BTS 3rd Anniversary: HYYH Reflections

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Today’s post is going to be a wild deviation from the previous posts and that is because it’s BTS’s third anniversary!!! I’m excited because BTS has pretty much been all I’ve been listening to for the past few weeks, haha. For anyone who doesn’t know, BTS (Bangtan Boys) is a seven-member South Korean idol group, and they are super popular. They debuted on June 13, 2013, so today marks a full three years since then.

Now, I haven’t been a fan since their debut, because I wasn’t into any kpop back then (2013 was my insane pre-med year, so I wasn’t into any music at all lol). I was among the wave of new fans around mid-2015-ish when they started getting really well known after releasing I Need U and Dope. So I’ve been a fan for about a year. Dope was actually the song that caught my attention first, because first of all it’s catchy as hell and the choreo is sick, but also the youtube video had English subtitles and I really liked the lyrics. I liked that the song was about working hard to achieve your dreams (“I worked all night everyday, when you were out clubbing;” “Over half the day we drown in work/ Even if our youth rots in the studio/ Thanks to that, we’re closer to success”) and also a little social commentary (“The media and say we have no will, denouncing us/Why kill us before we can try”).

Not that I have anything against love songs, but I’ve always thought that the kpop industry reached saturation for songs about love/breakups/wanting a lover/whatever a long time ago; it’s even worse because everyone knows that idols can’t be in romantic relationships freely. Also, and this is getting less common now, but a lot of idols don’t write their own songs. There’s nothing wrong with that, because I think there’s also value in performing well. But I personally always like it when the performer at least writes the lyrics of their song because then I feel like they’re performing something that carries a message that they created and actually want to convey. (Granted, it does take skill to successfully perform a song that you don’t like too.) So that all the members of BTS has written lyrics for their songs (rap line always write their own verses), and some have composed and produced songs as well, is something that I really like to see.

The thing I like about BTS is that they write songs about things that they want to write about. They write songs that are more personal to them and their experiences, especially the rap line (Road is a great example from their first album). My absolute favorite song by them is Tomorrow (which I’m pretty sure every fan likes, haha). There’s also Jump, Baepsae (another fan favorite), and their most recent title track, Fire, for more songs that are uplifting and get you pumped. I do acknowledge that BTS, like almost every other kpop group out there, can be problematic at times (colorist comments and appropriation of black culture mainly). But I think they are also very talented, hardworking young adults, and good role models most of the time. They write songs about some issues that are important to me, and are generally a little more socially aware than most idols appear to be, so that’s great. They’re also around my age, so it’s the feeling like if these people can do it, so can I.

While my favorite album is Skool Luv Affair, purely because it contains several of my favorite songs from them (Tomorrow, Jump, Cypher pt. 2, Spinebreaker, Just One Day), my favorite concept is by far the Hwa Yang Yeon Hwa (The Most Beautiful Moment in Life) series that they did this past year. This is the concept that pulled in a whole lot of new fans (including me, lol) and I think this is their best so far. The overall sound and feel of the music just seems very them. The whole concept is youth, both the dark and light sides of it. BTS doesn’t shy away from singing about the lows that young adults experience, and they sing about it in a way that feels very relatable (like, it’s not just “teen angst”). Their songs give a lot of comfort for young people.

The best part about this HYYH concept for me was how RapMon explained the reasoning and meaning behind the whole thing. It’s the most beautiful moment in life, and most people take it to mean that they’re talking about youth. Even though you might be suffering or in a bad situation, this time of youth is supposed to be the highlight of your life. But the thing is, when you watch the music videos, it’s always shows 2015.4.29 (the day that I Need U was released) ~ Forever. So it’s not just youth that’s the most beautiful moment in life. The most beautiful moment lasts forever. RapMon said the same thing during one of their concerts: “If you know and feel this moment truthfully with the heart, and you’re ready to accept the moment, then from the time when you’re born, he entire life can be beautiful.” He’s a smart guy, and he said he read up on philosophy while preparing the albums, so I’m betting he also came across stuff about mindfulness. It’s all about living in the moment, savoring, and acceptance. Basically, you focus on the present, don’t stress about the future, and don’t dwell on the past. It’s a topic that’s popular among both positive psychologists and the general population, because it’s great for building happiness and finding meaning in life. He also said that “happiness is not something you have to achieve. You can still feel happy during the process of achieving something.” In other talks at subsequent concerts, RapMon also touches on accepting the hard times in life as part of the beautiful moments, and redirecting anger at society in to something productive and turning it into something beautiful. I definitely appreciated that RapMon said things like this, especially since I think BTS is quite aware of the influence that they have on their fans, many of whom are younger. The HYYH series was intended to give comfort to youth who are in a very important transition period in their lives, and I think they definitely succeeded.

So, in conclusion, BTS is great, and I’m glad they exist. I hope that they continue to produce all these great songs with great messages for young people, and continue to find the success that they are achieving now. I hope they stay the genuine people that they are now. Congratulations on three years, and here’s to many more.

Below the read more is the full transcription from Rap Monster’s talks during the HYYH concerts. These are the subtitles that come with the DVD, so I didn’t translate them myself and there may be some mistakes.

