REVIEW: BTS’s ‘Dynamite’ is the summer hit we needed

Photo from @bts_bighit on Twitter

After weeks of anticipation, the occasional promotional photo and a 28-second teaser that broke Blackpink’s record for the most-viewed music video teaser in 24 hours, BTS’s “Dynamite” was released Aug. 21. The music video became the fastest YouTube video to reach 10 million views — done so in 20 minutes — and the most-viewed YouTube video in 24 hours with 101.1 million views. 

The boy group noted that the song intends to comfort and energize fans in light of the coronavirus. Members mentioned that they felt “powerless” and “frustrated” after the pandemic dismantled their plans for a world tour. 

“We wish we could give you strength in this time of exhaustion … we hope that a lot of people cheer up and take comfort in the song,” said BTS member Suga in a recent global press conference. 

Perhaps most notably, “Dynamite” is BTS’s first song sung entirely in English. 

“It wasn’t easy, but when we recorded in English, we could feel a different vibe from our previous songs, so we wanted to show our fans a new side of BTS,” said BTS member Kim Seok-jin. 

Among myriad musical achievements, BTS has charted three Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 with predominantly Korean lyrics. While having an English-only track may lead to greater radio play and Western coverage, it’s not integral to the group’s success. 

“Dynamite” is an upbeat disco-pop track with funk and soul elements heavily inspired by the ’70s and ’80s. This theme echoes in the members’ vintage-inspired outfits and the nostalgic settings featured in the music video. 

It is very much a summer song, with light and breezy lyrics and a catchy hook that will stick in your head for days. The funky bassline, layered vocals and synth all are nice callbacks to the era, making it an undeniably infectious song. 

The music video only enhances the experience. From a poster-studded bedroom with tributes to David Bowie and The Beatles to a warmly-lit record store, the backgrounds are aesthetically pleasing and add a nostalgic feel. The choreography includes shoutouts to Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson (especially his iconic kick) as well as freestyle dance moves that are easy for viewers to follow and correspond well with the music. 

“Dynamite” isn’t as musically creative as the group’s past singles like “On” or “Blood, Sweat, & Tears” and honestly never claimed to be — it’s a poppy track meant to be a reprieve in hard times. The lyrics were written by David Stewart and Jessica Agombar, first-time collaborators with BTS and the songwriters behind the recent “What A Man Gotta Do” by the Jonas Brothers. None of the lyrics in “Dynamite” are particularly meaningful; some of the lines are somewhat cliché (“Can you hear the bass boom”) and some don’t quite make sense (“Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve got the medicine so you should keep ya eyes on the ball”). 

However, the lyrics are mostly appealing and the fact that it’s sung completely in English is impressive. While all of the members can speak English, RM is the only one who is fluent. The chorus, “Shining through the city with a little funk and soul / So I’ma light it up like dynamite, woah” and bridge stand out in particular — they’re especially catchy and ready-made for the dance floor. 

The key change in the last two verses, along with the diverse instrumentation of horns, electric guitar, drums, percussion and synthesizers, makes the song easy to listen to repeatedly without feeling bored. Additionally, the autotune use in the song isn’t excessive; it’s easy to distinguish between the members’ voices, unlike in “Black Swan.” 

Overall, “Dynamite” is a fun summer bop that will immediately energize listeners. The 1970s-80s inspiration, infectious beat and uplifting lyrics all make it a fierce contender for the song of the summer and gives viewers a much-needed boost of energy during these hard times.