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On BTS’ 10th year, an ARMY looks back on 10 songs that pushed her down the Bangtan Sonyeondan rabbit hole

'I’m learning how to love myself'—I’m in my 40s and life has been good, despite...

Photo credit: Big Hit Entertainment/ Bangtan Sonyeondan official Facebook page

Photo credit: Nikko Dizon

Photo credit: Big Hit Entertainment

Bangtan Sonyeondan, or BTS, turning a decade old this year is nothing short of a feat in the cutthroat-competitive world of K-pop idols. That the band, on its 10th year, has become one of the world’s musical juggernauts an even more stunning accomplishment that no one can ever take away from RM, Jin, Suga, j-hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook.

I’m not that old of an ARMY—it’s only been four years since I fell into the BTS rabbit hole—but nonetheless I get a little nostalgic thinking about how these young men are on top of the world now after the heartbreaks, the struggles, and the cruel days they had to deal with—and still do to this day. I get nostalgic thinking how they have come to terms with their success;  how they remain humble and grounded, bravely facing their fears and vulnerabilities; how they remain authentic, funny, and very relatable.

As they celebrate their 10th year, BTS have prepared presents everywhere—physical gifts in Seoul and digital content online. Even while they couldn’t perform together as a group, the boys made sure they had a song for ARMY. Take Two is another declaration of love and commitment by the Tannies to ARMY. It is us, forever.

In Take Two, BTS make several references to their previous songs. Which is why, as ARMY, the best way I could think of celebrating BTS’ anniversary is to give a toast to their songs—the north star of our purple universe. I love all of BTS’ songs, but these are the ones that resonated with me the most and made me the ARMY I am today:

  1. Danger

Blood, Sweat, and Tears and Boy with Luv introduced me to Bangtan Sonyeondan, but it was Danger that pushed me deep into the BTS rabbit hole. Danger is the title track of BTS’ first full -length album, the underrated Dark and Wild released in 2014. Featuring the “fetus” RM, Jin, Suga, j-hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook, the song talks about one’s rage over being treated badly in a relationship. With its incensed lyrics and punk rock beat, Danger became my mid-40s angry love song, just as Alanis Morrissette’s You Oughta Know and Pink’s Just Like A Pill were the rage songs of my youth. The septet’s synchronized choreography in Danger grabbed me by the collar and never let go. It was their first practice video that I ever watched. The Danger remix, released also in 2014, features popular Vietnamese-Australian singer-composer Thanh Bui. It was BTS’ first ever collaboration with an international artist—a gem that needs to be resurrected today.

  1. Spring Day

Spring Day has the most exquisite lyrics and a soulful, pining tone so that you embrace its sadness. The song starts with “Bogoshipda,” which in English is “I miss you.” There’s nothing more heartbreaking than longing for someone or something that’s gone. You try to make the pain go away by wanting to forget, but Suga reminds us in the song: “I say that I erase you, but I can’t really let you go yet.” Acceptance, they say, helps us move on without forgetting.

Crowned as the Queen of all BTS songs, Spring Day is the longest charting song in South Korea’s Gaon chart and has never left the Melon Top 100 chart since its release in 2017. The title track of You Never Walk Alone, BTS’ special second album, Spring Day is widely believed to be BTS’ tribute to the hundreds of children who perished in the MV Sewol ferry disaster three years earlier. BTS have never confirmed it. However, Jin had said in an interview with Esquire magazine in 2020 that it was “about a sad event,” but it is “also about longing.”

  1. Make It Right

Easily one of my favorite Bangtan songs because I am a sucker for love songs. There are so many theories and deconstructions on what the song means, but for me, it is simply a love song—whether it is BTS writing it for ARMY, or any person wanting to tell a beloved: “I could make it better, I could hold you tighter.” The rapline—RM, Suga, and j-hope—co-wrote this with Ed Sheeran. It was part of the Map of the Soul: Persona album released in 2019, the year I found BTS. I had this song on loop for a long time and it remains a staple on my BTS playlists.

I didn’t expect BTS to add choreography to Make It Right, but they did so at Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest to welcome 2020. Those body rolls were unforgettable, and inadvertently added some good memories for ARMY before the world locked down for three years.

