K-Pop has continued to explode in global popularity throughout the first half of the 21st century. None other can touch the boy band BTS, who are in the top 50 of total artists in the world today and even have their own catchphrase for a group following: BTS Army. Given that, this music is not to be ignored and is a key part of the 21st century. This is currently one of their most popular albums and the fifth highest-selling album ever in South Korea, so let’s listen with open ears and minds and hear how it sounds. The recordings were apparently inspired by the (still) ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
We kick off with Life Goes On which begins with cut-up and sped-up vocals with acoustic guitars, before launching straight into a very good piece of music that actually sounds really good. It’s likely the best of K-Pop today and does sound interesting and fantastic. The mixture of vocals here are nothing but fantastic, and the whole thing sounds melodic, catchy and interesting. Of course, it’s in Korean but this is an excellent fact about the music and should get people hitting the textbooks for the language. It is melodic, punchy and interesting, just sounding like great music. Wonderful to hear, the 21st century belongs to Asia. It is a short three minute Pop song that does not fail to impress. Very, very good.
Next is Fly To My Room which has some mixed-language vocals that sound excellent by a female guest. This is a nice piece of music that, although is autotuned to death, is very, very good. It does admittedly sound a little cheesy but is a good mixture of sounds, styles and production here. A good piece of music nonetheless, it is a very good listen here. There is an awesome mixture of Pop vocals, Rap feels and multitracked vocal sections to listen to. A good effort nonetheless, and sounds like a wonderful piece of craft. The vocals here are very good in particular.
Blue & Grey begins with some crisp acoustic guitar that sounds really excellent. Before long, vocals enter and we are underway here. It’s a melancholy piece but sounds really nicely crafted, with some Rapping in it as well. A really gold and clever piece of music, it is postmodern beauty on this song. A really great performance by all, you can hear the desperation and emotion in the singing. The Rapping here probably isn’t 100% necessary, but the whole thing does sound very brilliant. There is a Theremin sounding keyboard solo towards the end, along with bombastic beats. It ends just as well as it started. Good effort.
Skit begins with some Korean studio talk and clapping, which doesn’t make much sense if you are an English speaker, but nonetheless is good to hear something in another language. It is probably unnecessary here, but all the same, worth hearing if you know the Korean Hangul language. Otherwise, skip as you won’t understand a thing.
Next up is Telepathy which begins with some electronic sounds, subsonic bass and a sense we have something exciting in this song. Telepathy refers to the human condition of two minds speaking together without talking. It’s very much entirely in Korean but is a good and exciting listen. It sounds like something that could be played in the shopping districts in Seoul but is a very good listen throughout, despite there being no English at all. A good piece of music all the same.
Following is Dis-ease begins with some cool drumbeats and funky guitars, before going straight into another really quite a good K-Pop tune. It sounds really bright, fresh and excellent, with some great call-and-response vocals as well. It’s very much RnB/Pop/Rap oriented, as is much music these days, but there is no denying that this sounds really fantastic. The singing here is really fantastic from a world away from our own. A cool and nicely delivered piece of music, it is a good mixture of English and Korean vocals here.
Stay begins with some strange sounding instrumentation, before launching right into a classy song that sounds really great. One can hear the intensity and power of the singing here, and it is obviously a good love song. Very good listening, it sounds electrifying and exciting to listen to. This is a great way to unlock the sounds of postmodern K-Pop today by starting with this album. Very good, although it does sound heavily processed. Good effort.
Dynamite is the last song here and coincidentally, BTS’s biggest ever hit. It begins with some melodic singing in English that sounds really good and interesting, which is quite cool. It’s difficult not to enjoy this song in a sense, these guys obviously have a very bright future ahead of them. The song itself is excellently crafted and delivered and is the perfect introduction to K-Pop if you have never heard what it is. Excellent song to hear, and worth repeat listens. There is a key change towards the end, which actually doesn’t overwhelm like other key changes do. The album ends at the finish of this song.
To be fair, this is a surprisingly good and amazing listen for those who are looking for something a bit different in the 21st century that isn’t from an English based background. The only very minor flaw is that it is a bit too autotuned and processed sounding, but nonetheless, is a great example of why non-English culture is skyrocketing these days in popularity. This is also something that should be considered for those who dig many contemporary artists. Excellent album, even with its very minor flaws.
Great listen for when the mood strikes.
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