The stars have aligned and presented us with a universe in which two of the biggest bands in the world, Coldplay and BTS have collaborated. The single, ‘My Universe’, dropped on September 24th and served as an impactful reminder to what music should be all about: universality. The song features a mix of both Korean and English verses that express cosmic analogies about prioritising love over difference. Written by members of both bands, the song is embedded with celestial poetry that is combined with the sound of heartfelt pop where the subject matter is simple: love who you love. It’s a beautiful reminder that difference shouldn’t divide but unite and the song is established in a relationship that although may be forbidden, will overcome all restrictions.
Of course, there’s always an extensive spectrum of responses to any song release, especially where such major artists are concerned. BTS, particularly, have been headline stealers for a while now, whether the media are praising them for their phenomenal achievements or simply exploiting their name to draw attention. Although, the commentary surrounding their alliance with Coldplay appeared to use words like “unusual” or “surprising” and then there’s some critiques who were especially heightened by unnecessary barriers of discrimination. Nevertheless, I wanted to disclose the fact that this pairing makes perfect sense in every way possible; just some of the more narrow-minded journalists tend to evade the crucial element of research. For those who don’t know, Coldplay are ubiquitous in the fabric of music and modern culture, and their notoriety proceeds them. BTS are also global sensations that have earned their top tier position by smashing boundaries and promoting an inclusivity that aims to tear down the walls that society have shaped. Both bands are great advocates for love and acceptance in their music, this also replicated in their charity partnerships and similar work ethic. Did you know that in their earlier years, Coldplay were known to give 10% of their profits straight to charity? Then, just last week BTS stood at the UN General Assembly as ‘Special Presidential Envoy’s for Future Generations and Culture’. They are two of modern music’s deepest thinkers, and their lyricism is imbued with mesmerising metaphors and touching statements that project a manifestation of togetherness that the music industry should be encouraging.
Unfortunately, you still get a lot of journalists, talk show hosts, and other celebrities who seem to think they’re amusing and trendy by cracking jokes surrounding the bands fanbase, physical appearance or just their music in general. In reference to the recent Billboard chart argument, BTS leader, RM, commented that “it just feels like we’re easy targets because we’re a boy band, a K-Pop act, and we have a high fan loyalty”. I personally find it exceedingly senseless how something that should be celebrated is in fact a stigmatised representation in the media. Nevertheless, this is why the collaboration with Coldplay was more essential and forward thinking than it may appear. So, while there’s this rhetoric of love and unity in “My Universe” that gives the song it’s iridescent euphoria, it’s what this duo stand for that is just as important, whether you love or hate the song itself. I say this about a lot of bands, especially BTS, that whether you like them or not, don’t overlook what they contribute to the social sphere and the impact they are making in an industry that is no longer striving for stagnancy. While some people wish to put a pause on the music industry reconfiguring itself and continue this mention of the industry ‘in crisis’, the constant flux of the industry’s happenings is unstoppable and necessary. I love to see bands like BTS thriving in an industry that previously would have been averse to their genre of music and core message, as it’s a symbol of progression.
Thankfully, Chris Martin sits amongst the growing scope of mature and developed artists who celebrate BTS. “They said that we can’t be together/ Because we come from different sides” RM and Jimin sing in the second verse of ‘My Universe’, and although spectators may think BTS and Coldplay don’t belong together, Chris still flew all the way to South Korea to meet BTS for the first time. The short documentary “Inside ‘My Universe’” was gifted to us just a few days after the single’s release and it was the most endearing watch. It was so humbling to see just how excited the members of BTS were to meet the lead singer of Coldplay. They were in complete awe and you watch this group of young musician’s gush over one of their favourite artists, not a single ounce of hubris involved. Often, we put celebrities on such high pedestals that we seem to forget that they are still just regular people with their own likes and dislikes, and their own set of strengths and weaknesses. Either that or fame inflates their ego beyond recognition. Though, right here we have a group of individuals, who have great levels of admiration for each other, come together to share their undying love and passion for music to promote their innovative thinking.
“[Chris] doesn’t seem to hold any kind of prejudice towards others”, says Namjoon and this is obvious in Chris’s interaction with the boys as the studio is bursting with nothing but praise and wonder. “It’s very special to me that the most popular artist in the world speaks Korean and is a group of brothers not from the West and it feels very hopeful in terms of thinking of the world as one family … Then you see who they are as people and it’s all the stuff I agree with”, Chris tells BigHit and you’re suddenly thinking, what was so ‘odd’ about this collaboration? Why can’t we have Western pop and Korean pop come together? It’s all pop! I think Chris’s mention of hope captures the core of this collaboration perfectly as both are a few of the best representatives we have in the industry.
All in all, despite the ugliness of the world, there’s this unity in music that continues to transcend borders, rules, gender, race, and sexuality. This song, while also sounding brilliant, holds immense social significance in reminding us that no matter who or what you are, you are entitled to loving whoever you want, regardless of what everybody else thinks. Just as Jimin says “it’s a universe where you and I exist”, and it doesn’t matter where we might all come from because we’re now here together and while we’ve heard this message often in other musical works, it can never be said enough. So, although this may just seem like another radio hit, or an ‘unusual’ combination of musicians, its two groups with similar motives utilising their craft to promote faith in the idea that love truly can conquer all. Especially since we’re still overcoming a reign of borders from the pandemic, this is something we all need to keep hearing. Overall, I find it enthralling to see two unbelievably talented and genuine artists come together to produce something so sincere with such a profoundly optimistic outlook that not only surpasses widespread limitations, but excites me for the future of our music industry.