Months have passed but my love for the newest BTS album Love Yourself: Tear has not. Never before have I regretted not spending hundreds of dollars on a concert ticket so much so that I almost spent thousands on scalped tickets. That’s right, I almost fell into that Ticketmaster trap solely to see my boys. Love Yourself: Tear is the second album in the Love Yourself trilogy. It’s highly anticipated release was met with fans all across the world losing their mind over everything from the album itself to the new aesthetic of their look. Honestly, I don’t think anyone has truly recovered.
BTS is the group that started my K-pop addiction about 3 years ago when I heard Run on my Spotify Discover Weekly. BTS is a K-pop group composed of seven members. Each album release of theirs has grown to be more popular than the last and I have to say, I think this is the biggest yet. This year alone, BTS member J-Hope has released his very own mixtape, Hope World. Not only that, the group released a Japanese album composed of many translated songs from last year’s mini album Love Yourself: Her with some solid new bops mixed in (aka Don’t Leave Me).
As a “sequel” to Love Yourself: Her, Love Yourself: Tear focuses on the darker side of love with others and yourself. With themes such as loss of love, loss of personal identity, and self-sacrifice, this is BTS’s heaviest album yet. Each song exudes melancholy. Even most of their upbeat numbers have a deep foundation in a sad or serious theme. Yet, each song isn’t necessarily going to bum you out. There’s a few tracks on here that are quite uplifting and comforting. BTS’s goal has been to spread positivity and even in their darkest album, they still find a way to shine a light for their fans.
With two extremely talented producers in the group and help from some other well-known producers, this album has incredible production value. Love Yourself: Tear is tremendously influenced by R&B but also incorporates BTS’s award-winning blend of pop, hip-hop, and EDM. If you’re looking to cry in the club, this is the perfect album for you.
I’ve always been a fan of melancholy music. Almost all of my favorite songs are subdued and highly emotional, yet are almost never ballads, at least not with pop. When it comes to pop music, I’ve always preferred over-the-top bops. My style is quite diverse and conflicting but Love Yourself: Tear encompasses all of it. It has emotional drive, incredible pop hits, and edge. Needless to say, I’m impressed with the album.
Alright, let’s dive into the songs.
- Singularity. BTS has made a point of letting each member get control of an album intro. True to tradition, member V was the focal point of Singularity. V has a deep, sultry voice that pairs well with R&B. Knowing this, V’s song is a slow, rhythmic song with sensual vocals. The song fits V perfectly and sets the soft mood for the album. Not to mention the music video for this song is easily one of my all time favorites from BTS.
- Fake Love. If you watched the BBMA’s or even just have a Twitter account, I’m sure you’ve at least heard of this song. Fake Love is the single from the album that made waves in American media for quite some time. This single seems to be the anti-version of DNA, the single from the prior album. Fake Love has the same amount of energy but replaces the upbeat vibe from DNA with hard-hitting intensity and emotion. I live for the angst in this song and find that it fulfills my desire for edge in pop music.
- The Truth Untold. Produced by Steve Aoki, The Truth Untold is the second collaboration BTS has done with this famous producer. Yet, Aoki took a 180 from his usual production style and slowed down the pace with a soft love song. Featuring only the vocalists in the group, this romantic tune remains pretty mellow throughout the song and builds in anticipation in a subtle manner. It has a raw sensitivity that, while still being a polished ensemble, feels more honest than any previous song like it. It’s easily my favorite song on the album and one of the favorite BTS songs ever made. It’s truly a masterpiece of emotional torment.
- 134340. Transitioning back into more familiar territory, 134340 incorporates some subtle jazz touches combined with trap. As some wind instruments play in the background, this song is very reminiscent of the previous album’s song Pied Piper. While the two are similar, the newer track has an edgier sound provided by the rap line and a repetitive groove provided by background vocals that gives it a more distinctive sound. I enjoy both songs but the various layers in 134340 makes it a much more interesting song to listen to.
- Paradise. BTS has been testing out the waters when it comes to trap music for quite some time now and it’s made an interesting home in Paradise. It starts with a light, electronic groove that incorporates several percussion instruments with that recognizable trap sound blending them all together. The beat is quite basic but the ways in which they decorated that bland base makes the song really unique. The song tackles the topic of having a dream, specifically for people around my generation, and how there shouldn’t be a rush to figure your life out. This is a topic that member Suga has discussed before in interviews so to see that passion make its way into a song is just one way that BTS stands out among many others in the K-pop and pop industry.
