Review

Song Review: BTS – Life Goes On

I must admit, I’m shocked at how long BTS’s Dynamite has endured on global charts. I mean, I shouldn’t be surprised. In many ways, the track was a slam dunk before it even materialized – a glossy, trend-friendly pop song with wide appeal. And while I still find it to be more commercial jingle than satisfying single, its bright energy and catchy groove are certainly welcome in 2020.

If Dynamite was a shining bauble of a distraction, new single Life Goes On brings us right back to reality. It’s the latest COVID-related track from a Big Hit artist, offering consolation through hip hop pop. I’ve already made my preferences around this subject matter clear in previous reviews, so there’s no point belaboring the subject.

As a title track, Life Goes On is more hushed than we’ve come to expect. BTS are on a level now where the very word of a comeback builds hype. They’ve promoted ballads before, but Life Goes On is no Spring Day (a song that’s aged like fine wine). Longtime collaborator Pdogg is listed as a primary songwriter, yet his gift for melody feels restrained here. The melancholic refrain fits the track’s aim, but never really builds to anything. Life Goes On’s best moments come during its verses, which recall the less-polished appeal of the group’s older work.

I’m probably just way too jaded, but while the sentiment behind Life Goes On is admirable, the delivery feels a little trite. This extends to its sound and structure, which climaxes in the kind of sway-along sing-along that’s been a staple of pop music for decades. It all feels too nebulous — a series of platitudes instead of something more unique and specific and satisfying. But, listeners receive comfort in different ways, and Life Goes On is guaranteed to connect with many fans on a far deeper level than it does with me. I can’t begrudge any artist for spreading positivity and reflection at a time when we all need it.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.75

59 thoughts on “Song Review: BTS – Life Goes On

      • Hello Nick! After reading your review of Life Goes On, I’m curious to know what did you think about Jungkook’s Still With You? Since it was kinda laid back like Life goes on.

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    • I feel like a lot of groups have these few years of bringing out absolutely amazing songs, only to move on and explore different concepts with less success or just release less ambitious songs and kinda coast along on the continued commercial success (like BTS seem to be doing). Nothing wrong with that I guess.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Yes, it’s surprising how this is worse that TXT’s We Lost the Summer. TXT’s song is still in my playlist, it has some pulses of real pain between its commercial layers. I forgot Life Goes On the moment it was over and I will likely never listen to it again. But maybe it makes sense for Big Hit since BTS can release anything and sell hugely. Not a terrible song but just so average.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can honestly get where you’re coming from with this review. I think that even though the whole world was excited for their comeback, this was a song really meant for their fans and that’s totally okay, not every song needs to have mainstream appeal/sound. It’s clear that a club banger was not what they were going for. I feel as though this song was meant to be like a warm hug of reassurance that things will be okay even though it seems like life is falling apart. I personally loved the song and teared up at the mv but I am an army so I am biased. And I know its sad to say this but with the inevitable enlistment coming up for one of the members, it seems like it could be a song to console army over that as well (idk about this one but it’s just my thought).

    Liked by 5 people

    • I agree. I felt like all the promo was for ARMYs, so this style of song makes sense. The first 3 songs remind me of how I felt after listening to folklore by Taylor (I stan both BTS and Taylor). I was waiting for the boppy song or beat drop. Once I got past the thought of those not coming, I really enjoyed the album, and same for this one. Plus we got the bonus of faster songs post Skit.

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    • In my opinion, OP didn’t mind a non-club banger song, nor is Life Goes On aiming for a niche sound. It’s just that it could be better, as we have had songs like Spring Day. If we’re talking about fan songs/ songs that dedicated to the very close relationship between the boys and ARMYs, we also have gems like You Never Walk Alone, Mikrocosmos and Young Forever. What we see is (seems to be) a comeback to their earlier music, which was less polished, less produced, yet the outcome was so outstanding. I agree with OP that Life Goes On has recalled the less polished appeal of their older work, that it reminds us of some of their best release, and this is indeed the title track I myself like the most since Wings era has ended. Life Goes On by no means bad, but if you remember the magic of HYYH and Wings, that’s where the dissonance is from.

