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FEATURE: Map Of The Soul: Beyond Lyrics


Understanding the dynamic between BTS and fans is important for comprehending the backstory and meaning of the Lyrics in Map Of The Soul: Persona. The album is what Namjoon meant by "giving back." As well as a reflection of their career, integrity, and appreciation, the group make many connections to past experiences and songs with this album.

The first track, “Intro: Persona”, is introspective. Discovering different sides of one’s character. BTS’ Namjoon wrote lyrics that look deep into his worth, goals, fears, and personality. It works to carry the narrative set by “IDOL” and “Answer: Love Myself.” The Love Yourself era taught us to love ourselves and Map Of The Soul delves deeper into "who" we are.

“IDOL’s” lyrics set the stage for Persona: "There are tens and hundreds of myself within me. Today, I greet my another self. They are all me." Intro: Persona develope “IDOL’s” lyrics by asking "Who am I." He realizes that a person can’t be one thing. People grow and change, adding to his character. Unfortunately, no matter how large their influence becomes, they are humans who cannot escape their internal judgment.

"Someone like me isn’t good enough for music," Namjoon raps. BTS has questioned themselves many times during their career and even considered disbanding in 2018. Personal battles are a subject the group passionately discuss. Each member openly shows their struggles knowing it has greatly helped millions of people to see they aren’t alone.
Their recent Bring the Soul docu-series revealed many moments this was at the forefront of their thoughts. "The music helped me sympathize with our young generation and also empathize with them. I’d like to create and write more music that represents them." said Jung Hoseok. BTS is from BigHit Entertainment where their motto is “Music for artists and healing.” The band always showed their compassion and humanity from the start of their career. It’s important to them that their music is cathartic for people, making silenced voices heard, and sooth the pain fans endure. So Namjoon digs deeper into self-awareness in “Intro: Persona” to tell us about the details of his being in a way that’s also reassuring to himself and listeners.

"The ‘me’ who I remember and who people know. The ‘me’ who I created by myself to speak my mind." He raps, "But, I’m not ashamed of it, this is the map of my soul," acknowledging his self-acceptance.
Taking inspiration from Carl Jung’s theories, the story is coming to an understanding that a label doesn’t define you because yourself is different from yesterday (growth) and who you’ll be in the future (change due to growth).

"A Poem for Small Things” Or “Boy With Luv.” It captures that gratitude Namjoon wanted to convey. The song also one of many that thanks ARMY for their believing in the group."It was inevitable that I’d talk about ARMY," Namjoon said. He gave an in-depth Vlive after the album released and it was clear that ARMY is important to them.

”저 하늘을 높이 날고 있어
flying high up in that sky
"그때 니가 내게 줬던 두 날개로
with the two wings that you gave me then"

BTS says, "You gave us wings" often to explain how ARMY lifted them up in both their career and life. Each member put incredible energy into every dance movement and lyric they sing and yet they’ll never take full credit for how far they’ve come. Instead, precious moments, such as winning Billboard’s Top Group Award, are times they use go signify their gratitude towards everyone who’s encouraged and supported them.
Imagine the members looking out from the stage. Taking in thousands of glittering armybombs glowing just for them. Each one held by a dedicated fan who’s "galaxy" may differ from everyone else’s, but all come together to celebrate music forming their own universe. This, is the embodiment of “Mikrokosmos.”

"Lights of people
Each one of them is precious
In a dark night, (don’t feel alone)
Like stars, (we shine)
Don’t disappear
because you are one great existence."
– Mikrokosmos

BTS lyrics often refer to cosmos as metaphors describing the unique life of people. Everybody contains their own galaxy within them. It’s a song that beautifully pairs with their latest Japanese track, “Lights.” Both, “Lights” and “Mikrokosmos” speak about existing. BTS are telling listeners they are special and unique. Your life is worth it and helps brighten the world when we all shine together. Never hiding our light. The lyrics are comforting. They remind us of our life’s importance. Lights can be viewed as a continuation of “Mikrokosmos.” The group understands how important their music is to their fans who often say that they made it through tough times because of it.

"still feel like I can save someone
I hear your voice
Within the noise, time stops
We are connected by sound."
– Lights

BTS and ARMY express how they speak a language without words but with emotions, music, and experiences. BTS provides fans while help BTS reach their goals. In a recent interview with Time Magazine, BigHit founder Bang Shi Hyuk, shared his thoughts on the group’s sincerity with fans: "BTS touched something that young people from all over the world were seeking […] They respect diversity and justice, the rights of youths and marginalized people." He continued, "Personally, I believe art is one of the strongest mediums for revolution, and I want the artist to speak out on social issues. They speak out when they want to and I don’t say what they should or shouldn’t do."
Music connects people universally just as the lyrics from Lights explain. It reaches people enabling a cathartic experience where the artists can leave their voice for the listener to hide within. At their Speak Yourself Rose Bowl Concert, Namjoon used these metaphors to describe the relationship between the group and fans during his ment:

“You guys were our wings.
You guys were our cosmos.
You were our light to our nights.
Wherever you’re from, whatever you speak, however old you are, in this Rose Bowl, tonight we are one. We speak the same thing. We speak the same voice. We speak the same language. We’re just BTS, and you’re ARMY. And, at the same time, you guys are BTS and we’re your ARMY.”

Hoseok said, “The moment we meet our ARMYs who know us and love us is like coming home and feeling all its warmth and comfort. So the song talks about the ‘home,’ which is where the fans are and where our hearts are. Where we want to come back to when things are hard and we feel lonely. We get strength from the people who love us and wait for us and we come back to them so that we can return their love with even greater love.” while “Magic Shop” describes a place Army can escape to, the track “Home” is a place of reassurance for BTS. The fans are always sending messages of comfort to the members. The group really does have an army fighting for them. Fans defeat any misconceptions or antagonist against since BTS’ beginning.