- Love Maze. 134340, Paradise and Love Maze make up a trio of solid mid-album tracks. In the last album, I found that the middle songs weren’t exactly my favorite but Love Maze wraps up a small series of enjoyable pop bops. Love Maze has a balanced blend between vocalists and rappers. It has more attitude than the previous two songs with a soft and flowing chorus that makes Love Maze a piece filled with variety.
- Magic Shop. My biggest complaint with the last album was the overbearing resemblance to the current face of American pop within the middle of the album. Love Yourself: Her was heavily influenced by American DJs such as the Chainsmokers which caused me to get bored because that really just isn’t my style of music. Magic Shop really brings this vibe back but I’m honestly not mad about it. Admittedly, I’m really happy that member Jungkook produced the song and it is very representative of his style of music. Not only that, the song still has a lot of variety and highlights everyone in the group. This is one of those songs that uplifts whoever listens to it. Jungkook wanted to make a safe place through music for the listener and he did just that through Magic Shop.
- Airplane pt.2. Airplane is a song from member J-Hope’s mixtape Hope World and the sequel has landed on Love Yourself: Tear. This song has a Latin influence which makes it stand out from any other song BTS has ever made. It transitions the album from from subdued and mellow into energetic and upbeat. While it has plenty of energy, Airplane pt.2 simply builds the excitement for the next silly bop.
- Anpanman. Much like their song Go Go, Anpanman is almost comedic with its message and choreography. It talks about being their own version of a superhero over a bouncing beat. It skyrockets the energy of the album and of performances. Similar to Go Go again, the song has goofy choreography and bold outfits for their performances which makes it one of the most entertaining songs on the album.
- So What. BTS is no stranger to the classic EDM style pop song. So What wastes no time getting directly into the chorus and keeping the energy alive throughout the entire song. It’s very much a festival style song that would intend to keep the crowd jumping from start to finish. It reminds me a lot of the song Wings from their 2016 album but with much more intensity.
- Tear. I was really hoping for the next Cypher to be on this album and while it didn’t happen, Tear makes up for it. The rap line got their moment to shine in this edgy rap song. In what could be their darkest sound yet, Tear is full of anger and heartbreak. Each member takes the word “tear” and talks about it in a different context giving each member their own story to tell within the same theme. This ranks as one of my favorite rap line songs purely due to how the emotion in the song is front and center.
As I’ve discussed, this album has a lot of similarities to Love Yourself: Her. It has a similar structure of intro, single, soft middle songs, energetic party songs and a rap song to wrap it up. Yet where Love Yourself: Her fell flat, Love Yourself: Tear picked up the slack. That’s not to say I don’t love Her since it has stronger singles than there are on Tear, I just think the middle songs of that album really lost me. I love the vulnerability in this album and am really enjoying the ways they’re toying with production. In previous K-pop reviews, I try to make a point of discussing the meaning on each song but I really just wanted to focus on the clean production of the album since it stood out to me so much.
Ultimately, I like this album in the Love Yourself series much more than the one released prior. It isn’t my favorite of theirs since I do love Wings and some older albums but I think Tear shows their evolution of style rather than just changing it all together, which is what Her attempted. I’m beyond excited to see what the third Love Yourself album will be like and can only hope it follow Tear’s lead and stays truer to BTS’ style, whether it be old or new.
While a three-part album series is exciting, I am nervous for what comes after. The release of a Japanese album, all three rap line members finally having mixtapes out, a huge three-part album series being followed by a world tour is a bit too big of a year. I have a sneaking suspicion that Big Hit is getting ready to send at least the older members off for their mandatory Korean military service. If that is the case, of course I’ll be here supporting from the sidelines but it will be a huge adjustment. Hopefully I’m wrong but the inevitable can’t be delayed forever.
I know I’m a bit late on this review but I wanted to get it out before the next album is released. What are your thoughts on Love Yourself: Tear? How do you think it compares to Love Yourself: Her? Also, please feel free to disprove my suspicion since I would love to be wrong about it. See you soon!
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