Monday, September 10, 2018
BTS finds ‘Answer’ to questions of self-love in final album of ‘Love Yourself’ series by Yuan Jun Chee
Executive Sports Editor
The international phenomenon that is Korean boy band BTS released the final album of its “Love Yourself” series, entitled “Love Yourself: Answer,” on Aug. 24 to critical acclaim. Marketed as a special repackaged album, “Answer” consists of two discs of music from the band’s previous two releases, “Love Yourself: Tear” (2018) and “Love Yourself: Her” (2017), as well as six new full-length tracks. “Answer” becomes the band’s second album to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, and this accomplishment comes just three months after “Love Yourself: Tear” achieved the same feat. Much like in the band’s 2016 album “Wings,” each member of the band has a solo track in “Answer.” These include full versions of previously released songs, such as Jimin’s “Serendipity” (released as an introductory track on “Her”) and Jungkook’s “Euphoria” (released only on YouTube). The rappers’ individual tracks are also listed as “Trivia” tracks, with a corresponding Chinese character that together “refer to the storytelling form known in Korean as Kiseungjeonkyeol,” according to Billboard’s coverage of the album. Meanwhile, the lead track on the album, “Idol,” debuted at No. 11 on the Billboard 100 Hot for the week of Sept. 8, marking the band’s second-highest Billboard chart position after “Fake Love” (No. 10). The “Idol” track has also been remixed to include a special appearance by Nicki Minaj. And while the song largely draws from South African dance music, it also includes traditional Korean folk elements in its beats and its lyrics, notably the use of pansori in its chorus. “Idol” describes a rejection of the criticisms that the band has received, as its members instead choose to celebrate themselves. Suga raps that “I don’t care at all whatever the reason for your criticism is,” while Jimin reminds listeners that at the end of the day, no one “can’t stop me
VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Korean boy band BTS poses for a photo. loving myself.” The song also pays homage to some of the band’s previously released songs, such as “Anpanman” (2018) and “Go Go” (2017), which further complement “Idol’s” narrative. The music video for “Idol” was equally eclectic, blending traditional Korean symbols such as the tiger and the rabbit and traditional Korean dance moves with modern images and technology. The video also recreates some of their more iconic music videos, such as “Just One Day” (2014) and “Blood Sweat & Tears” (2016), demonstrating just how far the band has come since its debut in 2013. But more importantly, the “Idol” video stays true to the song’s lyrics, even sharply rebuking some of the comments that might have been made by the band’s fanbase, known as ARMY. Leader RM deliberately chooses to use cute filters in an earlier part of the video, while member V dons glasses that he had previously
received criticism for wearing on previous V-Live videos. Actively referencing these incidents further proves the band’s sharp honesty about its message, even if it comes at the expense of its adoring fans. Response to the video was intense, as it recorded more than 45 million views within a day of its release, beating Taylor Swift’s record for the most watched music video in 24 hours. It also is one of the fastest videos to reach 100 million views, achieving the record in just under five days. If BTS’ previous album series (entitled “Hwa Yang Yeon Hwa – The Most Beautiful Moment in Life”) questioned the fleeting nature of youth and the struggle to find oneself, then with “Answer,” the “Love Yourself” series charts the eventual growth of these young teenagers into self-confident men. Perhaps no other song on the album demonstrates this transformation bet-
ter than “I’m Fine.” The track draws on the introduction of one of BTS’ previous songs, “Save Me” (2016), albeit at a higher pitch. Early promotional posters play with this “I’m Fine”/“Save Me” ambiguity. “Save Me” was a cry for someone to “give me your hand, save me, save me / [as] I need your love before I fall, fall.” In direct contrast, “I’m Fine” is a shoutout to the rest of the world that “I’m feeling just fine, fine, fine / I’ll let go of your hand now / I know I’m all mine.” On the band’s sold-out “Love Yourself” World Tour, which includes 12 shows in the United States, it has often closed concerts with another of the album’s standout songs, “Answer: Love Myself,” perhaps an apt conclusion to the “Love Yourself” series. As fans wander through the darkness of youth, the struggle for identity and love through BTS’ repertoire of music, including its previous single “Fake Love” (2018), “Answer: Love Myself” tells us of the importance of accepting one’s flaws and loving oneself, as all of our experiences make us unique. In the process of getting to this conclusion, Suga reminds everyone, referencing the band’s 2016 song “Spring Day,” that despite the struggles, “when winter passes, spring always comes.” RM proclaims that the “me who used to be sad, [the] me, who used to be hurt, it’ll make me more beautiful,” while the vocalists remind us that “even all the scars from your mistakes make up your constellation.” While fans might be disappointed that the “Love Yourself” series has now come to an end, it is safe to say that the journey of self-discovery never does. Given the creative license and social consciousness that embodies the band’s music, fans can rightly be excited when its next series of albums drops. The “Love Yourself” series has once again demonstrated the band’s ability to tackle difficult and abstract topics, just one of the many reasons that makes BTS such a worldwide phenomenon.