Bang Shi Hyuk, wanted the young members to choose their own stories to sing and not be afraid to talk about difficult subjects. Most BTS members were teenagers when they debuted but it didn’t spare them from suffering harsh judgment and comments of failure. Because BTS defied many standards expected of idols, their sound, look, lyrics were uncharted material. The very things that made them different garnered hatred towards them. TV stations would cut them from broadcasts while people bullied them for their appearance. Coming from a small company also made them a target for harassment. The members wondered if their dream was worth it. But they always find the meaning behind their efforts when performing on stage, helping people through art, and giving hope. The joy from obtaining something much deeper than commercial success is their motivation for continuing. It seems, one of their "answers" was the support provided by those who care about them.

"끝도 보이지 않던 영원의 밤
In the eternal night for which I was unable to see the end,
내게 아침을 선물한 건 너야
it was you who gifted me the morning."
– Make It Right

“Make It Right” is a track from Map Of The Soul: Persona that continues the narrative in their hidden track “Sea” from Love Yourself: Her. The lyrics reflect on their gaining hope in their career because of those who revealed their purpose. BTS speak about difficulties faced in their career. In “Sea,” they’re desperately searching for hope but constant trials make it seem unattainable so they sing, "Wherever there’s hope, there’s a trial." They are left wondering if the "desert" will ever be a "sea." When they debuted, BTS spoke in an interview and Namjoon stated these same words: "The question ‘could the desert ever become the sea?’ Is the summary of self-doubt and self-questioning that I’ve done since pre-debut. It was the greatest answer to that question. Because I know the love of the fans, I couldn’t help but cry."

Today, BTS have made a bigger impact than they ever imagined. BTS obtained their "sea" but found something much deeper. The members are very introspective with who they are. The journey and struggles allowed them to search deeper within themselves in turn helping other do so as well. Unfortunately, BTS are often still victims of racism outside of South Korea and often boxed into the "K-pop" label. It is possible to be Korean and go beyond K-pop just as American singers excell in different genres. It’s like saying Post Malone and Taylor Swift have the same music because they are American, therefore they can only be "American-pop." Their large impact has also not stopped frequent U.S radio snubs. If fans want to hear them, they must complete several media polls for a chance at radio play. Even after facing much negativity, BTS choose to continue with the values they had from the beginning. Read the messages (translated by doolsetbangtan) for fans they gave during an interview in 2013.

Before the epic, spitfire outro, there’s a ballad that captures the feeling of being both hopeful and hopeless. BTS says everything you need to hear in a way that’s beautifully heartbreaking. Their lyrics capture important topics that touches people’s hearts for individual reasons and yet are an umbrella for all fans. Depicting how we feel so truthfully, the members describe the most common topic in a way that hasn’t been done. Even without reading lyrics, “Jaimais Vu” is another BTS song that is resonated with through feeling. Jin, Jungkook, and Jhope’s voices bring so much emotion that melts into the music and has the ability to paint a picture in your mind. “The song talks about how there might be unintentional mistakes and setbacks but we will keep getting up and keep on running," Namjoon explained. From the music, lyrics, and singing, each emotes anxiety of life and feeling stuck. Explaining being distraught over losses and pleading for remedy while wondering if ignoring everything will make it go away.

"Please give me a remedy, a melody
The memory that will remain only in me
If I stop at this point,
if I turn it off, will everything be at ease?
Though I’m okay, I’m not okay
Though I’ve been telling myself that I’m used to this,
it hurts every time as if it’s the first time."
– Jaimais Vu

“I thought about a game in which if you die then you lose your belongings like your equipment and have to start over again. I tried to include the sense of loss and emptiness that I felt when playing a game," Namjoon said. Jaimais Vu means experiencing something again but nothing is familiar. The song fits nicely within the Bangtan Universe storyline for The Most Beautiful Moments In Life. It includes the desire to turn back time; feeling that you must take on the world and save everyone. This story is elaborated through music videos, notes later turned into a book, and a Webtoon. The Webtoo follows member Seokjin being able to time travel with his friends (the members) vaguely remembering the past in dreams. BTS’ goal was to tell stories to their audience, but the newly debuted group most likely never imagined they’d take it to this scale in the future. BTS reaches outside of music by including literary works and paintings that develope their story. It’s another way BTS create their own path by expanding how they express themselves. The final song on Map Of The Soul: Persona, talks about this art and their ambitions.

"Born as a K-pop idol
Reborn as an artist
Art at this level is over-drinking."
– Dionysus

Kim Namjoon explains “Dionysus” as “the joy and pain of creating something." BTS use different types of art to detail their story so the ending track describes the addicting nature of creating using alcohol as its metaphor. Each member contributes to the songwriting process so it represents them as a group while containing individual personal elements. Forming the album packaging itself is extremely detailed as well. The concept photographs illustrate the specific music "era’s" aesthetic and symbols such as the "Dionysus" Gucci purse Jungkook wore in the Map Of The Soul: Persona photos. Fans immediately figured out the song’s name before the tracklist dropped. (Translated by Doolsetbangtan), Kim Namjoon thanked fans for being devoted to their craft and purchasing the albums when streaming has become so popular. "In a time where music is consumed like instant food, buying albums, which is not a necessity, is a great and admirable act. In fact, in a time where albums have lost meaning, I thank you so much for loving our children, from intro, outro & skit, that we crafted with great care." Since the beginning, BTS will always strive to go beyond the expected and explore art through their passion for music.

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Glenn van den Bosch