BTS - Boy With Luv (feat. Halsey)

 
 

 

If you don’t know who BTS is at this point, I think I might have to assume you’ve been living without the internet for your entire life. It’s surprisingly been nearly eight months since we last saw the group drop a release, which in the K-pop world would have fans questioning if their faves were even in the realm of existence at this point. Jokes aside, I personally felt my affection for the group’s music starting to fade in the last few years, so I simply wanted this release to renew those feelings. The teasers for this track, however, left me with the feeling that this release likely wouldn’t be the song to do it.

The Song

If “DNA” was the most pop-centric, upbeat, unapologetic title track release from BTS previously, “Boy With Luv” is here to snatch those accolades away. This is easily the brightest crayon in the color box for the group, and it makes for a massively different approach and sound overall. Whether you like that shift in direction, however, is probably not as simple to decipher.

For me, this is another step away from what drew me in to BTS to begin with. This is certainly as far away as they’ve gotten from their more hip-hop roots, and even with the raps included in this track, two of the three didn’t really hit with the impact that I tend to look to the group for. The exception to that was definitely RM’s lengthy bridge - it was like a constant barrage that flowed cleanly, and I dig the interesting choice for a bridge. Everything else, though, felt a little too static and one-speed for me. The song is definitely safe - likely tailored to be as radio-friendly as possible for the massive international audience that they’ve garnered. And that’s definitely fine and makes sense, don’t get me wrong. It’s just not what I’m personally looking for when it comes to K-pop.

I don’t think I could talk about this track without mentioning Halsey, too. I’m not really all that familiar with her or her work, but honestly, she kind of got shafted in this song. At least in the music video, because apparently on the actual album she got more lines than a few random background words and the “oh my my my” parts. I think it was kind of odd for them to release the music video with her and not also have it be the version that features her the most, but I guess it is what it is. That being said, her voice did add a nice texture to the song that otherwise would have been missing, and I did enjoy how seamless the blending of her words with the members’ was.

Overall, though, I’m not really a fan of this song. It’s fine and it’s certainly easy on the ears, but there’s so little here that feels earwormy enough to stick for very long. The “oh my my my” parts were as close as it got, but it just isn’t enough to keep me coming back. The production values, the presentation, the consistency, the vocal flavors - they’re all there, but ultimately the song just sails smoothly without any particular flairs to have it be a standout track.

The Video

I mentioned “DNA” at the top of the song portion of this review, so I think it’s only appropriate to do the same here. This video is definitely on the brighter and more colorful side of things just like the song, so it certainly captures those vibes perfectly. Very similarly, it’s easy on the eyes with its color palette choices. I enjoyed how simplistic everything appeared, giving the video an almost budget kind of feel, though obviously the budget wasn’t that limited. Things still come across cleanly and neatly, and the cinematography was enjoyable. In particular the moving parts of some of the sets were really fun to see. That and when the camera panned along with the members (and Halsey) as they danced to their left and right.

Speaking of dancing, it wouldn’t be a BTS review without mentioning the choreography. As expected from the group, the dance is easily one of the most eye-catching and interesting parts of this video. There’s lots of portions where there’s interplay between the members, and while the dance isn’t as bold and hard-hitting as some of their past releases, the song certainly doesn’t call for it. The choreography is still intricate, though, so don’t expect this not to be an amazing spectacle on live stages.

Apart from that, this is the first time in a long while I was actually really pleased with a BTS video. It didn’t have some lengthy, drawn out plot to delve into at all. Instead, it’s mostly just a plain video. While that normally is one of my critiques for most other groups, to see BTS go for something so simple at the peak of their careers is actually refreshing in a way. It’s definitely something I found myself more intrigued by than anything, but I also appreciate the no-strings-attached feel of it all. The little callbacks to their past albums during RM’s bridge was a nice touch, too.

All in all, the video served the song very well. It matched and the fluidity of the scenes felt satisfying. The modesty of everything from the sets to the colors all felt very refreshing for BTS, and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the video side of this release. I honestly dread going into most BTS reviews because it tends to mean I have a lot of imagery and metaphors to decipher and interpret, so I’m particularly pleased that I get a pass this time around.

Conclusion

“Boy With Luv” is a track that stands out in BTS’s discography due to its rather pop-heavy tones. However, I don’t personally feel it stands out in almost any other way musically. This is a track that I could see tons of boy groups doing, and there was a fairly distinct lack of the more classic BTS feel that I’ve come to know and love. It’s a song that’s been made and tailolred for plug-and-play radio satisfaction, and while that’s certainly fine in its own right, it’s just not what I enjoy. If you love mercilessly bright and happy songs, or if you just adore everything BTS puts out, this may very well be your favorite release from them. Otherwise, I’m not sure that this will have the same kind of lasting power that their past releases have.