NY Fashion Week designers begin to embrace diversity to stay relevant by Antonio Bertolino Assistant Arts Editor
As the chaos that is New York Fashion Week (NYFW) unfolds, the eyes of the industry are scrutinizing designers’ every move as they look for momentum that has been lacking in the past couple of seasons. Many designers, including Alexander Wang and Proenza Schouler, decided in recent years not to show in the Big Apple (though the latter returned this year). It seems that, for the brands that are still showing, there is a sense of expectation in gauging how successful the event will be in the future, relative to Paris, London or Milan. A factor that could determine NYFW’s fate is the designers’ and organizers’ willingness to embrace diversity and inclusivity on the runways this season. On top of simply doing what is right from a moral standpoint (that is, reflecting and representing the different identities
that make up American society), it makes financial sense for brands to feature diversity on the runway. One show that has generated significant buzz in recent weeks is Rihanna’s Fenty line, which is scheduled to display Tuesday and will draw a close to the week’s main events. Rihanna, who made headlines last year for her inclusive foundation shades, has been one of the most vocal proponents of greater diversity in the fashion world. In a recent interview with Mic that he reposted on his brand’s Instagram account, British designer Christian Cowan cited NYFW’s embrace of diversity as one of the main reasons that prompted him to show in New York instead of Paris or Milan, which he believes are “behind” because brands feature mostly thin, white models at their runway shows. Last season, NYFW was the most diverse it has ever been, with 37 percent non-white models gracing its runways. Following the controversy surround-
ing Marc Jacobs’ use of white, dreadlocked models in September 2016, the brand’s show a year later featured more non-white than white models — a hopeful sign that designers will increasingly embrace diversity on the catwalks. Racial inclusivity is not the only point worth considering, as it is also crucial to contemplate that runways still almost exclusively feature thin models, despite efforts to promote body positivity in the media — Tess Holliday was recently pictured in a bikini on the cover of “Cosmopolitan.” Designers like Becca McCharen-Tran, who founded her swimsuit brand Chromat in 2010, are fighting back against the lack of plus-sized models on New York runways. McCharenTran, who presented her Spring 2019 collection on Friday, cast a diverse set of models to wear her swimsuits, including breast cancer survivor Ericka Hart, amputee model Mama Cax and transgender model Maya Mones.
In 2018, diversity holds more weight than it ever has in the fashion world. For its September issue, “Vogue” featured Beyoncé on its front cover and Serena Williams on its back cover, two black women who have increasingly become fashion icons over the past few years. The Beyoncé photoshoot in “Vogue” was also the first cover shoot done by a black photographer, Tyler Mitchell. When interviewed by the magazine, Mitchell emphasized that for too long, black bodies “have been considered things” — something he is trying to change through his work. At a time when fashion publications are starting to reflect the diversity of our contemporary society, it feels like runway shows are lagging behind on the trend of inclusivity. If NYFW designers want to stay relevant, they should lead the way among high fashion brands and champion diversity by casting models of color to walk their runways.