Get your playlists ready; there’s only one day left until BTS’ Map of the Soul: 7 releases tomorrow, February 21. It’s ample time to let this all sink in and go deep in the Twitter world of BTS theories.
Last month saw the album’s first single and trailer, “Interlude: Shadow ft. Suga,” and since then, we’ve been #blessed with more music, more hints, and more anticipation than ever.
Although this album’s title is marked with a simple seven, it’s multifaceted and riddled with meaning. In an interview on the Zach Sang Show, leader-rapper, RM, said, “…  symbolizes the number of members, the years [they] have spent together…” It’s basically an ode to the group, as some speculate this will be their last album before the oldest member Jin enters South Korea’s mandatory military enlistment, as seen on allkpop.com
We expect the album to be heavily thematic. “You must face your inner shadows but resist becoming submerged into its depths,” stated Suga. Self-reflection isn’t new to BTS’ work, yet the tracks revealed so far, unravel something different: how each member sees themselves as individuals and as musicians at the peak of their career.
Although seven solo tracks aren’t confirmed, “Black Swan”, the OT7 (refers to all members) track is a culmination of it. Released on January 17, it was introduced by an eerie art film, starring Slovenian dance crew MN Dance Company alongside an orchestrated version of the single. It’s a move that goes hand in hand with BTS’ latest art initiative, Connect BTS.
Lyrically, the song is contemplative and expresses an inner fear that they have as artists: losing passion for the thing they love the most. Jimin sings “No song affects me anymore / Crying out a silent cry” while Suga raps “The heart no longer races / When hearing the music play” a moment that he describes as his “first death”. It’s a line referencing American dancer Martha Graham, who once compared a dancer’s most painful death to the moment they stop dancing.
While BTS didn’t actually appear in the music video (a first for the group), they performed “Black Swan” on the Late Late Show with James Corden on January 28th. If there was any indication of BTS’ new style, it was their contemporary inspired choreography and all black ensembles.
Yet, if you thought dark was the whole picture, think again. The second comeback trailer “Outro: Ego”, released on February 2, takes a brighter turn with no other than the BTS’ “sunshine”, J-Hope.
The song’s catchy, old school house beat and the music video’s colorful visuals are no doubt an encapsulation of J-Hope’s vibrant style (or “Hope World” as fans call it). But, the lyrics pair with the other tracks in its introspective nature.
He ruminates about a life of worry and doubt before his debut. “Life of J-Hope but Jeong Ho-Seok flashes by / It must have been full of regret with no hope till I die” he raps, “My dancing was chasing ghosts / Blaming my dream, asking why I live and breathe”. But as the song goes on, he accepts that “there are truths unchanged” and the only thing he can do now is believe in himself. And of course, we can’t let J-Hope’s recreation of his childhood photo go unnoticed.
This probably leaves you with even more questions: how do all of these styles exactly weave together? Well, BTS is here to answer that as they enter Phase #3 of their comeback schedule.
Just this week, they released four sets of concept photos, each with its own aesthetic. In the first series, the members wear all white, surrounded by floating feathers and sitting at the edge of a mysterious black hole. Though we’re not sure exactly, this void presumably leads to the dark underworld featured in set two, in which they’re dressed in black outfits and black angel wings looking ominous as ever. The third is similar to their “Dionysus” stages, alluding to some Greek mythology references down the line. Lastly, the fourth set is more colorful and youthful, a varsity-like theme that’s possibly similar to their “Skool Luv Affair” era.