Home Music Music Lists

The 100 Best BTS Songs

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

Big Hit Entertainment*

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

Play video

‘N.O’ (2013)

Not long after the group made its riotous debut, BTS doubled down on their criticisms of South Korean society in “N.O,” condemning adults for making the youth into “studying machines.” And if that message wasn’t clear enough, the music video sees the septet in a Matrix-like dystopian future, battling the stoic guards intent on keeping them dutifully chained behind their desks. “Don’t live your life by being trapped in someone else’s dream,” they sing in the chorus. —N.M.

Play video

‘Make It Right’ feat. Lauv (2019)

Neither ballad nor banger, “Make It Right” is BTS’ sneakiest tear-jerker. Co-written by cozy, blue-eyed soul-bro Ed Sheeran, Fred Again, et al., the remix pastes in Lauv for the first verse/pre-chorus/chorus, and he ably transposes his “I Like Me Better” vibe (college kid trying to be suave). But it’s the song’s smoky, feathery, midtempo groove that tugs at you, with a jazzy horn loop being echoed by the group’s liquid falsettos, and nudged along by 808 snares that are somehow martial and lovely at the same time. —C.A.

Play video

Big Hit Entertainment


‘Interlude: Shadow’ (2020)

In a 2018 episode of the band’s reality series, Run BTS!, Suga wrote a poem with this line: “It is true that the more light that burns upon us, the more shadows appear.” In the fiery Map of the Soul: 7 opener, the rapper expounds on this metaphor, further exploring the darkness that goes hand in hand with celebrity. The track begins with a moody sample of “Intro: O!RUL8,2?,” as Suga admits, “I’m afraid, flying high is terrifying. No one told me how lonely it is up here.” But just as it seems the rapper has braced himself to face his demons, the tempo shifts and an ear-splitting bass drops in — Suga is now spitting from his shadow’s perspective, reminding him that they have no choice but to co-exist. —N.M.

Play video

Han Myung-Gu/WireImage


‘Look Here’ (2014)

Disguised beneath crisp soul-funk production, “Look Here” presents a game of cat and mouse that eventually turns vaguely threatening as jealousy and obsession take over. The vocalists channel a bit of Prince as they step into bright falsettos, offering a delightful contrast to the rappers’ playful, husky verses. —R.C.

Play video

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic


‘Outro: Tear’ (2018)

This is where we see BTS at their most vulnerable. Written around the time the group was considering disbandment, “Outro: Tear” — from the 2018 EP Love Yourself: Tear — captures all the emotions the septet were drowning in during that tumultuous time. The orchestral hip-hop number finds RM, Suga, and J-Hope outlining the feelings of betrayal, rage, and desperation they all felt. The trio use the double meaning of the word “tear” to symbolize grief, as well as the bonds within the group shattering. J-Hope’s verse is particularly powerful, as he addresses the other members, rapping, “You’re my beginning and my end/That is all/My meeting and my farewell/You were everything, step forward fear/It will be repeated, caused by you/Tear.” —R.C.

Play video

ilgan Sports/Multi-Bits/Getty Images


‘Paldogangsan’ (2013)

At once a hip-hop skit and a parable, “Paldogangsan,” also known as the satoori (dialect) rap, sees the rap line repping their hometowns in South Korea — Suga, from Daegu in Gyeongsang; J-Hope, from Gwangju in Jeolla; RM, from Seoul in Gyeonggi — until the latter, always the peacemaker, urges them to embrace one another’s differences. It’s the same call for unity that the group would make on the U.N. assembly floor many years later — a message universally understood from New York to Korea, from Moonsan to Marado. —N.M.

Play video

Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images


‘Moon’ (2020)

Jin’s love song to the fans is as massive and shining as his personality. In the joyful guitar-pop ode, Jin taps the power of his full range as he likens his relationship to ARMY to that of celestial bodies: “To you, I’m just a moon/A tiny star of yours that brightens up your heart,” he sings. “You are my Earth/And all I see is you.” In the stage performance, BTS’ eldest member is the Little Prince, standing atop a makeshift moon. But in this version of the story, our hero is anything but lonely. —N.M.

Play video

ilgan Sports/Multi-Bits via Getty Images


‘Spine Breaker’ (2014)

BTS take on the class divide in South Korea by pointing to the expensive North Face padded jackets that have become a status symbol among teens. “Just like the fully filled padding, your greed continues to get filled up,” Suga spits on the quirky hip-hop track. The jackets are dubbed “spine breakers” because of the financial burden kids put on their parents just to prove they can keep up. “Even after seeing your parents’ backs bending, you’re heartlessly relentless.” (Jin’s choreography makes for a particularly entertaining visual aid.) —N.M.

