It’s BTS’ first comeback since I started my blog, thought I should write something for the occasion.
Quick disclaimer that this isn’t entirely a review. Some is just some thoughts that a song gave me that’s too long for a blog post comment.
BTS made a last minute comeback before their world tour with a repackage of Wings. You Never Walk Alone didn’t really continue the story seen in Blood Sweat & Tears, which is fine by me. I can’t do this theory thing. It’s just a song and video. Just look at how handsome oppa is and have a sincere opinion about the song alone.
It’s become predictable since 2015 what kind of songs get chosen as the title track. Either it’s some emotional story with slow EDM or a big-ass hype song with killer choreo. The tracks chseon for BTS to promote are no exception. Last time Big Hit gave us more than one MV for one comeback, the release date difference was 12 days between Young Forever and Fire, and 14 days between Fire and Save Me. This time it’s just a week (and a little over half an hour), which meant I didn’t have to wait too long for Not Today after the drab meh that is Spring Day.
It starts off slightly promising. With the train and the piano arrangement I was reminded of the video game Life Is Strange. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s an independent film disguised as a game about teenage youth and time travel and you (yes, you!) get to play the shy, artistic girl who was always doubting her potential. As if that isn’t hipster enough for you, the lead composer of the game is an indie pop musician with his own indie pop band.
Indie/Alternative/Acoustic Pop/whatever all tend to blend into an unremarkable mesh. I like the genre, as something to listen to when I’m working on a project and don’t want to work in silence but also don’t want to be distracted by the music. But one highlight from Life Is Strange‘s soundtrack, in my opinion, was Obstacles. It’s slow, repetitive guitar chords with nature-like synths, and it succeeds where most songs in the genre fail. When the song began in Spring Day, I was hoping we’d be getting the “Korean Obstacles”. But alas, not today.
One thing that made Obstacles work was it was at a gradual crescendo, not trying to be disruptive while adding more to the music. Whereas here it has an intro that’s slightly above decent and gets dropped at 0:47 and the same chord progression gets rewritten. The intro is heard again, but gets buried by the vocals and percussion that there’s frankly no point bringing it back in.
And for everyone complaining about J-Hope not getting real lines, I admit I was a surprised as well. From pretty much hogging the limelight last October to being hidden in the chorus. At first everyone thought he didn’t get one word in. That’s how unnoticeable he is here. I thought about how that happened, recalling how the other two rappers got plenty of bars worth sharing.
Then, this thought occurred to me; what if, he didn’t want to rap? Or he at least, he wasn’t inspired by the instrumental? Let me explain; for a group that is boasted to other fandoms about how they write their own songs, it’s really Rap Monster, then Suga, then J-Hope (from most credits to least) writing the lyrics to their rap solos and Hitman Bang, Slow Rabbit, Pdogg, whoever they bought the song from, etc. write everything else. You’ll see the vocals’ names here or there sometimes, but they still have other writers which could mean anything. When an idol has song credits to his name, he’s usually a rapper. And when you write, you need to have your heart into what you’re creating.
How the process goes I assume is the producer gives the rappers a listen to the song so they know the feel of the and get an idea of what kind of lyrics they’ll write. What they make is probably longer than what’s released as the original gets trimmed down by the PD. Maybe J-Hope couldn’t think of anything to write. Maybe he thought the song was too uninspiring. As a result, he gave his thoughts to Pdogg, in a polite manner I can only hope (no pun intended), and calmly accepted playing supporting role in the song while Rapmon and Suga’s parts aren’t as cropped as usual. Or maybe he did write something but it was so shit that every word didn’t make the cut. Well, I’ll pretend it’s the former and we got to hear more of what Rap Monster and Suga originally wrote and J-Hope gets little to do with this borefest.
So final thoughts, Spring Day could have been not bad if the instrumentals were more simple, and what J-Hope really wants to show off is his slick dance solos for the Wings Tour.
There isn’t much I can say for the video. Just your same old theory junk. All I got is Rap Monster looks weird during the part he sings. I give it 1 Spring out of 7 Days.
To make up for releasing a song that fits its video in terms of interest levels, Big Hit drops Not Today‘s MV and it goes above and beyond.
In case you’re reading this from the future, there was some excitement about BTS having a video released on the same day as Twice, since both groups got a reputation for getting lots of views in record time. There were Armys that believed JYPE planned it to screw over BTS, but Knock Knock got the release date announced first. There were Onces concerned their archenemies Thrices would take advantage of it and make sure Twice doesn’t get the records this time around. I like to think JYP and Hitman Bang decided to have fun with their pawn’s followers and make a bet of ₩1000 over which of their group’s fandoms takes this ‘rivalry’ the most seriously.
Anyway, this is the BTS I love. Actually, Dope is the BTS I love but they’re not gonna make another song like that again. But I’ll take a Bangtan hype song that’s better than Fire gladly. Just like Spring Day is a rehash of Run and I Need U, Not Today takes the brass and intensity from Fire‘s chorus, the lively pre-chorus of Ma City and the playfulness of Baepsae‘s verses. I kinda have a soft spot for Baepsae since it was from the same album as Run which was a big let down while Baepsae was the silver lining.
My favorite part from the song is the pre-chorus. The “Today we will survive”/”Together we won’t die” is delightful. The “Ready, Aim, Fire!” (chong jojun balsa!) is also addicting. And I believe I hear a metal influence in the chorus. (Not as iconic as Kara’s or Crayon Pop’s, just baby steps.)
When the song came out the week before, I was replaying and replaying it over and over, eager for the video to be released. My expectations were met.
Jungkook’s scene here (during the first pre-chorus, coincidence) stood out to me the most. That skyline is beautiful, and the cement and buildings don’t really clash. And it looks cool how he’s just all on his own like that. Jimin, V, and J-Hope join in. When Jin isn’t in a shot, I’ll have my eyes on J-Hope. But there’s one problem here;
…Really? It’s War of Hormone all over again! I guess these three really like being in the bottom half of my BTS faves list.
The thing about BTS’ choreography is, well, I’m not amazed by it. Not only this, but like, almost all of it. It’s gotten to the point where I expect the dance not to grip me. Dope was what grabbed me in and I was in love with that dance. So in love, that nothing Bangtan can dance can top it. Yes, I myself can’t dance this or Fire‘s or We Are Bulletproof Pt. 2‘s but for me, Dope was their peak in terms of iconic dancing. (The bit above about Jungkook was how I liked the shot in general, not how he dances).
I noticed during the “Hands Up” parts in the chorus, 2:15 for reference, they repeated the same move. Spreading their arms backwards towards stage left. To me, that looks like they originally had a more complex move, but it was changed and made more simple. This might sound ridiculous for a k-pop boy group, but I don’t think it’s not impossible for a k-pop choreographer to simplify dances. Also, that move at 2:27 looks like a hybrid between this move in Ring Ding Dong and this one in Be My Baby. Just saying.
One final thing I loved is how the MV adds stomping to the final chorus at 4:08. As someone who was listening to the song on repeat for the past week, this took me by surprise. It has a fantastic rhythm to it and I’m a bit bummed it only lasted 6 beats. One final final thing I’ll add is Rapmon with purple hair is a great sight to see.
While Spring Day is the type of song that will get the crowds all teary eyed, Not Today is what will make everyone cheer the fuck up til their voices are gone. The production is top notch, and while the dancing isn’t Dope‘s, it’s still a cool dance by itself. I’ll definitely be enjoying it live when they’re in town next month. I was gonna give it a rating, but not today.