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  3. I honestly loved this more than any of their 2020 releases so far, including Dynamite, and I’m saying that as an army. Maybe because it had that “for the fans” angle to it. I haven’t gotten the chance to go through the rest of the album yet, but I’m going to safely assume that it will have similar vibes to the title.
    I was kind of waiting for them to release a song like this after all their commercially appealing stuff, but it falls short of perfect when I compare it to their pre-2017 work (which I recently had the chance to go through again).

    Liked by 4 people

  4. The b sides this time around were much better in my opinion with Blue & Grey, Telepathy, and Stay being the true stars of the album. The title felt like Big Bang’s Flower Road because it was just for the ARMYs and not for mainstream. Dynamite, however, doesn’t fit the album whatsoever like it should’ve been a summer single instead of the final track and Skit should’ve been an intro rather than a song because that would’ve set the tone and not disrupt the flow of the album with it being in the middle

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  5. It’s alright. Basic sentimental mid-tempo fan service-style song.

    What are they doing to Jimin’s voice? It sounds extra croaky here, more like a cartoon character than a person singing, especially the high descant in the chorus.

    Also, are their echoes in a forest? When I think of echoes I think of wide open area with a wall, not forests.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Was checking to see if someone commented about that vocal processing on those higher notes. It’s actively off-putting to me.

      Interesting thought btw. If a tree falls in a forest, is there an echo?

      Liked by 2 people

      • I know what you mean. He strains a lot. My throat tightens a little in a reflex when I hear singers do that, I have a hard time enjoying songs where singers do this a lot.

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      • I actually went back this morning before I commented to listen to his earlier solo songs, and he has leaned more into this particular croaky timbre lately, He still has that same timbre that is his, but its much more highly expressed. At least this is for the recorded versions, as I haven’t listened to enough live versions so perhaps he always had it to this extent but it was _toned down_ in the past.

        Kinda like how country singers can have more or less of a twang depending on the audience and the situation.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Yeah, I don’t think they’re releasing bad songs. But like, they’re in a place where everything they bring is gonna be massive anyway, so it would be great if they could take advantage of that and maybe experiment a little more.

    PD. You must be loving those new Miley Cyrus singles, Nick!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. even as an army id call it “meh”. it doesn’t matter if lyrics are meaningful or if it’s a fan song. if the production and melody isn’t good, i’m not going to like it. the album has a really rough start but I did enjoy telepathy and disease.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Ah. I liked this quite a bit more than you did, though I kinda figured knowing your preferences, hehe. Maybe the lyrics may not be your cup of tea (I understand and share the objection, but I don’t think it’s too bad here tbh) and it’s not a big pop moment but it’s just really affable and easy to listen to. And the chorus gets me.

    As far as the album goes though I’d place it smack dab in the middle. My favorite is Blue & Grey, then Telepathy, then Dis-ease, but I think the album is quite consistent and it’s a half hour listen that goes down easy and is enjoyable overall.

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  9. There’s a really interesting conversation to be had in general about how and in what way musicians should approach writing/singing about the pandemic. I completely understand scepticism in regard to their experience of it as moneyed people vs. the rest of us but ultimately I think it’ll come down to delivery and presentation.

    With that in mind I think this works for me both in contrast to their run of singles until now post global breakthrough – from DNA onwards – and because the cycle has come with Suga sitting out everything due to recovering from his surgery and their having to do things as a 6 piece for the first time for an extended time.

    I don’t mind them telling me life must go on because the delivery feels earnest and this video focuses so closely on the group’s inner life/connection (like a non murder version of I need you and Run) but I can also get people wanting celebs to acknowledge that their having to deal with this pandemic is a world away than ours.

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    • It is an interesting conversation, and I think a lot of it hinges on personal taste and the way each individual listener responds to the message.

