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The 100 Best BTS Songs

From “Butter” to “Butterfly” and beyond, we count down the boundary-smashing Seoul septet’s finest moments so far

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Nearly a decade ago, a seven-member group from a virtually unknown label in South Korea dreamed of a “big house, big car, and big rings.” But thanks to a lethal mix of undeniable talent, remarkable lyricism, a relentless work ethic, magnetic personalities, and a few arresting dimples, BTS are now the biggest band on the planet (and likely even beyond that). Members RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jung Kook ultimately got their wish, but because they actually had something to say, they gained something much more valuable — the ability to break down walls and build bridges around the globe. 

Listing all of the band’s accolades would take longer than it would to learn all of their fan chants at once, so here are a few: BTS have five Number One albums to date and a handful of chart-topping songs, two Grammy nominations, are highly regarded ambassadors to the U.N., and bring in an estimated $5 billion to the South Korean economy annually. But at the core of BTS’ success is the unmatched relationship they have with their fan base, ARMY (“Adorable Representative M.C. for Youth”), fueled by a rich discography that transcends language and culture. Here, we highlight the songs that make up the kaleidoscope that is BTS’ message — of love for yourself and others, of introspection, of connection, and, of course, even a healthy bit of anarchy. From “Danger” and “Sea,” to “Run” and “Ugh!,” we’ve ranked the 100 best BTS songs.

From Rolling Stone US

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‘Jamais Vu’ (2019)

You may have heard of “déjà vu,” but Jin, J-Hope, and Jung Kook introduce us to “jamais vu,” a psychological phenomenon in which a person is faced with a situation they’ve seen many times, but can’t seem to remember. On the surface, the unit track unfolds like a lovely lullaby — but it conceals one of the group’s darkest moments, as the singers describe the torturous feeling of constantly reliving the same pain, and beg for a remedy. —N.M.

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‘So What’ (2018)

A no-frills EDM banger, motivational raps included — Don’t worry! Let go! Have a glow stick! There are airy interludes for you to meaningfully wave your hands in the air and breakdowns for you to goofily jump up, almost in sync with your friends. Top 10 BTS moment: RM raps, “I don’t wanna die right now,” in full-on Rob Base “It Takes Two” flow. —C.A.

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‘My Time’ (2020)

Jung Kook, the youngest of the Bangtan boys, was effectively raised by the members — beginning as a guyliner-clad 15-year-old rapper, and blossoming into the confident, tatted-up vocalist who soars over stadiums.  In “My Time,” Jung Kook takes his crystalline pop vocals into R&B territory, reflecting on how quickly he had to grow up in the spotlight, speeding along as if he were in a different time zone: “My life has been a movie all the time,” he muses. And at the pace he’s going, it’ll likely be a long time until we see the credits roll. —N.M.

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‘Sea’ (2017)

It begins with the sound of waves crashing softly on the shore. Originally called “Wherever There’s Hope, There’s a Trial” (a quote from Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84), the emotional hidden track off of Love Yourself 承 ‘Her’ details the internal battles and challenges the group faced as it skyrocketed to success. “‘They’re No. 1 somewhere, they have so much stuff, why are they worried?’ People always talk about that. If you are an ARMY and we spent time together from 2013, 2014 — they could understand,” RM told Billboard of the song. “It’s kind of more special, closer to our true hearts.” —N.M.

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‘Dynamite’ (2020)

London co-writer and producer David Stewart declined to call “Dynamite” a “K-pop tune,” and that’s because, as BTS’ English-language debut, it culminated the group’s 10-year American fever dream. Defying the Covid doldrums, “Dynamite” rushed and gushed to the top of the Billboard Hot 100. Young-genius polymath Jung Kook slid into our DMs with a bubble-pop chirp, tossing stateside keywords (“Lebron,” “King Kong”) to RM, J-Hope, and Jimin, who coolly parlay them as synths swell above a Moog bass and a frisky, disco-clapping chorus. But there’s more! Heralded by uptown-funky horns and guitars, V, Suga, and Jin levitate the function with zesty precision, as if they’re flying between a double rainbow in tight formation like a squad of Blue Angels. What pandemic? —C.A.

