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Seven Super-Calm, Totally Rational Takeaways From BTS’s ‘Map of the Soul: 7’

The Ringer’s resident BTS fan listened to BTS’s new album and is feeling completely sober about it. She isn’t freaking out at all.

Big Hit Entertainment/Ringer illustration

Two days ago, I wrote about every era of BTS—from the rougher early days to the iconic eras of Wings and Love Yourself—and loosely ranked each of them. I spent hours, weeks, months on this; I watched EVERY BTS VIDEO EVER MADE (don’t fact-check this) and listened to EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEIR SONGS (don’t fact-check this, either). You could say I gave it my blood, sweat, and tears.

Forty-eight hours later, that list is immediately, hilariously irrelevant. The newly released Map of the Soul: 7 contains some of BTS’s best work to date, from the rip-roaring lead single “ON” to the ultra-personal tear jerker “We Are Bulletproof: The Eternal.” It’s immediately one of the best pop albums of the year, and it’s hard to imagine anything topping it in the coming months. (Unless BTS has another album coming out that we don’t know about yet?) After laboriously pondering which period of BTS was their best, I’ve come to believe the correct answer may simply be that we are currently living in it.

If you’re reading this after listening to the album, I’m sure you can relate—I have neither the functional brain cells nor the emotional fortitude to provide you with an in-depth review of MOTS:7. It has broken me. So instead, here are seven scattered takeaways on everything from greaser-style Namjoon to Taehyung and Jimin’s sickening display of public love and affection. (I’m so alone.)

1. The video for “ON” is perhaps the best thing BTS has ever done.

BTS released 30 seconds of “ON” Thursday on TikTok, and promptly broke the entire platform. (Not unexpected, honestly.) Thus, I should have been prepared for the video, which came out Friday, to break my brain. I was not. It did.

Joined by the award-winning marching Blue Devils and dancers from The Lab (led by “Dionysus” choreographer/goddess Sienna Lalau), BTS’s video for “ON” shows off the best of their lightning-fast, ultra-dynamic choreography. As SNL’s Stefon would say, this video has everything: greaser Namjoon (I cannot stress this enough), a poppin’ drumline, enough leather to make Joaquin Phoenix shudder, a random face tattoo, a dance break that has permanently cured my caffeine addiction, and the best bridge in any BTS song in history.

I’m considering starting a religion based entirely on Jungkook’s bridge in this song. I know no holier sound! We shall convene in gyms across the world to pay tribute. Our sacred vessels shall be piercing falsettos, giant stompy shoes, and the occasional tasteful nip slip. Our holy covenant shall be to “always do slightly too much.” Hallelujah, amen.

(It’s worth noting that this isn’t even the main music video for “ON,” which will be released next week. We may not make it, folks.)

2. Solo BTS has never been more powerful than on this day.

I love my large adult sons and their perfect new solos! Some are newer than others—we got RM’s “Intro: Persona” last year, but guess what. Still perfect! “Interlude: Shadow” was Suga’s introduction to MOTS: 7, and that new verse? Also excellent! J-Hope’s “Outro: Ego” remains a flawless shot of pure, auditory happiness.

And as for the brand-new songs, Jimin has never released anything that’s less than iconic, and that remains true with “Filter.” Jungkook’s “My Time” is exceptional, Taehyung’s “Inner Child” is the light-hearted, precious little brother of “Singularity,” and Jin’s “Moon” is his best solo yet. THRIVE, MY CHILDREN. THRIVE.

3. “Louder Than Bombs” is the perfect song for crying into a fireplace Call Me by Your Name–style.

“Louder Than Bombs” is credited to RM, Suga, J-Hope, and Troye Sivan, among others, which explains that intense, unhurried beat, and the fact that it makes me want to stare into the distance and weep softly. “Baby I’m nothin’er than nothin … but you say I’m somethin’er than somethin’” RM raps. His English lyrics have never been more charming, but it’s the Korean chorus that hits the hardest: “Louder than bombs I sing / Make a promise for you and I / Whatever wave may sweep over us, we will endlessly sing to you.” It’s fine, I’m fine.

4. “UGH!” (Huge mood, pretty self explanatory.)

At this point you know I’m not shy about exposing my biases, so I’ll readily admit that the rap line songs are a personal highlight of every BTS album. Described as “Memphis style trap,” “UGH!” sees RM, Suga, and J-Hope raging against the anonymous, bullshit hate that people spew online. (My words, not theirs, but it’s a universal sentiment.) It goes just as hard as you would expect, and I can’t wait to see it performed live. Also, just a note—if that last instrumental part isn’t used as space for a Hobi dance break, I will demand my money back.

5. Time is a social construct; I know only “00:00.”

“00:00” is a two-pronged attack; first, Jungkook sings about “those days when you’re sad for no reason.” (This is not one of those days, BTS, you are ACTIVELY MAKING ME SAD.) Then Jin, Jimin, and Taehyung come around the corner like “OK but turn that frown upside-down!” which is nice of them, but ALSO DEVASTATING in its own way. Make sure you’re staying hydrated while trying to get through this damn album.


When news broke this week that MOTS:7 would include two subunit tracks from Taehyung-Jimin and RM-Suga, jokes about soulmates flew fast and thick. But on “친구” (“Friends”), BFFs Jimin and Taehyung basically said “yes, and what about it?” From referencing inside jokes (“the dumpling incident?”) to actually singing “One day when this cheer dies down … you are my soulmate,” “Friends” is the love letter to Vmin that we all wanted and didn’t actually expect to get.

On the other hand, if Taehyung and Jimin’s love language is words of affirmation, Namjoon and Yoongi are out here bickering like an old married couple on “Respect.” (This year marks 10 years of their friendship, so it checks out.) That “Ayo, Suga!” ad-lib is one for the history books. I love love!

7. “We Are Bulletproof” you say? That’s weird, because I have never felt CLOSER TO DEATH.

Based on past iterations of “We Are Bulletproof,” most BTS fans went into MOTS:7 expecting the same kind of hardcore, rap-heavy sound from “We Are Bulletproof: The Eternal.” Instead, we were smacked in the face by four minutes and 21 seconds of sheer, acute pain. “We were only seven,” they sing, “but we have you all now / after seven winters and springs, at the tips of our entwined fingers / yeah we got to heaven.” GOODBYE, SWEET WORLD.

Do you know what it looks like when 90,000 people in an arena start sobbing in unison? Me neither, but we’re about to find out.