To choose one song from Map of the Soul: Persona is a Herculean task that I honestly don’t wish on anyone, least of all me. In fact, I will be writing a strongly worded tweet to the Bop Shop editor (hi, Pat) to express the emotional distress this caused me. Because here’s the thing: BTS are incapable of producing anything but bops. And while the Korean septet’s latest single “Boy With Luv” — a fizzy, upbeat collaboration with Halsey — is the brightest and boppiest of bops, it’s braggadocios album closer “Dionysus” that deserves your immediate respect.
On the surface, it sounds like a track that resulted from a boozy game of Mad Libs: a stadium banger inspired by the Greek god Dionysus (god of wine) and Korean folk music that mixes hip-hop with prog rock. It’s a total anomaly, a song that absolutely should not work, and yet, it’s everything I love about BTS in one song. It’s wildly ambitious, clever, confident, and bursting with personality (Jin is wailing in those background vocals). On “Dionysus,” BTS get drunk on their own artistry and claim they’re thirsty for more. “If we’re there, wherever it is in the world, it’s a stadium party,” Suga raps. “Born as a K-pop idol and reborn as an artist.”
Whatever preconceived notions you may have about K-pop or Korean music or BTS, “Dionysus” obliterates them. All hail Bangtan, our nu-screamo kings. —Crystal Bell