It’s finally here.
The long awaited comeback of the biggest boy group in the world. To call ON and its accompanying album “Map Of The Soul: 7” one of the years most anticipated and hyped events would be an understatement. BTS have gotten to such a point in their career that every release feels more like a big musical moment, than just another release. And “Map Of The Soul: 7” truely feels like a culmination of all that hype into one single project. BTS themselves have called this their strongest and most powerful work yet, and for the first time I heavily disagree. I didn’t enjoy the musical direction of either Black Swan or Ego, and ON sadly reaffirms the initial doubts I had about the upcoming title track. In my opinion ON is one of the weakest singles the group has ever released.
They say you are the hardest to those you love, and BTS are one of those groups that I’ve adored since my initial foray into k-pop. And that’s is probably why i’m so disappointed with this release. I loved last years Boy With Luv with a passion. It was a fantastic pop song streamlined to absolute perfection, and it reminded me what I loved so much about BTS. Even though their music always adhered to current trends, they always managed to twist them in dynamic and exciting directions. Such was the case with 2016’s show stopping Blood Sweat & Tears, which melded the then oversaturated trends of Moombahton and Tropical house into a stunning package. Sadly, ON doesn’t share the same benefits, coming off as a half cooked track that’s better taken as a sum of its parts than a full package. There are undoubtedly moments of brilliance, but they are hidden under layers of vocal processing and ugly trap laced beats. Though opening with a promising marching band, it quickly drops into a momentum killing trap beat. The tracks first verse has got to be one of the most unpleasant opening verses I’ve heard all year.
The lethargic lurching trap beats and vocal delivery here completely lose me, and is everything I dislike about modern music in one unpleasant section. It feels like I’m complaining about the ever-present trap breakdown almost every day at this point, but ON‘s entire first verse relays every complaint I have to the very start of the track. Not to mention it has its own post chorus breakdown too! It’s an honest momentum killer and not the best way to open your title track. The momentum (and quality) picks up during the pre-chorus, which includes a healthy dose of percussion and acts as a nice build towards the songs hook. The thing is though, ON‘s chorus sounds more like a strong pre-chorus than a worthy centrepiece. Sure it’s immediately catchy, but it doesn’t feel as impactful as some of the groups best work. I wonder how much better the track would sound if another powerful hook were to be added into the mix.
ON‘s second half however, is much stronger than its first. Here the track leans into its stronger elements and foregoes much of the trendy instrumentation and production choices that characterised the majority of the tracks opening moments. It’s very exciting and ignites much of the energy that I could see the song was aiming for all along.
But alas, in a discography full of expertly crafted hype tracks (see Dope, Fire, Not Today) ON comes off as one of the groups least impactful singles in a long time. And though it might win me over in the long run, currently it doesn’t do much for me.
Final Rating: 7.25 / 10