Most of the time, a k-pop group’s title track is the best song on their album. But, sometimes b-sides deserve recognition too. In the singles-oriented world of K-pop, I want to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.
Song for song, BTS’ Map Of The Soul: Persona is a strong piece of work — maybe their strongest in years. When considering which track to feature as a buried treasure, I kept going back and forth between Mikrokosmos and Dionysus. Honestly, both are deserving, but Mikrokosmos won out in the end because it feels genuinely new for the group. We’ve heard them tackle hard-hitting hip-hop like Dionysus before, though never with the awesome heavy metal finish that closes that track. But, Mikrokosmos’ dabbling in indie rock and lush, layered instrumentation offers something we rarely hear in K-pop. Plus, it’s a gorgeous spotlight for the group’s vocals, which are given similar prominence throughout the album as a whole.
Mikrokosmos opens with a striking synth arpeggio, hesitant but evocative. For the first minute, it’s unclear what the song will become, but as soon as it blossoms into its anthemic chorus, Mikrokosmos’ ambition becomes clear. Things rarely let up from there, as the instrumental gathers steam and the percussion grows more commanding. I love the backing vocals on this, which surge with a sense of majesty missing from BTS’ usual style. The final chorus is absolutely marvelous, led by a perfectly placed power note that gives the song’s climax the oomph it deserves. All of this is filtered through a glossy pop melody, deepened by the lavish production’s attention to detail. I would love to see BTS push even further into this sound. It fits them surprisingly well.