The musical evolution of BTS’ V aka Kim Taehyung: The baritone of Kpop who rules the world
BTS' V turns 25 tomorrow! Join us as we take a closer look through his musical journey from a doe-eyed trainee to a musical genius.
BTS’ V and the world’s Prince Charming, Kim Taehyung, is turning 25 years old on December 30, 2020! What better way to celebrate the occasion than charting his exceptional musical journey from a doe-eyed trainee in a small company to a multimillionaire singer/actor/fashion icon who reigns supreme as the second-ever individual and first-ever Korean artist to get a birthday ad on Burj Khalifa. Kim Taehyung has come a long way and it wasn’t the least bit easy. While his success with BTS is something that will go down in the history of music as the phenomenon that changed the world, his personal growth as an artist, a producer and a composer is worth all the love and appreciation in the world. Kim Taehyung, deserves the world.
Here’s wishing Kim Taehyung a lovely birthday with a glimpse of his musical journey through the years:
Hold Me Tight, Boyz With Fun
Taehyung received his first official accreditation for music composition in 2015 for co-writing and co-producing the song ‘Hold Me Tight’ from ‘The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, Part 1’. Nothing expresses the despair of a forlorn lover than the slow groove and consistent knocking characteristic of ‘Hold Me Tight’. The lyrics are too close to home for anyone who has ever felt a tinge of love and loss. ‘Hold Me Tight’ carries a constant sense of time running out while also trying to hold it back. At such a young age, Taehyung did nothing less than a masterful job with this.
One of the most iconic songs from BTS, one that is still the first song to introduce BTS by and one that is still loved by ARMYs dearly, ‘Boyz With Fun’ was written in part by Taehyung. ‘Boyz With Fun’ is diametrically opposed to ‘Hold Me Tight’ in the best way possible. V was really showing his range and ability to cover all bases with the lyrics for this one. The same person who could pull at your heartstrings with ‘Hold Me Tight’ could also make you hand-bang with ‘Boyz With Fun’. Considering that this was quite literally at the dawn of his musical career, his talent truly was incomparable.
Another one of BTS’ evergreen songs that still brings goosebumps to every single ARMY whenever it plays, ‘Run’, had its melody created by Kim Taehyung. This fact hits different when you think about the fate of V’s character in BTS’ Universe, especially in the music video for ‘Run’. Anyone who is familiar with BTS lore would know exactly why this is significant. The genre of the song is dance music which fits the lyrics but the underlying melody had a sad undertone which is effectively reflected in the music video. Once again, V’s musical genius was at work and he knew exactly what he was doing.
V’s first solo release, ‘Stigma’ saw the birth of his very own genre of music that simply cannot be referred to by any other existing genre. V, himself describes it as neo-soul, however, which also speaks volumes about his study of music. With ‘Stigma’, V found his original sound and it showed in the sheer amount of personality that poured out of ‘Stigma’. There was also a strong sense of self-expression and confidence that was evident in this track, especially through the staccato vocals and inimitable falsettos. A closer look into the lyrics reveals the depth of catharsis that he is aiming at through this song which fits perfectly with his character arc in the Bangtan Universe. V is becoming a force to be reckoned with.
Perhaps the most popular solo work of Kim Taehyung was and still is ‘Intro: Singularity’ and the reason is that it is so incredibly unique that there hasn’t been anything like it in the K-Pop industry. ‘Singularity’ took notes from ‘Stigma’ and amplified its haunting beauty with influences from R&B. V is indulgent in his sensuality while expressing deep grief and pain through his lyrics, a coupling that was only possible because it was Kim Taehyung.
Inspired adorably by Jimin and V’s infamous “dumpling incident”, V’s prowess as a lyricist and composer truly shines in his duet with RM, ‘4 ‘O'Clock’. Backed fittingly by an acoustic Spanish guitar and an accompanying soft melody, V’s voice is the sole focus of the first part of the song and he allows RM’s deep-voiced, hard-hitting rap to take over the latter half. The change of pace is ideal and he knows just how to make the two complement each other. To be able to do so while the world watches in awe, is an incredible feat in and of itself.
