BTS move forward with grace on Map of the Soul: Persona | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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BTS move forward with grace on Map of the Soul: Persona



Seven-member South Korean boy band BTS were already fairly successful when they nonchalantly rapped about having an uncountable amount of trophies in the 2017 Steve Aoki remix of “Mic Drop.” Two years later, that boast feels quaint. Their success is no longer measured in mere award-show wins; they’re shattering records with nearly every move. Their single "Boy With Luv" racked up 76 million views in 24 hours, and just ten hours later became the video to most quickly reach 100 million. They’ve also had three albums top the Billboard 200 in less than a year—right on the heels of almost instantly selling out their next American stadium tour. Unlike most K-pop acts bent on Western expansion, BTS still perform almost entirely in their native language rather than English, and they’ve kept their high-concept approach to pop rather than simplifying their music for mass consumption. The group’s recent Map of the Soul: Persona is based on the theories of Carl Jung, but it’s also about a band trying to acknowledge and learn from their past. On opener “Intro: Persona” rapper and producer RM revisits a heavy guitar-riff beat from the first track on 2014’s Skool Luv Affair, but trades the youthful aggression of the group’s early material for canny introspection. Lead single “Boy With Luv” nods to a title from Skool Luv Affair (“Boy in Love”), but instead of the try-hard negging in that banger, BTS have produced a near-perfect summer love song. But the real show stealer is “Home,” a simmering mid-tempo bop full of fuzzed-out bass and hand claps that shifts effortlessly between high-energy rapping and sweetly sung melodies. It’s a song built for arena sing-alongs and long relaxed drives, and it’s a perfect showcase for the joyous vocal interplay that has come to define BTS.   v

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