I must admit, I’m shocked at how long BTS’s Dynamite has endured on global charts. I mean, I shouldn’t be surprised. In many ways, the track was a slam dunk before it even materialized – a glossy, trend-friendly pop song with wide appeal. And while I still find it to be more commercial jingle than satisfying single, its bright energy and catchy groove are certainly welcome in 2020.
If Dynamite was a shining bauble of a distraction, new single Life Goes On brings us right back to reality. It’s the latest COVID-related track from a Big Hit artist, offering consolation through hip hop pop. I’ve already made my preferences around this subject matter clear in previous reviews, so there’s no point belaboring the subject.
As a title track, Life Goes On is more hushed than we’ve come to expect. BTS are on a level now where the very word of a comeback builds hype. They’ve promoted ballads before, but Life Goes On is no Spring Day (a song that’s aged like fine wine). Longtime collaborator Pdogg is listed as a primary songwriter, yet his gift for melody feels restrained here. The melancholic refrain fits the track’s aim, but never really builds to anything. Life Goes On’s best moments come during its verses, which recall the less-polished appeal of the group’s older work.
I’m probably just way too jaded, but while the sentiment behind Life Goes On is admirable, the delivery feels a little trite. This extends to its sound and structure, which climaxes in the kind of sway-along sing-along that’s been a staple of pop music for decades. It all feels too nebulous — a series of platitudes instead of something more unique and specific and satisfying. But, listeners receive comfort in different ways, and Life Goes On is guaranteed to connect with many fans on a far deeper level than it does with me. I can’t begrudge any artist for spreading positivity and reflection at a time when we all need it.
IATFB: This had an uphill battle with me by being a downtempo effort, but I’ve liked bare bones BTS tracks like “The Truth Untold” before. Unfortunately, this doesn’t impart any of that same raw emotion, nor is does it standout in any other way.