When it comes to k-pop’s evolution both domestically and internationally, BTS are in the driver’s seat. It’s been an absolute thrill to see them come back again and again with material that’s both friendly to pop radio and beguilingly artistic. Blood, Sweat & Tears (피 땀 눈물) is the latest in their continual reinvention, and it doesn’t disappoint.
The thing about BTS is they pursue so many of the musical angles that usually drive me to complain and nitpick, but they’re just so damn good at it. Blood fuses trendy tropical house with moombahton — two genres that have become completely overused in global pop music. The song’s chorus is barely there, preferring an easy repetition rather than full-throated melody. And yet, it works. Much of that is due to the track’s flawless production, which is lush and all-encompassing. The synths are awash with depth and layers, showered over the track so effectively that they almost feel tactile. The song has a real texture, and it’s different than anything the guys have given us so far. Even that one-word hook pulses with energy and attitude, helped along by a potent instrumental breakdown that proves there’s still a bit of life to squeeze out of the tropical house fad.
For an act who debuted as your typical hip-hop boy group, BTS have some incredible vocalists. Everyone’s at their peak here, but Blood‘s MVP has to be Jimin. It’s a case of a vocal tone perfectly matching the instrumentation supporting it. They were smart to have him kick off the track. Those first few notes elicit more than many full songs, bringing us right into a build from the very beginning. That melodic segment, repeated several times throughout the track, is Blood‘s strongest and most defining moment, wrapping a multitude of moods and emotions into one concise distillation of what makes the group so captivating.