      Maybe this is a character flaw, but for as long as I can remember I’ve always responded to this kind of vague, uplifting message as patronizing rather than comforting — especially when tethered to such a big money machine.

      If pop artists are going to opine on the pandemic (which is inevitable), I’d much rather they go focused, specific and nuanced — twisting expectations to pull something novel and interesting from the conversation. But, I don’t even know that this is possible while we’re still in the thick of this global crisis. It requires a certain amount of hindsight and reflection, which none of us have at the moment.

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      • it’s definitely a kind’ve damned if you do, damned if you don’t thing right? Because it could be just as insensitive to pretend or ignore what the world is going through because for a lot of people it’s not really a ‘hey, let’s all just dance and enjoy ourselves’ time for a lot of people they would want something that acknowledges the weirdness of the times we’re in instead. Arguably everything a musician does is for some sort of profit or promotion so it becomes ‘well, what’s being promoted’?

        For me this works because it’s not some sort’ve ham-fisted ‘imagine’ sing a long insisting all of us are the same but instead just a bit quieter and more personal. That said, while I definitely try to give the benefit of the doubt re: intentions in things like this I can get how songs like these don’t work for everyone too.

        Also, rather than jaded I think perhaps your love of upbeat songs & having/remembering good time – or the promise of them in the future – is what you find hope in instead of the type of reflecting songs like this aim for. It’s not like you’re begrudging people finding comfort in these things, just that it’s not what you personally find comforting. Simply difference in taste

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  10. So here is some good news: this performance version of Spring Day by Song Sohee. I don’t even like the original song as it was the nth sappy song that went “bo go ship da”, and I just couldn’t take another one.

    But this THIS
    This is awesome. Cathartic, Builds and builds.

    Somehow the army haven’t found it en masse yet as the view count is only 140k.

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    • As good a singer as she is, I’d take BTS’ version everytime over this. It does build and build though, I’ll give it that, that is nice but I never understood the fascination with this type of singing.

      Liked by 1 person

    • She’s incredibly talented, but this, as something I’d actually enjoy listening to….? I dunno. I’m an army, I like pop music, I’m posting on a site about pop music, this girl’s voice is nowhere near pop music. Maybe I should stop trying to understand your tastes, man. To me you are kind of like April from Parks and Rec. Which is not at all a bad thing. “I really only listen to like, German death reggae and Halloween sound effects records from the 1980s”

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      • Its a version that I like of a song that I can’t stand. So how about we just call it good in an inverted sort of even.

        I also happen to like this old fashioned traditional sound of singing, whether in American roots music or something old and gaelic. Clannad. Thistle and Shamrock. I don’t know when T&S is on the radio these days, but it used to be every Sunday night. Song Sohee is like the Korean equivalent to me.

        German death metal, lol. Half a point. I got through some college chemistry classes by studying to early Metallica, on cassette tape, on loud.

        Also half a point for sound effect music. My husband is a devotee of Trunk Records, which is a boutique company that reissues out of print =stuff= from the BBC and defunct UK labels, mostly or only on vinyl of course. But for their “rare releases” you can’t just order. You have to send them a postcard with a drawing to show that you are worthy. And they don’t really ship to the US. So hubby and his dad have this routine where dad sends the postcard and receives the record to their UK address, and then once a year dad brings it over in his carry on luggage. Like this THIS I get to listen to https://trunkrecords.greedbag.com/buy/music-for-biscuits-0/ Also he is a devotee of Kate / Kae Tempest. That gets a full point, for hubby.

        Also, I have an old friend named April, who was born in October. Quarter point.

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        • “Welcome to Music for Biscuits, possibly the first ever compilation of British advertising madness. Saved from certain death, these lost tapes were recovered from the house of the late, great Mike Sammes. The CD here features the best from the reels, 37 tracks plus a further 8 hidden ones, including music for Vespa moped, Lux, TUC Biscuits, soap, Chocolate, beer, ciggies and even tractors. Yes, adverts for tractors. PLUS lost music from an unknown film called “Youth”. Scatty, jazzy and often hilarious this album really is a joy. Honest. There is a kitsch side to it all, but at the same time a deadly serious edge, You will be amazed, impressed and will be singing these odd jingles for years. Unfortunately.”

