Back in 2015, BTS embarked on an era they dubbed ‘The Most Beautiful Moment In Life’. That title referred to that period of young adulthood where everything feels possible and full of potential, but crippling insecurities and uncertainties linger around every corner as you try and navigate a life of responsibility and providing for yourself. Six years on – older, wiser and further removed from the intensity of that transitional period – the Korean group are returning to that description.
This time, though, ‘The Most Beautiful Moment In Life’ has evolved. It’s no longer just fixated on a specific phase of life or even anchored in the present. On ‘Yet To Come (The Most Beautiful Moment)’, the lead single from BTS’ new anthology album ‘Proof’, it’s simultaneously tinged with nostalgia and brimming with optimism for the future. “Yeah the past was honestly the best / But my best is what comes next,” V sings early on, his voice rich and luxurious in tone, and confident in attitude.
‘Proof’ – which largely contains the tracks that have propelled BTS to the dizzy heights they now occupy (or demos and alternatives of those songs) – is a moment to take stock and reflect, and ‘Yet To Come’ dives right in to that mode. Across the track, a poignant piece of alternative hip-hop, the seven members weigh up everything from the accolades that have been bestowed on them over the years, their purpose and their future.
“That uncomfortable title we were given one day / We are still abashed by being called the best,” Suga raps as the gliding melodies of the exiting chorus get submerged in super low-frequency bass. The humble spirit that the group is still known for colours their musings, with them often shrugging off the grand implications attached to the monikers that are often used to refer to them (record breakers, history makers and many more). “We just loved music / We’re just running forward,” offers Jungkook matter-of-factly, while J-Hope suggests, even with the world’s lofty view of the band, there’s still work to be done: “Still got a lot to learn / My life, got a lot to fulfil.”
The ruminations on ‘Yet To Come’ don’t just cast an eye back to the past, but also pick up on some of the themes that have remained constant throughout BTS’ work so far. As they rap and sing their story, they touch on the notion of having a dream (“Do you have a dream? What’s the end of that path?”), youth, and growth (“Heading towards the day / More like ourselves”).
Musically, too, the song sets its sights on what’s come before. It bears the same emotional atmosphere as 2017’s ‘Spring Day’, one of the group’s finest songs, while it also throws things back even further. Between the track’s layers, there’s a faint, high-pitched sound that nods to the chipmunk soul sampling style of hip-hop in the early to mid-noughties. When RM raps “We gonna touch the sky ‘fore the day we die”, it feels like not just a reference to Kanye West’s ‘Touch The Sky’ but a subtle, smart nod to that whole era.
The single isn’t the only piece of fresh material on ‘Proof’ and the record’s other new tracks continue its exercise in wrapping up this chapter of BTS’ tale. Previously unreleased tracks ‘Quotation Mark’ and ‘Young Love’ carve smooth grooves and drip with soul respectively, while ‘Run BTS’ returns to the septet’s hip-hop roots in its infectious, revving rhythms. ‘For Youth’ caps these gems in emotional form, sampling 2016’s ‘Epilogue: Young Forever’ before paying tribute to the ever-growing fanbase that has been by their side since 2013. “Yes, you are my youth / And my spring / My thankful friend / My pride, my heaven and love,” J-Hope half-croons.
When the end of an era occurs, there’s often a sense of finality that comes with it and that’s the case with ‘Proof’. But, as the saying goes, when one door closes, another one opens and there are plenty of moments in these stirring songs that assuage any fears that this is it forever. Just like ‘Yet To Come’ tells us, the most beautiful moment in life will keep on morphing into new peaks and, as Jungkook’s silky vow of “Promise that we’ll keep on coming back for more” suggests, BTS won’t be far away.
BTS’ new compilation album ‘Proof’ is out now