BTS have used their rising profile in the West to collab with various famous artists to varying degrees of success. The group’s latest comeback is “Boy With Luv” is another one of those collabs, this time featuring Halsey, which seemed like a bit of an odd fit and made me skeptical. The teasers didn’t alleviate any worries either, but thankfully that concern seemed for naught as they meshed quite perfectly on a radio hit made for the summer.
As with most things BTS, the overall response to the teasers was overwhelmingly positive from fans, but those that did express concerns worried that it sounded rather safe and generic. I had the same misgivings at the time, and even hearing the whole thing now doesn’t necessarily exonerate “Boy With Luv” of that charge, but I’ve never had a problem with a song being unrepentant poppy as long as it’s an earworm and executed well, and this BTS/Halsey collab definitely delivers that.
Maybe it’s the type of news I’ve been covering all too often in K-pop recently, but this type of uplifting yet chill summer anthem is exactly what the doctor ordered. The instrumental is bouncy but has an ethereal atmosphere about it, setting a relaxing stage while maintaining a foot-tapping quality. The vocal line provide an appropriately measured accompaniment, with the rhythm guitar standing out in particular by giving the song a bit of funk.
The rap line puts in a solid shift themselves, and while I unsurprisingly wasn’t the biggest fan of the trap segment from Suga, the takeover by J-Hope helped ease any concerns before RM really set it off on the back-end. Most importantly, the fear that the chorus was going to be an instrumental drop after “boy with luv” was completely trashed. In contrast to my expectation, they provided a fleshed-out chorus with a pleasant melody. It also had two moments that were immediate earworms in the “oh my my my” repetition and also the almost echoing “oye oye oye oye oye” vocalization that alternately ascends and descends.
While I understand those who perhaps wanted more impact or creativity from a BTS comeback, I rather enjoyed them setting their sights on a summer radio hit and delivering with “Boy With Luv”. It’s surprisingly fresh and undeniably addictive, and it’s an effort that I could see growing on me further because of how pleasantly listenable it is.