'Scenery' was Taehyung’s first solo release outside of BTS and he allowed his artistic faculties to freely reign on his musical canvas to create the soundscape of ‘Scenery’. The song is a beautiful slow ballad which places the focus entirely on Taehyung’s gorgeous voice. It is breathy and soft, like a whisper of warmth on a cold winter’s night. The song sounds like hiraeth – a longing for something or someone that does not exist. You’re crying but you don’t know why or for whom. There is a strange melancholy running through the veins of the song but it is all too familiar at the same time. ‘Scenery’ hit millions of streams immediately after its release but V sings like he’s doing it just for you. If Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ was a song, ‘Scenery’ would probably be it.
‘Winter Bear’ feels like a natural extension of ‘Scenery’, albeit with a feeling of “lost and found”. What was melancholic in ‘Scenery’ is rediscovered with a tinge of sunshine in ‘Winter Bear’. It is a call to inaction, an allowance to rest, to take a break, a much-needed repose. Rock and folk influences are plenty but subtle and the vocals are exceptionally soft, much like a lullaby. ‘Winter Bear’ has ‘Vante’ written all over it.
If the stars in the sky could sing the world to sleep after a long hard day, it would sound like V’s ‘Inner Child’. What starts off with a sweet, medium-paced first verse transforms into the loveliest prelude to a sincere promise made to oneself. Growth never comes without pain and that is exactly what V elucidates through this contemporary R&B track supported sufficiently by choir-like backing vocals. One is reminded of V speaking about how the difficult times he went through to get where he is now don’t seem to be as hard anymore during BTS’ 5th Muster Magic Shop in Seoul. He uses the metaphor of a scrub towel and translates that same feeling to a song in ‘Inner Child’. The exact words were, “I bought a scrub towel yesterday. When I was a boy and my dad used to scrub my back and sometimes it hurt so much that I’d cry. But I found out that it doesn’t hurt anymore. I must have grown up thanks to ARMY. It’s a magical thing.” On the other hand, thanks to BTS, we all seem to be growing into better human beings.
Taehyung’s little present to his best friend Park Seo Joon was an OST for the actor’s incredible 2020 K-Drama ‘Itaewon Class’. ‘Sweet Night’ echoes the breathy, ethereal tone of Taehyung’s previous solo releases like ‘Scenery’ and ‘Singularity’ but is uniquely refreshing in the feeling it conveys. There is a strong sense of vulnerability, delicacy and almost fragility in this song which expresses perfectly the tangible fear of missing out, of losing a chance, of letting go of someone you must hold on to. The “fragile truth” has to be handled with care and one pair of hands can’t do that anymore. The determination is certain but the nervousness is just as real. No one other than V would have been able to appropriately intimate this soft truth with an airy elegance that is characteristic of V’s voice.
It’s no news that this year has been quite a difficult one for the world and although the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of winter is coldness, sharp gusts of wind and unpleasant weather, for V, winter brings with it an inherent warmth and cosiness that one can find in the things and people one loves. The genre of the song is classic jazz and R&B and V’s subtly sultry voice is just the warmth we needed. Just like a snowflake melting away, the negativity, sadness, longing – the “blues and greys” (a clever callback to to BTS’ ‘Blue & Grey’) have all melted away with the coming of the first snow. Christmas without BTS would just not be Christmas at all. Much like ‘4 ‘O’ Clock’, Peakboy’s feature alongside V is a vocal pair made in heaven. ‘Snow Flower’ is only a glimpse into the genius masterpiece that Kim Taehyung’s first mixtape will be and we can’t wait to see what this otherworldly artist has in store for us.
We wish Kim Taehyung a very happy birthday and all the happiness in the world!
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