BTS dropped “Young Forever” seemingly out of nowhere, as I don’t remember them building much hype for this. Apparently, it’s also the end of some kind of trilogy that I honestly haven’t kept up with, but even standing alone it’s quite an effective song and it’s the most I’ve pondered a K-pop music video in a while.
Given the lyrical content and the slow pace of the song, “Young Forever” could’ve easily settled into a boring festival of fanservice like so many other tracks in this vein. However, despite my aversion to songs with this sound, this was actually eminently listenable, and I found it was over long before I had any complaint about the pacing. That’s how surprisingly seamless the transitions were, and I found the haunting instrumental rather entrancing and immersive rather than boring.
Of particular note was the way “Young Forever” utilized a completely stripped down instrumental during the bridge (sorta), and then injected clap effects as the hook was sung over it. That’s the type of thing that really caps off the mood of the track and makes it stick a bit longer than it usually would.
While I still doubt this is the type of song that I would actively seek out on a playlist, it’s a track that I wouldn’t mind coming back to time and again, and it’s definitely something I wouldn’t turn away from while listening to the radio. And if “Young Forever” evoked that feeling in me, then I could understand why fans in particular would be drawn to this.
Speaking of why fans might be drawn to this song more than others, “Young Forever” has interesting lyrics that take the listener through an appropriately quick journey that is the rise and fall of musical artists. However, that could probably be analogous to just about anything in life, as the lyrics use elements of self-doubt, addiction to the thrill of achievement, and the crushing letdown of reality that comes from not being able to experience all that again as time passes.
The lyrics connect with the music video in a cool way, and though I’m not familiar with their whole trilogy thing, it wasn’t hard to appreciate the story being told, regardless.
The usage of light during a music video that talks about the stages of life is quite obviously representative of one’s lifespan. So the opening shot of the music video is of sunlight (birth)…
…and by the end of the music video they’re heading towards sunset (death).
Of course, the fence maze represents how life basically is, especially when you’re still figuring out the world and yourself.
The setup for this was great, with the present maze fence in high definition representing the figurative life journey being interspersed with their literal life journey in the form of their past music videos seen through a grainy-quality lens.
The simple interpretation here is probably to take “Young Forever” as a message to stay youthful in mentality and to keep dreaming as you move forward in life. I admit that’s probably the correct way to look at this, but given that the “dreams, hopes, forward, forward” parts are done over the old screens or flashbacks, I thought that was more of an indication of their attitude while they were going through their struggles, and that stuff is now in the past. I’m probably projecting with this, but given the sunlight/sunset analogy, I saw the message in “Young Forever” as more of a call to be happy with what you’ve already done in life to get you to this moment.
As soon the last member escapes the maze, there’s only one flashback and it’s of a picture of the group, effectively making that time a memory. For me, I saw that as definitely leaving the past in the past, and a message that once you’ve figured out your identity and have escaped the pressures of the journey that has gotten you to this point, that one shouldn’t life with regrets and should instead enjoy themselves with whatever time one has left with the people who give a shit about you.
BTS fans (understandably) get grief for being a rabid fandom, but if efforts like this can even get my grumpy ass to think about stuff, then it’s not much wonder why their imaginations would go wild trying to decipher whatever the trilogy was.
Regardless of whatever message you took away from this, just the fact that it made me think is the hallmark of a quality musical effort. And unlike many other songs that have so-called meaningful lyrics, “Young Forever” didn’t take a mulligan on the song itself and turned in an admirable effort that actually makes you want to listen to it.