“Proof” by BTS: A gift for fans

Aug. 16, 2022, 8:23 p.m.

BTS’s last full album before entering a small hiatus due to South Korea’s mandatory military duty, “Proof,” is a memento of BTS’s past nine years since their debut. A compilation of three discs consisting of 30 old songs, three new tracks, and 11 remixes of classic tracks, “Proof” is a nostalgia trip for old-time fans and also an introduction to newcomers.

The band’s rise to fame was not without struggle. BTS member Suga famously broke his arm while working as a delivery driver part-time during the early years of the group’s debut, and the band’s struggle to receive proper support from their then unknown label forced them to endure various hardships for three years after they debuted. Now, with four platinum albums and countless awards won, BTS stands as one of the most successful K-Pop groups in history, and “Proof” reflects just that. 

Starting off the album is “Born Singer,” a track sampling J.Cole’s “Born Sinner” and released for free online just one month after their debut. When it was first released, the band’s lack of rights meant they were unable to officially release the song, forcing them to utilize platforms such as Soundcloud to share the song with fans. “Born Singer” marks the humble beginnings of BTS, where members voice their honest feelings about debuting and the hardships that they faced to get there. To BTS, “Born Singer” is a statement: a throwback to the promise that the then teenage members made nine years ago on Soundcloud about their love for music.  

Mega-hits from BTS such as “Boy in Luv,” “DNA,” “Fake Love” and “Butter” are also included within Disc 1, an overview of the band for a new listener. But perhaps the most exciting song of Disc 1 is the new lead single “Yet to Come.” Deviating from the 90s-esque dance tunes that have been a bearing pattern among their new title songs, “Yet to Come” is a slow, softer tune. An ode to memories held by BTS and a glimpse into the future of the group, “Yet to Come” discusses the memories the band holds, “the crowns and flowers, countless trophies” amassed along BTS’s journey as well as the future lay ahead for them. “Yet to Come” is a consolation about the breakup with their fans, thanking them for the nine years that the group has spent since debuting. 

If Disc 1 is a culmination of BTS’s defining tracks, Disc 2 emphasizes a much more personal group of tracks. The first track of Disc 2 and the second new track on the album, “Run BTS,” is an energetic celebration of the band’s successes. Backed by an addicting chorus and beat, the song’s lyrics are bold and they include lines like, “the reason for Bangtan’s success? All of us just run hard,” a lyric which is held more significantly by the listener considering BTS’s underdog backstory and their recent successes. The latter of Disc 2 is followed by lesser known but fan-favorite songs such as “Moon,” “Her” and “Friends.” Disc 2 is special in the fact that members hand selected one solo track and one group track, making Disc 2 a compilation of the members’ unique tastes and preferences. 

Disc 3, available exclusively in CD form, is a present for long-time fans. Including demo versions of the likes of “Spring Day,” “I Need U” and more, Disc 3 gives fans a behind-the-scenes tour of the moments that built BTS’s career to where it is today. 

Disc 3 also holds “Tony Montona,” a track originally released on member Suga’s 2016 mixtape. This version included within the album is a special collaboration with member Jimin, which was performed on the BTS 2016 Muster [ARMY Zip +]. The track houses Suga’s signature cadence along with Jimin’s melodic vocals and the synergy that comes from the two leaves a long-lasting impact on the listener. 

Album ender and the last of the new tracks “For Youth” is a testimony to ARMY (the group’s dedicated fanbase), who supported BTS through all their hardships. The song starts off with ARMY singing along to the group’s song “Young Forever,” referencing the moment that made members break down to tears in the 2019 Wembley Concert. “When everything was easy at that time (At that time) / I should’ve told you more (Told you) / I’ll be with you / For the rest of my life,” they sing. 

“Proof” by BTS is a love letter to fans. A reminiscence of the precious times that fans and the group have spent together, but at the same time, a promise that BTS will be back, better than ever. 

Editor’s Note: This article is a review and contains subjective opinions, thoughts and critiques.

Kenneth Lee is a high schooler writing as part of The Daily’s Summer Journalism Workshop. Contact them at workshop 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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