Play video

’21st Century Girl’ (2016)

This anthemic electro-pop tune is one of the livelier tracks on BTS’ dark 2016 LP Wings, and aims to celebrate women by encouraging them to be their best selves. With RM sharing writing credits, the group showers its female audience with praise and tells them never to settle, emphasizing the importance of consent and respect. During his verse, Jung Kook declares, “Don’t ever be scared/Whatever people say, you’re OK, all right/You are strong/You say yes or no.” —R.C.

Play video

Matt Sayles/Invision/AP, File


‘Best of Me’ (2017)

Produced by American duo the Chainsmokers alongside BTS’ longtime producer Pdogg, “Best of Me” is a quintessential, soaring EDM anthem, instantly evoking the genre’s defining years, from 2011 to 2015. With lyrics that offer an exaggerated take on the consequences of love, BTS deliver an electrifying performance, highlighted by Suga and J-hope’s fiery rap verses. Despite being five years old, “Best of Me” continues to serve as a timeless party anthem, often played at BTS concerts to dial up the energy. —D.D.

Play video

Han Myung-Gu/WireImage


‘Like’ (2013)

A highly underrated number from BTS’ earlier days, “Like” hovers between anger and regret at the end of a relationship. Written by Suga, the lyrics are filled with anguish as he raps, “Why am I still stuck in the times we spent together/ When everyone in that world has already stopped?” The track disguises the rage and pain with an uplifting pop-R&B arrangement. The often overlooked “Slow Jam Remix” of “Like” elevates the original, conveying the true message of the song and transforming it into a classic, Nineties-influenced R&B ballad. —R.C.

Play video

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic


‘Triva 起: Just Dance’ (2018)

Heightened by J-Hope’s electric stage presence, “Just Dance” is easily one of the most anticipated moments at a BTS concert. Driven by electro-pop beats, the single narrates the initial stages of a romantic tale using dance as a metaphor: “Because our rhythm is matching/Because we have our dance, it’s a fate-like beat/Let’s get it on POP.” The latter line directly references the rapper-producer’s track “P.O.P” from his mixtape Hope World, which expresses his dream of being the source of happiness in everyone’s life. —D.D.

Play video

Cindy Ord/WireImage


‘Friends’ (2020)

Steeped in soft drums and dreamy synths, “Friends” commemorates the unbreakable bond of friendship and trust between V and Jimin (commonly referred to as VMin). Reminiscing over sweet high school memories and other fond recollections (such as a fight over dumplings), “Friends” is a heartwarming peek into the duo’s dynamics and how their friendship has blossomed with time. The track particularly holds significance for veteran fans who’ve seen VMin evolve together in front of their eyes. —D.D.

Play video

‘Rain’ (2014)

Combining soft jazz, complex piano riffs, and hip-hop, “Rain” perfectly encapsulates BTS’ versatility right from their days as rookies. Written by the rap line and Pdogg, “Rain” uses the metaphor of a rainy day in Seoul to convey sadness and monotony. The lyrics paint a picture of emptiness through powerful imagery like, “As if it knows how my body feels, the rain is falling/As I look at the raindrops welling up in the window, I felt it/The tears that were flowing down my heart.” The song conveys despair but also an underlying current of hope that things might change someday. —R.C.

Play video

AP Images


‘Converse High’ (2015)

Love can be a complex, dizzying puzzle — or, it’s a “white T-shirt, denim shorts, and red Converse highs.” “That’s it,” RM declares on the groovy HYYH track. There’s a giddy delight tucked into the song’s cool flirtation, relishing in the excitement of having a crush. When you’re bitten, every little thing matters — from the bat of an eyelash to a gracefully tied double knot. —N.M.

Play video

Kevin Mazur/WireImage


‘Anpanman’ (2018)

Beloved and astoundingly sly, “Anpanman” is BTS’ greatest trick and/or public service. Identifying with the goofy, kindhearted little manga and anime character known as “the world’s weakest hero,” the group flips arena-pop grandiosity and redirects it into a persuasive confession of fear; a moving comment on the responsibilities of success; and an inspiring message of self-love and support for its fans. The pistoning, poppy patchwork of hip-hop and EDM shifts the tempo and beat repeatedly, using percussive whistles, Auto-Tuned chants, choral ad-libs, and a churchy, hand-clap breakdown to convince kids that real heroism means sacrificing everything for those you love. —C.A.

