
With this album, we see the return of the BTS cardinal classic - a skit! Track 4, "Skit," is a vivid record of the conversations the group had when they first found out they had topped the Billboard Hot 100 with "Dynamite." Many emotions can be felt through the conversation that seems to transcend language barriers. Upon a single listen, one can easily feel the excitement, fear, happiness, anxiety, and pride all surging through at the same time. "Skit" may not be a song, but it is easily one of the most important tracks on the album. With this small 3 minute moment, fans can really feel the impact that the moment had not only on the group but history as well. "Skit" is an amazing inclusion that really acts as another notch in BTS's giant belt of achievements. BE seems to follow Dark & Wild's pattern of employing two different types of musical sounds and concepts with a skit dividing them. Though it is serious, it is also playful and strikes a balance well between reassuring and fun.
At this point, "Telepathy" brings the tempo back up and it fills the listener's ears with a funky retro rhythm. The song follows the lead of "Dynamite" well and is synth-heavy and sharp. "Telepathy" is dynamic and a hard shift from the first three tracks of the album. The song has loads of autotune, lots of intricate layering, and a lot of production magic that makes the song particularly good. The tracks fine-tuning is reminiscent of the 1980s synth fad and RM's verse punctuates particularly well in the middle. The song credits EL CAPITXN, who was heavily involved in the production of D-2, so I'm not surprised at all that I enjoyed this song.
BTS is ever true to their classic sound and it seems that fans from even their humble beginnings will not miss out on their old school hip hop vibe. "Dis-ease" has a powerful J-Hope verse as an opener that leads into insane vocal line bridges. The chorus is powerful, memorable, and gives a certain nostalgic feeling. RM is impeccable here with his rhythmic timing and SUGA hits a spitfire verse that takes over before we're brought back to our senses with the vocal line's crisp delivery. The song's focal point is 2:50, when the vocals set my speakers on fire with a beat change so lethal I was in awe. I wholeheartedly think the group should push this song out as their second promotional single.
Though the album ends with "Dynamite," we are blessed with a final RM, Jin, and Jungkook unit on "Stay." Without understanding the lyrics, listeners can automatically discern that the song is impactful and meaningful. However, the introduction tricks you into a false sense of comfort before suddenly these two incredibly powerful and stable vocalists ramp up the progression with an EDM drop. The song builds quickly and feels like it's going to give a euphoric performance once the group is able to return to the tour circuit. Again, this subunit is unexpected, but personally, my favorite song on this release for it's controlled yet frenetic energy. If "Outro: Wings" taught us anything, it's that ending on an exciting, electronic song is never a bad idea.
"Life Goes On" is BTS's most simple MV to date. Directed by Jungkook and made by the members themselves, the video depicts their home life and the changes COVID-19 has brought to them. The song showcases the members in their various states of comfort and depicts a kind of bittersweet understanding of the situation that's presented its ugly head this year. What is particularly striking about this music video is it's lack of performative qualities and stripped down raw emotion. Rather than focusing on their showmanship and abilities, the group was able to explain their emotions in a way that says to their fans: "We are suffering, you are suffering, but we have each other to lean on."
The video's most memorable and heartfelt moment is when Taehyung drives past Seoul Olympic Stadium and stares longingly and bittersweetly at it until the MV transitions to the 7 of them performing to an empty stadium filled to the brim with glittering ARMY bombs, but no ARMY. The moment evokes a melancholy feeling of vacantness, but BTS offers a warm hug as they continue to remind us that "Life Goes On" despite the unforeseen circumstance. BTS again reminds us that feelings are a fleeting emotion. Whether those feelings are happy or sad. Life Goes On.
MV Score: 8.8
Album Score: 9.3