If you’re looking for proof that BTS is on their way to making headlines once again, you don’t have to wait much longer. Recent months have seen them making significant appearances—think their honourable visit to The White House just last week, and their energetic performance of hit track ‘Butter’ at the Grammy Awards 2022. But next on the list for the K-pop behemoth? None other than their long-awaited comeback, synonymously planned in time for their 9th anniversary together as a prolific band.
The last time they graced their fans (ARMY) with a full-fledged album was back in November 2020, with BE: a studio album consisting of tracks that reflected their sentiments during the pandemic. The global sensation has since then celebrated musical banner moments worth the hallmark: including their chart-topping hold on the Billboard Hot 100 for 10 consecutive weeks. This time around, the group has chosen to go with an anthology album titled Proof—featuring BTS’s tracks from the past nine years, designed to represent their past, present and future together.
Through Proof, BTS’s ascension to fame is marked with clear retrospection. The three CDs enclosed within chronicle their versatile discography—from their commercial successes to unreleased demo versions of the members’ personal picks. To their mega fanbase, the album represents a willing walk down memory lane: with explosive hit ‘Dynamite’, the nostalgic, hard-hitting ‘No More Dream’, and healing fan-favourite ‘Spring Day’. For the uninitiated, distinctive radio favourites such as ‘Boy With Luv (feat. Halsey)’ and ‘Fake Love’ might even ring a bell or two.
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Whilst they’ve long made a household name for themselves, one stands to concur that sellout singles are often not the most accurate portrayal of a musician’s potential. Ask any ARMY and they might agree: BTS’ prowess truly lies in their myriad of alternative tracks, also known as the B-sides, which showcase their diverse vocals and rap range. These were the tracks that perhaps never made it to the radio station, but we’ll serve them as a real treat to anyone who’s just getting to know a little more about the band.
So whether you’re planning to give Proof a listen prior to their upcoming anniversary on 13 June, or you’re hoping to dig a little deeper into their discography, we’ve come up with a curation of under-the-radar tracks that might be worth hitting play. In no particular order, start streaming them below.
The dreamy track starts off with a melodic guitar chord progression that harmonises perfectly with the vocals of the group and most especially Jimin’s and Jin’s high and whispery tones. An expression of the ephemerality of time and the innate fear of losing a loved one, the experience is likened to the transient yet beautiful quality of a butterfly.
This alternative track is one that truly showcases the septet’s range in terms of musical genre. Whilst the signifying elements of a pop track are still present, ‘134340’ carries with it a strong undercurrent of jazz instrumentals amidst powerful vocals and smooth rap transitions. Named after the asteroid number that scientists now call Pluto ever since it lost its planetary status, the B-side track tells of a feeling of estrangement and abandonment.
Nostalgia might hit with this one, as the band dives into a catchy serenade for a next-door-girl who wears, you know it, Converse Highs. BTS’s leader, RM, Suga and J-hope took part in the production and writing process for this one and considering they were on the cusp of their twenties, the song is an easy-on-the-ears pick that sings of sweet, young love.
Catch any ARMY on a low day and chances are this is queued in their playlist. An easy one to love—the title references an ancient Greek word of ‘mikros kosmos’ meaning ‘little world’, encouraging each human to find their own place in their worlds. The track strikes first with a melodic composition that synchronously blends with emotional lines of self-discovery, strongly backed by the power vocals of Jin, Jungkook, Jimin and V.
Hard-hitting, energetic and always accompanied with the rap trio’s powerful verses, ‘Silver Spoon’ (“Baepsae”) is a mosh-pit dream. The smashing track boasts an intense bass right from the start, and rappers RM, Suga and J-hope bring it home with their foolproof lyrics screaming of revolt against worsening social inequity in South Korea.
Probably the oldest song on this list, ‘Embarrassed’ is simple in its delivery, but relatable in its message. At the time of release, BTS were somewhere in between their late teenage years and their way-early twenties. A floaty track of young, giddy love where you’d do anything for your crush, before going home only to regret your momentary decisions.
‘The Truth Untold’
In a single tune, each of the vocal line’s individual voices shine—from Jin’s clean, technique-driven vocals to V’s deep baritone. Start to end, ‘The Truth Untold’ is honest, emotional and almost raw, as the boys take to the mics for a vulnerable telling of missed chances amidst moments lost in time.
‘BTS Cypher 4’
Fifth in a series of cyphers performed by the group’s rapline, ‘Cypher 4’ is one that distinguishes all three of their unique rap styles: RM for his poetic lines and clean take through, Suga with his rhythmic rap mired against fierce lines and J-hope’s lyrical and groove-worthy quality that speaks to audiences worldwide.
‘Airplane Pt. 2’
Another one that marks the band’s versatility, the eclectic bop takes its cues from Latin pop and is actually a spin-off from J-hope’s solo ‘Airplane’, which was composed by Ali Tamposi, who wrote radio hits such as Camila Cabello’s ‘Havana’. Easy to groove to, the group’s authenticity and stage charisma also come through during their performances of the track.
A cheeky insert from the septet, Pied Piper’s lyrics warn of the sometimes-obsessive relationship the fans have with the band, using the folktale of the Pied Piper who plays his flute music that ends up luring children away from a village, instead of just the rats he was supposed to chase away. The seductive melodies underscore the piece, juxtaposing against lyrics that are essentially a gentle reminder to fans to be wary of just how much they allow the pop sensation overtake their lives.