Play video

AP Photo/Kin Cheung


‘Autumn Leaves’ (2015)

Also known as “Dead Leaves,” this track compares the transformation of autumn leaves to the passing of youth — the key theme of the Most Beautiful Moment in Life album series. With lyrics like “One leaf left clinging to a branch/It’s shattering, I see the end/Dead leaves becoming dried,” BTS manage to define the cycle of life and passage of time within a single metaphor. The song’s tone oscillates between mourning and acceptance as the production darts through shimmering synths, echoing percussion, and dark trap. —R.C.

Play video

’00:00 (Zero O’Clock)’ (2020)

“00:00 (Zero O’Clock)” is a gentle reminder to those who struggle with breaking out of their funk. Inspired by the passage of time, the track rationally explains how life is a cycle of good and bad days. As a result, BTS instill the idea of a second chance at happiness and hope — just like a clock that resets at 00:00, you, too, can make the most out of the fresh start. Performed by Jung Kook, Jimin, Jin, and V, the track’s heartfelt message is effectively expressed through their breathy vocals. —D.D. 

Play video

Han Myung-Gu/WireImage


‘Attack on Bangtan’ (2013)

“But what will happen if Bangtan Sonyeondan advances?” The question posed at the start of the boisterous track seemed like a bold hypothetical back in 2013, the year BTS debuted. Despite its rather misleading title, the rap-heavy “Attack on Bangtan” (a.k.a. “The Rise of Bangtan”) is less of a victim’s call for help and more of a battle cry — “Our reaching the top is a matter of time” — a declaration that the group will stop at nothing to become the biggest name in music. Little did BTS know that a few years later they’d finally get an answer to their question (and a satisfying one, at that), but even today, there’s a magical quality in hearing them excitedly poised for the fight. —N.M.

Play video

Big Hit Entertainment


‘Stay’ (2020)

The dance-pop track is made to bring arenas full of fans to their feet, though “Stay” was first released during the pandemic, so bedrooms would have to do. The seventh song on the septet’s seventh album (a.k.a. a numerical big deal) is a profession of love and connection, even at our most isolated. During the global press conference for BE, Jung Kook explained that “Stay” is meant to convey that “although we are far apart now, we will always stay together.” —N.M.

Play video

‘My Universe,’ BTS and Coldplay (2021)

It’s Coldplay’s most pleasingly unburdened moment, and the first-ever entry at No. 1 by a British artist; as for BTS, it’s their sixth debut at the top. Like so many great collaborations, “My Universe” started with a meeting on a YouTube series (Released), where one artist (BTS) was talking to another (Chris Martin) about a dance challenge (BTS’ #PermissionToDance). What does the song sound like?: BTS covering “Fix You” (see 2021’s MTV Unplugged), given a pop-disco refix and a rad chopped-vocal breakdown. Of the 29 people involved in the track’s creation, special shout out to the other Martin, Max, who co-produced. —C.A.

Play video

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images


‘Telepathy’ (2020)

After BE‘s somber opening tracks about the fear and alienation caused by the pandemic, “Telepathy” is an escapist Eighties pop-funk lark that’s like Bruno Mars lounging on a tumbona. Originally written by Suga, and slightly reworked with RM and J-Hope as a lifeline to ARMY, it’s got a loping bass line, fluttering cowbell, and playfully Auto-Tuned vocals. Suga and J-Hope sing more than rap, while Jung Kook and V’s staccato singing is akin to rapping. The latter two put it simply: “Even if I’m not by your side, yeah/You know we’re together.” —C.A.

Play video

Kevin Winter/Getty Images for dcp


‘Dionysus’ (2019)

This maximalist rap-rock manifesto pogos and meditates on the intoxicating but fleeting catharsis of making music for millions of insatiable fans. BTS consider being artists a sacred, delirious pleasure; but art extracts a pound of flesh for pop’s elite, who take a vow of literal Dionysian excess, i.e., to constantly create or perform. Here, that conflict is dramatized by arena-size flexing, volleys of chanted hooks, guitar throb, general EDM bleepery, and canny, cultural wordplay. J-Hope’s toast? “Drink it up, the pain of creating.” —C.A.

Play video

‘Boy With Luv’ feat. Halsey (2019)

Vibrant, feel-good, and oh-so-romantic; BTS’ “Boy With Luv” served as a refreshing prologue to the septet’s Map of the Soul chapter. Featuring American pop star Halsey, the single delivers an ambient, funky-pop mood as the global superstars sing about an uncomplicated love affair, all the while emphasizing their growth from 2014’s heartbroken “Boy in Luv.” —D.D.

