Song Review: BTS – Film Out

BTS - Film OutTaking BTS’s success out of the equation, it’s fascinating to trace how much their music has changed since their 2013 debut. As happens with many world-conquering pop groups, their sound expanded beyond a niche market, becoming more palatable to a wider audience. This has its upsides and downsides, but in general I think BTS have done a decent job making it work. Still, I haven’t been overly thrilled by any of their Japanese singles, which often strip the group of its personality in favor of safe, ballad-friendly sounds.

With this in mind, I have to give the guys (and Big Hit) credit for enlisting the help of an actual J-pop legend for new single Film Out. The song is co-produced by back number’s Iyori Shimizu, alongside BTS’s own Jungkook. I’m not sure this collaboration bore any real musical fruit, but I appreciate the gesture when it comes to work targeted toward a Japanese audience. Film Out stems from the group’s upcoming greatest hits album – a format that’s still popular in Japan. Its sentimental style is well-suited to this milestone, though it doesn’t push the guys in a particularly interesting direction. They’ve released more resonant songs within this framework, making Film Out feel a bit redundant.

The song injects a few rock touches (courtesy of Shimizu, I’m sure) that help make it pop. I like the use of acoustic guitar – especially when coupled with Film Out’s more chant-like moments. And the lack of heavy-handed vocal processing is also appreciated. BTS sound great. However, the melody needs extra punch. J-pop ballads have a history of being melodically rich, but can sometimes come across as meandering. I fear that Film Out leans more in the latter direction, and never creates the sense of melodic storytelling I’d hope for when it comes to a knockout ballad.

 Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 7
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.25

48 thoughts on “Song Review: BTS – Film Out

  1. This is like “This I Promise You” in tone sentiment and effect twenty years on, evolved for a contemporary production. And I will take, you I my arms, and hold you right where you belong. BigHit, or should we say HYBE now, added all those layers of vocals just to try to prove a point. Yanno, one of the big Army trigger points are their boys being compared to Nsync and BSB, and well, here we are, a song where HYBE have deliberately made a song to compare BTS to NSync and BSB

    At this point, for my taste, the BTS soft fan service songs sound like the aural version of those word art decorations they sell everywhere. Family. Love. Hope. Jesus. Whatever bingo card of words and sentiments that lifts the soul, even moreso when it is hung on the wall. It must mean something more if everyone can see it. There are even a view count live streaming videos on youtube, because numbers = feels. (… I am not kidding, there are at least three, (whoops four now), here is one ‘ You too can watch fans watching being watched. I wasn’t looking for these, I just tried to find a showcase version by putting “BTS Film on live” in the search bar, and these came up instead. We could go one better! I can watch you watching the fans watching themselves being watched.)

    (Sorry, Nick, in advance, if your comment section goes nuts because of me.)

    Liked by 7 people

    • One note I want to make- this is not a fan service song. It is an OST for the film “Signal” (based on a series).

      As explained by another, in the movie one character is separated from the rest and in a different timeline. They can only communicate through walkie talkies. The plot is about trying to save the one who is separated. So the lyrics about longing, loss, etc. are for the plot and not for fans.

      It’s also where a lot of the MV comes from.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, compared to some recent releases (such as ATEEZ’s Fireworks), TXT’s Force, or BTS’s Life Goes On, the vocal processing is minimal, but you can tell the vocals are altered not only for stylistic purposes but to clean the track out. It is a lazy move I am seeing a bit too much of lately. Also, maybe the fact I have been listening to old BTS a lot recently makes the processing much much more visible.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It starts out a lighter touch on the vocal processing button than BigHit has used in the past year, and ends with a lighter touch.

        And then

        When the first chorus kicks in, they start a heavy layered vocal effect. Its not necessarily vocal processing per se, but it sounds like they had the la la la’s in the chorus sung by every one several times to double it up, the chorus sung by a chorus. There are a few sung harmonies in there too. Then they also sucked Jungkook’s falsetto timbre on an “ah” sound into a vocoder and added even more harmony layerings with a keyed harmony (eg behind Suga’s part), with the odd non vocoder ad lib. For about the whole last minute or so, then they also layered in a high wash synth sound behind all that using some synth orchestral string setting to add more intensity but at a different timbre. And then for the late parts, they started subtracting the chorus singalong to a sparer mere few voices with an obvious octave apart effect to sound cool.

        All that took a lot of work.

        This is why I was curious what it would sound like sung live, how much sung harmony would be in there, and how much live-ish heavily tuned afterwards there would be. Because this is the competition.
        These people never won a grammy either.
        (oooh snap, now I’ve done it again!)

        Liked by 2 people

  2. They sound lovely to me. A song about yearning that can’t be fulfilled seems particularly appropriate these days when it seems like life is just stuck and full of losses. It made me think of people I’ve lost and can’t possibly see again, like my mom – just memories pieced together. I probably can’t listen to it often for that reason. It’s not my favorite BTS song, but I did find it moving.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yes, I’ll be recapping each week like I did for RTK — probably either Thurs or Fri nights (local time) when I’m able to watch with subs. Stay tuned!


  3. Hey everyone. Nick gave BTS a “7.25”. You all know what that means…

    Someone get him to the bunker while I scrounge up some dry clothes, a few crossword puzzle magazines, a couple of fidget spinners and some beef jerky. Does anyone know if he prefers Ovaltine or Tang? Come on people.. ..chop, chop! The ARMY is probably just over the hill. Let’s get him stowed before they pick up the scent!

