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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

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

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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.