Top 15 BTS songs, ranked: Mic Drop to Ddaeng, a look at the septet’s most iconic tracks before Proof release

Almost a decade ago, seven boys sporting unusual haircuts made their debut from a practically unknown label on the K-pop scene. Astronomical success was a faraway dream — almost non-existent for the septet, leading to much disillusion and heartbreak, at times. They couldn’t comprehend at the time why they weren’t receiving the accolades they deserved, despite their gruelling hard work. Yet, they kept hoping and dreaming that they would see their name in shining lights. After what seemed like years of effort, battling brutal criticisms and attacks, their (literal) blood sweat and tears paid off — the band BTS, comprising RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, Jungkook, and V, transformed the K-Pop scene and have almost become synonymous with the genre. It has two Grammy nominations, along with several numerous accolades and five Number One albums, along with being ambassadors to the UN.

Owing to their charismatic personalities, and their relatable off-stage personas, combined with profound messages of mental health, their fanbase ARMY (Adorable Representative MC for Youth) saw an exponential rise in fans. ARMY is exactly as it sounds, BTS fans are fiercely protective of the boys and even defend them from themselves and are the first to hit back, if they feel the band has been wronged.

June is a special month for the band, as not only will they complete 9 years ( a rarity for a K-Pop band), but it will also see the release of their new album, Proof on June 10. Ahead of the album’s release, here’s looking at some of the best songs from the septet that transcended cultural barriers.

15. Butter (2021)

A song that marked the slow beginning of the end of the stringent coronavirus pandemic measures, Butter, the second English song brought much hope to ARMY in a world filled with heartache and heaviness. Smooth, infectious and charming, Butter topped Billboard charts and received a nod at the Grammys 2022.

14. On (2020)

‘You can’t hold me down, because you know I’m a fighter’, Jin’s voice clearly cuts through right before the chorus, which later reiterates, ‘Bring the pain on’. It is symbolic of BTS’s strong attitude against their haters. Packed with curious Biblical elements, one of the best parts of the song is Jungkook’s falsetto that adds to the fire of the song.

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13. Fake Love (2018)

The theme of the lead single from their album Love Yourself: Tear revolved around forcing emotion in relationships. However, the real story of the song was in its powerful chorus, drums and the angst in the vocals as well as the rappers. The video just added further to the imagination with its imagery of the members struggling to escape from their numerous demons.

12. Louder Than Bombs (2020)

Mixed with anguish, despair, and sliver of hope, it’s no doubt that Louder Than Bombs is a fan-favourite. The song discusses the different stages of life, and how they plan to make it through despite all the cold exhaustion—just by singing. Suga’s rap is one of the highlights of the song as he mentions the inescapable misery that he has had to go through.

11. Mic Drop

You’ll find it hard to find an ARMY member who doesn’t like Mic Drop. The song addresses those who questioned the band’s success and has scathing remarks for the haters. The message is evident in the chorus itself, “Did you see my bag, it’s full of trophies and hell’a thick,” while Jin balances out the angst and asks, “How you dare?” The dance break is unforgettable.

10. Go-Go (2017)

True ARMY will only visualise V (born Kim Taehyung) dressed as a Snow-White for this song — a challenge he once lost. Essentially sounding like a cutesy fun song, it actually contains hidden messages about materialism and the constant hunt to look for something to fill the void. The song is bitingly sarcastic, as the track calls out people who squander their money recklessly for ‘yolo’ purposes (hence the chorus).

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09. Dope (2015)

Energetic, hard-hitting with a powerful dance-break to fuel the outrageous lyrics, Dope is exactly as it sounds. The song is a celebration of youth, and shows the boys having fun while brass instruments compliment the chorus. Dope is quite the adrenaline rush.

08. I need U (2015)

One of the songs that established BTS’s position in the K-Pop, I need U sees a swift alternation from Suga’s angst to Jungkook and Jimin’s plaintive pleas. V enters the scene with ‘Everything, everything’ making it sound like his final word on the subject.

07. We are Bulletproof: The Eternal (2020)

The song’s title says it all. The band looks at their astounding global fandom and their long journey, addressing how BTS isn’t just a band for them and they’re always with ARMY. It’s a wistful, yet hopeful song, as the boys sing ‘We got to heaven’.

06. Blood, Sweat And Tears (2016)

A powerful and ethereal song, Blood, Sweat And Tears is often referred to as Jimin’s track, as the vocalist’s honey vocals ripple through the song, balanced out with the rap line’s quiet aggression. In every stage performance including the music video, he almost possesses an unreal presence with his signature jacket move.

05. Black Swan (2020)

Punctuated by heavy beats and melancholy instrumentals, Black Swan emphasises that despite BTS’s astounding fanbase, wealth and accolades, they’re still artistes—something that is most important to them above all. The visuals are particularly artistic, along with the dance break with Jungkook at the center is the cherry on the cake.

04. Bapsae (Silver Spoon, 2015)

This is the septet’s way of saying ‘OK boomer’ and directly attacks staid stereotypes about millennials not working hard enough, and how children are expected to keep working at dead-end jobs for ‘experience’.  The lyrics hit you in the face from the beginning itself and keep you engaged with the song throughout. The dance steps are so utterly scathing and Jungkook’s mocking ‘You must be kidding me’ adds to the sheer fire of the song.

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03.  Fire (2016)

A loud banger that starts off with J-Hope’s voice erupting through the music, Fire is a song of sheer frustration and mockery, and is a shout-out to youngsters to set ‘fire’ to all the restrictions that hold them back. V’s part ‘Set everything on fire’ is a demonstration of the band’s message to the youth, and the band’s co-ordinated legwork at the end of the song spearheaded by Jimin adds to the magic of the song.

02.  Ddaeng (2018)

When the rap line of BTS steps in, there’s nowhere to hide. Ddaeng is a crisp track that takes on the criticism of those who slammed BTS on the hip-hop scene in South Korea. J-Hope, RM and Suga use the words ‘ddaeng’ in the song in expressions, packed with traditional Korean instrumentals. The vocalists have also given the track an unforgettable touch, as V rapped out Suga’s stanza, and Jungkook joined RM in his dangerously quiet tones.

01. Spring Day (2017)

Despite its seemingly cheerful title, Spring Day chronicles grief, pain and longing. While the lyrics are essentially about the 2014 Sewol Ferry disaster, the overwhelming sentiment of loss envelops the song, making it a unanimous fan-favourite. Yet, there’s always hope that will always find a way to blossom.

Considering BTS’s wide discography, it’s possibly difficult to narrow down—-but several other songs such as Jin’s Epiphany, Suga’s Daechwita, Pied Piper, Butterfly and Cyphers deserve special mention.

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