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8 Underrated BTS B-Sides to Listen to On Their Eighth Anniversary

We take a nostalgic look back at some of BTS’ most underrated songs that should be getting a lot more recognition

Rolling Stone India Jun 13, 2021

Photo: Courtesy of Big Hit Music

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Global pop sensations BTS celebrate their eighth anniversary today! Amidst the legacy of producing consecutive hits, breaking multiple records, topping global music charts and making new breakthrough achievements every single day, some of the group’s older, lesser known (but just as beautiful) tracks deserve a spotlight.

So in celebration of the septet’s anniversary, Rolling Stone India takes a nostalgic look back at eight of BTS’ most criminally underrated songs that should be getting much more recognition. Read on to discover some hidden musical gems in our chronological list below.

“Paldogangsan” (2013)

Also known as ‘Satoori Rap,’ “Paldogangsan” was first released as a predebut track recorded by the BTS rap line, but was later re-recorded by all the members and released as the ninth track on their first mini-album O!RUL8,2?. The song essentially delivers a more hardcore rap-centric hip-hop style paired up with a groovy flow, true to their older, original musical style. The entire song is carried out in the format of a dialect-diss battle rap, divided between the members who come from the East (Gyeongsan) of the country and those from the West (Jeolla and Seoul.) In this track, BTS celebrate their Korean heritage and cultural identities by singing in their original dialects, incorporating the different regional dialects and finally, uplifting and supporting those who use dialects. This is note-worthy because using ones original dialect instead of the standardized Seoul dialect is an uncommon, unfavored and less than acceptable trait in modern day Korean society.

Notable lyrics:
“Why keep fighting? In the end, it’s all the same Korean/ Look up, we are all looking at the same sky.”

“We On” (2013)

“We On” is the third track on their first mini album O! RUL8, 2?. Just like “Paldogangsan,” it’s a hip-hop track with a smooth groovy beat featuring rap-heavy verses, in sync with BTS debut-style of music. It is one of the group’s earliest roast tracks dedicated to their haters and serves as a clapback to all the people who belittled their skills and doubted their success before their debut or ridiculed them post-debut. “We On” by BTS set a precedent for future iconic diss tracks like “Mic Drop,” “Cypher pt.3” and “Ddaeng.”

Notable lyrics:
“My haters, talk more smack about me/ Keyboard warriors, make some more effort/ Yes, look down on me like that/ It’s my hobby to prove you wrong.”

“Tomorrow” (2014) 

“Tomorrow” appears as the sixth track on their second mini album Skool Luv Affair and eighth track in the repackaged album Skool Luv Affair: Special Edition. It’s an R&B track featuring a catchy, slow rhythm and is arguably one of the most inspiring songs that BTS have written till date. The members touch on various different themes, singing about both the repetitive nature and unpredictability of life, as well as regarding how our own actions primarily decide what our tomorrow is shaped like. It inspires the listeners to never give up on striving and working hard, and urges them to keep on running the race until they reach their destinations in life.

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Notable lyrics:
“Because the dawn right before the sun rises is the darkest/ Even in the far future, never forget the you of right now/ Wherever you are right now, you’re just taking a break/ Don’t give up, you know.”

“Rain” (2014)

“Rain” is the sixth track from the group’s first studio album Dark & Wild. This melancholic track opens up with rain sound effects in its first verse which are then blended with a tranquil, jazzy piano melody that runs throughout the entire song. BTS sing about the stagnant, repetitive and monotonous nature of their everyday lives, citing mundane and depressing imageries of unfinished song lyrics scribbled on a memo pad, cars racing past on the street and the sound of the rain falling on the lonely, grey cemented floors. They hint at the fact that one has to seek a sense of acceptance within their internal selves in order to manifest a change in their external surroundings. It’s one of the strongest examples of BTS’ versatility with genres.

Notable lyrics:
“As if the rain wants its existence to be known/ Am I someone who engraved, like the rain, my existence to you?/ If not, am I just someone/ Who came and went like a rain shower?”

“Love is not over” (2015)

Love is not over makes up the ninth track on BTS’ third mini album The Most Beautiful Moment in Life: Young Forever. It’s an R&B track sung in the form of a ballad and revolves around the theme of heartbreak, denial and not being able to let go of the person you once loved. The members sing about their inability to accept the end of a relationship, combined with the pain that comes with longing for someone who you know can’t be yours anymore. The instrumentals for this track also feature on their “I Need U (Original Version)” music video.

Notable lyrics:
“Love is so painful/ Goodbyes are even more painful/ I can’t go on if you’re not here.”

“Autumn Leaves” (2015)

Also known as “Dead Leaves,” the eighth track on their fourth mini album The Most Beautiful Moment in Life Pt.2 and the fourth track in their first compilation album The Most Beautiful Moment in Life: Young Forever. The slow, yet expressive R&B track expresses a dying relationship and how feelings are as fleeting as falling autumn leaves. This song talks about the culmination of a relationship using the metaphor of autumn leaves. It’s the lament of a person who wants to return to a time in the past when their relationship was better, greener, and brimming with hope of life. They however realize that it’s too late to save the relationship now, which is bound to fall apart like the crumbling of dry, withered autumn leaves. The lyrical stanzas alternate between the despairing reality of their present scenario and wishful thinking of a reunion between the parting lovers. It depicts how we as humans, tend to hold onto things that we know we are eventually destined to lose.

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Notable lyrics:
“As if every autumn leaf has fallen/ As if everything that seemed eternal is going further away/ You’re my fifth season/ Because even if I try to see you, I can’t.”

“Sea” (2017)

“Sea” appears as a hidden eleventh track on the physical edition of the album Love Yourself: Her. Similar to “Rain,” the opening verse of “Sea” features sound effects of waves crashing against the shoreline. A recurring, serene instrumental melody is paired with the members’ breathy vocals and passionate rap verses to create a distinctive sound that resembles the tranquil of plummeting waves and ushers in an odd sense of calm to its listeners. The group uses the imagery of an ocean and a desert to convey the themes of hope and despair that they have felt while pursuing their dreams of becoming musicians. The members get up-close and personal as they sing about the countless struggles they’ve had to go through since their debut and the prejudices they’ve been subjected to in the industry. They keep comparing two paradoxical elements, such as the sea and the desert, hope and despair, questioning whether all these different elements are one and the same in reality.

Notable lyrics:
“A medium-sized, ordinary idol was my second name/ Countless people get cut from broadcast, but someone’s empty spot is our dream/ They say some of these kids can’t make it because their agency is too small/ I know, I know, I know too/ Times when the seven of us had to sleep in one room/ With foolish hope that tomorrow will be different before we fell asleep/ We saw the mirage in the desert but we couldn’t grasp it.”

“Paradise” (2018) 

“Paradise” makes up the fifth track on BTS’ studio album Love Yourself: Tear. It blends upbeat trap with soothing melodies and synths for an uplifting vibe. The members sing about the concept of dreams, asking their listeners to stop chasing an empty dream that isn’t their own, and stating that it’s not necessary for everyone to have a dream in the first place. Since the definition of happiness differs from individual to individual, happiness can never be attained from chasing another person’s borrowed dream, and it always varies as per our own tastes and viewpoints. Everyone is essentially chasing the same end-goal behind all of these different dreams: happiness or paradise. But if we just pause and take a step back to truly live our life, we’ll perceive that we’re already living in that paradise.

Notable lyrics:
“Who says a dream must be something grand?/ Just become anybody/ We deserve a life/ Whatever big or small, you are you after all.”

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