In April, Korean hip-hop boy group Bangtan Boys, also known as BTS, wowed us with their third mini-album “The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, Pt. 1.” Two months later, on June 23th, they are back once again, this time with a re-launch of and music video for one of the songs, “Dope.” Suddenly, all the teaser images of the seven members dressed up in different get-ups boarding onto a crowded elevator are making a lot more sense to us. And with over two million combined views for the music video already on both their label Big Hit Entertainment’s and content distributor 1theK’s channels, the boys prove they are not so rookie anymore with this dope comeback.
I worked all night, every day
While you were playing in the club
Don’t be surprised and listen every day
I got a feel, I got a feel
I’m kinda sick!
Idol groups like BTS know all too well what it is like to be stay up all night practicing in the studio while kids their age are off at parties or doing other things more appropriate for their age. Although it would be easy for the boys to feel pessimistic about being overworked, I doubt that adopting that kind of negative attitude would suit their images well. Rather, they choose to condemn the low-lives of the world and praise themselves for paving their road to success so early in their career.
It’s not a complete diss track, however, since they also encourage kids to follow their dreams. Don’t let others tell you don’t have the willpower, don’t let others bring you down. Follow the Bangtan way of doing things and “reject rejection.” Like the sunrise which gives us hope before the day has even begun, one’s youth is the prime time to get inspired and explore one’s choices. Indeed, perhaps this is the most beautiful moment in life the album title refers to.
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The song starts off with leader and rapper Rap Monster welcoming us, asking if it’s our first time with BTS. We are given just enough time to utter a reply before the percussive beats drop and we are greeted by the vocal line. Even though vocals tend to be somewhat mellow, the counterbalance to the savage raps that members Rap Monster, Suga, and J-Hope tend to deliver, there is still that haughty quality to it that remind us that they are essentially a hip-hop group. Momentum starts to pick up as the rhythmic claps in the background makes their entrance, signaling that the highly-anticipated hook is nearing.
I’m kinda dope!
With that, the group trumpets in a dynamic chorus marked by the squeals of a saxophone. This exotic, jungle-like hook is a bit bizarre, yet oddly catchy. Employing the use of this type of brass is different from most hip-hop numbers that would usually feature electronic or heavy percussive instrumentals, but this is a good kind of different. The loud, sharp blares of the saxophone are able to effectively retain the same robust feeling the boys aim to give off through their lyrics. Although this is just an introduction of what’s to come for the remainder of the strong single, it lays down the necessary groundwork for the later verses and hooks.
Structurally, the song strays away from the conventional verse/pre-chorus/chorus format that we are used by incorporating the aforementioned introduction, making the song seem longer than it actually is. There are many memorable aspects to the song, including the soulful high note during the bridge, but the real kicker to the well-produced track would have to be the saxophone that finds its way again in the coda, ending the piece on a similar note to which it started with.
From the onset, the viewers are made to feel as if they are on set with the members. The camera, which embodies the viewer’s gaze, faces up at the ceiling until Rap Monster comes along to pick it up, asking us directly if it is our first encounter with the group. While it would have been a wonderful idea to keep up the charade that the spectator is a considerable presence on the site by physically interacting more with the camera (not to mention the fan service!), we are ultimately looking on through its lens. Nevertheless, there are plenty of moments to keep the spectators engaged, such as the intense eye contact the members give to the camera while singing or the instance when member Suga shoved fellow rapper J-Hope out the way for the screen time.
The music video is also shot in such a way that is analogous to a one-take style, with the camera quickly panning from corner to corner within the same dark brick room to show off the profession that each member chose to adopt for the shoot. Just some examples of how the setting works to complement their roles include the corridor enclosed in wire fencing that youngest member Jungkook, dressed up as a police officer, confidently walks through with swagger or the garage, outfitted with checkered banners and a car, that J-Hope the race car driver half stumbles-half dances into. With a song all about work, it’s no real surprise that the concept would relate to job titles.
Lighting is minimal here, as with production, but that only allows us to focus more on the individual talents of the boys. Besides, the drab atmosphere is actually more suitable for their original theme of working through the night.
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What can I say, I thoroughly enjoyed the choreography. It required very fast-paced and sharp movements, but the boys were able to nail them with ease. The fancy footwork during the chorus seems like something out of a Teen Top music video and the moves, ranging from the little jumps and fist pumps during the “dope” shouts or hip thrusts during the saxophone number, kept in time to the beat. The adorable falters right before the dopes were able to bring each member’s wild personalities to the table as well.
As if their pure as gold vocals and fierce raps were not enough, BTS was able to deliver the “energy, energy, energy” to make the song come alive. Overall, the group absolutely killed the dance with their impressive and powerful moves that could even outshine the spazziest of music video prop lights.
Before “Dope” I never took much interest in BTS, but with this most recent comeback I can’t help but fall in love with them just a little bit. Their songs are usually rich with life lessons that urge us to fight the system and this one is no different. On the other hand, “Dope” also goes above and beyond their previous sounds by integrating the use of saxophone, the ultimate element of surprise, and changing up the arrangements. As for the video, I am sure many BTS fans, or A.R.M.Y’s, approved of seeing their idols all decked out in uniform. Because which fan has not imagined their favorite boy group member as an authority of the law or as a doctor… or as a super sleuther… or as a… bell boy… hmm.
Do you agree with my review of BTS’s “Dope”? What roles would you like to see BTS take on next? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.