As the best selling K-pop album of all time on the Billboard 200, expectations are high for BTS’ next album. But instead of just releasing an album, the band revealed on Aug. 10 that they’re planning to drop new music in September and are leading into it with their Love Yourself thematic series.
Though it’s not directly related to their upcoming new music, the group’s been amping up the excitement for fans with this new aspect of their career over the past few days through a variety of teaser images and several video clips, all tied to the Love Yourself creative narrative. Overflowing with hidden meanings, the new content has had BTS’ fandom, ARMY, hunting for hints that will help them understand the meaning of this new era of the band’s career.
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If you’re new to the group, or just having a hard time keeping up with the lightening-speed pace of BTS’ latest project, below is a bit of what’s known about Love Yourself at this time.
‘Love Yourself’ is the fourth era of BTS’s career.
Since day one, the septet’s highlighted individual themes, beginning with the School trilogy, then transitioning into The Most Beautiful Moment in Life and, most recently, Wings series. Like the other concepts, Love Yourself is poised to represent its titular focus in an artistic way through both music and visual elements, though BTS’ reps have said that the posters are not directly part of “pre-promotion of BTS’ upcoming new albums.”
— BigHit Entertainment (@BigHitEnt) August 11, 2017
It’s part of an extended story.
The group’s been releasing similarly-themed videos and images since the release of “I Need U” back in 2015, kicking off The Most Beautiful Moment in Life series. While the School era emphasized the troubles and anxieties of school-age youth, the new concept began a whirlwind of releases that explored themes like love, friendship, loss, death, and more through thought-provoking, aesthetically pleasing video clips and images along with their albums. The group’s drawn inspiration from literature, including Herman Hesse’s Demian, and other sources, and worked with a variety of creatives on their projects.
Not only is it an ongoing element of their music and performances, but BTS’ members have regularly dropped hints for future releases in their everyday life, including at the BBMA’s in May when Rap Monster dropped a mention of “Love Yourself” in his acceptance speech on behalf of the group.
It began with some photos.
Beginning Aug. 10, BTS dropped thought-provoking posters that showed the members in a variety of scenes to announce Love Yourself, beginning with Jungkook sitting in a wheelchair and ending with Jin holding a bouquet (see below). A second set of images paired members together in contrasting light and dark photos before again ending with Jin as a solo. All the posters contained phrases written on them that reflect on ended relationships and time. One released on Aug. 12 featuring Rap Monster and V included the ambigram “I’m Fine” that could be read upside down as “Save Me,” recalling a suicide prevention ad campaign in Singapore in 2013.
— BigHit Entertainment (@BigHitEnt) August 12, 2017
There’s been a ‘Most Beautiful Moment In Life’ throwback.
Following the images, BTS’ company BigHit Entertainment shared a note on social media titled “The Most Beautiful Moment in Life The Notes,” connecting Love Yourself with the earlier era. Credited to Jin, a memo dated “13 June Year 22” told a narrative of the members fighting and going separate ways, before dramatically ending on a cliffhanger revealing that Jungkook was in a car accident.
— BigHit Entertainment (@BigHitEnt) August 13, 2017
There have been videos, and there will be more.
Since Aug. 15, BTS has released three highlight reels that show the seven members of the group in a variety of situations interacting with women and one another and are narrated by BTS reflecting on time’s passage, the beauty of life, and impactful moments in life. What it means for BTS and the Love Yourself series overall is still unknown, but BTS’ company has already revealed via press release that the plot of the entire Love Yourself project is contained in the first highlight reel.
Each of the videos released so far are subtitled with a single Chinese character that makes up the phrase ????, or ???? in Korean. The term is used to describe the four steps of storytelling composition: introduction, development, turn, and conclusion. Each video released so far has aligned with one of those elements, with today’s ? clip advancing the plot lines dramatically, showing shots of the BTS members racing through the streets of Seoul, collapsing on their feet, washing blood off their hands, and other similarly intense moments.
Smeraldo is a hot topic.
The Italian word for “emerald” captured the attention of ARMYs around the world after Jin shared a photo on Aug. 9 holding a bouquet of blue flowers tinged with red and white with the title “smeraldo.” Fans quickly discovered an Instagram account dedicated to a flower shop selling the flowers, despite the fact that no such flower exists.
The smeraldo flowers have since reappeared in the imagery of BTS Love Yourself teasers photos and videos, but the group has yet to reveal the importance and what it has to do with their upcoming September release.
A lot Is still unknown.
Love Yourself is a new element that will last into 2018, but BTS has yet to reveal much more than that–not even it’s direct relation to their new albums. We know will be new music in September, but the format, title, and release date are unknown, so stay tuned to Billboard to learn more.