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[Review] BTS perfectly mesh traditional & modern on the complete “Ddaeng”

Quality tracks coming out of nowhere are always appreciated even if it feels wasted cause it should be promoted. BTS‘s “Ddaeng” counts as one of those efforts, released as a gift to fans in connection with ‘BTS Festa‘ for 2018, it’s probably one of their most complete songs in a minute.

“Ddaeng” is essentially a diss song, not necessarily directed to anybody in particular, but basically everybody and anybody who ever doubted them (I felt that). Probably the most significant burn wasn’t one that was even said, but just in comparing the tone of this to previous songs they’ve done along these things. BTS aren’t angry or in your face, but it’s more of a snarky, arrogant dismissal, which I loved and works extremely well within the context of their current position.

While J-Hope‘s delivery that sorta sounds like he’s chewing food still doesn’t work for me, both Suga and RM excel, with the latter going off the beaten path with a whisper and a clever stuttering in his delivery to mimic those who dismissed him before but are nervously kissing ass now. Specifically, a standout was the biting line, “Frogs that live up to their names, I’ll pray earnestly, that you die inside your wells, ddaeng“. It references the frog in the well Chinese idiom, describing one who refuses to see the big picture and/or is sheltered, essentially calling out those in Korean music who have gotten too comfortable or complacent.

So the focus on the lyrics is well-deserved, but it undersells “Ddaeng” as a fun listen with replay value. The meshing of modern trap trends with traditional Asian instrumentation provides just an outstanding backdrop for the rappers to operate over, and that’s what sold me on the song before anything. Furthermore, the chorus includes the catchy onomatopoeia “ddaeng” repetition, and with the booming bass and the almost chanting nature of saying the numbers (that cleverly double for declaring themselves the best through a seotda reference), “Ddaeng” is just a complete effort from start to finish.

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