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BTS’ New Anthology Album ‘Proof’ Embraces Their Past and Celebrates Their Future

BTS' latest album, 'Proof' released on 10 June.

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BTS’ three-part anthology album, 'Proof', is the latest offering from the charismatic septet hailed worldwide for their talent, dynamism and socio-cultural impact. BTS boasts of a multilingual, multicultural and diverse fanbase known as A.R.M.Y.

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'Proof', a 48-track compilation album, features lead singles from past albums, several solo and sub-unit songs, unreleased demos and three new tracks, lead single 'Yet to Come' (The Most Beautiful Moment), 'Run BTS' and 'For Youth.'

Present-day BTS are two-time Grammy nominees who have also garnered six number one's on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Musical prowess and accomplishments aside, they have also been the Republic of Korea's Special Presidential Envoys for Future Generations and Culture, accompanying former President Moon Jae-in to speak at the United Nations and been invitees to the White House to speak about anti-Asian hate and racism.

BTS' latest album, 'Proof' released on 10 June.

BTS with President Joe Biden

(Photo: Twitter)

'Yet to Come' (The Most Beautiful Moment)

The lead single of the album is the perfect track for this anthology. Jungkook, a light lyric tenor and the main vocalist of the group, opens this song by crooning, “Was it honestly the best?” with Jimin, a light tenor, reminiscing in Korean about the beautiful days of their past. V, the only baritone in the group, sings about how “the past was honestly the best,” while Jin, a natural tenor, sings about approaching a day when it is time to wind down. Jungkook and Jin take over the chorus and take turns to sing about how the best moment is yet to come.

The track is peppered with references to their past work. V sings about accolades and labels about being “the best” burdensome, while Jungkook talks about how BTS does this because they love music. This is reminiscent of Black Swan, which delved deep into their artistic insecurities, talking about having to confront their “first death” as artistes if they no longer enjoyed their craft someday.

“If this [their artistry and music] can no longer make me cry/ If this can no longer make my heart flutter/ Perhaps, this will be how I die once.” The desert imagery juxtaposed with the sounds of the sea at the end of the music video are also subtle hints about the songs 'Sea' and 'Telepathy', the former documents their struggles, while the latter is upbeat and vivacious.

“Come on let’s go to the Blue Ocean/ The Blue Ocean where we used to have fun together” raps J-Hope, melodically.

The other new tracks, 'For Youth' and 'Run BTS' also harken back to their roots. While 'Run BTS' is a fiery hip-hop heavy track, 'For Youth' samples 'Young Forever'.

“I run/And I stumble/You pull me up/Then fall down again, oh/Will you give me a hand?/I’ll get up over and over”, they sing, referring to them as [their] “best friend for the rest of my life.”

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A love letter to A.R.M.Y

The first CD is a compilation of the group’s 17 singles, starting off with Born Singer, the group’s re-interpretation of J-Cole’s original Born Sinner. This is the first time the band has included this track in a studio album, much to the delight of A.R.M.Y. This CD also evokes nostalgia with tracks such as their debut title track 'No More Dream' in 2013, where the mega-group caught the general public’s attention by singing about oppressive school systems.

The subsequent tracks in the album- 'N.O.', 'Boy in Luv' and 'Danger' feel like glancing through a bildungsroman, as they navigate the complexities of youth at the brink of adulthood. The album also includes hip-hop and R&B heavy tracks 'I Need You', 'Run' and 'Burning Up' (Fire), from 'The Most Beautiful Moment in Life albums' (2015-2016). These songs are representative of a BTS driven by youthful vigour and a hunger to prove their mettle to the world.

It also includes 'Blood, Sweat and Tears', a song which incorporates moombahton, rap and EDM from their 2016 LP 'Wings' and 'Spring Day', an anthem allegedly pertaining to the Sewol Ferry disaster.

While BTS has never directly confirmed this, the yellow ribbons used in the music video for 'Spring Day' were also those used for the victims of this tragedy.

The EDM heavy tracks 'Fake Love', 'DNA' and 'Idol' are also included here (2017-2019) from the 'Love Yourself' series. These tracks catapulted BTS into international stardom, followed by 'The Map of the Soul' series which draws upon themes propounded by Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung. ('Boy with Luv', 'Persona').

In 2020, the group’s single 'Dynamite' earned them their first Billboard number 1, followed by their contemplative single 'Life Goes On' (also placing number one) and the upbeat dance tracks 'Butter' (2021) and 'Permission to Dance' (2022).

The second CD is interspersed with sub-unit tracks and solos. It is a tribute to each member’s musical aesthetic and performance styles filled with ad-libs, fiery raps and vocal finesse. It includes 'Intro: Persona', an introspective track about the social self and the individual self by leader and main rapper of the group RM (2019), 'Moon', a power pop track by vocalist Jin (2020), 'Outro: Ego' by rapper J-Hope (2020), 'Filter', a groovy track with a latin vibe by vocalist Jimin (2020), 'Singularity', an EDM and neo-soul influenced track by vocalist V (2020), and 'Euphoria' by Vocalist Jungkook (2018).

BTS' latest album, 'Proof' released on 10 June.

BTS.

(photo:IMDB.com)

BTS were not always the superstars that we know them as today. Hailing from a smaller label at the time had its repercussions. Their performance slots were often dismissed and cancelled from mainstream Korean broadcasting stations.

The naysayers included rapper B-free, who lambasted RM and SUGA for not being “real rappers and selling out, and for choosing to become “idol rappers” who wore make-up, imposing upon them the toxic masculinity that BTS has now redefined through championing gender-fluid fashion for their performances and photoshoots.

BTS has also responded to harsh criticism of their music by putting out lyric-driven storytelling rap tracks like 'Mic Drop', 'UGH' and 'Ddaeng', written by the three rappers of the group, RM, SUGA and J-Hope, which alluded to their hip-hop roots.

The third CD is only available on the physical album and is a love letter to A.R.M.Y. It comprises unreleased demos, V’s version of the chorus of 'Spring Day', the studio version of AGUST D (Suga’s solo moniker) 'Tony Montana' and an acapella version of Jungkook’s 'Still With You.'

'Proof' is emblematic of the band’s special relationship with its fanbase, and a testament to their ability to grapple with the human condition with complexity, nuance and empathy. As they head towards their tenth year as a band, BTS’ current discography has firmly established them as pop titans and cultural icons forever.

(Jonaki is the pseudonym of Reeti Roy. When not writing, Reeti is an entrepreneur and runs her own creative content services firm, Aglet Ink).

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