There's a lot to unpack on BTS's latest release, Map of the Soul: 7. From the vulnerable depths of tracks like "Interlude: Shadow" and "Black Swan," to the enlightened highs of "On" and "We Are Bulletproof : the Eternal" — and the visceral, scorching anger of "Ugh!" — the 20-track album spans the emotional spectrum.
On 7, BTS confront their shadows and learn to confidently live within the "beautiful prison" of their own ambitious making, forging ahead with a newfound sense of self. But reaching this state of acceptance is a journey, one that can span lifetimes, or in this case, an entire record. That's the power of BTS: No matter where you are on the road to acceptance, members RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook have a relatable song for you.
Below, see which playful bop, empowered anthem, or wistful track you should listen to based on your current mood.
Listen to it when you're feeling: contemplative about your future
Key lyric: "The 'me' that I want myself to be / The 'me' that people want me to be / The 'me' that you love / And the 'me' that I create"
As the intro, "Persona" isn't just an energetic meditation on Jungian philosophy — the lyrics of which set up the foundation of the record's emphasis on persona, shadow, and ego — but it's also RM at his most introspective, pondering "who the hell am I?" over a sample of the group's 2014 song "Intro: Skool Luv Affair." The leader and rapper confronts the many versions of himself that he presents to the world while reckoning with the person he's always been: Namjoon Kim.
"Boy With Luv" ft. Halsey
Listen to it when you're feeling: content and present / like you need to dance in the middle of the street
Key lyric: "One after another ay, ay, everything is special ay, ay / The things you’re interested in, the way you walk or talk, and every little trivial habit of yours"
That cup of coffee in the morning, that extra scoop of ice cream, hearing a certain song on the radio — sometimes the things that make us the happiest are life's small moments that, at the time, seem insignificant. "Boy With Luv" is a bubbly celebration of those instances. The upbeat Halsey collaboration celebrates the act of falling in love and finding joy in the smallest of things. (The song's Korean title roughly translates to "A Poem for the Small Things.")
"Make It Right"
Listen to it when you're feeling: like you need to tell someone how much they mean to you
Key lyric: "This eternal night with no end in sight / It's you who gifted me the morning"
The relationship between BTS and their fans, called ARMY, isn't some kind of one-sided devotion. And "Make It Right," co-written by singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, shows ARMY just how much of a positive impact they've had on the members' lives — and it's a meaningful reminder that BTS will always be there to help their fans through the darkness, too.
Listen to it when you're feeling: that there's got to be more to life than this
Key lyric: "I'm fine but I'm not fine / I told myself I was used to it"
RM says that he feels sad whenever he listens to "Jamais Vu." Well, join the club. From members Jungkook, Jin, and J-Hope, this track is one of the album's more somber moments — a glimpse into the life of someone who is just going through the motions looking for a "remedy that will make my heart beat again." But BTS has never been afraid to get vulnerable, and the feelings of self-doubt that creep into these lyrics hint at the shadows to come.
Listen to it when you're feeling: in the mood to party/create something
Key lyric: "Art at this level is over-drinking, over-drinking yeah / The new record is the fight against oneself, a fight yeah"
For BTS, even a drinking song takes on a deeper meaning. With overt lyrical references to the gluttonous god of wine Dionysus — "Thyrsus (grippin’) Grape (eatin’)" — the track meditates on the perils of intoxicating fame and creation through the lens of a veritable party anthem. It’s a recurring theme throughout BTS’s oeuvre: Being at the top means they’re only in competition with themselves, a limitless feeling that's both invigorating and empty.
Listen to it when you're feeling: alone with your thoughts
Key lyric: "No one told me how lonely it is up here"
The brighter the light, the darker the shadow. On the moody, pensive interlude track, rapper Suga, known for his furious flow and astute observations, comes to an understanding with his shadow as he grapples with the fear that comes with this maelstrom of fame and success.
Listen to it when you're feeling: like you need to remember that your art/self has value
Key lyric: "Nothing can devour me / I shout out with ferocity"
In the seven years since their debut, the group has matured from seven youths hellbent on disrupting the system into seven young men who know the value of self-love but still struggle to practice it. So has their music. Co-written by RM, "Black Swan" is a raw examination of a fear all artists have: that the thing that once made them feel everything — their music — will make them feel nothing. But through these moments of doubt and exhaustion, BTS comes to the realization that art is the purest form of self-expression and self-preservation, and you can't lose something you've had all along.
Listen to it when you're feeling: like experimenting with a new look
Key lyric: "Mix the colors in the palette, pick your filter / Which me do you want?"
Each member of BTS is multifaceted in their own way, but no one expresses their dynamic duality quite like Jimin. The pillow-lipped vocalist and dancer can saunter his way into your heart with a single simmering look or dazzling smile. Here, he calls for the listener's attention over a Latin beat. Cute or sexy, mischievous or gentle, the many sides of Jimin are like an array of colorful acrylics on a palette. He’ll make something beautiful with whichever one you choose.
Listen to it when you're feeling: wistful and longing for the past
Key lyric: "My life has been a movie, all the time"
To become a member of the most successful and influential boy group in the world, sacrifices must be made. For youngest member Jungkook, who debuted at the age of 15, that meant forgoing a normal teenage experience for the sake of his dream to become a performer. JK touches on these growing pains in "My Time," a wistful pop-R&B song that finds the now tatted-up 22-year-old reflecting on time spent on airplane mode, traversing the globe as an international superstar. "I feel as though I’ve become an adult faster than anyone," he sings. And he's probably right.