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‘Danger’ (2014)

“Danger” may very well be the epitome of teen-angst-ridden BTS — and boy, is it catchy. Come for the guitar-rock-infused hip-hop and desperate frustration toward a love who doesn’t seem to care; stay for the punchy, illustrative choreography that would eventually become canon. —N.M.

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‘No More Dream’ (2013)

The video for BTS’ first single was the world’s first real glimpse of the young, seven-member crew’s particular set of skills — choreography and vocals that hit with breakneck precision, lyrics that uplifted hopeless kids, and an exhilarating group dynamic. But the reaction was muted. They’re too hip-hop to be idols; they’re no Big Bang; those “gangsta” mannerisms have gotta go. And while the boys might’ve overexcitedly postured like suburban swag surfers raiding a Hood by Air warehouse, such objections now sound quaint. —C.A.

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‘Not Today’ (2017)

A distorted, semi-menacing, neo-horrorcore intro builds to a declaration to fight, followed by a shriek. Whew! This is an ARMY battle cry, with an underdog call to arms (“Ready! Aim! Fire!”) and generational shout-out (“Hey crow-tits, all hands up!”) in the midst of a brassy, action-flick fanfare. The song is largely known for its striking, ninja-warrior choreography, seen in a video partially shot around a stone-mining site in Korea’s Chungcheong province. —C.A.

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‘DNA’ (2017)

Yep, “DNA” is a Solo-cup–sloshing, spring-break–ready EDM free-for-all, with a dubstep crossfire payoff that’ll make any first-sight, molecularly destined crush seem like it’s gonna last forever. But how BTS get there is crafty. They lure you in with the echoing swirl of an actual human whistle and an urgent, almost percussively strummed acoustic guitar before the cavalcade of voices hits. On second pass, RM and Suga up their eternal-love game, but it’s Jimin, V, Jung Kook, and Jin (in a rare, spotlight moment) who trade-off tenderly phrased and almost-panting verses that deliver an immaculate harmonic heart punch. —C.A.

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‘Mikrokosmos’ (2019)

You can always count on BTS to take you back to school — and this time, it’s Greek philosophy. The sparkling “Mikrokosmos” refers to the “microcosm,” and in this context, the concept that humans belong to the universe, yet also contain little universes inside them. It’s a beautiful metaphor on its own, but even more so when the septet play it as it was intended, echoing through a stadium filled with thousands of twinkling light sticks: “In one person, there is one history/In one person, there is one star/Shining with 7 billion lights, 7 billion worlds.” —N.M.

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‘Idol’ (2018)

Lyrically, “Idol” is a plainspoken, no-irony message to haters and trolls: We know and love who we are, peace out. But perhaps in response to charges they’d become too Westernized, the BTS creative team (music, video, choreography) took a pro tip from India’s Bollywood and bhangra culture, integrating contemporary dance styles (South African gqom and gwara, reggaeton) with traditional Korean touchstones (samulnori folk percussion, pansori storytelling, a gakgung horn-bow, hanbok clothing, hanok houses, lots of tigers). The result is a frenzied, celebratory fantasia. —C.A.

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‘Whalien 52’ (2015)

Like many other introspective tracks from BTS’ discography, “Whalien 52” is full of earnest symbolism, wherein the septet narrate their struggles with loneliness using the metaphor of a 52-hertz whale that is known to be the loneliest whale in the world because its high-pitched frequency cannot be heard by other whales. “Whalien 52” sees the group address its inability to connect with others, stardom, and the anxiety it brings. The whale metaphor holds deep importance in BTS iconography. Most recently, it appeared in the animated music video for “We Are Bulletproof: The Eternal.” In this case, the lonely whale (representing BTS itself) is not lonely anymore, because the group has found strength through the companionship of the BTS ARMY. —D.D.

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‘We Are Bulletproof: The Eternal’ (2020)

The closing chapter of the “We Are Bulletproof” song series delivers on the epic promise held in its title. The members’ vocals take on an almost ethereal quality over the soaring EDM track, and they describe the awe-inspiring power of their massive global fandom. “We are, we are forever, bulletproof,” BTS sing in the chorus. “(Yeah, we got to heaven)/(Yeah, we have you, have you)/Yeah, we are not seven, with you.” —N.M.

