BTS have returned with “Fake Love“, which is one of those releases that isn’t bombastic or loud, but manages to never slip into boring and ends up as an effort that should have a lot of staying power.
“Fake Love” didn’t latch on with me immediately and there was a certain level of letdown initially. While I didn’t write about the buildup to this release, I made the mistake of seeing people who heard it making comparisons to “Blood Sweat & Tears” and “I Need U“, and I think I got a bit overexcited.
While those two efforts connected with me immediately, “Fake Love” took more time. That makes sense given that “Fake Love” is a more measured, pensive song and doesn’t have many bombastic moments. That’s not to its detriment however, as the instrumental does a nice job of not falling into boring territory while keeping things smooth and leveled. The 808s and electronic sounds are a big reason for that, but even in its more reserved moments, things like the wobbly synths keeps things interesting and fresh. A specific thing I loved was the transition from the acoustic guitar during the build to the electric, grunge-y guitar riffs for the payoff, which I think was a clever way to cue the listener and incorporate this emo, alternative sound into it.
One moment that surprised me was how much I loved the build and tension leading up to the Jungkook/V & Jungkook/Jimin pre-chorus. I was rather meh about what I thought was going to happen, which was a transition right back into the relatively generic “fake love” hook from the chorus, but instead it heads to the best part of the song in the outstanding “love you so bad” and “love is so mad” refrain repetitions. It was something that struck me as unconventional, but plays a significant role in why I think it grows on the listener. While I could’ve done with like half the amount of auto-tune, the strengths of the verses (especially Suga‘s) and emotion of the build being able to keep the listener a bit off-balance throughout keeps things fresh and helps the song never quite settle into a rut like a lazier version of this song definitely could’ve.
Due to over-the-top nature of the hype, I think the tendency for many is to listen to “Fake Love” and initially be hit with a thought of, “That’s it?” While “Fake Love” is not perfect, I found that if you stick with it, you’ll eventually find a release that really attaches itself as an earworm and has a certain addictive replayability that is undeniable. “Fake Love” almost has like an alternative rock core with a pop song built around it, and that side of things effectively resonated with me after a few hours and gives me the feeling that it could have a lot of staying power.