BTS is one of those groups that has exploded onto and subsequently changed the K-pop scene. At first, I was reluctant to really buy into the ‘hype’. I, like many critics, have questioned BTS’ ability to progress past their ‘youth’ stage to deeper, more mature concepts. However, “Blood Sweat & Tears” (as well as the entire ‘Wings‘ discography) has re-asserted the fact that BTS is a group with both depth and staying power.
“Blood Sweat & Tears” is a departure from the sound established in the youth trilogy. While some may argue that “Blood Sweat & Tears” verges on being Justin Bieber-esque, I do not find the slight similarity to be a detriment. In fact, considering BTS popularity in the U.S. and internationally, one could argue that the song is intentionally palatable for a Western audience.
Palatability aside, “Blood Sweat & Tears” does a lot of things right. As opposed to being a boisterous anthem (like “Fire” and “Dope”), “Blood Sweat & Tears” is subdued and driven by the pairing of Jimin/V/Jungkook’s angelic singing with gruff rap lines. The contrast is beautiful and serves to further deepen the impact of the MV’s symbolism.
The negative to all this would be that it’s not something we haven’t heard before, and it’s more derivative than their usual fare. It’s a fair criticism, and judging by just the song alone it’s especially understandable, but within the context of the concept, paired with the new direction and the music video, the choices are definitely justifiable.
Speaking of the music video, “Blood Sweat & Tears” has symbolism (as well as anything else that you could want) in spades.
“Blood Sweat & Tears” is packaged in a way that can appeal to all types of listeners.
Thirsty? There is crotch grabbing, angle kissing, and finger sucking.
Artsy fartsy with a monocle and a top hat? There are allusions abound. There are nods to Greek mythology as well as biblical narratives. In particular, the painting Landscape With The Fall Of Icarus as well as a winged angel are prominently featured. They even throw in a little Friedrich Nietzsche if Icarus isn’t your thing.
Who says that K-pop isn’t classy?
If all of that was not enough, the boys are rocking some really badass scarves (half scarves?). You know, ‘cause it’s fall.
Not to be undone by the aforementioned items, “Blood Sweat & Tears” features a wonderful shift in the MV’s narrative. The twist is artfully done through the inclusion of a spoken word section (Infinite needs to take note of how to do it right) as well as a shift from the pastel/vibrant color palate to a darker one.
Even though “Blood Sweat & Tears” might not be the most original sounding song, it does present itself in a mature, thoughtful manner. The song is beautifully layered and provides the new direction they needed to prove they could tackle, while the music video is an all-around satisfying effort that pleases both those who would like to look deeper and those who are just viewing so they can take in the full ambiance of the music.
“Blood Sweat Tears”