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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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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.

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‘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.

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‘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.

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‘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.

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‘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.

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‘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.

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‘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.

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‘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.

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‘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.

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‘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.

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‘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.

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‘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.

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‘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.