This article is cross-posted on TheBTSEffect.com.
BTS’s “Dynamite,” released at midnight Eastern Time on August 21, 2020, has succeeded in both smashing records and providing some much-needed comfort and happiness to fans worldwide.
In interviews and the presser for the song, BTS emphasized the purpose of releasing the track as a single, ahead of a new album that’s set to come out later this year. “It delivers the message that even in hard times like this, we must focus on what we can do,” Namjoon said. “And that we can find freedom and happiness in singing and dancing.” “We find joy in this song and hope you will too,” Yoongi commented. At the press conference, Seokjin said that because the song is in English, it’s a challenge, but they wanted to show a different side to the group.
Finding happiness in a time of great strife and suffering can be next to impossible, but the upbeat track with light, catchy lyrics and a music video full of joyous Bangtan members has helped ease the pain of many around the world. It’s not a panacea, but it doesn’t have to be. The onus is not on BTS to bear the weight of the world’s suffering, but that hasn’t stopped them from trying to help, in the ways they know best.
BTS’s goal was to provide healing and inspire joy, and the response from ARMY has been nothing short of explosive. The music video premiere scored somewhere between 3 and 4 million concurrent viewers, breaking the previous record of 1.65 million by a landslide, and received 10 million views and 1 million likes in only 20 minutes after its release. At the time of writing, “Dynamite” reached №1 on the iTunes charts in 101 countries and had a total of 98 million views, all within the first 24 hours since its debut.
As BTS’s first group all-English track, “Dynamite” is accessible to a wide audience. The departure from BTS’s usual lyrics and style is quite noticeable, which is to be expected (the track was written by David Stewart and Jessica Agombar). However, the group noted in various interviews how they felt the song was best in its original form — they received the demo and loved it, so they worked hard to master the English lyrics. There are multiple references, particularly in the first verse, to things of the past: the cup of milk, King Kong, Rolling Stone, LeBron, et cetera. However, the majority of the lyrics aim to provide hope, comfort, and encouragement to listeners as we all struggle to come to grips with our “new normal.”
And to match this retro-inspired song, we have a similarly retro music video, which stirs feelings of nostalgia across generations. Rather than pinpoint one decade, the entire video mashes up vintage inspiration from several. The beginning and ending group shots are reminiscent of casual boyband fashion from the ’90s and 2000s, with a pastel twist, and we see several vintage-inspired locations throughout: a bedroom with posters on the wall, a record shop, a diner, an ice cream truck, a basketball court with a colorful mural, and an old-style stage all make an appearance.
The other fashion styles seen throughout the video also pay homage to years past, as does much of the choreography. Their “stage” clothes, complete with bell bottoms for some members, are ambiguously vintage, looking like a mix of ’60s, ’70s, and beyond. There are multiple dance references to Michael Jackson, along with moves that recall ’70s disco and ’60s Batusi, just to name a few. Jungkook even has a “got milk” moment, a throwback to the famous ads seen across America in the ’90s and early 2000s.
Despite the music video and lyrics not being particularly deep, as we see with much of BTS’s work, “Dynamite” accomplishes a lot of what is needed in the world at this very moment. We’re all exhausted, defeated in many ways. Many of us lack the passion, focus, and desire we once had. Others are watching as family members and friends fall sick, and many of us in the U.S. are trying to survive a fascist regime while trying to undo much of society’s systematic racism. We all have our heartache and hardships, and when the world looks this bleak, it’s hard to find those little golden nuggets of joy and hope. “Dynamite” is just that — a small expression of joy and hope, from the hearts of seven men who want to grant us reprieve, however brief. And by taking part, by celebrating with them, we can give them back some of that joy, comfort, and energy.
The world is dark right now — as the old saying goes, it’s always darkest before dawn. So here’s to seven rays of light in the world; here’s to hope for a brighter future.