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.
BTS’s BE has an air of finality to it, like the last chapter in this current arc of their career. I’ve heard the album, and its title track Life Goes On, described as “for the fans.” I’ve always found this description interesting and a little confusing. I mean, I consider myself a fan (though not as much as I used to be), but if I’m imagining the BTS album I’d most like to hear, it doesn’t sound anything like BE.
With a spoken-word skit in the middle, BE is divided between two extremes. It’s flipped in a way that’s unusual for pop albums. Its softer, more pensive moments come first, while the upbeat tracks close things out. I don’t think there’s anything on BE that comes close to the group’s best material, even though there are highlights here and there. Dis-ease has a strong, dynamic ending. Telepathy’s instrumental is great, but the track is suffocated by its annoying vocal processing.
When it comes down to it, the track I enjoy most consistently is Stay. This one really does fit the “for the fans” label, as its written specifically for Army. Now, you all know my jaded personality. My eyes immediately glaze over upon these kinds of pop song gestures, even when delivered by my most favorite of acts. Stay’s sentiment does nothing for me. But, its anthemic EDM surge was the first time the album had me sitting up straight, curious where things would go next. That’s not to say the track is original or excellent. It’s actually pretty generic, but its addictive pulse is energizing in a way that most fan songs aren’t. This is enough to warrant a mention, even though the album as a whole is pretty underwhelming.