BTS are back. Yes, the “worst band in the world” have released a new album, Map of the Soul: 7. And yes, it’s in the running for worst album of all-time.
Over-compressed, soulless production? Check.
Superficial, trend-following fusions of trap, dance, and R&B? Check.
Sappy, mawkish lyrics for self-pitying, “come save me” deadheads? Check.
The same pretty boys inviting the same fawning social media posts? Check.
Yes, Map of the Soul: 7 has it all. Undoubtedly, it’s the “best” BTS album. As in the best representation of why BTS is such a blight on the music industry.
I mean, my God, what fresh hell is this? Really, if you want to find 2020’s prime example of an over-produced, cynically marketed pop album, you’ve found it.
In fact, if you told me that Big Hit Entertainment made Map of the Soul: 7 using an AI that scanned millions of social media posts about what BTS fans love most about the band – and then spat out an album – I’d sincerely believe you.
First, there’s the cheap cannibalization of popular musical styles, including trap, R&B, disco, and (obviously) K-pop.
Cheap, because you know that “Big Hit” Entertainment is just cherrypicking beats to maximize sales.
BTS, their producers, and their management don’t care about musical experimentation and fusion. They care about appealing to as big a paying audience as possible. Ka-ching!
Next, Map of the Soul: 7 has execrable lyrics. The recurring theme of the album is “being rescued” by love.
Yes, BTS consciously appeal to those infantile people who view a human relationship as something that “saves” them from being an adult.
Want more? Okay, here’s some more risible “save me” fluff from “Make It Right.”
Unlike BTS’ producers, I didn’t cherrypick those lyrics. They utterly pervade Map of the Soul: 7.
Obviously, the band and Big Hit Entertainment crafted it to appeal to people who, rather than taking responsibility for themselves, need someone to “save them.”
Well, when it comes to BTS and their fans, it would seem that this “someone” is consumerist capitalism itself. Because that’s all the band’s albums are: a representation of 21st-century consumerist capitalism.
Rather than encouraging people to actually change their lives (e.g., via social and political effort), capitalism conditions them to look for salvation in consumer products. In this case, the product is BTS, and Map of the Soul: 7’s schmaltz-fest.
Looking at Twitter, the BTS “army” reinforces this picture. Almost exclusively, the band’s fans take delight in vapid images.
They marvel at how the band members look and at the trivial things they do, as if this reinforces some romanticized picture or ideal they buy into when they consume the BTS-the-commercial-product.
They’re transfixed by a fiction:
Oh my God! Tae-hyung placed his hands on Jung-kook’s shoulders! WHAT A BAND!
Did you see THAT? Jimin did something with his shoulder! Surely, BTS must be the greatest band ever!
I have nothing against the members of BTS as individuals. But they’ve been hoodwinked by Big Hit Entertainment into signing their lives over to a pure profit-making enterprise.
And they, like the rest of us, must suffer as a result.
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