Op-Ed: Top 20 K-Pop of 2016

Client: Dazed Digital

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01. BTS – “BLOOD SWEAT & TEARS”

Since their 2013 debut, seven-piece BTS have been cranking out close-to-the-bone lyrics and impressively melding hip hop, pop, electronica, and rock. Though perfectly able to drop massive performance videos like “Fire” or “Dope”, concept is king with BTS. While theirs has always been grounded in the painful fundamentals of growing up, it’s graduated from the more obvious to a delicate, beautiful labyrinth of clues and concealed meanings in their MVs. For “Blood Sweat & Tears”, which captures a passionate, destructive relationship, they and their regular directorial collective LUMPENS turn to Hermann Hesse’s novel “Demian” as the complex visual inspiration for the temptation they face. The result is, once more, a rich world to be decoded, where members are hemmed by sumptuous rooms and dream-states, matched to a sensual choreography that has their hands constantly blind, seek, and reveal desire and truth.

It truncates the bridge for extended storytelling, but “Blood Sweat & Tears” easily refills the hushed void with cascading chimes, spacey chill-house beats and airy synths that lope alongside tropical house and moombahton rhythms. Emotions run high – the ache in Jimin and Jungkook’s falsetto hooks, the lost fight within Suga’s rap, and a demanding neediness on J-Hope’s chorus – but having continually worked with the same songwriters, including the seemingly indefatigable composer Pdogg, and contributed substantially to all their tracks, BTS are able to marry the lyrics’ intimate, bloodied brokenness to an opposing state of leviathan pop with such effortlessness that it dominates all that stands before it.

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