The globally acclaimed group, BTS, has embarked on a new chapter with their solo albums. Starting with J-Hope in July of the previous year, followed by Jin, RM, Suga, Jimin, and Jungkook, the entire septet has now showcased their solo albums, with V unveiling his solo album 'Layover' on the 8th. Let's delve into a nano-analysis of these seven albums, each revealing the unique charm and world of the individual members that might not have been fully showcased in their group activities.
◇Who is Agust D? A 'Completely Different' Name
A common theme the members wanted to convey in their solo albums is the personal growth they've experienced over the decade as BTS and the unique individuality they've discovered. Among them, the albums of RM, Suga, and J-Hope stand out for their experimental nature. J-Hope was the first BTS member to release a solo album, 'Jack in the Box', in July of the previous year, followed by RM's 'Indigo' in December and Suga's 'D-DAY' in April.
While each member has their own preferences and goals, J-Hope, RM, and Suga share a commonality: they all released mixtapes before their official albums. Mixtapes are typically free online releases, not aimed at profit, allowing for more experimental and personal touches. RM released his mixtape in 2015, Suga in 2016, and J-Hope in 2018. Their solo albums encapsulate their long-accumulated identities.
Of course, the experimental elements each member showcased in their solo albums vary. J-Hope, known for his positive energy within the team, reveals a vulnerable side behind his usual optimism in 'Jack in the Box'. His album also reflects his role as a visual creative director, collaborating with world-renowned artist KAWS for the album cover, emphasizing the visual experience of his music.
Suga uniquely uses a different stage name for his mixtapes and solo activities than he does with BTS. Known as Agust D for his solo work, his mixtapes are characterized by explicit lyrics and explosive energy. His recent solo album 'D-DAY' continues this trend, offering a different resonance than BTS songs with its sharp lyrics and deep insights into humanity.
RM, who once dreamt of becoming a poet, collects a diverse range of literature, from philosophy to poetry. He also has a keen interest in art, so much so that fans have created an 'RM Tour', visiting domestic exhibitions and galleries he's been to. His solo album 'Indigo' encapsulates his sensibilities. For instance, the intro track 'Yun (with Erykah Badu)' is named after the late painter Yoon Hyung-geun. It's a track that would be challenging to attempt within BTS.
◇108 Concept Photos, Giving Fans Everything They Want
While the aforementioned three members diligently unfolded their musical identities, Jin, Jimin, V, and Jungkook effectively incorporated their expertise built in BTS into their solo albums, also embedding their love for the fan club, ARMY.
Jimin released his first solo album 'FACE' last March, showcasing his unique soft and androgynous charm. Known for his love for the group and fans, this affection is evident in his solo album. The album includes a hidden track list song 'Letter', which uses BTS song titles to convey a message to ARMY. Jin also dedicated his first solo song to ARMY. The theme of his album 'The Astronaut', released last November, is 'Love for ARMY'. Especially touching was Jin's enlistment right after the album release.
Jungkook and V, known as the visuals of the group, delighted fans with fashion magazine-worthy photos. Jungkook's solo album 'SEVEN', released last July, showcases his chic and sophisticated visuals. For this album, Jungkook underwent a strict 20-hour fasting and 4-hour eating routine, emphasizing his commitment to self-management as BTS's 'golden maknae'.
V released a staggering 108 concept photos for his recently released solo album 'Layover', perfectly catering to fans' desires. He collaborated with Min Hee-jin, the chief producer of Adore Entertainment, who produced the girl group Newzins. This collaboration, rarely seen within BTS, has heightened expectations among music fans. Word has it that V focused on bringing a 'freshness' never seen before, even practicing his vocals from scratch for the album.
◇All Members Chart on Billboard Hot 100 with Solo Songs
Despite not having group activities, the members achieved impressive results as solo artists. All members charted on the U.S. Billboard main single chart, 'Hot 100', generating significant buzz.
Jungkook achieved the best results. His single 'SEVEN' immediately topped the U.S. Billboard main song chart 'Hot 100' upon release. It also ranked third on the UK Official Singles Chart 'Top 100', marking the highest debut for a Korean solo artist. As of the 6th, he maintained the top spot on the 'Global 200' for seven consecutive weeks, setting the record for the longest streak this year.
In terms of album sales, Jimin's 'FACE' stands out. 'FACE' surpassed initial sales of 1.45 million copies, becoming a million-seller album. It also made a name for itself in the U.S. According to the entertainment industry data research company Luminate's mid-year report, based on single album sales in the U.S., Suga's 'D-DAY' ranked fifth, and Jimin's 'FACE' ranked seventh.
Their artistic value was also recognized. Suga's solo album title track 'Haegeum' was listed in LA Times' 'Best 40 Songs of the First Half of 2023'. Rolling Stone magazine mentioned Jimin's solo album 'FACE' and title track 'Like Crazy' in their 'Best Album and Song of the First Half of 2023'. Billboard also mentioned 'Like Crazy' in their 'Top 50 Best Songs of the First Half of 2023', selected by staff.
Their stamina is also noteworthy. J-Hope's album 'Jack in the Box', a year and a month after its release, made a comeback on the 'Billboard 200' at 6th place in August. He's the first K-pop solo artist to re-enter the top 10 after a year. As of the 23rd of last month, Jimin's song 'Like Crazy' re-entered the Billboard 'World Digital Song Sales' at 9th place. It ranked 31st on 'Global (excluding U.S.)' and 53rd on 'Global 200', charting for 21 consecutive weeks. Suga's 'D-DAY' charted for 17 weeks, ranking 43rd on 'Top Current Albums' and 67th on 'Top Album Sales'.
Meanwhile, BTS is currently on a hiatus. Starting with Jin's enlistment in December of the previous year, followed by J-Hope's enlistment in April, RM and Suga, born in 1993, are expected to enlist this year. While it may be a while before we see BTS's group activities, they plan to continue their individual activities. V, who just started his album promotions, is scheduled to appear on various domestic broadcasts, including tvN's 'You Quiz on the Block', YouTube channel 'Dingo Story', and SBS's 'Running Man'.