BTS have always aimed to heal through their music. In the ‘Love Yourself’ series – their most explicit way of doing that so far – they encouraged fans to begin their own journey of self-acceptance and embracing who they are, flaws and all. In older songs like ‘Lost’, ‘You Never Walk Alone’ and many more, they reflected the concerns and issues facing listeners in Korea and beyond, giving them tracks to feel seen and understood in.
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It goes without saying that this moment right now is an unprecedented time of global upheaval that has left many struggling physically, mentally and economically. While their past releases don’t make it BTS’ duty to spread cheer in times like these, it feels natural that this group are trying to “share some positive energy” and says a lot about their character that it is their first impulse to do so. With ‘Dynamite’ – their first all-English song – they’ve given us both the song of the summer in a season that feels uncharacteristically bleak and the perfect pick-me-up that’s strong enough to defeat even the unstoppable onslaught of 2020.
‘Dynamite’ mines the bright, infectious sounds of disco to get its joyful energy across, sticking to the genre’s tradition of serving as a form of escapism when life gets hard. There are snapping handclaps that urge you to join in and hip-swaying rhythms ready-made for the dancefloor. As the song enters its second third, a guitar line worthy of Nile Rodgers’ acclaimed back catalogue enters, later joined by vibrant brass as Jin takes us “shining through the city with a little funk and soul”. Together, it becomes a giddily glorious salve to block out the world’s darkness.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I got the medicine / So you should keep your eyes on the ball,” RM declares at one point. There are many who would sneer at the idea that a simple pop song could provide a remedy for life’s ills, be they in the coronavirus era or before, but ‘Dynamite’ is proof that music can give us at least a temporary reprieve from it all.
Life might not be as “sweet as honey” as BTS sing right now but, on this song, they take you to a place where that feeling is viscerally, dazzlingly real. Given everything that’s been thrown at us over the last six months, why would you turn your nose up at that?