Merriam-Webster defines esoteric thusly: designed for or understood by the specially initiated alone. This week’s album choice, on the surface, may seem to be the antithesis of esoteric. But it is with this definition in mind that we take a look at one of, if not the biggest bands in the world: BTS.
BTS (Bangtan Sonyeondan), also known as the Bangtan Boys, is a seven-member South Korean boy band that debuted in 2013 under Big Hit Entertainment. The septet—composed of RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook—co-writes and co-produces much of their own output. Originally a hip hop group, their musical style has evolved to include a wide range of genres. Their lyrics, often focused on personal and social commentary, touch on the themes of mental health, troubles of school-age youth, loss, the journey towards loving oneself, and individualism. Their work features references to literature and psychological concepts and includes an alternate universe storyline. The group has released several albums and performed on several world tours.
Here’s the thing about BTS: Despite being second only to Drake as the best selling artists worldwide, here in the US they get very little radio play. The band sings in their native Korean, making the dense imagery and storytelling of the songs largely inaccessible to many.
Joining us to take a listen to their fourth EP, The Most Beautiful Moment In Life Part 2, is super fan Kerry Schultz. In addition to being a card carrying member of BTS Army, Kerry is an English major who takes a more poetic approach to her translation and interpretation of the band’s lyrics. You can check out her Facebook page President Kim’s BTS Lyrics Spot. Kerry helps us unpack all that is going on with both the lyrics and the band’s storytelling.
Hopefully, we all walk away from this episode with a better understanding of the Bangtan Boys and the many layers of their music. We feel they fit in with our theme, but that’s just us. It’s up to you the listener to decide if we’ve helped unlock the mystery of their appeal, or simply jumped the shark in our quest for more listens. Let us know what you think over on our subreddit!