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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

Oysmita Majumder 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 showcases a more rap-centric hardcore 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 rich Hanguk heritage and authentic 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 the 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 incorporating 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 doubted their success and belittled their skills, both before and after their 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 slow, catchy rhythm and is arguably one of the most inspiring songs that BTS have written till date. The members touch upon a variety of themes, singing about both the monotonous, highly repetitive nature and unpredictability of life, as well as on how it is our own actions that primarily decide what our future will be shaped like. It inspires the listeners to never give up on striving towards attaining their dreams, and urges them to keep on charging ahead, until they reach their desired 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 length of the song. BTS sing about the supremely stagnant and tedious nature of their everyday lives, citing mundane and depressing imageries of unfinished song lyrics scribbled on paper, cars humming past the grey city, grey buildings and grey roads, along with the incessant sound of the rain falling on the cold, lonely cemented floors. They hint at the fact that one has to introspect and reflect on their own thoughts, feelings and selves- in order to manifest a positive 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 and loss, denial and not being able to let go of the person you once loved. The members sing of a tragic romance; about the pain that comes hand-in-hand with having to face the end of a dying relationship, which cannot be resuscitated hereafter. 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,” it is 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 how human feelings are as fleeting as falling autumn leaves and how we always tend to cling onto past memories, unable to accept the harsh realities of life and loss. It’s the lament of a person who desires to travel back to a time in the past when their relationship was fresher, greener, and brimming with hope of life. They, however realize the relationship is now past the point of being rekindled or saved, and is invariably bound to crumble apart like the dry, withered autumn leaves.

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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. The opening instrumentals of “Sea” features sound effects of waves crashing against the shoreline. A recurrent, melancholic instrumental is paired with the members’ soft, airy vocals and passionate rap verses, to create a serene melody that ushers in an odd sense of calm to its listeners. The group gets up-close and personal, using the imagery of an ocean and a desert to metaphorise the themes of hope and despair they have felt while pursuing their dreams of becoming musicians. They sing about the countless struggles they’ve had to go through since before their debut, along with all the prejudices they’ve been subjected to both inside and outside of the industry. Through all the verses, BTS continually aim at comparing two paradoxical elements, such as the sea and the desert, hope and despair; culminating in a final thought that’s presented in the track’s bridge- what if all these conflicting elements are in reality, one and the same?

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 which adds a touch of nostalgia to the overall vibe of the track. The members sing about the pursuit of dreams, asking their listeners to cease chasing behind an empty dream that isn’t their own, and asserting that it’s not necessary for everyone to have a major dream in the first place. According to BTS, since the definition of happiness differs from individual to individual, happiness can never be attained from borrowing someone else’s dream for the sole purpose of making ourselves more socially acceptable. The lyrics talk about how everyone around us is aimlessly chasing the same endgame behind all of these different dreams: happiness a.k.a. paradise, but if we momentarily pause this “marathon of life” and take a step back to simply breathe and assess our surroundings, we’ll perceive that we’re already living in, and a part of that so-called 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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