BTS’ ‘Map of the Soul: 7’ Album Review

BTS’ global success is anything but ordinary. Dominating the billboard charts, selling out world stadium tours, and collaborating with big names in music, aren’t part of just anyone’s routine. Yet, their full-length album, Map of the Soul: 7, reminds us that they are just like us. 

Released on February 21, the hefty 20 track album tells the story of the group’s seven year history. Through a diverse set of genres and contemplative messages, it takes listeners into the group’s inner thoughts as artists in their position. 

Leading up to the album’s debut, BTS gradually released tracks including Suga’s “Interlude: Shadow” and J-Hope’s “Outro: Ego” as well as “Black Swan”. But, it’s official release was welcomed to the music world with their lead single “ON”, a reversed title of their 2013 song “N.O” as told by Jungkook on MTV’s Fresh Out Live

In true BTS fashion, it’s a hip-hop-gospel anthem that challenges anything, including their dark sides, that may knock them down. “Bring it/ Bring the pain on” they proclaim throughout the chorus. In an interview with Zane Lowe on Apple’s New Music Daily, rapper-leader RM described the single as a “declaration that [they] have admitted [their] destiny.” 

They released two cinematic music videos for “ON” including a choreography film titled “Kinetic Manifesto: Come Prima” and the official music video that follows a post-apocalyptic plot. The appearance of “No More Dream” in the official MV and the single’s title come full circle to the band’s debut days. 

Yet “ON” isn’t the only cross-reference here. The style they’ve cultivated since the beginning is heard throughout. Tracks like the “UGH!” (similar to the rapline’s Cypher anthology) and “Respect” (performed by RM and Suga) house their signature instrumentals and messages that question society’s angst.  

But they’ve no doubt experimented with new sounds. From the ambient EDM vibe of “We are Bulletproof: the Eternal” and the heavy rock beat of “Dionysus” to the acoustic-pop blend of “00:00 (Zero O’Clock)” and Jimin and V’s heartfelt letter to each other as “Friends”, the different genres  reflects BTS’ stylistic evolution.

  The seven solos also showcase the member’s distinctive musical abilities as each muse over their relationship with fans, themselves, and the world around them. V takes on indie-pop in his nostalgic “Inner Child” while Jin sings about a longing love in “Moon”, a contemporary-rock ballad. Jungkook incorporates R&B in “My Time” as he tries to understand his youth in the spotlight and Jimin revels in his various facades in latin-inspired “Filter”.  And of course RM, Suga, and J-hope’s Map of the Soul trilogy embed old-school and synthesized hip-hop.  

BTS’ expanding presence in the industry is seen in their collaborations with big name artists. Troye Sivan, Alli X and Ed Sheeran co-wrote the tracks “Louder Than Bombs” and “Make It Right” respectively while BTS featured SIA on the digital version of “ON” and Halsey on “Boy With Luv”, who we can’t deny has the cutest friendship with the members. 

The next step for BTS is the start of their North American tour, which kicks off in Santa Clara, California in late April.