Map of the Soul: 7 is the fourth Korean language and seventh overall studio album by South Korean boy band, BTS, released 21 February 2020.
The seven member group released the album as a follow-up to their previous album, Map of the Soul: Persona. In a Variety interview earlier this year, BTS said that the album sees them “continue to reveal their personal stories, but with a heightened sense of self-awareness”.
The album has a sense of personal story and is a reflection which has come from the group being together for the past seven years.
‘Interlude: Shadow’ is an emo hip-hop track which transforms into a heavy trap and rock genre towards its peak. It is a heart-wrenching declaration that makes you almost feel upset at not having been able to help them sooner.
‘Black Swan’ is a beautiful trap and lo-fi guitar song that lends voice to the band’s rawest fears — that one day the music they create will no longer be able to move them. It is a song that anyone can relate to.
‘Filter’ is an easy listening song within the latin pop genre, fronted by member Jimin. With a catchy guitar tune and melody, it will keep it stuck in your head for a while. ‘My Time’ expresses member Jungkook’s feelings at not being able to experience the same things as those his age because of working from a young age.
Tenth track ‘Louder than bombs’ is a dark, heavy synth track which was co-produced by Troye Sivan. The group proudly state that they will never stop listening to fans’ stories. This track is my personal favourite and it makes you really feel listened to.
Eleventh and title track for the album ‘ON’ is BTS’ pinnacle of growth as they experiment with different genres and music. It has an infectious pre-chorus and English lyrics scattered throughout, which makes it an easy-to-remember song. There is also a version of this track with Australian singer SIA.
In the unit track ‘UGH!’, the rappers criticise those who use anger to hate on others. Its fast trap rhythms with strong rap makes you listen to what they have to say. Vocal unit track ‘00:00 (Zero O’Clock)’ is about when a new day has started. It provides a voice of comfort with the hope of a better day ahead.
Member V’s solo track ‘Inner Child’ is a heartfelt dedication to the boy who has been working hard to become the person he is today. Its Brit Rock influence laced with violin notes gives the song a reassuring vibe.
‘Friends’ is a duo track between V and Jimin. The two touch on their seven year long friendship. It includes tones of R&B in the bridge, and the addition of a gospel choir in the last chorus creates a rush of emotion. ‘Respect’ is a light trap track that has you bouncing along to the music. It is a funny duet between members RM and SUGA with a catchy chorus that makes it especially memorable.
‘Moon’ is member Jin’s self-produced track. It likens his relationship with the fans to the sight of the Earth from the perspective of the moon. It overflows with admiration and you can definitely feel how loved you are as a fan when you listen to the track.
‘We Are Bulletproof: The Eternal’ showcases dreamy guitar verses and a powerful chorus. You can tell how grateful BTS are for their fans. This is seen through lyrics such as “we were only seven / but we have you all now”. I have watched them grow since 2016, and to be apart of that journey has been emotional and incredible as a fan.
The last track of the album is ‘Outro: Ego’, which is an energetic pop song based on African rhythms. It showcases member j-hope’s desire to continue stepping on the path he is on. Its bright, brassy chorus has you jumping around your room. Coupled with fun English repetitions and a soulful ad libs towards its end definitely makes it one of the most memorable songs of the album.
Map of the Soul: 7 is probably one of BTS’ most solid bodies of work since they have debuted. With many different genres explored, and the sincerity felt through the lyrics, anyone will be able to enjoy this album regardless of whether or not its their first listen.
Words by Amelia Oprean