          Wow, I want to hear this out of almost morbid curiosity. I bet it’s amazing, but also they probably make you listen to the whole thing on repeat when you go to hell.

          I guess we can just say you have esoteric tastes. Weren’t you like the only one on this site who liked Juicy by Rocket Punch? Which I think is the worst song of the year possibly, but you’re like “well this is pretty good but it’s no Juicy” LOL….

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          • You are in luck! I found a youtube playlist of Music for Biscuits!

            ‘https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_nsQvwORsxtk6JbP6Yc6ybXky7aEb5yWKQ

            (I don’t know how to embed a clickable link without the preview)

            But since you mentioned it, yes, Juicy by Rocket Punch would fit right alongside Music for Biscuits very nicely …. which may I remind everyone is my husband’s vinyl not mine.

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      • She certainly has a very interesting tone. I don’t care very much for either version to be honest. I do like that this cover has so much individuality. It makes sense to me, then, that the ones who like the original would not like this, and vice versa.

        Liked by 1 person

    • yeah… nah… Why does she keep changing up the chords? At this rate she’s just singing a different song that happens to have the same lyrics. Like I’d understand singers like to change things up a bit to give it a little spontaneity. And they say this is a cover but I can’t find much of a familiar backbone to this.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I will say I give credit to BTS. They could just rinse and repeat their title tracks (to try and recreate commercial success) like so many KPop groups do, but they don’t. I think the lyrics are wonderful, as expected of a BTS song but it’s a ballad that doesn’t have as much punch as some of their better ballads. But perhaps that’s what they were going for? This song is more about hope than loss.

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  12. Everyone was going CRAZY on twitter over this but I was honestly just bored listening to it. I feel like I’ve heard it so many times before and unlike Spring Day, I didn’t find the instrumental very captivating or the delivery very… sincere. I don’t dare say this on twitter though.

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  13. Since KPop girlgroup and boygroup songs are really all blending together this is a really nice surprise. I think for a lot of “KPop fans” this wouldn’t really appeal to them as it goes against the grain of what Kpop fans generally like (colourful dance songs) but it’s actually a really nice melodic song with some really nice touches sprinkled throughout the song from the whimsical vocal melodies and the layering of the acoustic guitar.

    The lyrics are lovely too. As a Korean speaker so many times K-Pop songs lyrically just make very little sense. BTS do know how to create a vivid story lyrically, which really helps them stand out.

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  14. This sounds like an old BTS b-side but with a way weaker hook, I agree with the 7.75.

    Honestly, that can be said about the overall album too.
    It feels like a bunch of old BTS b-sides but worse. In my opinion, and I don’t check the lyrics out, Dis-ease is easily the best track of the album and Telepathy could have been up there too if it wasn’t for the auto-tune. I don’t mind it as muchs as most people but it just feels unnecessary and I’d rather listen to their natural voices.

    I was a little disappointed because I keep hoping BTS gives us something undoubtedly great again but, once again, they don’t. However, seeing that the album feels a bit like a throwback, it is an improvement in my eyes, even if just marginal and not as good as I want it to be.

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  15. It’s cool that this album has the second BTS track I have a 6 degrees of separation with a writer. My buddies went to high school Clyde Kelly who has a cred on Black Swan and my brother used to play drums in brass band with Ivan from Brasstracks who produced Dis-ease. Ok that’s it – just wanted to name drop.

    Album is dull, song is dull. This isn’t music I would listen to voluntarily. Previous BTS releases all have songs I enjoy. I don’t understand why TXT went so dreamy when they go soft and slow but BTS just goes ham-hearted cheese. Spring Day hinted at the dreamy, ethereal-ness that TXT is embracing and is not here at all. N0 thaanks

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