[HYYH on stage, talk 1st story]

Everyone says that we’re all in our most beautiful moments. We really are, but I wanted to look at the real meaning behind that. What’s the meaning of HYYH? Why did we decide to name the album that? What do we think HYYH really means? So I looked up the Chinese letters. The letters literally mean flower, shape, year, and shining. What does that mean? It may sound like a flower shape is shining like the sun. But the actual meaning is that there’s a Chinese movie named the same. Hwa Yang Yeon Hwa. But the first two letters together mean “like a flower.” And the next two letters mean a period of time. So, a blooming period of time. It means the most beautiful period of time in your life. I like how the phrase starts and ends with the same letter, Hwa. Starts with a flower, ends with shining. What our members say about the phrase is nothing too special. It can be our youth. Maybe a period of time where something big happens. I think it’s always in our minds though. If you know and feel this moment truthfully with the heart, and you’re ready to accept the moment, then from the time when you’re born, the entire life can be beautiful. If someone doesn’t know, then their life is never beautiful no matter how rich, how famous, or how successful their life is. So when we talk about the most beautiful moment in life, maybe you can think about your own beautiful moments again. I mean, it’s a transition period for many people, right? So many young people are suffering. Trying to get a job, or like in my lyrics, we’re giving up lots of things. But even in that transition period, you can think that happiness is not something that you have to achieve. You can still feel happy during the process of achieving something. So if you change the perspective a little bit, I know may people are going through tough times right now. But this moment can be the most beautiful moment of our lives. I’m not just saying this. I really wish you will think that. Yes, so if you guys can feel the most beautiful moment in life, I’m sure from this moment ’til we die, out entire life will be beautiful.

[HYYH on stage, talk 2nd story]

I thought a lot about what to say. First of all, my dad who goes to work everyday. My mom who’s a realtor and my little sister. Even the stray cats and dogs on the street. Or even the rocks. We all have the galaxy in our hearts. But there are some people who never find that out until they die. No matter how they lived or died. HYYH pt 1 & 2 that we made- I said they are the risk and the energy. I told that story because I wish you would find your own galaxy. Really, it means the most beautiful moment in your life. Hwa Yang Yeon Hwa starts with flower and end with shining. It’s beautiful. Beautiful moments. But what’s beautiful? Something can be beautiful because there’s something horrible. So, there are tough times. Life can be tough or it can be good. So just hang in there. That’s not what I mean. If you can accept that those hard times are part of beautiful moments in life, I think you can truly understand our Hwa Yang Yeon Hwa, and we will be very proud of you, ARMY. And what I think my personal beautiful moment is how I can be on the stage right now in front of my mom and dad and my little sister and tell so many of our fans my story. In front of my parents, I’m telling my fans my own story. I’m a little piece of this world but I’m giving some kind of effect on people and helping them, which makes me a proud son. That’s the most beautiful moment of my life. And lastly, when you listen to our Hwa Yang Yeon Hwa, HYYH kind of sounds like a flower. So I hope you find yourself a flower blooming in your heart. Maybe even the galaxy, and feel comforted by our songs. I love you.

[HYYH on stage, talk 3rd story]

There are three things I realized while making Hwa Yang Yeon Hwa and today is the time to tell you the third one. I mean this will summarize everything I wanted to say. What I want to say is that the world is now… I don’t know. Grown-ups say things about the current society and they compare with the old times. Maybe that is why or how the world has been like that in the first place. But there are lots of anger in the world. A Chinese letter meaning the fire, Hwa. So there are many fiery people. And there are also lots of disputes between people. They persuade people to give up who are still in their youth. All these new words describing how current society imply that we didn’t have the motivation in the first place. They blame everything on us. I think that current society is kind of like that right now. That’s what youth is about these days. All those discouraging words. It made me really sad. When I read your letters, there are some people who are going through a really tough time right now who have troubles and problems. Some people are more fortunate than others. But we all experience difficult times since we’re born, right ? We all have different kinds of troubles, but nobody wants to give up in the beginning. Right? We didn’t lose our dreams because we wanted to give up. We didn’t go after our dreams because we knew we’d give up. But that’s how the society is right now, and it’s really sad. I felt frustrated as one of the younger generation people in today’s society. That’s how I started to make the album HYYH. I really like the word HYYH because it has two Hwa. Right? There are two. Right? One means a flower, other one means a shining. The letter Hwa can also mean harmony. It’s a pretty letter and it has pretty meanings too. It may all sound the same, but it depends on how you look at it. If you look at it differently, it will mean something different to you. I told you yesterday that there is a galaxy in everyone’s hearts and that you need to find it. The HYYH we’re telling you today is a message to comfort everyone, whether you’re a celebrity, a student, or working in the real world. We’re all living together in the same moment whether you’re a teenager or in your twenties. So you can still love your life through that. The songs like Move or Dope tell the story about the society and what we think about it. You’ll know once you listen to the album. We wanted to give a message to comfort you in our own ways. We hope that the message gets through to everyone. There is too much anger in this world, but don’t think that they’re going to only hurt you and just blame them for everything bad. “This is too much.” “I can’t handle it, I’m too angry.” Don’t think like that. Try to remember what we think our own HYYH means to us. The letters sound the same, but I wish that you can make the best out of it in a most beautiful way. This is getting quite long, but I have one more thing to say. There’s a hidden track in our first album. I told you that I go across a desert and a sea so many times a day. I see so much anger within myself and in other people. I feel discouraged many times and I get disappointed with myself. Whoever you are or whatever you do, I think everyone feels the same way. I hope that when you listen to HYYH you can gather up the anger within you and the anger you see in other people, and turn it into something flowery and shining so that your youth can shine like a flower. That’s what I hope.

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