On February 12, 2017, BTS’ repackaged album, You Never Walk Alone, dropped. The album has been breaking and creating records since its release. Before its release, it had over 700,000 preorders. Following the release, BTS became the first K-Pop artist on iTunes top ten albums list, and four of the tracks also topped iTunes lists. The album also received a perfect all-kill, and the title track “Spring Day” had over five million views on YouTube in under 11 hours. The album is expected to break more records, and music insiders and bloggers have already stated 2017 will be BTS’ year.
Despite the glowing accolades, You Never Walk Alone isn’t BTS’ strongest album, and that’s saying a lot because it is a repackage of WINGS, so WINGS technically isn’t BTS’ strongest album even though it’s won plenty of awards. Lyrically, the songs are gold, but when it comes to arrangement, vocals, and overall composition, the album is a bore compared to other BTS efforts.
The album features member solo tracks and songs from the vocal and rap line. This is a nice touch since fans get to hear their favorite members separately. With the solo tracks, it’s clear each member is individually talented to show that BTS is, indeed, a multi-faceted group where each member brings something to the table. Other groups could take a page from the BTS playbook in this regard since there are groups where line distribution is a bit uneven.
Songs like “Spring Day,” “Not Today,” and “You Never Walk Alone” have strong lyrics that are meaningful. A popular fan-theory is that “Spring Day” seems to focus on losing a loved one to suicide, but it can also be about losing a loved one in general due to a break up or estrangement. The song’s tones of sadness and hopefulness make it easy to relate to for any of the aforementioned situations.
Meanwhile, “Not Today” is a hard-hitting track with strong distortion and beats with lyrics that focus on fighting the system. The rap and backing vocals are almost overpowered by the music, especially during the chorus, but everything comes together to make the track the strongest on the album when it comes to the more upbeat tracks.
“You Never Walk Alone” has some sweetness to it as the song covers togetherness. The hopeful tone tells the listener they are not alone and that everything will be okay. The song’s soft lyrics are inspiring to say the least, giving the newer tracks some oomph.
As You Never Walk Alone is a repackage, tracks from WINGS are all present including “Blood, Sweat, and Tears,” their successful title track from their last promotions in 2016 and their catchy “WINGS” outro song is now an extended version.
As mentioned, lyrically, all the songs are strong with many being complex. For anyone looking for music to relate to and think about, You Never Walk Alone is a good album. But, lyrics don’t make up a whole album as there are other elements to consider.
Cons and Overall
While WINGS/You Never Walk Alone are critically praised, the album is boring and repetitive thanks to the overall slower song pacing. The composition falls flat on many of the tracks, especially with “Begin,” “Stigma,” and “Reflection.” The songs’ repetitive natures don’t make for enjoyable listening. “Begin” sounds like typical boy group fodder with hints of R&B and typical pop-ballad notes. The constant repeat of “you make me begin” makes the track more fluff than substantial. “Stigma” has a nice mix of low and high notes with strong tone and clear vocals, but it, too, is a standard boy group song that’s safe and unsubstantial.
“Safety” should be the overall theme of the album because all the songs tend to play it safe. In exception of “Blood, Sweat, and Tears,” “Not Today,” and “Wings,” nothing truly stands out. The album is one that serves as a backdrop because the music doesn’t grab at a listener. Often, it was difficult to tell when songs transitioned because they sound so similar.
Meanwhile, “Lie,” is a stronger song with cool backing vocals and arrangement. Some of the instrumentals enhance the song such as the guitar and organ. Some of the higher pitched rap portions felt out of place, but “Lie” is one of the strongest songs on the album.
One of the most annoying tracks, though, is “Cypher 4.” The vocals and rap tend to be whiny-sounding and grating, while the music is one-note and flat with not many key changes. The track feels more Western audience-friendly because it has an American rap feel. While each BTS album has a “Cypher” track, this one is best left off due to its one-dimensional nature.
“Am I Wrong” picks up the album with strong beats and upbeat nature. The “am I wrong” portions are addictive and catchy to help make the track worthwhile. The song has some old-school flair which helps enhance it, so it is a bright-spot track.
“21st Century Girls” sounds familiar, especially toward the beginning where there are hints of Hitchhiker’s “Eleven” before shifting gears. In this song, vocal distortions and rap aren’t impressive, and the high notes sound squeaky. From a listener point-of-view, it’s a throwaway summer hip-hop song that doesn’t have staying power.
With all tracks considered (including those not individually discussed here), You Never Walk Alone is safe. The lyrics are solid, but the music quality is lacking. As it is a repackage of WINGS, it really appears the album did well based on hype alone and not overall quality. The album just wasn’t fulfilling and not as golden as some may think it is. It earns a 2/5.
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