Review

Song Review: BTS – Lights

As popular as BTS are around the world, I’m surprised that their Japanese-language material hasn’t felt more essential. For me, the best thing to come out of their J-pop discography isn’t Japanese at all. Instead, it’s the galvanizing ‘Stadium Remix’ of Korean single IDOL (ie: my now-definitive version of the track). Barring a couple of standout songs, their original Japanese work has come across as an afterthought. New single Lights is no different.

After last week’s Heartbeat, BTS have delivered their second downbeat track in a row. But while Heartbeat got by on a gorgeous synth line and dramatic guitar distortion, Lights feels much more generic. The Japanese market is well known for their love of ballads, and it’s not unusual for J-pop singles to stretch past the five minute mark. Unlike K-pop’s tight song structures, J-pop often feels more leisurely in pace. That’s the case for Lights, which is overlong by at least a minute. As a result, the song never builds to any satisfying moment, spinning its wheels with a naval-gazing melody that’s drained of dynamics.

BTS have more than a few stellar ballads under their belts. Obviously, there’s Spring Day, but songs like The Truth Untold, Butterfly and Epiphany all would have made more interesting templates for Lights’ emotive aspiration. Instead of capitalizing on the members’ unique blend of vocal tones, Lights buries their individuality in an uninspired arrangement. Unsurprisingly, the track was crafted by composers outside of the usual BTS bubble. A song like this could have been performed by any K-pop group to similar effect, which is not something I could usually say about BTS releases. From its plodding instrumental to its monotonous chorus, Lights is shockingly faceless.

 Hooks 7
 Production 7
 Longevity 7
 Bias 7
 RATING 7

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4 thoughts on “Song Review: BTS – Lights

  1. Quite a shock that the score is low, especially since it’s lower than songs like Idol, DNA, Zimzalabim, etc. We can agree realistically that ‘Ligths’ is obviously not going for an iconic/grand moment. However, this song proves that all it has to do is to be a good song.

    In my opinion, this song is around a 8 rather than a 7 based on how natural the whole production is. Realistically, however, the rhythm of the vocals matched with the instrumentals used is an example of a good song. It’s obvious that the rating will be divided, as we will be opinionated about what we think.

    ‘Lights’ is on the same boat as ‘Heartbeat’. Nothing grand/iconic/epic, but a nice, easy-going song. Probably not worth A LOT of replays(depends on the person), but a nice, safe song to listen to once in a while.

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  2. Lights has a slightly better vocal than Heartbeat, largely because the whole composition is higher, a good fifth or so above Heartbeat, so it is more in the BTS tenor line sweet spot.

    The verse is short, a couplet maybe. Then the prechorus has a high C to F motif, F major. The same C to F motif is repeated moments later in the chorus, and the main way to know if you are in the prechorus or chorus is the urgency of the drum beat below it. And then the post chorus has A to F, which is the same F major chord. So, of course it doesn’t build because it is the same thing.

    The rap lasts about 45 sec with a vamp underneath. Not a bridge or break, but the same. So essentially except for short verse couplets, the song really truly cycles.

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    • were they straining their notes? I don’t have knowledge abt that and the comments on the other site where this is posted keep talking abt it

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      • No better or worse than usual for them. There is some production processing effect across all the vocals that even in my “best” earbuds makes all the vocals sound tinny and metallic.

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