    Good luck, and God bless!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Tang for me, especially if it is frosting the rim of a space themed vodka martini vigorously shaken.*

      I thought they had taken your daughter hostage … ?

      (*This is true – I had a rather tasty Tang-frosted space themed fancy vodka martini once upon a time. I think the ride cost me $20 but it was worth it. There was probably a souvenir glow cube in it too.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • She got away even though they were closing in on her. Fortunately, she used a little quick thinking and scratched out the AOA part of her Jimin t-shirt, so when the ARMY caught up with her, they gave her the once over, read her shirt, gave her the super-duper-secret handshake and sent her on her way. Good thing, too. I’m a little rusty with my Liam Neeson “I will find you..” speech, so we really dodged a bullet there.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Personally, I don’t consider myself a huge ballad lover, there are some that I absolutely adore but most just go in one ear and out the other without catching my attention, especially given the sheer volume of ballads within kpop/jpop at times. Just for myself I am never really sure what makes a few stick while I consider most to be pleasant but otherwise not particularly interesting. With that said I am genuinely curious as to what your definition of a “knockout ballad” is? I often credit my love for my favorite ballads to the artist rather than the music itself, but that’s just me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • For me, a knockout ballad tells a story. Oftentimes, they start out hushed and build toward a cathartic crescendo. They’re melodically tight, and light on the kind of naval-gazing sentimentality we often hear in the format.

      Of course, a ballad can still be awesome without adhering to these factors, but this is what immediately pops into mind. Here are some of my favorite kpop/jpop ballads (or ballad-like songs), for reference:

      AAA – Aitai Riyuu / Even Though I Love You, I Can’t
      B1A4 – Lonely (though this is more of a mid-tempo)
      BTOB – It’s Okay
      EXO – Cosmic Railway
      G.Soul – You
      G-Dragon – Untitled, 2014
      Infinite – Between Me And You
      Kis-My-Ft2 – Dream On
      LuHan – Medals
      Official Hige Dandism – Pretender (not totally a ballad, though)
      Sungkyu – True Love/The Answer
      Taeyang – Eyes, Nose, Lips
      TVXQ – Love In The Ice

      Liked by 1 person

    • A good ballad is like pie crust. A light touch, worked just enough, not too much. A mix of the flaky with a touch of the salty and sweet, while having enough heft to contain the sentiments within without bubbling over or having a soggy bottom.

      May I suggest to all Jung Seung Hwan “The Snowman”

      GD Untitled is an excellent example of a ballad by a non-singer which still has impact without using showy belted high notes.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I am not a fan of the vocal style BTS chooses, especially when it’s combined with heavy vocal processing. It is strange then that I actually like quite a few of their ballads. This one, too, I don’t mind.

    This comment section, however, is much more entertaining than the song.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. focus on your flop faves and leave us and our boys alone 💅💅💅 BTS literally paved the way and worked hard on this song you are all just a bunch of clowns that want to see BTS fail


  7. Hi Nick! Saw the comments section and before the horde of crazy zombies descend, let me just throw this around. I am a fan of BTS and I wasn’t a fan of the song. So ya I am an ARMY. Anyways, the song is a 7 for me, and that too because I am biased towards the group. The song isn’t memorable and quite generic. BTS has put out better ballads in the past (Spring Day). I forgot the song 5 minutes after it ended and had no motivation to give it another go. Sigh.

    Hoping that the next album will have something I like. Their last album BE wasn’t my cup of tea. Double Sigh.


    • I didn’t like Life Goes On as much as the other songs on the album, although I understand why they chose it as the title track.


      • To be honest, I didn’t particularly like any song from the album. Some were ok, some weren’t and all were forgettable.

        In fact, I actually quite liked Map of the Soul 7 which came out in Feb. I still listen to some of the songs from the album in rotation. I loved Hobi’s energy in Ego which somehow became one of my favorites from the album. I also liked Taehyung’s Inner child and Jimin’s Filter. And I loved each and every performance of their songs from the album at the online concert.

        Manifesting the above energy into a new album now…..


        • Oh yes, Map of the Soul 7 has so many stellar songs. I saw the online concert and V’s Inner Child made me tear up. Those were indeed wonderful performances.


  8. As a self proclaimed bts fan who despised the BE album “Life goes on”, this was a nice up from the last time. Sure, the first chorus is forgettable, just like some verses but the second chorus which is supposed to be the highlight of the song makes up for it. The strings in the second chorus bought me, I loved that touch and it made the whole song better for me. Surely, this isn’t their best japanese track nor does it compete like the last years “Your eyes tell” or “Don’t leave me” but it’s surely better than most bts’s releases from last year excluding the “7” album.

    I think the biggest problem with bts and ballads is that they cannot covey the emotion of the ballad really well. Sorry, but if I had to pretend for seven years straight that every heart touching ballad is for my fans I would have lost it as well.


  9. I love the rock influences this song has, but I do wish the song is a little better. As far as BTS ballads go, this one falls on the “this is okay but there are other songs I’d rather to listen to” line. The vocal processing here kinda ruins the song for me even though it has quite a few great things.

    This sounds similar to Jin’s Epiphany and I prefer that way more.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. It’s fine-to-good for me. Actually don’t think the vocal processing is that bad on this, at least compared to some of their other songs – I can actually tell who’s singing what parts.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.