  1. (Burning Up) Fire

“Every single time they go to an (awards) show, they legit turn it into a BTS concert.” This was an ARMY’s comment posted four years ago under Bangtan’s MNET Asian Music Awards (MAMA) stage in 2016. OP wasn’t exaggerating. I was a baby ARMY in 2019 when my YouTube algorithm led me to this legendary BTS performance of (Burning Up) Fire on MAMA. It’s forever seared in my BTS/ARMY core memory. The powerful choreography, the complex footwork, the growls, the fierceness of each of the seven as they belted out every line—I felt like I was watching a concert. This was the stage that motivated me to watch BTS live and revel in the brilliance of Bangtan, who that night was named Artist of the Year. Fire, with its electro-pop sound, also gave the septet a foothold in the US market when it topped the US iTunes Top Music Videos chart after its release in May 2016.

As I write this, I stumbled upon a YouTube video where a Korean fan explained what “Bultaoreune” means. She emphasized the conjugation of the word and the way Suga said it in a “contemplative, chill way,” an admiration of how one is on fire showing one’s passion and potential. Give this YouTube explanation a watch. It made me appreciate this awesome song a million times over. And yes, the message of being on fire is not just for the young. I’m a few years short of 50, and I still tell myself:

“Live as you like, your life is yours anyway
Don’t try too hard, it’s okay to lose
Errbody say La la la la la (La la la la la)
Say La la la la la (La la la la la)
Throw your hands up, scream, Burn it up
It’s burning up!”

  1. Anpanman

This B-side track in BTS’ third full-length album Love Yourself: Tear has the bounciest, happiest tune, just like Go, Go, but with the most profound meaning. Anpanman is based on a popular Japanese children’s picture book superhero that’s a piece of red bean bread. It doesn’t have superpowers, but it helps anyone in need by giving a piece of itself to them. That’s awesome. It’s a common narrative among ARMY: that Namjoon, Jin, Yoongi, Hobi, Jimin, Taehyung, and Jungkook have become our everyday heroes for the music, artistry, laughter, and authenticity they bring to our lives. That’s why it’s always been said that it’s okay even if you weren’t a debut ARMY, because “you find them when you need them the most.” Anpanman also has one of BTS’ most winsome choreographies.

  1. Mikrokosmos

This was the final song of BTS in their World Tour Love Yourself: Speak Yourself concert in October 2019 in Seoul, the first ever BTS concert I watched at Jamsil Olympic Stadium. Mikrokosmos or “sowoozoo” means a smaller universe in Korean, and for Bangtan and ARMY, it is our own little universe. As the boys sang this touching song, they made ARMY gaze at the night sky, with little twinkling lights (drones, really) forming different planets and ultimately, the BTS and ARMY symbols. I could only gasp “Wow,” and my heart was filled with love.

  1. Crystal Snow

Released in 2018, Crystal Snow is one of BTS’ Japanese songs and most poignant ballads. It tells us about how fleeting and fragile love is—like a snowflake melting in our hand. These lines are just beautiful:

“I want to hold you one more time before you disappear…”
“Can I touch your heart?”
“It’s always you…”

It’s the yearning that pricks my heart. It also has the sweetest opening bars that set the tone for the sentimental message. I was in Seoul in February 2020, shortly before the world shut down. It was snowing and I was trembling in the cold. Crystal Snow kept playing in my head. I held out my palm, caught some snowflakes, and watched them melt in my palm.

  1. Ma City

When BTS performed Ma City in their Yet to Come concert with a live band in Busan in October 2022, I screamed. This song, with its funky beat, alternative hip hop sound laden with bluesy guitar riffs, is one of my early favorites in BTS’ rich discography. Ma City is in their fourth mini album, The Most Beautiful Moment in Life Pt. 2, and their first special album, The Most Beautiful Moment in Life: Young Forever. In Ma City, the boys look back on their roots and celebrate their hometowns which nourished their dreams and shaped their lives. Namjoon’s verse says it all:

When I feel like I’m forgetting myself
In that place, I find my old self
(I) remember everything, even your smell
You’re my summer autumn
Winter and every spring.

Hobi pays tribute to South Korea’s democratic movement in his lyrics, “If you want to see me, then gather at 7/ Everyone dial it, 062-518.”  It’s a reference to the Gwangju uprising on May 18, 1980, where thousands of university students were either killed, wounded, or had gone missing after the military cracked down as they protested against the authoritarian rule. Interestingly, one can see the Democracy Square, considered the heart of the uprising, from Joy Studio, the dance and performance school that Hobi attended as a teen before moving to Seoul to pursue his passion. Suga had a self-deprecating description of his hometown, Daegu, and declares that he is Daegu’s pride.

For more about “Ma City”, check out the Weverse magazine article.