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‘On’ (2020)

Like a baroque cathedral crossed with a Super Bowl halftime show, “On” is a lot — 10 songwriters, a gospel choir, a Kinetic Manifesto Film, a conch shell horn, and way more. But there are two unmissable events: (1) After the second chorus, as a lone church-organ note vibrates, Jung Kook’s exquisite falsetto pierces the sky and repositions the stars. It’s stupefying. And (2) the dance breakdown over a marching-band trap beat that follows. We remain gobsmacked. —C.A. 

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‘Hold Me Tight’ (2015)

The quiet notes of a piano trickle in until an R&B beat takes over, and RM intones, “As I empty my glass, it gets filled up with my longing for you.” It’s a love that seems to be fading, and there’s nothing to do but plead and hold on to fading hope of regaining what was lost. The ballad marks V’s first composition credit, and the beginning of an even more introspective, multidimensional tone for the group’s music. —N.M.

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‘Intro: Singularity’ (2018)

V’s sultry Love Yourself 轉 ‘Tear’ opener plays to his strengths, highlighting his rich baritone, as well as his beloved, quiet eccentricity. The neo-soul track is seductive and mysterious, the singer contemplating the mask he wears to hide his emotions. “Even in my momentary dreams, the illusions that torture me are still the same,” V sings. “Did I lose myself, or did I gain you?” For someone who’s usually so vulnerable, here he keeps his cards pretty close to his chest. But it’s clear that V relishes in the anticipation of someday playing an even stronger hand. —N.M.

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‘Butter’ (2021)

BTS ignited a much-needed celebration in May 2021 with a summery earworm as smooth as its salty-sweet namesake. With its infectious strut and lyrical nods to Usher and Michael Jackson, BTS’ second English-language song proved the perfect soundtrack to a world turning a hopeful eye to a new season as pandemic measures loosened. That the flirty, Grammy-nominated dance track came in a variety of remix flavors (“Hotter,” “Sweeter,” “Cooler,” and a Megan Thee Stallion–assisted rendition) only boosted its charm, as well as its time at Number One on various charts (nearly a year later, it still tops Billboard’s Hot Trending Songs). “Get it, let it roll,” indeed. —A.L.

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‘House of Cards’ (2016)

There’s a reason why a fan-captured video of the vocal line’s live performance of this song has garnered more than 13 million views. “House of Cards” is easily one of the group’s most sensual offerings, serving up sexy high drama over an orchestral melody fit for a Fifty Shades of Grey needle drop. And as Jin, Jung Kook, Jimin, and V hypnotize while they sing of a doomed relationship whose paper-thin walls threaten to collapse, it’s hard to imagine why one would ever leave. —N.M.

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‘Lie’ (2016)

Tense and sinister, Jimin’s solo track off of Wings turns the usually sweet quality of the vocalist’s high tenor into a haunting cry, trilling and wailing as he sings about drowning in self-deception and insecurity. There’s even a desperate quality to the modern choreography that Jimin uses to illustrate the track, revealing that the scariest place to look isn’t under your bed — it’s within. —N.M.

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“Trivia 轉: Seesaw” (2018)

Those who expected Suga’s signature spitfire bars and hard-hitting hip-hop beats were pleasantly surprised by the rapper’s change in course on Love Yourself 結 ‘Answer.’ Suga, always one to delight in subverting expectations, sings over a light, playful ditty about a relationship caught in a “seesaw game” — the constant, relentless ups and downs. Mind games get old. But when it comes to seeing this vulnerable side of the rapper, that’s one thing fans will likely never tire of. —N.M.

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‘Outro: Wings’ (2017)

The Wings closer is a fitting end to what is widely considered a major turning point in BTS’ career. “Spread spread spread my wings,” the members sing over an expansive EDM beat — one that would, years later, echo in arenas and stadiums around the world. The song is full of promise, sung by a group that was already looking skyward, poised to soar higher than anyone could have anticipated. —N.M.

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‘Intro: Persona’ (2019)

On 2014’s “Intro: Skool Luv Affair” (sampled for this neo–Dust Brothers beat), Rap Monsta firmly counsels J-Hope and Suga: “How can life always be hopeful? This is not Bangtan style … Bangtan style is hip-hop.” Five years is an idol eternity, and though RM was a master builder by 2019, his identity is in crisis throughout the ruthlessly introspective “Intro: Persona,” BTS’ most unfuckwithable hip-hop track. —C.A.

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‘Fake Love’ (2018)

BTS went IMAX with the lead single from Love Yourself: Tear, emphatically supersizing the song with synth sounds galore, including the rock guitar that prowls throughout. The video was a series of color-saturated pleas for your attention: glass shattering, wind howling, water flooding, fire blooming, and the usual dizzying choreography. The theme — don’t emotionally fake it to make it in a relationship — was only a skeletal script. The real story of this song is trap drums, swooshes, more trap drums, more swooshes, and that inescapable hook, i.e., the title, sung in four rhythmic syllables, signal-boosted by stacked harmonies. Welcome to the Top 10, fellas. —C.A.

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‘Louder Than Bombs’ (2020)

This sneakily ambitious ballad, co-written by queer pop renegade Troye Sivan, builds an echo chamber of addled, stripped-bare emotions, swept along by deeply fluctuating bass, fitful dream-pop ambience, and high, tight harmonies. As the rappers’ confessions of weakness and anguished defiance reverberate (Suga practically growls about rolling in shit), the stages of life expressed in the song — heartbreak, isolation, self-assertion — detonate on equally convulsive levels. Acknowledging the waves of despair everyone faces, BTS promise on the final, soaring chorus to struggle and sing, endlessly. —C.A.

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‘Epilogue: Young Forever’ (2016)

The anthemic lead single from The Most Beautiful Moment in Life: Young Forever is emblematic of the BTS ethos for a number of reasons: It’s a celebration of youth and connection; it’s one of the first true “fan songs” that has become a symbol of the band’s connection to its audience; it’s RM’s very first producing credit. Deftly easing from hard-hitting rap to lush vocals, “Young Forever” sees the band at its most wistful, but ever triumphant: “Even if there is no everlasting audience, I will sing,” J-Hope exults. “I wish to remain forever as today’s myself — I wish to remain forever as a boy.” —N.M.

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‘Serendipity’ (2018)

The most delicate of love songs, sung by the most delicate of tenor voices, the ethereal “Serendipity” asks of its listener a simple request: “Just let me love you.” Jimin marvels at the vastness of the universe and the beauty of happy accidents — “The future has moved for us,” he sings — further illustrating his feelings using charming metaphors like “You’re my penicillin that saved me” and “I’m your calico cat that came to meet you.” The future may be full of uncertainty, but we’re here, aren’t we? —N.M.

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‘Butterfly’ (2015)

A deep breath in, then Jung Kook almost whispers, “Don’t think of anything, don’t bring up any word — just smile at me.” A tentative guitar cradles the melody like a gentle, rolling sea as the vocalists sing about a fear of losing something as fragile and delicate as a butterfly. But the track shows its true beauty when its orchestral chorus bursts open like a pair of colorful wings and takes flight. —N.M.

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‘Euphoria’ (2018)

Pinging synths and weightless, pinballing percussion seem to signal an impending, blissful dopamine drop. Instead, all the digital filtering and tweaking only reveal the depth of Jung Kook’s yearning, emotionally fraught voice — not a boy, not yet a man, not yet a lot of things. It’s unexpected, very real, and one of the most successful solo songs yet by a member of BTS. —C.A.

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‘BTS Cypher Pt. 2: Triptych’ (2014)

In RM, Suga, and J-Hope’s second Cypher track, the trio take a pointed, fiery, and delightfully profane swipe at their critics in the hip-hop community who continuously seek to discredit them. It begins with their signature swagger as they set the scene — “We’re seven wolves, herding the sheep that are the applause,” J-Hope teases — but the beat suddenly shifts into ultra-high gear as the guys spit furiously fast. “Blindly possessed hyungs full of pride and weird conviction, they get astonished by my eight bars,” RM says; “Look at those stubborn, preachy hip-hop oldies with their stiff necks/When you play underground, BTS plays above ground,” Suga posits. —N.M.

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‘Mic Drop’ (2017)

“Mic Drop” has been performed on Ellen, Kimmel, Corden, SNL, and at the Jingle Ball, just to name a few, and it’s no question why. The track was originally released with Love Yourself: Her, and was then remixed by Steve Aoki. The lyrics, which RM and J-Hope contributed to, offer a message to those who have doubted BTS, with references to their unmatched global success. “Mic Drop” also has an unbelievable dance break when performed live, and the version where the members are in their custom Dior outfits is the cherry on top. —K.K. 

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‘Pied Piper’ (2017)

The group’s most daring conceptual move shifts from confession to self-flagellation to an overt acting out of pop’s florid seduction routine (“I’m your guilty pleasure/You can’t escape, never“). The lyrics don’t try to conceal the song’s message — a startling reprimand of BTS’ fans for being unhealthily obsessive. At times, it’s as if the track is meant to seem extra-addictive — deploying a melody the same exact way over and over (unusual for BTS), and stacking vocal tracks sky-high for an extreme choral effect. When Jung Kook and, later, Jin sing “I’m here to save you/I’m here to ruin you,” it’s a powerfully unnerving dose of pop-star reality. —C.A.

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‘Boy in Luv’ (2014)

In “Boy in Luv,” it’s the self-effacing quality of BTS’ angst that makes it charming: “Why do I keep checking your profile picture when it’s the same?” J-Hope raps. Pair it with some memorable TV-soap-level acting in the song’s video and an expansive rock refrain, and you’ve got a saga of young love that will take you right back to scribbling on your sneakers in eighth-grade science class. —N.M.

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‘Magic Shop’ (2018)

Specifically crafted for BTS’ ARMY, this lush mix of confession and testimony was inspired by the book The Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart. Produced by Jung Kook, the song deftly shifts moods with each member’s verse, then gently ascends as the full choir of idols croon empathic mantras. Feel free to swoon. —C.A.

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‘2! 3!’ (2016)

More than anything, “2! 3!” is a promise. In the mellow Wings: You Never Walk Alone B side, the group urges fans that no matter the challenges, they can take comfort in BTS, and together hope for a brighter future. All it takes is to close your eyes and count “1, 2, 3,” and forget the difficult past. “Let’s walk only along the flower path,” RM sings. —N.M.

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‘Ugh!’ (2020)

BTS’ MC trio obliterate the nastiest beat on which they’ve ever rapped here (shout-out to producer Pdogg). It’s the group’s answer to Three 6 Mafia’s “Tear Da Club Up” or Crime Mob’s “Knuck If You Buck.” While you wild out on the rugged, agitated, convulsive chorus — “Ugh!” sounds like “Wook!” in Korean — Suga, RM, and J-Hope go deep on the role of anger in the internet fishbowl. —C.A.

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‘Just One Day’ (2014)

After releasing a trio of hard-hitting hip-hop singles – “No More Dream,” “We Are Bulletproof Pt 2.,” and “N.O” — BTS slowed it down with a soft, cradling R&B track that highlights the honeyed stylings of the vocal line. The members describe what a perfect day with their loved one would be like — “Let’s meet when morning glories bloom and part when they wither,” RM urges. It’s a bittersweet daydream for those who rarely have one free day to spend, but there’s a beauty in letting yourself get lost. —N.M.

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‘Paradise’ (2018)

A low-key powerful message song in the guise of slinky 2000s R&B, “Paradise” originated with Suga’s appearance on the group’s 2018 New Year’s video. After wishing that fans’ dreams would come true, he added, “if you don’t have a dream, that’s OK, too.” The group ran with that very-BTS, very–Love Yourself sentiment, and the result is an aching, indelible chorus (“It’s alright to not have any dreams”), belted out by Jimin, at his heart-melting best. —C.A.

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‘Dis-ease’ (2020)

At the height of the pandemic came BTS’s fifth album, Be, and with it, a hefty dose of burnout. “Dis-ease” tackles the heaviness of that very relatable fatigue with an unexpected lightness, thanks to a bouncy old-school hip-hop beat from Brooklyn producer duo Basstracks and BTS’ clever wordplay (“work” in Korean, 일, sounds like the English word “ill”). But as the frustration builds and finally reaches its climax, in comes in the real catharsis: a rollicking, trumpeting final drop. —N.M.

