The beauty of BTS is that no matter how long they’re away, you never feel like they’re gone: on 13th February 2017, just three months after the release of a new musical series “WINGS”, BTS released their repackage of the album, entitled “You Never Walk Alone”, fourteen previously-released tracks with three completely new tracks and one extended. “You Never Walk Alone” is BTS’ attempt to close what has been an amazing journey through their “Most Beautiful Moment in Life” series, whilst also adding more challenging, unique, and sophisticated elements to the music and narrative of “WINGS”. These new tracks are focus of this review (and if you want to check out the review of the original “WINGS” tracks, you can click here), and will show you that BTS are really succeeding in a pushing forward a whole new trend in Hallyu that has yet to be explore.
What’s so refreshing about this repackage of “WINGS” is the title track: a powerful and synth-heavy ballad track, ‘Spring Day’ has a totally different vibe, which distinguishes it from ‘Blood, Sweat, and Tears’ but places it in the same thematic and melodic tone as ‘I Need U’. Whilst you’d think from the title that this track is meant to be uplifting, heralding the new spring, ‘Spring Day’ is ironically melancholic and emotional, supported by the group’s fantastic vocals, in particular V and Jimin’s, which really stand out here. However, this only emphasises just how carefully crafted ‘Spring Day’: whilst you’d think, the underlying synth would get annoying, as you listen, its subtlety draws you in gives the track a sense of longing that we haven’t experienced from any other title track. Overall, ‘Spring Day’ is a winning title track.
Of course, ‘Spring Day’ is completely contrasted with ‘Not Today’, a heavy hip-hop and trap-influenced dance track in the same vein as ‘Fire’, but far more urban sound and considerably in line with their original, aggressive style that BTS debuted with. While it’s a great track, it’s stark contrast does pull you out of the developing narrative of “WINGS” in a far more jarring manner than ‘Fire’.
From ‘Interlude: WINGS’, we move to ‘Outro: WINGS’. Arguably, there’s very much else to add about this version of the eponymous album track other than having that extra minute of the track does really make a difference to setting us up as an audience for the final track of the album. What makes ‘Outro: WINGS’, as did ‘Interlude’ is its ability to to-and-fro between two very different genres: rap and more uplifting synthpop. What is new, however, is the rift to this track, introduced by the heavy synth break and J-Hope’s rap. Whilst on the first listen, you’d think this rift would completely divide the track, the transitions are surprisingly cohesive as its moves into the refrain, working really well and giving the track that extra flair that the ‘Interlude’ was lacking.
A Supplementary Story: You Never Walk Alone
To close the “WINGS” era, we enter ‘A Supplementary Story: You Never Walk Alone’, this time – and I think a first for BTS – a track supported by synths and elements that BTS do very well with a very R&B-influenced sound. This newly employed element helps make the track more emotionally-charged and sentimental without having to bring in any pop sounds. It’s a powerful track, especially with Suga’s raplines and Jimin’s unique vocals that add a whole new level to the track. Ultimately, this makes ‘A Supplementary Story’ such a unique and powerful end to what has been a unique and emotionally-draining narrative as introduced by “WINGS”. It’s a great track and as you continue to listen, you get more and more drawn into its magic.
These extra four tracks have added a whole new dimension to the “WINGS” series: they are far more emotionally charged than some of the tracks on “WINGS”, whilst building on new elements as well as allowing BTS to return to the sounds they like to use. It makes “You Never Walk Alone” a unique experience that, if you listened along with all the other tracks from the album, would take you on a unique journey. Whilst I have to say that none of these tracks are their ‘big hits’ into Hallyu, they are still amazing tracks and are being marketed to a particular audience who have been following the BTS phenomenon since its debut. BTS know where their successes lie, and it’s in creating music with amazing narratives and stories underlying them. And with that, I can only say that I’m looking to the next instalment!
Review written by Tariq