BTS is back! The South Korean septet returned Friday morning (April 12) with the release of their album Map of the Soul: Persona, fronted by the single “Boy With Luv” featuring Halsey, which came with a vibrant video.
A funky dance track that opens up with woozy synths and rollicking strings, “Boy With Luv” is sleek and upbeat, seductive and revelatory, as the seven members and Halsey sing about being the titular male. The song is broken down into three parts, with the first third focusing on BTS’ vocalists Jimin, V, Jin and Jungkook, which leads into rap sections from Suga, J-Hope, and RM, before Halsey arrives for the final third of the song, joining the group on their choral refrain; her vocals are more prominently featured on the album version of the single.
While at times a straightforward love song — “Your every picture/ I wanna have it by my pillow, oh bae,” sings V; “Come be my teacher/ Teach me everything about you,” adds Jin — the song also leans into BTS’ long term artistic narrative. Not only does its title recall the group’s 2014 single “Boy In Luv,” it references the Wings upon which the group has soared, a nod to both their 2016 album — which went to No. 26 on the Billboard 200 that year — and the term they regularly use to describe their loyal fan ARMY, referring to the great heights BTS has been able to rise to bolstered by their fandom’s support.
“Listen my baby/ I’m flying high in the sky/ With the two wings you gave me back then/ Now it’s so high up here/ I want you tuned in to my eyes/ Yea you makin’ me a boy with luv,” they sing ahead of the bouncing choral refrain of “Oh my, my my.” Other nods to their past include J-Hope referring to himself becoming a hero, which is reminiscent of last year’s “Anpanman” from Love Yourself: Tear.
The song’s official video goes along with the track’s messaging, creating a brightly-hued scene full of retro-feeling looks from the group — like bright pink smoking jackets, feathered blazers, and fedoras — while also emphasizing BTS’ past, particularly through signage with phrases such as “Persona” and “Love.” It ends with a stroll down memory lane as brightly-lit Broadway-style marquees display the names of BTS’ past albums. Halsey starts off the clip and appears throughout, and even joins the group during the choreography portion. The visual ends with the septet shouting something, which many fans believe to be the song’s title, before the final repetition of the phrase, “Than a boy with luv.”
“Boy With Luv,” also known as “A Poem for the Small Things,” in Korean, appears on the group’s 7-track EP Map of the Soul: Persona, which also features the Ed Sheeran collab “Make It Right.” It is BTS’ first album of 2019, and follows last year’s Billboard 200 chart-topping duo of Love Yourself: Tear and Love Yourself: Answer. The group will perform “Boy With Luv” on Saturday Night Live tomorrow (April 13), and later bring their performances Stateside during the May dates of their upcoming Love Yourself: Speak Yourself stadium tour.
Watch the video for BTS’ “Boy With Luv” music video featuring Halsey below: