In light of Map of the Soul 7 releasing today, I felt it only fitting to put together a top 20 list of my favorite BTS tracks. While there are far more than that number which are absolute bops, I can safely say these are my favorites 💜
20. IDOL (Feat. Nicki Minaj)
This might surprise you! IDOL may be controversial among BTS' discography, as it's a little akin to a fever dream, but I enjoy it a lot! Yes, I even prefer the version with Nicki Minaj. It's funky, different, and the video pulls off being quirky and weird without becoming an eyesore. This is certainly one of the most unique Kpop songs out there. I especially like the inclusion of the traditional "얼쑤!" in the chorus.
When I initially heard the intro to this song I immediately thought "oh no, what is this?". Fast-forward who knows how many listens later, and it's one of my favorites. Although it's an acquired taste, in this case, the autotuned vocals work in tandem with the bouncy backing beat, evoking an almost cartoon feel. Which is fitting, considering who the song is based on...
What I maybe like the most is the message. Much like Anpanman himself, BTS here sing about the importance of doing what you can to help others, even if you feel like it isn't enough. What matters is that you try.
18. Just One Day
Something about this track is just so nostalgic. When I listen to it I can imagine cherry blossom-lined roads, school days, young love, everything you'd maybe expect in a cliche K-Drama, and there's something so sweet about it. It's smooth, soft and beautiful.
Or maybe I just like it because I get to see Jungkook calling for "Yoongi~!"
17. Ma City
Here we have a song that rarely gets a mention but is by far one of the funkiest and freshest that BTS have ever come out with. Everything about it feels light, like you're traveling with them to their hometowns, experiencing and listening to what they love about where they come from. They even get a little cocky here, Suga singing about how he's the 'pride of Daegu', but that sheer confidence and sense of accomplishment makes it a fun and uplifting listen.
This somewhat dark, uniquely crafted track let's J-Hope shine in a way that's not so 'sunny' and more evocative. The backing music really sets this one apart though, with an old school, almost worn down aura to it. Like popping on a scratchy record in an abandoned house. What makes it emotional is how it's a dedication to his mother, and how she can be proud of him as he is now, how he'll always be there for her.
We're all proud of you too, Hobi.
15. I NEED U
I feel like the song and MV are directly tied in my head. One couldn't be as good without the other, and together they create one of the most iconic moments in the history of BTS. I think this was the MV that really set them apart, their lack of fear in portraying a darker, grittier story, and telling that in their music. I've linked the uncut MV (yes, it even had to be censored). Taehyung's acting skills deserve more screentime.
Proving that BTS are constantly evolving though, we have this tonal shift with DNA. Aesthetically stunning, dance moves on point, and a song that's just so catchy, especially towards the end. I just find it so enjoyable to listen to. It's exactly the sort of song I'd imagine introducing someone to BTS with, then laughing maniacally as they fall deeper and deeper down a fandom rabbit hole.
Also can we talk about how Taehyung looks here because I'm about to faint.
"ILLeEeEEeEegAL"- I love it okay. This is actually a pretty underrated song from BTS, not many people talk about it, but the beat and almost haunting melody are fantastic. I think in particular, the vocals here are delicate and romantic (particularly from Taehyung). Are the lyrics a little cheesy? Sure, but embrace that fact and this is a wonderful listen. Embrace those dimples!
Peaceful, gorgeous, ethereal. Serendipity is honestly perfection all around, both in terms of the video and the music accompanying it. Jimin's almost childlike vocals get a chance in the spotlight here and it's very well deserved, this is the best song to show off his range and how calming his voice is. Overall, the title is the ideal summary of everything I feel while listening to it.
Elements of jazz, moody piano and a slow beat make an ideal backdrop for Taehyung's breathy vocals, in this song which really made me realize just how unique his voice is. Emotionally draining and soothing at the same time, this feels like lustful despair incarnate.
10. Not Today
Remaining one of BTS' most visually stunning MVs ever, Not Today is at times aggressive and grungy, lowkey and deep, before switching to a determined, fiery bop during the chorus. There's something fittingly empowering about listening to this, and the dance moves on display here are some of the best we've seen from them.
9. Boy Meets Evil
Sticking with darker themes, here we have Hobi's dance with the devil, a perfect introduction to what was coming our way with WINGS and the sultry, sinful suggestions painted in tracks like Blood Sweat & Tears. Yet more than the already brilliant song, twisted as it is, J-Hope's dancing here is flawless and genuinely hypnotic to watch. You're being drawn into their world with this track, not that you'll necessarily want to resist.
8. Spring Day
Speaking of visuals, Spring Day may well be the best of the best. This entire video is so wonderfully shot and vivid, accompanied by a thoughtful and emotional track that certainly fits the feeling of truly missing someone. Pain and hope mingle together in a way that makes this unforgettable.
7. Young Forever
BTS have often covered the topic of 'youth' in their songs, but here is what I feel is the best portrayal. It's not just about age, but about the dreams you have, and the meaning I draw from it is the perseverance to keep going no matter what obstacles you may face. It's a melancholy song with a deep meaning that I'm sure anyone can resonate with.
6. Louder than Bombs
Wow! This is fresh off the press, and yet it's already a favorite? It's very rare that I hear a song I fall in love with so immediately, but this angsty, sultry track is like a siren song to my ears. Everyone stands out vocally here, and the accompanying tone makes it almost like a callback to the WINGS era I loved so much.
5. Blood Sweat & Tears
Speaking of WINGS, here we are with the iconic Blood Sweat & Tears. It's fitting that this MV opens in an art museum setting, considering that this entire video and song feels like a collective art piece. It's captivating to listen to, again keeping that seductive edge that WINGS was going for, drawing you into the dark and culminating in a cliffhanger that leaves more questions than answers.
4. Butterfly (Prologue Mix)
Butterfly, specifically the Prologue Mix, is dreamy, sad and thought-provoking. It feels like reminiscing, living life yet knowing it's fragile and fleeting. It somehow manages to be simultaneously ominous and comforting. Like holding onto memories, even if you know you can't go back to that time, and how it feels when it's over.
I've never heard a song like Lie. Listening to it is like spiraling deeper and deeper into deception along with a helpless Jimin, as he sings about how he wants to be saved, and how endless it all is. What really stands out though, is the tonal shift between the verses and the chorus. If you've never heard it, give it a listen. I'm sure you won't expect what it throws at you.
2. OUTRO: TEAR
The emotions I feel when listening to OUTRO: TEAR, are a little indescribable. It almost feels like a finale, if that makes sense. Like a bittersweet goodbye, one that I can accept even if it still makes me sad. J-Hope's breathless, exhausting final verses leave me in awe every time, and only solidify this further as a truly special song.
Far and away, the best song that BTS has ever released, in my opinion. This entire era was so meaningful to me, and the video here is emotional and engaging, like a movie all its own. RUN has such a beautiful progression, is melancholy, bittersweet and empowering all at the same time. I truly think this was peak BTS, and I'm so happy they've found the success they always deserved.