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‘Run’ (2015)

Following the EDM-pop cloudburst of “I Need U” (BTS’ first Korean Top 10), “Run” roiled with bittersweet, frenzied emotions. A city-slick jazz-blues flourish gives way to RM and Suga matter-of-factly rapping about the burning pangs of a first real soulmate. But the song whooshes forward when V, Jung Kook, and Jimin join; their voices are both breathless and accepting (“Curse me, silly fate!”), and that empathetic surge never fades. Being young and lost in love is like running with cuts and bruises on your feet. You fall down and cry. It may be reckless or a foolish illusion. But don’t stop; always keep running. —C.A.

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‘Boyz With Fun’ (2015)

It’s with this rollicking 2015 track that BTS (a.k.a. Bangtan Sonyeondan) introduce us to 흥탄소년단 (heungtansonyeondan), their groovy, upbeat alter egos. “Yeah, we’re here, ah boys with fun,” they shout in a rhythmic a cappella. Peppered with call and response, nimble wordplay, and a quasi-improvised bridge, the funky track is a full-blown party. And released at a time when the septet were moving away from their freewheeling hip-hop roots and leaning more into earnest pop, “Boyz With Fun” served as a reminder that BTS would always retain a shimmer of their unfettered youth. —N.M.

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‘Dope’ (2015)

The irresistibly kinetic video for “Dope” was an early revelation for Western eyes. Positioned as hardworking, well-costumed youth who eschewed clubbing and just happened to be unthinkably adorable, fabulously expressive singers and rappers, BTS moved like B-boy artificial intelligence to Pdogg’s infectious, strangled sax (clearly inspired by Flo Rida’s choked sax on “GDFR” via Lookas’ remix of War’s “Low Rider”). The clip still kills. —C.A.

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‘I Need U’ (2015)

That soft, playful woodwind-synth repeats as Suga’s love rap edges from whiny to hateful, and an EDM wave of energy starts to rise. Suddenly, V swoons in, wailing “Everything/Everything” like it’s his last word. Rolling snares unleash a dubstep-for-all-ages chorus, while Jimin and Jung Kook trade the epically emo plea, “I need you, girl!” But ultimately, “I Need U” sounds powerful now because it’s the song where BTS cracked the code, branded their sound, had a big hit at home, and welcomed all of us to the Bangtan Universe. —C.A.

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‘Blood Sweat & Tears’ (2016)

BTS’ worldwide moonshot started with this archetypal glitter bomb, which is simultaneously earnest and come-hither. Showcasing the gorgeously fluid falsettos of Jimin, V, and Jung Kook, the track’s producers float tropical-house breezes over a twitchy reggaeton beat with flirty synths that practically ask for your number. The synthesized vocal hook is a bouncy flurry of energy, and the bits of glockenspiel, chimes, cascading guitar, and hand claps are so enticing that you don’t even need an EDM dumb-down. Plus, RM raps about “peaches and cream” like he’s in a deck chair, and J-Hope wants to drink you like whiskey. —C.A.

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‘Black Swan’ (2020)

Back in 2015, BTS were already revealing their alienation from pop stardom, with Suga spitting: “OK, we’re dope from head to toe/Over half of the day, we drown in work/Even if our youth rots in the studio.” “Dionysus” upped the anguish; and here, they fear that their artistic passion has faded. Surrounded by pensive, synthetic strings and a cavernous 808 clap, the group’s strangely Auto-Tuned cries are absorbed by the narcotic, cloud-rap ooze. As if trapped in the video’s glistening void, seven barefoot figures in black bespoke suits bend, snap, and twist. —C.A.