"Louder Than Bombs"
Listen to it when you're feeling: overwhelmed and a little emo
Key lyric: "I want to tell you, that darkness / Exists everywhere, don't be afraid of it"
With an emphasis on healing, BTS speaks to a generation of people who all carry their own emotional baggage with them — but all that empathy can take its toll mentally. "Louder Than Bombs," co-written by Suga, RM, and J-Hope with pop star Troye Sivan, is the dark, atmospheric manifestation of such fears. But as that creeping dread grows sonically, so does their resolve to keep singing and, importantly, keep inspiring their fans to speak themselves.
Listen to it when you're feeling: like you own the whole damn world
Key lyric: "Can't hold me down 'cuz you know I'm a fighter / Carried myself into this beautiful prison"
The essence of Map of the Soul: 7 is best distilled into energetic lead single "On," an empowering track about accepting your faults, facing your shadows, and forging ahead. "We sometimes stumbled in the past seven years, and sometimes we wandered a little," Suga said during the group's global press conference on February 24. "We learned to ground ourselves, and the lyrics show a resolve to face and fight our fears."
Listen to it when you're feeling: like you want to set something on fire / clap back to a troll on social media
Key lyric: "Rage? Of course you need it / When it burns up there's always a reason"
Do you ever just want to shout "Ugh!" at the top of your lungs out of pure frustration? Now there's a song for that. From rappers RM, Suga, and J-Hope, "Ugh!" is a blistering cypher that rages against a world run by anger. Part aggressive call to action, part fiery (and very direct) response to anonymous online commenters, the rap line examines what happens when "someone’s rage becomes someone’s life" and the ripple effect it has online and off.
"00:00 (Zero O'Clock)"
Listen to it when you're feeling: like you need a hug
Key lyric: "You know those days / Those days where you're sad for no reason"
On the days when everything feels wrong, when getting out of bed is a struggle, it's important to remember that tomorrow is a fresh start. "00:00 (Zero O'Clock)" is a sweet, pop lullaby from vocalists Jin, Jimin, V, and Jungkook. The soothing refrain of "and you gonna be happy" is seeped in sincerity, delivered more like an affirmation than a promise.
Listen to it when you're feeling: like you need to remember where you've been/need to cry
Key lyric: "I want to hug the many thorns in the budding rose / The smiling kid, the child who was always laughing brightly"
Leave it to V to make everyone cry with a song written to his childhood self. The Map of the Soul era is rooted in honesty and self-reflection, giving the members a chance to contemplate the last seven years. On "Inner Child," V throws it back even further, singing of a time when the stars were too far out of his tiny reach. Now, he celebrates his growing pains, knowing that the thorns helped him bloom brightly. "It will be OK," he reassures himself, "because today's me is doing fine."
Listen to it when you're feeling: like you need to tell your best friend how much they really mean to you
Key lyric: "Me from the moon, you from the stars / Our conversations were like homework / BFFs on one day, enemies on another"
Perhaps the album's most endearing moment, "Friends" is a playful duet between best friends and self-proclaimed soulmates Jimin and V. The duo trace their unlikely friendship over a calypso beat, recalling the "school uniforms" and "dumpling incident[s]" that define their unbreakable bond. Jimin affectionately calls V his "alien," and in turn, the raspy-voiced singer asks the dancer to stay by his side always, long after the cheers from the crowd go silent.
Listen to it when you're feeling: in the mood to tell someone how much you love them
Key lyric: "I'll orbit around you / I'll stay by your side / I'll be your light"
From eldest member Jin, "Moon" is a lunar love song in which the honey-voiced vocalist imagines himself as the moon orbiting around his very own stargirl, or in this case, the fans. The mid-tempo, saccharine serenade finds Jin contemplating just how much meaning they've given his life. And even though fans often comment on his striking features — "Mr. Worldwide Handsome" indeed — he says he's nothing but a mirror, reflecting the beauty around him. [Insert 'AWWW' here.]
Listen to it when you're feeling: a little bit philosophical
Key lyric: "Admiring someone / Was it something really that easy?/ I still can't understand it"
What is the real meaning of "respect"? Rappers RM and Suga meditate on the oft-misused word on this lyrical hip-hop track (sonically reminiscent of some of BTS's rap-heavy earlier work). The duo bring their different styles into this fun, dynamic mix — Suga, a vicious wordsmith, and RM, a modern philosopher — while commenting on how "respect" loses its meaning when it's thrown around carelessly.
"We Are Bulletproof : the Eternal"
Listen to it when you're feeling: like you want to cry and never want to stop crying???
Key lyric: "We were only seven / But we have you all"
A sentimental throwback to their humble roots (the title is a reference to their 2013 song), "We Are Bulletproof : the Eternal'' encapsulates the entire journey of Bangtan Sonyeondan. It's epic in its emotional delivery, as the members trace the more painful parts of their history — the all-nighters spent in practice rooms, naysayers, the "embarrassing" name they now wear proudly. Ultimately, they come to the realization that BTS have become so much greater because of all of the people walking beside them now. "We are not seven with you," Jungkook sings [over the sound of our tears].
Listen to it when you're feeling: in the mood to dance like no one's watching
Key lyric: "Look ahead, the way is shinin' / Keep goin' now"
The album ends with the celebratory "Ego," a relentlessly upbeat track from J-Hope about trusting yourself even when the path ahead seems unclear. An autobiographical bop, Hobi looks back on his past struggles — when his "dancing was chasing ghosts" — with newfound perspective, a healthy reminder that accepting your past is the only way to move confidently and colorfully into the future.