In just a few short years, BTS (Bangtan Boys) have risen to utter domination of the kpop world, taking their initial hip-hop sound and fusing it to something more melodic and adventurous. They’re a group that has gradually worked their way up my own personal bias list, through the combination of their undeniably charming personalities and the consistent quality of their music. Every song is a winner, but which is the best?
- Updated 1/15/17
N.O. (2013) – The first time BTS hinted at a greater ambition beneath their hip-hop persona, adding orchestral elements and rage-against-the-machine lyrical heft.
10. Just One Day (2014)
The group’s smoothest Korean single, giving ample spotlight to their more melodic, vocally-driven side.
9. Boy In Luv (2014)
A true turning point in their career, marking a transition to a slightly poppier, robustly produced sound while still retaining the edge that makes them so unique.
8. War Of Hormone (2014)
A playful, boisterous display of their personalities, with a punky hip-hop vibe that keeps the energy impossibly high throughout.
7. Run (2015)
Building on a newly emotional, anthemic sound, Run took a departure into a more streamlined song structure, pulsing forward with the strength of its rousing chorus. (Full Review)
6. Save Me (2016)
Save Me‘s kaleidoscopic production and ever-morphing tempo brings to mind the darker side of summer. It does a near-perfect job melding big pop hooks with dense, experimental songcraft and instrumentation. (Full Review)
5. Fire (2016)
A veritable tie with Save Me (and it actually scored lower on my review), but the party-starting Fire edges it out by a hair simply by the force of its rambunctious energy. (Full Review)
4. Blood, Sweat & Tears (2016)
A hypnotic blend of tropical house and moombahton, Blood, Sweat & Tears sidesteps its trendy origins with a series of gorgeous vocals and lush instrumentation. (full review)
3. Danger (2014)
The sound of BTS truly embracing their burgeoning mainstream popularity with one of their most addictive title tracks. Laying guitar over a commanding hip-hop beat, the track’s central hook is so strong that it works just as well as a surging ballad.
2. Dope (2015)
The ultimate BTS hype track, buoyed by a twisted instrumental sample that explodes from the most intoxicating builds the group has ever given us. It’s a sound and structure that has been overused by many groups, but Dope represents its powerful, unrelenting pinnacle.
1. I Need U (2015)
The moment BTS stopped being a simple kpop group and transformed into something much more. From the gorgeous harmonies to the sledgehammer, dubstep-influenced instrumental, the song surges and crests like few others. It remains the most emotional piece of music the group has given us, opening the door for a series of releases that would maintain its incredible quality.