As K-pop’s wonder boys BTS continue to get bigger and bigger, more western artists are getting in the queue to work with them. BTS have their own wishlist for future collabs, including Coldplay and Paul McCartney; whether they do end up working with Macca and Chris Martin remains to be seen, but the seven-piece group already have an impressive catalogue of tracks they’ve worked on with stars in the west.
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As featured on the Fantastic Four soundtrack in 2015, ‘Fantastic’ saw RM join forces with US singer Mandy Ventrice. While his verses were typically mighty, the overblown EDM sound and Ventrice’s raspy vocals let down the rest of the track.
After meeting Warren G for BTS reality show American Hustle Life, their leader hooked up with the West Coast hip-hop veteran for ‘P.D.D.’ – aka ‘Please Don’t Die’. The 2015 track is pretty good but has since definitely been surpassed by his solo material, other collaborations, and BTS’ own tracks.
18. ‘Make It Right’
Ed Sheeran might not feature physically on this ‘Map Of The Soul: Persona’ track but he definitely made his presence felt. The track sounds more like the Korean group have decided to cover one of his own tracks and chucked in some lines in their native language than anything else, lacking the magic of a typical BTS track.
17. ‘Waste It On Me’
At present, ‘Waste It On Me’ – the band’s third collaboration with Steve Aoki – is their only song sung and rapped completely in English. It’s a light, poppy dance track featuring Jungkook, RM, and Jimin (although there’s some debate about how much he features) that doesn’t break the mold in any way but is pleasant enough.
RM dominates on this collaboration with D.C. rapper Wale, laying down lines about keyboard warriors over a snapping, soulful piano melody that evolves into something more ferocious as the track grows.
This collab with Kansas rapper Krizz Kaliko appeared on RM’s first mixtape, back when he was still known as Rap Monster. A lot’s changed since then but, three years later, the sun-kissed, attitude-filled track still stands out as one of the release’s highlights.
14. ‘A Brand New Day’
Produced by Mura Masa, this Zara Larsson-featuring track from the BTS World soundtrack honours the seven-piece’s Korea with oriental flourishes and an opening melody played on the traditional Korean string instrument the haegeum. It’s a great reflection of the band’s two worlds, combining those sounds with more modern, western production.
13. ‘Dream Glow’
In 2017, Charli XCX revealed she’d been out to Seoul to work with BTS on something. Two years passed before fans found out exactly what: this sparkly first cut from the band’s BTS World soundtrack. In parts, it sounds like it would fit on Charli’s own 2014 album ‘Sucker’, a sound that merges surprisingly well with BTS and the metallic sheen of Stargate’s production.
12. ‘Best Of Me’
Regardless of your feelings about The Chainsmokers, there’s no denying this one’s a banger. The ‘Love Yourself: Answer’ track only subtly bears their hallmarks, leaving BTS plenty of room to put their own stamp on this bouncy cut that would go down equally as well at an EDM festival or at the K-pop group’s own shows.
11. ‘The Truth Untold’
Straight-up piano ballads might not be the first thing you think when you hear the name Steve Aoki, so it might be a surprise to find out he had a hand in the vocal line’s emotional slowy on ‘Love Yourself: Tear’. He did, of course, give it the remix treatment later on, but the original is shimmering, poignant proof that there’s more to his and BTS’ working relationship than making tunes for the dancefloor.
Back in 2017, when BTS were still massive but not quite the stadium-conquerors they are in 2019, Fall Out Boy handpicked RM to lend his flow to a remix of ‘MANIA’ track ‘Champion’. He appears on the track twice, kicking things off with a verse before reappearing midway through for something even powerful. “I will stay, I will wait and I’ll fight like a king,” he promises.
9. ‘Jamais Vu’
One of two ‘Map Of The Soul: Persona’ tracks produced by Arcades, this subunit song lets Jungkook, Jin, and J-Hope show off their vocal skills over stuttering beats and soft, ticking notes. Jin’s high notes, in particular, elevate this from heartstring-tugger to full-on heartbreaker.
As if there wasn’t already enough going on in the bells and whistles of ‘Idol’, Nicki Minaj jumped on board a new version of shortly after the track’s initial release. Name-dropping John Mayer and boasting “What’s good, Korea?/You know I’ve been a boss for my whole career,” her verse packed even more action and fiery attitude into a song that already sounded like it was about to erupt.
7. ‘All Night’
The third instalment of the soundtrack for BTS’ mobile game BTS World sees RM and Suga teaming up with emo rapper Juice WRLD for this ‘90s tinged hip-hop track. Breezy and bubbling, it sounds like a lowkey classic, with the three MCs voices meshing perfectly. Top marks, also, to Juicy for working a reference to BTS’ fandom, ARMY, into his voice without making it cheesy.
If you’ve been to see BTS on their Love Yourself: Speak Yourself world tour, you’ll know ‘Mikrokosmos’ as the grand, emotional finale, usually accompanied by the tears of one or more of the members. It’s no less emotional on record, either – London-based duo Arcades’ glittering production and songwriting by former X Factor contestant Ryan Lawrie combing with BTS’ own spark to make something utterly, beautifully devastating.
5. ‘Crying Over You’
RM only features on one verse on the 2019 version of this Honne track but he makes it count. Sandwiched between verses from the British synth-pop pair and vocalist BEKA, he adds some realism to the poise of his collaborators. “Shit happens and we look for the magic/But good things always come to an end,” he raps, hinting that he’s not as over it as he might sound.
Co-written by MNEK, ‘Paradise’ reassures listeners that having a dream in life isn’t the be-all and end-all over elastic, bass-y tones and subtle piano twirls. It’s sprightly and cheerful, its sound matching the spirit of its message – to stop putting so much pressure on yourself and live life.
On his second mixtape ‘mono.’, rapper RM linked up with Honne once again. ‘Seoul’ is a gorgeous piece of chill synth goodness, the BTS leader’s reflections on life in the Korean capital are underpinned by the duo’s slightly woozy production that makes it feel like you’re also deep in contemplation.
2. ‘Boy With Luv’
In a just world – or just one where ‘Old Town Road’ hadn’t taken the world by storm – this collaboration with Halsey would be the song of the summer. Its bright, bubblegum pop is catchy without ever becoming annoying, the US pop star fits naturally into the track without overshadowing BTS, and – even better – the chemistry between the two artists is palpable throughout, making the whole thing even more enjoyable and intoxicating.
1. ‘MIC Drop’
It’s a tie at the top with two different versions of ‘MIC Drop’. Steve Aoki remixed the ‘Love Yourself: Her’ track for the group’s expanded compilation ‘Love Yourself: Answer’, giving it a respectful overhaul. Gone is the opening guitar chug, in comes an extra bit of instrumental breathing space at the end that, live, gives the band chance to drop in some seriously impressive body rolls before Suga’s iconic, literal mic drop.
Later, Desiigner jumped on an abridged version of Aoki’s remix, bringing even more heat to the track with a fun, attitude-filled verse.