Get ready – yesterday (January 7), BTS confirmed their new album ‘Map Of The Soul: 7’ is on the way. For the wider world, that might not mean too much but, for members of the BTS ARMY, it signals the start of a whole load of theorising and intensive research. So far, the ideas around ‘Map Of The Soul: 7’ are many and complex, indicating that another deep, meaningful record will soon be with us.
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What does the title mean?
Ever since the first track from ‘Map Of The Soul: Persona’ was released in March 2019, fans have been theorising that this era would be made up of a three-record series, completed by ‘Shadow’ and ‘Ego’. Why? Those were the two words that featured prominently besides ‘Persona’ in the music video for ‘Intro: Persona’, have cropped up several times in BTS’ awards show performances, been hinted at in the ‘Speak Yourself’ finale VCRs and, of course, are two other proponents of Carl Jung’s ‘map of the soul’ theory.
And yet! Yesterday’s (January 7) announcement made clowns of all who believed BTS and BigHit would leave their clues to future plans sitting there in plain sight. But the ARMY’s already come up with a number of theories about its potential message.
There could still be a Carl Jung connection
Just because ‘Shadow’ and ‘Ego’ are out, that doesn’t mean ‘7’ is moving away from Jungian psychology entirely (BigHit have now revealed there will be two comeback trailers released before the album titled ‘Shadow’ and ‘Ego’). As fans on Twitter have pointed out, there are seven principles of the ego according to Jung, while his journey to the soul also has seven steps.
journey to the soul has 7 steps 🙃 pic.twitter.com/21ASoPhL3t
— 𝗹𝗮𝗿𝗮⁷ (@jhsglitter) January 7, 2020
Beyond that, the concept of the hero is something that BTS have played with for a while now. During their performance at the Mnet Asian Music Awards back in 2018, a VCR showed the words “So now I’m a hero, so now I’m a boy with love”. Coincidentally (or not?), chapter seven of Jung’s The Red Book is titled ‘The Murder Of The Hero’. According to writers Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette, the death of a person’s hero archetype “means that he has finally encountered his limitations. He has met the enemy, and the enemy is himself. He has met his own dark side, his very unheroic side.” Fans have theorised for a while that this could be a clue as to the subject matter on ‘Shadow’ or ‘Ego’ – with BTS tackling their “darker” side, the parts of themselves they hide beneath their personas.
There’s also another potential Jung connection in his book The Seven Sermons To The Dead, in which he mentions a figure called Abraxas. BTS have referred to Abraxas before in the ‘Wings’ era, that was influenced by Hermann Hesse’s Demian, which also mentions the god. To Jung, Abraxas produces good and evil “in the same word and the same act”. Could Abraxas and the dichotomy between good and bad appear in ‘7’?
Or does it refer to another famous group of seven?
Could the ‘7’ refer to the seven deadly sins? Fans are theorising that the new album will feature solo tracks from each member and that these could relate to a different one of said sins – gluttony, greed, envy, pride, lust, sloth, and wrath. This concept did seem to feature in the video for 2016’s ‘Blood Sweat & Tears’, so BTS might feel like they’ve already covered it.
It might be a reference to the big E on the horizon
BTS have always made it very, very clear they will be enlisting for Korea’s mandatory military service for men between 18-30 when the time comes, despite the outside voices who have suggested they could ask for exemption. While ARMYs know enlistment is coming, they don’t know exactly when or if the band will all go together, individually, or in groups. Writer Jae-ha Kim echoed the thoughts of many fans when she suggested on Twitter that this upcoming album could be called ‘7’ because it’s the group’s last full-length release with all seven of them involved.
I have a theory about "7." The first thing I thought of was that 2020 most likely will be the year that one or more of the members enlist for their mandatory military duty. It seems to be @BTS_twt's way of saying that no matter what happens, they are first & foremost a septet.
— Jae-Ha Kim 김재하 (@GoAwayWithJae) January 7, 2020
Will ‘Map Of The Soul: 7’ link back to a previous BTS era (or several)?
‘Map Of The Soul: Persona’ took things back to the start. On ‘Home’, Suga referenced their debut single ’No More Dream’ (“I want a big house, big cars, big rings” became “Even if we have what I wanted in my dreams / Big house, big cars, big rings”), while ‘Intro: Persona’ sampled ‘Intro: Skool Luv Affair’.
‘Map Of The Soul: 7’ could follow suit and tie things back to the band’s past releases. As mentioned above, there’s speculation that the ‘Wings’ era could be referenced here, while they’ve also referenced the likes of 2013 single ’N.O’ and the ‘HYYH’ era in recent VCRs. The band’s MMA performance last month also featured songs from throughout their career and, in the just-announced ‘comeback map’, February 21 will see the release of a “Kinetic Manifesto Film: Come Prima”. The latter two words mean “As before” in Italian – could we be about to get more throwbacks?
— BigHit Entertainment (@BigHitEnt) January 8, 2020
What’s with the Greek god theme they’ve been playing with?
The Greek theme first came into play with ‘Map Of The Soul: Persona’’s ‘Dionysus’, which references the Greek god of theatre, wine, religious ecstasy, and more. At their recent Golden Disk Awards performance, they continued that idea when they showed a VCR titled City Dionysia Begins, featuring each member in different god-like scenarios. Fans have theorised the group are meant to represent individual Greek gods, while there’s a long-running theory that Apollo will be the name of a song on the album.
‘Map Of The Soul: 7’ could be a visual album with Baz Luhrmann’s input
This one is a little less solid than the rest of the ARMY’s theories, but back in February 2019 director Baz Luhrmann suggested he could be set to work with BTS. Asked about whether he was collaborating with the group by The Hollywood Reporter, he replied, “Yeah, well you know, that’s…” and was described as giving a “playful shrug”.
Now, the comeback map for ‘7’ shows an art film performed by MN Dance Company released on January 17 and the aforementioned “Kinetic Manifesto Film” on February 21. No mention of Luhrmann just yet, but at the very least it looks like this album could have many more visual components than usual.