With over 3 million preorders and the record for the most-viewed video in 24 hours on Youtube for their “Boy With Luv” music video, K-pop boy band BTS’s “Map of The Soul: Persona” has once again proven that music has no language barrier.
The first song of their album, “Intro : Persona,” references Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung’s human psyche archetypes and continues BTS’s conversation of individuality and self-love: the lifelong journey we all go through of meeting, understanding and ultimately loving one’s self.
In “Intro : Persona,” leader and rapper Kim Nam-joon asks himself the question: “Who am I?” when revisiting all the personas he has accumulated while sampling the band’s 2014 track “Intro: Skool Luv Affair.”
Describing a process that will take his whole life, he raps “The me who I want to be, the me who people want, the me who I love, the me who I create.”
These lyrics are the map of his soul and not something he is ashamed of anymore.
The track, “A Poem for Small Things (Boy With Luv),” sung in Korean, revisits BTS’s stance on love from their 2014 track, “Boy in Luv.” In the past, they naively sang about teenage love, tainted by societal standards and their own insecurities.
“Boy With Luv,” on the contrary, features the band’s long-time friend Halsey and shows the growth of their perspective on love.
A rare occurrence, a Western artist accommodates to their counterpart on a collaboration and performs in a different language. Halsey not only learned the choreography for the music video, but she also sang in Korean for the streaming version of the song. It happens again in “Make It Right,” a song co-created by Ed Sheeran. The British singer leaves both his music hiatus and comfort zone, and he provides backing vocals in Korean.
“HOME,” an in-house produced song, tells their story like only BTS and their loyal fans can appreciate. Revisiting past lyrics from their debut album’s lead single, “No More Dream,” rapper Min Yoongi, realizes that the “bigs cars, big house, big rings” he dreamed of make him feel empty. He also acknowledges those “who recognized me who had nothing” as they find what makes them feel rich.
The closing song, “Dionysus,” is, once more, an example that BTS can own the most cliché of riffs and make it their brand (Listen to “I’m Fine” and “Best of Me” for reference). The song’s almost comical, rock energy and their newfound confidence in their artistry will make this track a monster of a live performance on their upcoming stadium tour, “Speak Yourself.”
BTS seems to have figured out how to handle the immense support from their fanbase, or ARMY, by making it their strength.
For this album, rather than focusing on the immense pressure they face as the most impressive cultural phenomenon to date, they focused on their relationship with those who support them and their journey toward discovering the maps of their souls.
Ultimately, “Persona” shares the journey these seven men are taking, figuring out who they are as individuals and as artists.
Appropriately, Jung once wrote, “Who looks outside, dreams; Who looks inside, awakes.”