Review

Song Review: BTS – Heartbeat

Only a group of BTS’s stature could elevate the OST for a mobile game into an event release. The guys have been releasing collaboration tracks for the past few weeks for their new BTS World soundtrack, but none have clicked with me in the way their music usually does. Heartbeat, though, features no guest artist and is composed by much of the group’s usual team. It’s a smart way to inject another slower-paced track into their singles run, and a sonic sequel of sorts to their massive 2017 hit Spring Day.

The song opens with spacey, atmospheric synth that instantly conjures the kind of fantastical images found within the music video. The rest of the verse is moody without being dark — a slow burn before the chorus’s resounding percussion takes over to guide the rest of the track. The melody here feels a bit hesitant, but the guys’ performance has a satisfying build that makes the gradual climb worth it.

In fact, Heartbeat’s strongest asset is its sense of snowballing structure. This isn’t some big power-note ballad, but it doesn’t stay in one gear either. The instrumentation grows along with the track, led by that powerful synth-line but eventually incorporating cinematic, distorted guitar as well. The climax feels notable, if not quite as thrilling as a superior track like Mikrokosmos. For a group most closely associated with hip-hop sounds, BTS have a great vocal line for songs of this style. If nothing else, Heartbeat gives them a chance to release something that capitalizes on this and isn’t bending over backward to appeal to specific, trend-driven markets. It’s a solid, mainstream pop track, easily above average when it comes to your usual maudlin OST fare.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8
 RATING 8.25


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12 thoughts on “Song Review: BTS – Heartbeat

  1. Its fine, really its fine. I have learned to write that, with a smile, or else anything I say that is other than glowing about the Biggest Boy Band in the World, Ever, (Bigger than the Beatles even) gets downvoted by the …. its fine.

    Actually it sounds like if it were on vinyl, like the 45rpm has slowed down to 40 and the song sounds all warpy and low and artificially slow, until your realize that the speed slider is not on 45.

    Also reminds me of their lighter fare like “Make it Right” that the Army love and the rest of us .. its fine, really.

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    • how is heartbeat anything like make it right? i can see why armys would cyber bully you to the point you would talk about them 90% of your comment in an unrelated song review

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    • The tempo is different, yes, and the synth motif in “Make it Right” is much brighter so they seem different. However it seems that the chord progression in the chorus, possibly most of the rest of the song is similar enough, and the arrangements in both are spare enough, that you can sing “Make it Right” over this one and it would work. Actually the two songs, once you reconcile the tempo, would make a good mash-up. Now, I haven’t listened to these songs a thousand times over but even as a non-expert, I could easily superimpose “I could make it better, I could hold you tighter” “I could make it right, all right all right” phrases over this one. It also helps that Make it Right has the sung portions of the choruses mostly on the 3rd and 4th beat, and “Heartbeat” is heavy on the 1st and 2nd beat, so its easy to alternate as a call and response.

      The vocals are mush. I don’t know how much is due to the production, but some of it is due to the underlying vocal. They sound lethargic and drugged. This is not warm rich ballad singing. The song does not show off the BTS vocal line at all. For the baritones in the group, this range should be right in their wheelhouse, but they aren’t well trained baritones so it is just breathy, unsupported, and unenunciated. For the tenors, the melody never rises high enough to show off their higher chops, where they have “tessitura”. In theory, Jimin can go real high, think Blood Sweat Tears, but in the range for this song he has no brightness. They could have had him sing a third or fifth above the main chorus melody as a bright descant above someone else, that would have helped.

      Then during the choruses and slow build, there is so much noisy noise covering it up, I don’t know what to call it but a synth white noise reverb snare? What are the producers hiding? Then for the harmonies, they might be sung harmonies, maybe, maybe not, but they aren’t polished and they are heavily processed..

      Then there is the lyrics which are about as sentimental pap as it gets.

      As a comparison, a really good boy band ballad vocal, is Nsync “This I promise you”. The verses are so purely sung, they only need a guitar to accompany it, no noisy noise filler. The chorus harmonies are full 4 or 5 part harmony (a line or two doubled), yes with a wash over it, but when you hear it live, they are sung harmonies, every voice is contributing a different timbre to the harmony. Another example Backstreet Boys “Shape of My Heart”.

      Yes they are fair comparisons, because with the level of hype and sales BTS has, they are trying to be in that legendary status category, and their fans want them to be in that legendary category that NSync and BSB are, and this song doesn’t show they are worthy of it.
      I have been around long enough to see multiple decades and generations of boy bands, and that is my opinion.

      There.

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      • you’re allowed to not like a song my original comment wasn’t even about that, the question is why you’re writing all of that for a game OST trying to prove bts isn’t worthy if BSB comparisons because of it? nobody cares that much, not even armys lol

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      • “they are trying to be in that legendary status category” they already are. also, no, its not a fair comparison, seeing that one has a rapline and the other groups does not.

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    • Now for the speed comment. There are enough old vinyl people like me on this blog, but I shall elaborate.

      Back in the day, the record players had two (or three) speeds. Long Playing records, or LP’s played at 33 1/3 rpm. That’s the usual big size record you see in the charity bins. However the singles played at 45rpm. Those are the smaller ones you see, in a thin paper sleeve, nearly always have a big hole in the middle for which you needed a “spin” insert. The singles have the A side, which is the release, and guess what, the B side, the extra song. Then on occasion, bands would release EP’s or Extended plays, which commonly were long remixes of one of the singles. These could be either 33 1/3 or 45rpm. (And there are also 78’s which are 78rpm, but they are much older vinyl.)

      Simple record players had a switch to go between 33 1/3 and 45 rpm. Fancy record players had a graduated switch so it wasn’t one or the other but anything in between as well. Extra fancy record players had 33 1/3 45 and 78, with moire dots on the edge to get the speed perfect.

      Every now and then, when you put a record on, you would forget to switch the switch, and you would hear the song slower and lower. (Or faster and higher, of it was switched the other way.) This song sounds like a 45rpm single that is played with the switch in the 33 1/3 position.

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  2. how is heartbeat anything like make it right? i can see why armys would cyber bully you to the point you would talk about them 90% of your comment in an unrelated song review

    Like

  3. instrumentals and some parts reminds me of one of those old mainstream rock pop (?) I used to hear in the radio, which,,, is a genre I don’t particularly feel anything about. MV is nice. I love the collabs/other tracks tho, seems like they just took this opportunity to branch out and do something with the connections they made in award shows.

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  4. Pingback: Song Review: BTS – Lights | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

  5. “Only a group of BTS’s stature could elevate the OST for a mobile game into an event release.”

    BTS has become the perfect personification of late capitalism. I don’t really understand what OST for a mobile game is for, other than sucking money from their ‘poor’ fandom. The ubiquity of these boys only make me shun them even more.

    I dare say this is nothing, but basic Kpop from a so-called legendary group. The vocal line is never strong (they tend to emphasize on style, rather than techniques), in my opinion. Vocal line from any SM male groups, Infinite, B1A4, Vixx, BAP, Seventeen, SF9, Pentagon, ACE, and (as much as I dislike their discography, I have to add) even Ateez are more powerful than them.

    IF this was released by a second-tier group, they would be dismissed pretty unfairly. I do not hate BTS, I am just (truthfully) tired of the boys’ brand. They (rather Big Hit) seem to sell anything under the sun, rather than improving themselves as real singers or performers. Not to mention, Bangtan boys are obviously way over-worked. Sometimes I wish they would wake up and think why they are being over-worked and what is this for ? For Big Hit ? I suppose I will get ‘hate’ from writing all this. Oh well.

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