I originally wrote BTS off as yet another one of the many B.A.P hip-hop knock-offs that have flooded the K-pop industry over the past few year, but I eventually saw the error of my ways late last year when the Bangtan Boys simply become too big to ignore any more.
Their last album (the 100k-selling Dark & Wild) guaranteed that BTS were headed to the top, but their latest album, In The Mood For Love Pt. 1 (The Age of Blossoms)***, is the one that’s going to put them there.
The blockbuster lead single “I Need U” (produced by Hitman Bang) takes all the familiar elements of recent boy band K-pop –dubstep, hip-hop drums, pre-chorus handclaps– and turns it into an explosive epic. It’s a massive record with all the makings of a real breakout hit.
I thought I was over K-pop’s OTT brostep obsession, but after this and UNIQ’s equally as amazing “Listen To Me” it’s suddenly become my new favorite thing.
All six tracks on the mini-album reach varying levels of quality; the lowest being good, the highest being great. It’s probably the best boy band release since GOT7’s Identify. (That is, until BIGBANG’s Made drops in full, of course.)
Next best track, “Hold Me Tight,” is either emo baby-making hip-pop or fist-clenching melancholia, depending on whether you understand the lonely lyrics or not.
“Converse High” (amended to “Lovers High” for broadcast performances) is a breezy love letter to sneakers and the low maintenance girls that wear them.
Countdown to BTS landing a Converse CF in 3, 2, 1…
There’s also a really fun turn up record called “BTS Diss” that sounds like something 5ive would’ve done back in the day. This will be lost on my most BTS fans though, who I’m sure are all too young to even know who the fuck 5ive is.
The retrospective album close, “Move,” sounds like a radio-friendly ’90s rap record, with BTS rhyming about how their lives have changed since debuting.
In the American version of this song, the rappers would be shouting out their dead homies and reminiscing about what life in the ghetto used to be like. In this version, BTS talk about getting their dorm upgraded because they’ve hit daebak.
Oh K-pop. Never change.
***I’m not sure if the album is named after Wong Kar-wai’s stunning film of the same name or not.