  1. Answer: Love Myself

My mother used to tell me when I was in my 20s that one of her biggest frustrations was seeing my lack of self-confidence. To this day, she continues to remind me to believe in myself. In BTS terms, that means “love myself.” I’m in my 40s now and life has been good, despite the occasional curve balls thrown my way. Sometimes, I catch myself thinking of what could’ve been and there are times when I want to kick myself for my stupid moments in life, but I can say now:

Yesterday’s me, today’s me, tomorrow’s me

(I’m learning how to love myself)

Without exception, all together, they are all me.

This song is special because it is part of the Love Yourself: Answer era, when I became ARMY. I am grateful that I had the chance to wave my ARMY bomb with thousands of other ARMYs, lighting up the whole Jamsil stadium while the Tannies performed this gem of a song onstage.

  1. Pied Piper

A sexy song, with a sexy choreography, teasing, haunting—but telling us to stop, not to be obsessed, and focus on what you’re supposed to be doing like, well, homework for the younger ARMY and perhaps, office reports or household chores for the older ones. Pied Piper is a brilliant paradox in the world of idols and fans. The title is obviously inspired by the German medieval folktale, The Pied Piper of Hamelin. As in the story, BTS’ magical music lures us into following them, but we mustn’t leave our responsibilities behind, reminding us that, “Your boss and parents hate me.”

Pied Piper is found in BTS’ 5th mini album, Love Yourself: Her, released in 2017, four years since they debuted.

Follow the sound of the pipes/ I’m taking over you,” Bangtan Sonyeondan sings.

Yes, you have.


I need to add two songs to my best 10 for the 10th anniversary: Attack on Bangtan and So 4 More.

If you know BTS’ history, you will understand why BTS and ARMY have become a force to reckon with. Attack on Bangtan (or alternatively, The Rise of Bangtan), is a track from the Tannies’ first mini album, O!RUL8, 2? released in September 2013. The boys were not naïve. In those early days, they knew they were being mocked and belittled, and so in this song, they ask:

But what will happen if BangtanSonyeondan advances?” What has happened 10 years later is poetic justice at its finest.

To put this piece together, I went over the boys’ albums and the songs listed in their official website for good measure. I was pretty sure I had heard all the songs in the albums, even if I can’t really memorize all their titles, until I got to the Dark and Wild album and saw this one track that sounded unfamiliar. My ARMY heart dropped. How could I have missed a song?! It’s So 4 More, a play on the word “sophomore,” as it was released on June 13, 2014, the first-year anniversary of Bangtan Sonyeondan’s debut—and it was a promise for more to come from the septet. I watched the video and saw fetus Bangtan!

It’s a tender, brutally honest song from seven young men who have embarked on an ambitious and difficult journey to make their dreams come true. It was truly a struggle, as we all know now. So 4 More is a testament to their grit, determination, and focus to reach the stars. And of course, the Bulletproof Boy Scouts pay tribute to their loyal and committed ARMY. So 4 More’s refrain remains true on their 10th year as it was on their first year anniversary, and will do so, for sure, in the years to come:

Even when a year passes
and even when another year comes,
you and I will be walking on the same melody again
Even when the night comes
and even when it passes,
our performance for a better life will continue.

This is why I am in this Bangtan sh*t for life.

If you want to go over BTS’ discography for the past decade, here’s the link to Big Hit’s official site:

Author’s note: Thanks to my ARMY friend, Jam, who pointed out that Dark&Wild’s So 4 More on Spotify was different from the So 4 More YouTube link posted in this article, I discovered that there are two BTS songs with the same title.

To sum up the confusion: The So 4 More on Spotify used to be 2nd Grade. Apparently, Big Hit also changed 2nd Grade’s title in their official website, which was why when I checked  on YouTube, I was led to the So 4 More track. I forgot about 2nd Grade on Dark&Wild! The So 4 More I wrote about here is the one BTS released on Soundcloud for their first anniversary.

I couldn’t find any article online about when and why 2nd Grade’s title was changed to So 4 More, but I saw this Twitter thread of ARMYs who were just as confused as I was:

Sorry for the mix-up, and for failing to remember this exceptional song! Aside from its catchy, quirky tune, the lyrics are a frank account of BTS’ challenging journey as rookies who successfully reached their second year in the ruthless music industry.

Here’s the full lyrics of 2nd Grade with a YouTube link to the song:

While going over old 2nd Grade performance videos of BTS on YouTube, I saw a fan page where BTS performed the “5th grade version” of the song to open their BTS Festa Prom Party in 2018. As always, BTS are fun and witty!

About author


Nikko Dizon worked as journalist specializing in security and political issues for nearly two decades. She is doing consultancy work during her time-off from journalism and remains immersed in the Korean Wave, in particular with BTS, actor Ji Chang Wook, and K-drama

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