Bang! Tan! Sonyeondan!

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Sometime late in October last year, a kpop group called BTS sparked my curiosity.

My four-year kpop phase ended in 2009, when members left my favourite groups because of a “scandal” or a lawsuit. Jay Park (then called Jaebeom) left 2PM. Hangeng left Super Junior. Jaejoong, Yoochun and Junsu left TVXQ. They were my original kpop loves, and the losses broke my heart, so I did what any other jaded person does and swore off the genre completely.

I didn’t think I’d get sucked into a fandom because I’m in my mid-twenties and I got over kpop almost a decade ago.

But here I am now, wishing I owned an ARMY bomb so I can wave it around when I go to the BTS concert in Hamilton on September. I’m not back on my old kpop phase though. I only follow Bangtan, similar to how I follow my favourite artists.

Quickly: How I feel into the rabbitARMY hole.

First, I went on YouTube and watched a couple music videos, because I heard they’re good dancers. I wanted to see if it’s true or just fans blinded by their love for their oppas. Then before their appearance on the AMAs, I wanted to know their names. Like, if I can learn each one of the 13 members of SuJu, I can learn 7, right?

Because watching groups and trying to figure out who’s who feels a lot like this:

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One hour and maybe 10 videos later, I learned their stage names, real names, and a few BTS memes. One week later, I was a closet ARMY, secretly listening to a “BTS Essentials” playlist on Apple Music during my commute to and from school. After Googling translations of the songs one day, I knew I’ll be a fan until the end. Hell, I’m stanning them harder than I did SuJu or 2PM. And eventually, I came out to my family sometime during the holidays.

To be quite honest, their music helped me a lot late last year. So on this day, their 5th anniversary as a group, I’m dedicating this post to the seven songs that got me through the last eight months…

7. Tomorrow

I have a long way to go but
why am I running in place?
I scream out of frustration
but the empty air echoes
I hope tomorrow will
be different from today

A track produced by none other than my ultimate bias, Suga (or as he is known in the fandom, MinPD). The songs he writes capture the anxiety and uncertainty of (young) adulthood, and it’s always reassuring to find music that acknowledge that feeling. Hell, this man has talked about his own anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts in his music that completely goes against the typical “idol” image.

6. Not Today

If you can’t fly, run
(Today we will survive)
If you can’t run, walk
(Today we will survive)
If you can’t walk, crawl

When I’m feeling down, I play this song. Then I add this popular gif when a day feels extra shitty. I will myself into getting through the day, whether I have to fly, run, walk, or crawl… And I will survive each and every day.

5. Save Me

Thank you for letting me be me
For helping me fly
For giving me wings
For straightening me out
For waking me from being suffocated
For waking me from a dream which was all I was living in
When I think of you, the sun comes out

The excerpt is from RM’s verse which sometimes, to my non-Korean speaking ears, sounds like he says my name towards the end.

4. Autumn Leaves

Like the autumn sky, it’s empty between us
An ambiguous difference that is different from before
A night that’s much more quiet today
A single autumn leaf that’s attached to the branch
It’s breaking, I can see the thing called the end

Another MinPD-produced track. What can I say, my ultimate bias is a talented man. This song captures how I felt towards the last six months of my last serious relationship. I could see the end long before he and I got there – or I guess I realized we were at the end, I just kept postponing it because of my fear of being alone. But the thing with dead, autumn leaves is that there’s no way to can bring them back to life after they’ve dried on the ground. You just have to suck it up and clean it up as well as you can, and hope that next spring will be better. However, like the seasons, it’s a cycle…

3.  Blood Sweat & Tears

First of all, before we get into the lyrics… THIS SONG IS A BOP. Whenever it comes on shuffle, whether I’m driving, cleaning, or getting ready to go out, this gets me going.

Your wings are wings of the devil
There’s “bitter” before your “sweet”
Kiss me, I don’t care if it hurts,
Hurry and choke me
So I can’t hurt any more
Baby, I don’t care if I get drunk, I’ll drink you in now
Your whiskey, deep into my throat

Also, I live for using food and drink as metaphors for love, lust, and/or relationships. The translations on the official music video itself is very PG-13, I get it. But I prefer this other translation… well, isn’t it obvious why? Because passion involves some pain. I just don’t think you can genuinely have one without the other. And these boys love duality. It fits.

2. So Far Away

(Dream) May all of creation be with you
Till the end of your life
(Dream) Wherever you are,
Will welcome you
(Dream) May your trials
End in full bloom
(Dream) Though your beginnings might be humble,
May the end be prosperous

Coming from the hottest mixtape from my main man, Min Yoongi a.k.a. SUGA a.k.a. Agust D. Agust D and Give It To Me are such great tunes that it overpowers the message of the last two tracks from the mixtape: The Last and So Far Away. I mean if I could, I’d pick both songs, but I think the Yoongi stan in me is coming through too much…

Bonus: a quick rundown of the mixtapes from the 3 rappers of BTS. They may be in the same group and have been training and living together for years, but their art is their own and their character comes through the music they create.

1. Cypher pt. 4

Even if you don’t like me, you know me
I like hate comments more than no comments
I don’t know you
But you know my name

I love I love I love myself
I love I love I love myself

As a rap line supremacist and cypher enthusiast, this is my favourite. Yeah, Triptych and Killer are great (DISS) tracks – and have you heard Ddaeng yet ?? my boy Suga snapped – but Cypher 4 captures how it feels when you’ve accepted yourself so who cares what other people say – YOU LOVE YOURSELF AND THAT IS WHAT MATTERS MOST.

This is the song I listen to when I want a boost in confidence. It’s like the Holy Trinity that is the rap line is pepping me up and I am about that.

Rise, Bangtan, RISE!

I did not include anything from Love Yourself: Tear since it just came out last month.

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