After successfully capturing audience’s attention with their debut single, BTS (aka Bangtan Boys, aka Bulletproof Boy Scouts) have returned with their follow up release, N.O. Continuing with their intense hip-hop concept, they impress once again, proving themselves to be unquestionably the best new offering of 2013.
BTS isn’t the first group to push forward this concept or style. Hip hop has been done by numerous groups, and the “bad ass” image has been practically monopolized by BAP. However, N.O. manages to resist direct comparisons…a feat in itself in the Kpop industry. The song’s hard hitting and bass blaring beats sound nothing like BAP’s rap-rock style, and the group’s rappers are distinct in their own way.
What truly impresses is the song’s lyrical content. For once, it seems that the group has penned lyrics that are actually relevant to them and their audience, and even contain a socially conscious message that’s needed addressing for too long.
Everyone knows about Korea’s rigorous school system and the high rate of suicide by Asian high school students. N.O. is a song that gives voice to these students. It asks them why they push themselves so hard for other people’s dreams and goals…becoming a robotic shell of a human in the process. Lyrics like “Who made us a study machine? Its either number one or failure, no in between” and “We don’t even think as we step on our closest friends” really speak for Korean students. Suddenly, the song’s refrain of “Every body say no!” go from a catchy hook, to a rebellious battle cry.
Honestly, I don’t think we’ve seen rookies this good since perhaps BAP and EXO debuted. Strong songs with strong messages seem to be their signature, and with a winning formula, they could easily reach the top.
Final Score: 4/5