BTS have only just released their latest song- another entirely English track called “Butter”– and it is already breaking records. The song was released around twelve hours ago and has become the fastest music video in YouTube history to receive over 70 million views. Even as I type, that view count is climbing and I’m certain that “Butter” is going to make “Dynamite’s” record breaking success feel small in comparison. With the “Butter” craze only just beginning, let’s take a look at the newest track from BTS as they continue their takeover of the western music industry.
All Images Courtesy of Big Hit Music/ HYBE
The song is a jaunty pop tune that- despite being released in mid-May- is likely to be the song of the summer and for good reason. There is a lot to enjoy, from its infectious electro beat to its catchy hooks. There are definite inspirations from artists such as Michael Jackson and Queen here- particularly “Another One Bites the Dust” from Queen- which demonstrates a level of respect and acknowledgment for the achievements and legendary status’s of these artists. There is something in this song that I haven’t really heard in a BTS song before and that something is a highly flirtatious confidence that overflows throughout. Lines like “Hot like summer/ Yeah, I’m making you sweat like that” and “Know that I got that heat/let me show you cause talk is cheap” accompanied with the devilishly handsome looks and sexily self-assured attitudes of the seven members- particularly in the music video- would make even the most prudish of us blush. In fact, it almost falls into the realms of cockiness at times- with lyrics like “I got that superstar glow” and “I’ll melt your heart into two”- although it is a justified confidence. When you consider BTS’s struggles to be acknowledged and respected in the music industry and their incredible achievements, then confidence is the least they deserve. They have earned the right to let that confidence shine. You can’t help but feel that confidence rub off onto you as you listen to the track too, so hopefully “Butter” will act as an anthem for self-belief and confidence as well as an energetic dance track.
Lyrically, “Butter” is a lot more coherent than “Dynamite”. No lyrics in the style of “King Kong/Kick the drum” can be found here and there is definitely an improvement in the groups English since “Dynamites” release last August. Not that it really matters as the group are Korean and shouldn’t have to feel as though English is a necessity in their music careers. The song is highly enjoyable- though a little short at less than three minutes- and will hopefully smash records throughout the summer. In terms of vocals, everyone nails it once again as they did with “Dynamite”. The vocal line- Jungkook, Jimin, V and Jin- are the stars of “Butter” and the rap line- RM, Suga and j-hope- get relegated to the side-lines much like they did with “Dynamite”. “Butter” is a pop song so this line distribution is understandable but I wish that RM, Suga and j-hope had more opportunities to show off their skills with these English songs. That being said, RM had a hand in writing the rap part of the song- my personal favourite part of “Butter”- and it is in this section that the group mention their dedicated fan base- the ARMY- specifically for the first time in a song with the line “got ARMY right behind us when we say so”. This is accompanied by a cute little homage to the ARMY as the boys spell out ARMY with some silly poses. This is also a nice call back to a picture that BTS took back in 2013- which I will post below- where they did the same thing. It is a reminder that despite all their fame and success, they are still the same people that they were back then. It is refreshing to see a music group so respectful and aware of their fan base, to the point of mentioning them in a song. The vocal line are on top form and whilst Jimin and Jungkook stole the show in “Dynamite”, it is Jin and V who get more of a chance to show what they are made of in “Butter”. Jin in particular gets a lot of lines and screen time in the music video and not only demonstrates a huge improvement in his English, but also shows off a leading man presence likely thanks to his background in acting. Many have often thought that Jin tends to get relegated to the background but he proves himself as more than capable of taking on more of a leading role in both his vocals and stage presence in “Butter”.
There is some constructive criticism to be directed at “Butter” despite the many positive aspects. Firstly, another English song is certainly good for business but was it really necessary? BTS have so many amazing songs in the Korean language and it feels like another English track is an attempt to appeal to the masses rather than a song created in earnest. It’s a remarkable achievement and incredibly impressive that these men are able to sing full songs in English but they shouldn’t feel the need to create songs in English to make an impact. Another English song may have been a decision made by the group themselves and of course, they are entitled to make any kind of music that they so choose. I just hope that they weren’t pressured into another English song by other parties with dollar signs in their eyes. I mentioned the confidence of the song earlier as well- which is a great thing as it is well deserved and also motivating for listeners. However, there is something about it that just doesn’t feel like BTS. In the music industry, you have to be able to change and adapt if you want to have a long lasting career and BTS do this excellently, reinventing themselves with each comeback both physically- their hair colours and clothing styles change like the weather- and with their music. They have never lost their sense of identity in the midst of these changes but “Butter” is the first time that I have seen a reinvention that feels a little bit alien. Like I said, musicians have to be able to make changes to both their music and their styles to stay fresh in their careers. Just look at David Bowie’s iconic transitions throughout his incredible career. It has to happen but there is just a little something that doesn’t feel like BTS here. That is not to criticise the song or the members- I love the song as it cheers me up greatly and makes me want to dance, much like “Dynamite” does and if you frequent the blog here then you will know that I am ARMY and also a huge BTS nerd and fangirl- but I could not help but feel a bit surprised by the somewhat westernised tone and nature of the main body of the song. RM’s chorus feels the most familiar, which makes me think that song would have had a bit more classic BTS if the group themselves had more of an input. The aforementioned cockiness of the lyrics is enjoyable as a fun song that can give others the self-confidence to get up, dance and feel like a star while doing so but they also feel miles away from what BTS represent. They represent loving yourself- and of course that does come through in their lyrics- but they also stand for humility and humbleness. They represent the underdogs and although their stars began to shine ever brighter as they rose to prominence, they never let the fame, fortune and bright lights of the celebrity world get to their heads. The lyrics of this song- minus RM’s rap’s verse- suggest otherwise, as controversial a comment as that might be.
At the end of the day, this is song is a catchy, enjoyable, well made dance song that is incredibly cheerful and is likely to raise people’s spirits whilst breaking every record imaginable. It is sure to be the go to hit of the summer this year and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The music video is also great, featuring a new dance and some gorgeous looks for the boys. “Butter” may not be a work of art – nor may it be a song that sounds entirely true to BTS, with lyrics that border on arrogance at times- but does that really matter? If a song can bring some joy during a time when the world is still reeling from the pandemic, then that is all that matters. BTS surely have another smash hit on their hands with “Butter”. I just hope that their next musical offering has more input from them directly in terms of composition.