Play video

‘134340’ (2018)

BTS’ quirkiest, yet possibly most ingenious song. Opening with a throwback late-Eighties hip-hop beat, a graceful jazz guitar and flute dart around Jung Kook’s verse, sung in character as — wait for it — the grief-stricken ex-planet Pluto (now referred to as asteroid number “134340”). RM, still as Pluto, earnestly raps: “What meaning is left in the fallen planet’s life?” and “My cold heart is 248 degrees.” The conceit never relents. The pre-chorus is majestic. Damn. —C.A.

Play video

Lester Cohen/WireImage


‘BTS Cypher Pt. 4’ (2016)

Arguably one of the rap line’s most outstanding performances to date, “BTS Cypher Pt. 4” serves as the conclusion to the trio’s scorching Cypher series. RM, Suga and J-Hope show off their individual flows and vocal tones as they cruise through their respective verses — all tied together thanks to a simple foundation of rolling trap. “BTS Cypher Pt. 4” is also the calmest in the series as the rappers bask in well-earned success, celebrate their journey to self-love, and declare they’re thankful to their haters for giving them the attention, because after all, “I like hate comments more than no comments.” —R.C.

Play video

‘Love Maze’ (2018)

Bask in the radiant group-vocal performance on this homage to resilient, reciprocal amour. Jimin flutters in and out of his falsetto, ay-ay-ays on your heart muscle, and sets a perfectly unguarded tone. Jung Kook croons with an elegant maturity and flows into subtle runs that leave you breathless. RM tears headlong into a double-time rap that mimics the rush of early romance. And there are four voices still to go. No wonder the whole world is smitten. —C.A.

Play video

Lee Young-ho/Sipa/AP Images


‘Airplane Pt. 2’ (2018)

BTS’ dalliance with Latin pop is both slick and sexy, as they playfully sway between the their highest, airy registers and low, sultry ranges. A follow-up to the J-Hope solo mixtape track “Airplane,” “Pt. 2” tells the (autobiographical) story of a man dreaming of becoming a world-renowned musician, and the feeling — at times invigorating, at others completely exhausting — of finally becoming the regular jet-setter he set out to be. Fitting that here BTS shout out “el mariachi,” another group of balladeers serenading audiences around the globe. —N.M.

Play video

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images


‘Dream Glow’ feat. Charli XCX (2019)

Charli XCX courted BTS for a minute before the crew fixed on “Glow,” a peppy, teasing 2016 demo originally produced for Charli’s unreleased third album, a.k.a., XCX World, by Norwegian hitmaking duo Stargate. Refined into a glassy, candy-coated lattice of breathy harmonies featuring Jimin, Jung Kook, and Jin, “Dream Glow” appeared on the BTS World video game soundtrack. —C.A.

Play video

RB/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images


‘Go Go’ (2017)

On its surface, “Go Go” sounds like a blissed-out trip-hop ditty that prays at the church of YOLO partying. But in fact, the lyrics contain sharp criticisms of materialism and the emptiness that comes with constantly searching for the next high. “The current generation uses phrases like YOLO and having fun squandering money, but I don’t think people think about why they use such terms so much, even while using the terms,” said Suga of this satirical song in a 2017 press conference. “It isn’t a BTS album if there isn’t a track criticizing society.” —N.M.

Play video

THE FACT/Imazins/Getty Images


‘Epiphany’ (2018)

Each BTS member has kicked off a new album cycle with a solo turn accompanied by a trailer video. But none quite shook the Bangtan firmament like Jin’s tender ode to self-acceptance, delivered as a smoldering power ballad. It’s Gen Z resculpting the sound waves of Phil Collins’ “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)” into their ultimate form. Cue waterworks. —C.A.

Play video

Han Myung-Gu/WireImage


‘Tomorrow’ (2014)

Released in 2014 on BTS’ second EP, Skool Luv Affair, “Tomorrow” conveys one of group’s core messages: As long as you have hope, you have a chance of bettering your future. The song looks at various hardships — unemployment, burnout, broken homes — and assures listeners that they will not be trapped in the darkness forever: “When tomorrow comes, the bright light will shine so don’t worry/This isn’t a stop but just a pause in your life for a break/Turn up your thumbs and press play so everyone can see.” The track combines booming bass percussion with a warped synth, creating a haunting foundation for their words to sink in. —R.C.