I told myself I wasn’t going to talk about these albums because I already talked enough about Dark & Wild but I can’t help it. BTS are such amazing storytellers and after producing such perfection as Dark & Wild, you would’ve thought they would falter a touch. Instead, they delivered an entirely new, entirely vulnerable version of themselves that not only brought them the fame we all knew they deserved but spoke to an entirely fresh wave of incoming ARMYs who saw in BTS more than just a boy group with catchy songs, but a boy group with insightful views on the topic of growing up.
The genius for me lies in the way that the two albums correspond with one another. I think it was Namjoon or Jungkook that said that The Most Beautiful Moment in Life Part 1 was about finding the happiness in sadness–or the nostalgia of growing up and losing who you once were–and The Most Beautiful Moment in Life Part 2 was about the sadness in happiness–or understanding the fleeting nature of the frivolity of youth.
The albums reflect that not just in the songs themselves but in the visual concepts paired with each. While Part 1 had somber, muted tones with the boys in earthy colors in mostly unremarkable locations, Part 2 was all color and vibrancy. It was harshness and boldness. Part 1 whispered but Part 2 yelled.
Beyond that, the intros are also a huge indicator of the albums’ tones. Yoongi’s intro in Part 1 is beautiful in a strikingly sad way and the outro is well-matched, with the lyrics speaking about the difficulty of loss and of moving on alone.
Part 2 starts off with the memorable Nevermind–a Min Yoongi masterpiece–which is frantic and angry but tentatively confident. It mirrors that same sort of thrashing vindictiveness in youth while also being an intensely personal look at Yoongi’s own insecurities and accomplishments. The album is tied off with House of Cards, a track that is a touch more sinister than Love is Not Over and far more bitter about the loss of love, but still holding that same sort of desperation.
For me, the most significant tracks from Part 1 are Move and Hold Me Tight. I immediately drew to Hold Me Tight because it was Taehyung’s song but also because it did such a brilliant job of being both sad but not wallowing in that sadness.
Move is a little different for me. It’s slow and contemplative and it was the song I listened to as I was packing up my stuff from college. It comforted me with the knowledge that changes will come but I won’t be alone when they do.
From Part 2, I favored Whalien 52 and Baepsae. I remember listening to Whalien 52 for the first time with the lyrics and crying because I could remember feeling that loneliness when I was a kid and although I didn’t feel it anymore, the memory of it was still painful. Namjoon captured that so acutely it was actually overwhelming and the song is really central to the whole theme of sadness in happiness.
Baepsae was really important, I think, in re-establishing BTS as a group that was culturally conscious. It spoke about real issues that real young people faced and made the issue somewhat understandable even for those of us not from the same culture. It was universally relatable and incredibly hype and uniquely Bangtan.
The last thing I wanna touch on that I think really makes the albums so special are the skits. BTS is pretty consistent with their skits and even for those of us who don’t speak fluent Korean, the skits are an insight into how the boys talk among themselves, how they interact. They’re funny and spontaneous and these snapshots of who they were before it all changed and in these albums they act as pseudo-interludes, allowing for a shift in tone for the next part of the album.
I can’t talk about The Most Beautiful Moment in Life without getting sentimental. It came out a time in my life where I was literally living through that moment where there’s sadness in happiness and happiness in sadness. I knew exactly what those songs were trying to convey because I was feeling it myself. So perhaps I’m a bit biased in calling them perfect but I think these albums are Bangtan’s first real personal story. It was the beginning of their journey of self-defining, of being their truest, most honest selves.
It just happened that that was exactly what made them so popular. People responded to that vulnerability, to that realness. It’s hard not to when so many of us who are Bangtan’s age are also dealing with similar feelings of nostalgia and reluctance and pressure and a million other things.
Bangtan spoke about it in a way that didn’t feel patronizing but felt raw and uncut. People love them–I love them–because they continue to carry on that legacy to this day.
How did you all feel about HYYH 1 & 2? Which was your favorite of the two? Were you around during the rise of BTS? If not, what was your first comeback? Let me know what you all think about the Perfect Album Series so far!