With over 2,900 songs on my iPhone’s “K-Pop Singles” playlist, I thought it would be fun to add a bit of unpredictability to my song review posts. So as a result, we have the “Random Shuffle Review” feature.
The rules are simple. I fire up my playlist, press “shuffle,” and whatever song plays first gets the full Bias List treatment!
Year Released: 2014
Though BTS had been on my radar prior to 2014, Boy In Luv was the first time I really sat up and paid detailed attention. Up to this point, the group’s title tracks had largely been rap-heavy, though 2013’s N.O. draped that over a symphonic backdrop to great effect. With Boy In Luv (상남자), the guys brought a couple new elements that appealed to me. First, the song’s chorus embraced the anthemic, offering a rousing, sing-along hook. Second, the hard-hitting instrumental enlisted a generous supply of rock guitar.
Rock and rap has been a fantastic combination since Run DMC and Aerosmith first joined forces in the 80’s, and it’s an especially potent brew when it comes to BTS. The guys have tread similar ground in the years since 2014, but Boy In Luv remains special. At the time, it was the perfect encapsulation of their emerging group personality. Though their music has always been topical, we’d yet to enter the years of increasingly complex lore and musical mission statements. In 2014, they were a scruffy, rebellious group of rookies who were particularly adept at transforming youthful turbulence into impactul pop hits.
Boy In Luv wastes no time diving into its guitar-heavy bombast. Opening with a pair of chanted hooks, the track quickly segues into a rap-driven verse that hinges on a sense of varied flow and emotional urgency. Too much idol rap these days models itself on Western hip-hop trends. In contrast, Boy’s flow is complimentary to the song itself, as well as the individual charms of the members. Rather than revert back to those aforementioned chants, the track unveils yet another pummeling hook for its chorus. It’s all more snarling than singing, but these elements work flawlessly together for a sense of cohesion and build. By the time a wave of electric guitar crashes in during the breathless climax, BTS have more than sold the song’s sentiment. This may not be their official debut, but I’ve always felt that Boy In Luv was the group’s undisputed breakthrough.
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