Be is BTS’s latest and second album of 2020, released on November 20th. An unplanned album, born during the struggles of pandemic life and meant to heal life’s inner conflicts.
The seven-member South Korean band, composed of the rappers RM, Suga, J-Hope and the vocalists Jin, Jimin, V and Jungkook debuted in 2013. Originating from a small label. and despite the language barrier, over the years they managed to expand their music to a global listenership.
From humble beginnings the group has won several Billboard Music awards, landing a Brit nomination and becoming the first Korean act to perform at the Grammys, receiving a nomination for best “Pop duo/group performance”. The group was ranked among Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2019 and elected 2020 entertainer of the year.
In February 2020 the band dropped the album Map of the Soul 7 and was getting ready to embark on a stadium world tour starting in April. Amid the pandemic BTS had to suddenly cancel the tour, forcing them to take a break and leaving many question marks. In order to cope with the insecurities of the pandemic, the band focused on expressing their emotions through music. That is how BTS’s BE album was created, resulting in 8 intimate, honest and reassuring tracks.
Let’s just BE – no matter what happens our lives must go on
In BTS’s BE album the listener can follow a storyline. From the vulnerability and sadness to the acceptance of the true status of the feelings, becoming stronger with each passing day.
The first half of the album consists of melodic mid-tempo songs, acoustic guitars, moving voices and a calming, soothing rap.
The track Life goes on describes from the very first verse what most people faced, giving a final message of reassurance:
One day the world stopped, without any warning/Spring didn’t know to wait, showed up not even a minute late; Like an echo in the forest the day will come back around as if nothing happenend
while Blue and Grey gets deeper and opens up to relatable statements:
Don’t say you are fine because you are not/I just want to be happier, am I being too greedy?
The second part of BE brings back upbeat sounds of retro pop, EDM and 90’s hip hop influence.
A bright-eyed Jungkook explains that “the happiest moments are the ones we have shared performing live in front of our fans”. Tracks like Telepathy and Stay tell that, despite the fact that the band and the fans are currently physically far apart, they are still connected and can be together, even just for a moment.
BTS decided to close the album just as they end their concerts, with “joy and fireworks”. The band included their first full English record-breaking single Dynamite, a cheerful disco song aimed to shake off peoples’ low spirits.
BE is a shared diary with the fan base – Army.
Since the outset, the band members actively contributed as songwriters and producers – but the whole process of producing BE was a bit different and unique. Because the bond with the fan base called their Army is so precious and tight, BTS decided to share the process of making the album through live broadcasts and online platforms.
On page after page the fan base was able to see the daily ongoing work and to witness the all-around creative participation of the seven members. BTS in fact took part in the concept, visuals and PM. Band member Jungkook saw his first directing credit on a music video.
The band also chose to include in the album a new skit, recording the moment they heard the news of having topped Billboard’s Hot 100 chart for the first time with Dynamite. The fans can listen to the members’ raw reactions, jokes and overwhelming feelings.
BTS’s songs tell sincere stories and convey positive messages. They want to bring comfort and empower young people, reassure them that they are not alone in the world, pushing back against stereotypes. Be is just another example of how the band is not afraid of showing its inner conflicts, empathizing with the fans and helping the listener to persevere during the hard times of life.