BTS’ Map of the Soul: 7

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Charles Marion, Contributor

After the release of the group’s 2019 promotional EP MAP OF THE SOUL: PERSONA, the Korean group BTS came out a year later with their fourth studio album — MAP OF THE SOUL: 7 — a little over a week ago and received decent to great critical reception across the board; Pitchfork gave the album a 6.3 and the album currently sits at a Metascore of 83 on Metacritic.

MAP OF THE SOUL: 7 is a blend of many sounds and genres — from the energetic Travis Scott–esque vibe and clean trap-inspired production on UGH! to the more traditional pop sounds and melodies of Make It Right and the acoustic direction on Filter, there’s a decent amount of variety that the group focuses itself in throughout the project’s nearly 70-minute runtime over the 19 tracks found on the album — not including the remix of ON featuring Australian pop singer Sia placed at the end of the project.

BTS secured their fourth no. 1 album on the Billboard 200 Chart with the release of the album and almost 422,000 in equivalent U.S. album units — with roughly 347,000 of those counting as direct album sales; this alone marks the best first-week U.S. album sales of 2020 so far with Eminem’s Music To Be Murdered By coming in second with only roughly 279,000 in overall U.S. units. BTS’s last studio album Love Yourself: Tear only scraped around 135,000 equivalent U.S. album units for comparison.

The EP released a year prior to MAP OF THE SOUL: 7 would later include five of its seven total tracks on the album — including the EP’s massive Halsey-assisted lead single 작은 것들을 위한 시 (Boy With Luv). The album’s promotional single ON also debuted well as fourth on the Billboard Hot 100 against Roddy Rich’s The Box, Future and Drake’s Life Is Good, and Post Malone’s Circles; the music video for ON on YouTube also reached wide success with it’s release a week after the album’s original release date and roughly 70 million views over the course of six days after the video came out.

Out of the 42 Bob Jones students surveyed, a variety of opinions on the BTS, the group’s music, and the K-pop industry as a whole were noted. Only five students out of those surveyed had listened to the album and most expressed their enjoyment with the project.

Out of the people that had an opinion of the album — Senior Toni Glover said, “I’ve been a fan of BTS since 2016, around the end of The Most Beautiful Moments in Life and the beginning of Blood, Sweat, and TearsMAP OF THE SOUL: 7 has to be one of my all-time favorites. I enjoy all the albums they have released, but I don’t think I’ve went this crazy over one of their albums since You Never Walk Alone. I’m a bigger fan of their earlier albums — pre-2017, but MAP OF THE SOUL: 7 is definitely in the top three of my favorite BTS albums.”

Sophomore Danica Vu noted, “I love it, but I do like their old albums still though. This album is way better than their last one though.” Danica also added, “I like them, the abstract theme shown in the tear album and this one suits them well. I still like their older ones though.”

Many people out of the students surveyed also noted their concern and distaste for the darker side of the K-pop industry and how it affects the artists. Junior Lily Hughs also expressed this concern. “I’m not a huge fan of companies exploiting individuals for money. In fact, I really hate how the fans are just okay with that — indifferent, even. I do my best to value people, and putting a price over someone’s abilities and restraining so many aspects of their life is just plain cruel.”

It’s hard to tell what impact MAP OF THE SOUL: 7 will have on the group’s discography in the long run but it’s clear that BTS was successful in making their next commercial release one to be remembered.