Just over a year ago, two of the world’s biggest bands joined forces for a piece of boundary-busting pop. ‘My Universe’, a joyous burst of positivity, brought together Coldplay and BTS, artists the world at large would more readily separate than accept the similarities between them. Like the story in the song itself, though, the two defied the idea they weren’t “supposed to be together”, as Chris Martin once termed it. A sweet friendship blossomed that has now delivered another heartfelt song.
‘The Astronaut’ might be BTS singer Jin’s new solo single, but it was gifted to him by and co-written with the British band who, alongside Martin’s son Moses, also appear on the track. Although it’s offered as a present to BTS’ fans, ARMY, it also serves to illuminate yet more kinship between Coldplay and Jin, and their way of thinking about love and those important to them.
The dreamy new song pays tribute to a loved one – or a group of them – by casting its gaze skyward and rocketing into outer space. “When I’m with you, there is no one else / I get heaven to myself,” Jin sings in the chorus, his voice gentle but glittering with gratitude. This isn’t the first time he’s delivered an ardent declaration while imagining himself floating above our planet. As well as ‘My Universe’ – referenced in the opening lines here – his ‘Map Of The Soul: 7’ solo song ‘Moon’ put him in a similar position, framing himself as the titular satellite and ARMY as Earth. Just as Coldplay have done throughout their career – from their early hit ‘Yellow’ to last year’s ‘Music Of The Spheres’ album – he turns to the vastness of the great beyond to encapsulate the galactic scale of his feelings.
So it’s fitting the lyrics of ‘The Astronaut’ are shot through with wide-eyed romanticism. “You and me / Like a star that doesn’t shatter,” Jin sings in tribute to the strength of his relationship. The earnest sincerity in his dedications only grows as the song progresses. “Just as the Milky Way shines upon the darkest roads / You were shining towards me,” he sings lovingly later. “The only light found in the darkness / On my path to you.”
Vocally, this is the BTS star at his enchanting best, dropping his voice into a slightly deeper register than is usually expected of him. It’s a move that adds a fresh, velvety texture to his intonation without compromising on the emotion always palpable in his vocals.
Although this release represents the start of a new chapter for the singer’s solo work, it does feel more distinctively like a Coldplay song than it necessarily does a Jin song. Though Jin stands apart from BTS here, his individual artistic identity still isn’t given much room to manifest. That said, he has plenty of years ahead of him to define that for himself. In the meantime, we can savour ‘The Astronaut’, a starry-eyed gem that sparkles with love.