BTS is not only known as a constant record-breaker but also as creatives who bring next-level artistry to their lyrics, with literary references here and there. Their tracks go from heartwarming and relevant to insightful and deep, showing their artistic growth. Since their debut in 2013, the seven-member K-pop group has been boggling the minds of their fans with the storyline of their songs, and ARMYs are quick to come up with theories all over social media.
If this is your first time learning about the group’s discography, we have a guide that will serve as the map of your soul. Here are 9 BTS songs that are actually based on books, which are literally works of a genius.
1. "Blood, Sweat & Tears"
This particular single from BTS’ album, Wings, will make you want to *begin* your ~intensive~ research on the group’s songs. “Blood, Sweat & Tears” is chock-full of symbolism from Hermann Hesse’s Demian, which tells the self-realization of a young man who’s struggling between two different realms—the good and the evil. In the music video, you can see portrayals of temptation, which perfectly resembles the book. Also, if you can observe from the album’s tracks, the titles seem to connote Demian, like “Intro: Boy Meets Evil” as an example.
But your wings are the devil’s
There is a ‘bitter’ next to your sweet
2. "Spring Day"
In the MV, there is an “Omelas” signage that brings us to Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas, a narrative on a magical city with all the positive adjectives you can think of, all at the expense of the misery of an abandoned child. In contrast, “Spring Day” conveys that no season is eternal, and the day will come when someone will make you feel that you never walk alone.
Passing by the edge of the cold winter
Until the days of spring
Until the days of flowers blossoms
Please stay, please stay there a little longer
“Butterfly” is inspired by Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore, with the context of a 15-year-old boy who escaped from home to get away from his complicated situation and encounters a handful of experiences as he asks himself if it’s true. This read on illusion and consciousness is also on RM’s list of favorite books.
The small pieces guttered down darkly
From my heart, a barren noise
I don’t know if this is reality or a dream
My Kafka on the shore
Don’t go to the woods over there
The hidden track from the Love Yourself: Her album, “Sea” is another Murakami reference from the bestselling dystopian novel on the discovery of what is real in a parallel universe, 1Q84. In a 2017 tweet, RM mentioned a quote by the author: “Wherever there’s hope, there’s a trial.”
I don’t know, I don’t know
Is this the sea or the desert?
Is this hope or despair?
Is this real or fake?
5. "Intro: Serendipity"
A poem as sentimental and beautiful as Flower by Kim Chunsu deserves a tribute. The main theme of “Intro: Serendipity” revolves around being acknowledged by the person you love when they see and touch you, which is directly connected to the literary masterpiece.
When you called me
I became your flower
As if we were waiting
We bloom until we ache
6. "Intro: Persona"
Similar to Dr. Murray Stein’s self-help book on the theories of analytical psychology, Jung’s Map of the Soul: An Introduction, “Intro: Persona” is the opening track of the group's aptly-named album, Map of the Soul: Persona. A closer look at the comeback trailer (which we spied with our little eye) of RM asking himself who the hell he is are the words “shadow” and “ego” scribbled on the board. In an interview with BBC, the author himself recognized BTS’ album, and expounded in a podcast how it’s “full of longing and struggling for authenticity.”
The ‘me’ that I remember and people know
The ‘me’ that I created myself to vent out
Yeah, maybe I have been deceiving myself
Maybe I’ve been lying
But I’m not embarrassed anymore, this is the map of my soul
7. "Pied Piper"
From the German folklore The Pied Piper of Hamelin, this BTS number is a straightforward yet funny description of how the fans love the group (and can’t close their eyes), similar to how the pied piper cast a spell on the children of Hamelin through his musical instrument.
Follow the sound of the pipe, follow this song
It’s a bit dangerous but I’m so sweet
I’m here to save you, I’m here to ruin you
You called me, see? I’m so sweet
Follow the sound of the pipe
8. "Magic Shop"
Believe us when we say that this comforting song never fails to make any ARMY smile. BTS views themselves as the fan’s magic shop and believes in their galaxy, based on A Neurosurgeon’s Quest To Discover The Mysteries Of The Brain And The Secrets Of The Heart by James R. Doty, MD. The memoir is about the author meeting an older woman named Ruth, who taught him to open his heart which leads him to pursue being a neurosurgeon. In 2018, Dr. Doty tweeted how he’s grateful to BTS for making his book as an inspiration (which also became a bestseller in South Korea).
On days I hate being myself, days I want to disappear forever
Let’s make a door in your heart
Open the door and this place will await
It’s okay to believe, the Magic Shop will comfort you
From the same name, “Anpanman” is derived from Takashi Yanase’s Japanese superhero comic book about the world’s weakest hero in the form of a red bean bread man. Despite being feeble, Anpanman is always there for those who need him by giving a piece of his red bean bread face. This unselfish and kind act is what BTS expressed in the song (which btw, is totally connected to the album it’s under—Love Yourself: Tear—on appreciating yourself despite your flaws): that being weak doesn’t make you less of a hero, but a new generation superhero. Tissue, please.
Some say, you’re almost an old fossil now
You’re not qualified, just do what you’ve been doing before
But I still want to be a hero
All I can give you is Anpan
And a word, “You’ve worked hard”
But I’ll fly to you right away if you call me
Please call me
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