Without warning, BTS announced their impending return on the world yesterday (Jan. 7), revealing that their new album Map of the Soul: 7 is coming next month. In addition to the Feb. 21 release date, the band’s Korean record label Big Hit Entertainment shared that “global fans are eager to discover how the story will continue on from the previous installment [Map of the Soul: Persona] which explored the message of finding joy in love and reaching out to the world” in a press release.
While BTS has laid out a full schedule of events for their forthcoming album in their “comeback map,” with four “phases” of activities that kick off this week and run throughout February, confirmed details on the actual record itself are essentially non-existent. As we await more, below are five things we’re hoping to see from the history-making act’s highly anticipated next project.
1. Singles That Show BTS’ Range
One of the most striking parts about the comeback map was the fact that BTS has plans to release two singles from Map of the Soul: 7. In recent years, BTS albums have typically had one focused single that’s unleashed alongside the full album, and occasionally a follow-up single — like what they did with “Boy With Luv” and “Make It Right” off last year’s Map of the Soul: Persona. Releasing the album’s “first single” on Jan. 17, more than a month ahead of the record, allows the group’s devoted A.R.M.Y. to have one song to focus their attention and energy into supporting, which can set the stage for the K-pop kings to reach new heights on the Hot 100 and let the public have a longer time for everyone to catch and simmer with the BTS bug.
Furthermore, kicking off with a mainstream-focused first single in the vein of “Boy With Luv,” which featured a fellow chart-topper in Halsey and a bright pop sound ready for radio, would be an excellent way to score a major hit single. Crucially, it can also allow BTS to deliver something in a completely different style for the “lead single” that will come out closer to the full album. Having this range and longer rollout strategy not only has the potential to reach more people, but can showcase more of the versatility for which the band is so well known instead of needing to have an all-in strategy on one focused title track song.
2. Members Showing Off Different Vocal Sides
For the past year-and-a-half, the BTS members have been making a point to showcase new sides of themselves as vocalists. Whether it’s been RM sharing his low-timbre singing style on his Mono mixtape or J-Hope taking on more vocals in both group and solo material, there’s been more experimenting from the band’s rappers in particular. We’d love to see even more switch-ups in the parts — maybe Jungkook could deliver a few rap sections as a throwback for longtime A.R.M.Y.?
3. A Classy Clapback Track
It happens to all superstars at the top and, inevitably, BTS has found their fair share of naysayers as well as those looking to attack the septet with unfounded rumors and dodgy reporting. While the guys have seemingly matured past their scathing “Cypher” tracks, we’d love to hear the band get one last dig at the haters with a clever and classy diss track; just one last song to let everyone know their wings are flying them higher than ever.
4. Focusing on Creative Autonomy
One of the main reasons BTS originally stood out among their peers and created the century’s most powerful fandom was their heavy involvement in their music. While the members have been involved in the songwriting, composing and production since debut alongside their in-house teams, as BTS rose in the ranks more and more people have tried to claim a piece of their success to the growing frustration of A.R.M.Y. Having an album that keeps features and outside collaborators to a minimum can be an important step to focus the attention on BTS as creators.
Not only having the septet be more central to the music and messaging, but also having more opportunities for the band to speak about their creative process and concepts in the media and in interviews will be important in changing the narrative of their success as a fad to understood artistry.
5. Even More Namjoon, Seokjin, Yoongi, Hoseok, Jimin, Taehyung and Jungkook
While many BTS fans anticipated that the new album would be titled in something along the lines of Map of the Soul: Ego or Shadow — based around Carl Jung psychology theory that detail the “persona” part of our personalities, plus the shadow, the self, the ego and more — throwing the number 7 was a bit of a curveball. Nevertheless, focusing on this specific number makes us hope that we’re getting more intimate, introspective looks at each of the seven individuals that make up BTS.
Just like with the boundary-breaking Wings album in 2016, we’d love to hear solo tracks created by the different members that can tell their stories in a style that is unique to him but still encompass all things BTS. While we know the guys via their superstar stage personas, we’d love to hear something more intimate that comes directly from their human sides told in a musical style that suits each member. Whether it’s their fears, their hopes, their feelings on love or the world or a topic the band has never explored, getting deeper dives into the seven souls of BTS would undoubtedly be a truly meaningful way to connect into the mysterious seven concept.