During times of tough uncertainty, we find relief in many forms. Summer is approaching and we’re still unsure what the future holds, but thankfully the music industry is bringing all kinds of comebacks to keep us going. In just this past year alone, BTS have proved themselves to be the masters of everything, whether this is in sharing their own relatable struggles in their single “Life Goes On” or sweeping away our sorrows with an addictive, disco type energy in “Dynamite”. Just last week they took home 4 Billboard Music Awards, one of which “Dynamite” won “Top Selling Song”. As the pandemic continues, the group have released their second English single, “Butter”, which knocks their previous single out of the park. Their focus: have fun without a care in the world.
The heavily anticipated summer single dropped on Friday, May 21 at 5 AM BST, with an accompanying music video that brought an explosion of unbridled euphoria – at least for me it did. It is safe to say that RM, Suga, Jin, J-Hope, RM, V and Jungkook have done it again but this time paved us a path of buttery gold. While we expected “Butter” to follow in the footsteps of “Dynamite”, this single has just soared ahead in leaps and bounds. Moving away from the retro, disco vibes with a new “superstar glow”, they outpaced their Billboard hit by miles. At this point, the boys are competing with themselves as the statistics annihilated their previous record-breaking numbers and within just 24 hours of its release, the MV garnered 113 million views on YouTube.
As warm and inviting as you’d expect from a song named “Butter”, BTS gave us a slather of smooth synths that make you ready for a trip to sun-kissed paradise. The opening to the song is rhythmic and ear-catching with a hard thud of drums that Jungkook smooths out wonderfully with the first line, “smooth like butter”. A special round of applause is needed for the vocal line in this one and as Jungkook breaks into our hearts, V’s baritone adds another flawless layer. The backing over this introduction really added a fresh element to the track and the pulsating bassline is infectious as the two youngest members take us into the pre-chorus.
Then comes the true showstopper of “Butter”, Jin. His “World-Wide Handsome” confidence shines in this song as he delivers the undeniably cool and suave pre-chorus that “melt[s] your heart into two”. The first line illuminates his velvety vocals and you know from the second he shows up that this is going to be his era to shine. As an ARMY myself I wanted nothing more than for Jin to be distributed more lines and while BTS have fairly disclosed that verses are allocated depending on what ‘just feels right’, there was not enough Jin in “Dynamite” for my liking. However, I was overjoyed to see that “Butter” made room for the oldest member as he leads the transition from a monochrome setting to the rich, vibrant colour palette that we love to see in a BTS music video.
Every moment is pure fun and unwavering confidence. The chorus is a truly catchy beat, and the self-admirable lyricism is accompanied by such a strutting instrumental that evokes a shot of confidence in every listener. It made me feel ready to take on the world, and have a great time doing so. As always, the BTS wardrobe is immaculate and the stylists behind this group deserve every bit of praise going. Even in their gym clothes, the boys look expensive and are dressed in luxury brands like Tom Ford, Dior and Fendi from head to toe. If that doesn’t reap self-assured confidence, I don’t know what does.
Notably, this is rapper, Suga’s first comeback since his shoulder surgery in 2020 and ARMY are elated to see that he is healed and living his best life. His verse is one of my favourite parts of the song as he somehow managed to keep an even flow with an almost gritty beat. Suga’s lyrics advocate the unbothered, cool attitude we have seen previously in those songs that are more or less a response to those less adoring listeners. The confident smile over the line “hate us” is the most satisfying middle finger ever. The background chants and visual support of his BTS brothers behind him really authenticate the hype levels in this song. I usually find Suga’s verses to come with such a bolster of feeling that makes you feel undefeatable and while “Butter” is a simple, summery song, he still manages to pack a punch.
From there, RM swiftly follows with a verse that extends gratitude to ARMY that is nothing less RM than usual. It is not every day that you find a group that stan you back, and one of the many admirable qualities about BTS is their love and appreciation for their fanbase. The youngest member, Jungkook, even has ARMY permanently inked onto his hand! Even if you are not familiar with BTS, the ARMY is one of the most notorious fanbases for their dedication; it is commendable some of the things that this fanbase has helped the boys achieve. They most definitely “have ARMY right behind [them] when [they] say so”.
For sure, while this song is the charismatic summery tune we expected, it also alludes to a new side of the group. While not the most profound of the BTS discography, there are indeed more layers to “Butter” than there might seem, especially knowing that BTS are successors of symbolism. It is not a BTS music video without symbolic allusions to other creative works and previous hits. If we’re pulling apart this video from the seams, there are multiple signifiers that allude to the early debuted Bangtan Boys, one that stood out to me was the elevator that V uses at the start of the video. Similarly, in their 2015 music video for “Dope”, V’s verse was also filmed in an elevator that goes down into the basement where the rest of the members are ready for the chorus. Metaphorically, the elevator goes down in “Dope”, but “Butter” V presses the only button that doesn’t correspond with the letter ‘B’ (which could possibly mean basement), the numbers going from B1 to B7. Instead, he presses the letter A which can symbolically reference BTS’s rising fame and fortune as they only go up from here, the elevator taking them up from the basement and into the Hollywood spotlight.
Another fan favourite I have seen mentions the plane that BTS stand in front of during Suga’s verse. Fans that are well-versed in the visuals of BTS music videos throughout the years have noticed that this plane appears often. In videos such as “Burning Up ‘Fire'”, “Idol” and “Boy with Luv” the plane flies over the members in various verses and the later the song, the closer the plane has gotten. In “Butter” this plane seems to have finally landed which can connote BTS’s arrival in America as Big Hit Entertainment has recently merged with Scooter Braun’s company making HYBE America. Now BTS share a company with popular artists like Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and Demi Lovato. Does this mean there’s a collaboration in the horizon?
Nonetheless, I could create an endless list of possible symbols beyond these two, but these are all just in theory. Although not extremely complex themes and allusions this time around, ARMY are still deciphering every small detail and I love reading what they come up with. However, I will say that “Butter” is a simple ‘we don’t need anybody to tell us who we are and what we stand for’. Is this a shot at the GRAMMY awards? I would say for sure. The glimmering gold and sleek black in the final dance sequence mimics the colour pallet of the American award show too seamlessly for it to be just coincidental. Though as Jin and Jimin sing ‘talk is cheap’ and with or without a GRAMMY, BTS know who they are.
Moreover, leading the last glitz and glamour sequence, lead dancer, J-Hope delivers a solo scene that gives us one final blast of vigour that RM completes. By the end, you’re ready to watch the video all over again. We’ll just brush over the fact that J-Hope actually eats a pad of butter as the video hits the 3-minute mark. As much as the visual effect and efforts were appreciated, I couldn’t imagine anything more nauseating. So, props to J-Hope for the dedication to the aesthetic.
Overall, I was left with endless bounds of energy but also a warm reassurance. The life we once knew is still rebuilding and a lot of us along with it, but BTS has assured us that none of it has to be bleak. Additionally, upon merging with Scooter Braun’s company, I’m sure that while fans were excited for this amendable alignment, there were more questions about ‘what next’. Nevertheless, I believe that “Butter” is a gentle reminder to their fans that they are not changing but instead experimenting as they themselves continue to grow and navigate their way through life like everybody else. The music wouldn’t be so genuine if it didn’t reflect their own psyches. But as promised, they have given us a song that unquestionably melted ARMY’s heart, and I cannot wait to see what is next in store for this comeback.
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