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‘Dimple’ (2017)

The melody flirts with you first, echoing like a siren call. Then the vocalists lay it on thick: “Was it a mistake made by an angel? Or a deep kiss? That dimple is illegal,” Jimin, V, Jin, and Jung Kook sing on the chorus of “Dimple” — so illegal, in fact, they’ll call you “ille-girl.” Sung by anyone else, the Love Yourself 承 ‘Her’ B side would likely sound like a string of tooth-achingly saccharine pickup lines. But when BTS, here at their most boy-band–y, imbue the lyrics with this kind of delightful, undeniable charm, you’d be hard-pressed not to crack a smile. —N.M.

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‘Silver Spoon (Baepsae)’ (2015)

The group’s singers-plus-rappers configuration is particularly powerful on this millennial fuck-you to patronizing, age-old stereotypes. To appreciate the various levels of the rhymes, it definitely takes internet translation and a general knowledge of Korean society, but the supercharged trap beat slaps you right in the face when Jung Kook chants “BANG BANG” or “You must be kiddin’ me!” And it’s no surprise to learn that he’s exclaiming in reaction to a familiar situation — professional classes expecting kids from challenging backgrounds to always try harder and succeed in deadening jobs that pay with “experience.” The Korean title, “Baepsae,” translates as “small bird” or “crow tit,” derived from a Korean idiom that says, more or less, stay in your lane if you’re born into a certain class. Both a rap flex and a generational anthem, “Silver Spoon (Baepsae)” hits hard. —C.A.

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‘Burning Up (Fire)’ (2016)

Suga sets it off, intoning plainly, “It’s burning up.” Then, a runway of stuttering house-music snares, horn stabs, and wildly razoring, pinging synths send the boys into an irresistible group chant of the title: “Fiyah, oh-aye-oh!“ But it’s the bold, almost sneering, Beastie Boys–ish spirit of J-Hope and Suga that establishes a tone (though the lyrics themselves express pained frustration). The rappers’ energy only escalates with the candy-flipped dubstep beat yo-yoing and kick drums thumping. The language (a mix of Korean and English) is no barrier to the content; “Fire” is clearly a call-out to kids, no matter their country, economic background, or depressed situation, to get hyped and set fire to class restrictions, dismissive haters, or their own inhibitions. —C.A.

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‘Ddaeng’ (2018)

BTS are often lauded for their masterful performances, but since the very beginning, their most powerful weapon has always been their words. Case in point: “Ddaeng,” a slick diss track addressing the criticisms the group has frequently faced about their rapping from South Korea’s hip-hop scene. Made especially for BTS’ fifth anniversary in 2018, the SoundCloud track sees RM, Suga, and J-Hope artfully toy with six different meanings of the word “ddaeng” — namely, “wrong” and (you’re) “finished” — over a plucky beat made of traditional Korean instrumentals. “We’re being ruined, so thanks/For ignoring us until now, thanks/Thanks to you: stadiums, domes, Billboard,” Suga spits. It’s as scathing as it is refreshing, and leaves little room for doubt that BTS have earned the right to have the final word. —N.M.

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‘Save Me’ (2016)

Here’s where everybody should fall for BTS, and where every geeky music-head should appreciate their perfectionist pop ingenuity (or “400 IQ production,” as one producer put it on YouTube). Jimin’s first verse alone is an airily crooned dramatic turn, and the breathtaking four-man-weave throughout, by all the vocalists, is a marvel of nuanced technical facility. The meticulously eccentric instrumentation — ticking-clock percussion; trickling marimba sound; the distant, yearning quality of the EDM snares! — creates a sense of falling so that the chorus feels like it literally saves you. Plus, the boisterous precise flow of the rappers could make Migos crack a smile. —C.A.

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‘Spring Day’ (2017)

Sometimes, the most complex emotions can take root in the simplest of phrases, and in “Spring Day,” that’s “보고 싶다” — “I miss you.” In this power ballad, BTS are stuck in a perpetual winter, lost in grief and longing that manifest in a mix of almost-spoken-word musings and sweeping melody lines. “I wish to end this winter/How much longings must fall like snow/Before that spring day arrives,” RM raps. While the lyrics are widely understood to be originally about the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster, the perennial sentiment packs an emotional punch that’s universal, transcending country, culture, and language. And the bud of hope BTS offer at the end — “The morning will come again/Because no darkness or no season can last forever,” they sing — is the reason they’ve cultivated a garden of blossoms. —N.M.