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The Strong Messages Behind These Seven BTS Songs

From mental disorders to class struggle: BTS has never shied away from taking political stands.

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NEON
4 min read
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South Korean septet and biggest boy band in the world, BTS, has unarguably carved a space for themselves in the global map. Debuted in 2013, their body of work is a masterclass in intricate narratives, brilliant lyricism and evocative visual imagery.

And the delicious icing on the cake: the Dynamite singers have never shied away from taking a stand on socio-political issues.

Most of their songs may be marked by groovy tunes that make you want to burst into an elaborate dance routine; but the lyrics hold powerful, often iconoclast social messages.

While the band is currently taking a break from producing music together, in order to focus on their individual lives and passion projects, here's looking back at seven BTS songs and the issues they brought light to.

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1. Spring Day

Released three years after the Sewol Ferry Tragedy, the song is a heartbreaking response to the incident. On 16 April 2014, a ferry in South Korea was capsized, resulting in the death of hundreds of high school students on their way to Jeju Island for a school picnic.

Key Lyrics:

I try to exhale you in pain

Like smoke, like white smoke

I say that I’ll erase you

But I can’t really let you go yet

The incident propelled into a political debate, revealing the Government's motivations and lack of accountability. 'Spring Day' is a raw declaration of longing, written to comfort a grieving nation after a horrifying incident.

2. Agust D: The Last

Min Yoongi (aka Suga), one of the three rappers of the band, in his first solo mixtape titled 'Agust D', uses his music to express a plethora of issues he grapples with. From battling mental disorders to dealing with social anxiety as a world-famous celebrity, fans got a much closer look into his struggles.

Key Lyrics:

On the other side of the famous idol rapper

Stands my weak self, it’s a bit dangerous

Depression, OCD

They keep coming back again from time to time

The Last continues to touch many individuals who are battling similar invisible disorders. Min Yoongi's artistic expression greatly contributes to an expanding landscape of mental health awareness.

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3. Blood Sweat & Tears

Arguably one of the songs responsible for propelling the band to global recognition, 'Blood Sweat & Tears' is as visually powerful as it is catchy. It explores the limits of human desire and how obsession leads to an addicting, but toxic love. The song also has underlying themes of substance abuse and self-destruction.

Key Lyrics:

Deeply poisoned by the jail of you

I cannot worship anyone but you and I knew

The grail was poisoned but I drank it anyway

The music video for 'Blood Sweat & Tears' perfectly captures the angst in the song. Artistic and biblical references serve as backdrops for the song’s theme.

4. Answer: Love Myself

Among all the poignant issues BTS hold dear to their hearts, bullying is one. The septet continues to take steps to raise awareness about and combat bullying. They even partnered with the United Nations to kickstart their 'Love Myself' campaign, raising millions of dollars for the cause. Their single, 'Answer: Love Myself' marks this partnership and urges children around the world to love themselves, no matter how hard it is.

Key Lyrics:

The me of yesterday

The me of today

The me of tomorrow

(I'm learning how to love myself)

With no exceptions, it's all me

"The world-famous K-pop band and its record label, BIGHIT MUSIC, joined forces with UNICEF four years ago with the collective goal of helping end violence, abuse and bullying, and to promote self-esteem and well-being among children and young people globally".
UNITED NATIONS VIA THEIR OFFICIAL WEBSITE
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5. Baepsae

Also called 'Silver Spoon', BTS released this song in 2015. Possibly one of the grooviest songs, it does not shy away from spitting some hard-hitting truths about the class struggle, inherent privileges and generational dilemma. They challenge the status quo, boldly stating that they will not put up with the prevalent injustices.

Key Lyrics:

Change the rules, change change

The ones' that came before us want to, want to maintain

But we can't do that, BANG BANG

Through the song, the Bangtan Boys also express their frustration for being viewed as a generation "that hasn't done enough". 'Baepsae' has grown into a bold youth anthem, with people belonging to the Gen Z relating to the generational slander that they're subjected to, from seniors.

6. Whalien 52

'Whalien 52' is a heart-wrenching tale about the blue whale touted as "the loneliest whale in the world." The 52- hertz whale was the only recorded whale in the world that communicated in 52 Hertz — a decibel much higher for any other whale.

Key Lyrics:

Mom said the sea is blue

She said to let out your voice as far as you can

But what to I do?

Using the blue whale as a metaphor for their own experience with isolation, BTS wrote 'Whalien 52' to express the debilitating effects of loneliness and its harrowing consequence on mental health. In a solo rap verse after the song begins, Min Yoongi raps, "Even loneliness is something you can see".

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7. Am I Wrong

This upbeat 2016 song is an unapologetic call to the privileged power-holders in the society. The lyricism and visual imagery all point to their disappointment with the status quo and their audacity to be apolitical in a tumultuous political situation.

Key Lyrics:

If what you see on the news is nothing to you

If that comment is nothing to you

If that hatred is nothing to you

You’re not normal

'Am I Wrong' is the twelfth track for their second studio album Wings (2016). Although a comparatively lesser known track, the song made a lot of young fans feel seen around the world, who felt helpless and angry at the political scenarios around them.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  BTS   BTS Army 

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