As time has gone on, I’ve had to realise that there’s no use in cross-referencing BTS’ most recent MVs with each other, and instead have conceded to watching as standalone MVs with their own worlds, narratives, and stories. Such much be done with ‘Spring Day’, the title track for “You Never Walk Alone”, BTS’ repackage of their 2nd studio album “WINGS” released on 13rd February 2017. The MV for ‘Spring Day’ – like the MVs for ‘I Need U’, ‘Butterfly’, and ‘Blood, Sweat, and Tears’ – has been carefully crafted to tell us a story like no other. Arguably, this has been one of the greatest appeals of BTS as a Hallyu group: amazing storytelling and increasingly attractive production and cinematography.
The MV is beautifully filmed: from V’s walk along the snow-covered train tracks to Rapmonster and Jungkook’s train scenes to Jimin’s ocean view to the final scenes emerging at the end of the train line and walk through the snow-covered field of rushes with a single tree, the MV has been beautifully produced and filmed and puts us in the thick of these different settings, scenes, and backgrounds. This aesthetic makes the whole MV so enjoyable to watch, in a very accessible manner unlike ‘Blood, Sweat, and Tears’, which threw Renaissance references at us with an jarring expectation that we either knew or would research them! Instead, ‘Spring Day’ brings forward the aesthetic for us just to enjoy rather than intellectualise. Added to this aesthetic is the movement between cold winter snow, and various things associated with it like thick jumpers and winter wear, and spring which makes everything warmer and cosier.
However, no BTS MV would be complete without their new sophisticated take on storytelling. Like the allusions of ‘Blood, Sweat, and Tears’ to Herman Hesse’s Demian and various Renaissance artworks, ‘Spring Day’ is supported by two pieces of art: one literary work, Ursula Le Guin’s Omelas and Christian Boltanski’s No Man’s Land, a mountain of laundry. As for Omelas, in brief, the story is about a so-called paradise where, in order for its people to live in happiness, one child must suffer for the sake of the others. Without ruining the story for you, it transpires that some of the citizens discover this truth, leaving them the decision to live in Omelas knowing the suffering of the child, or leave, which some do. Framed with this narrative in mind, ‘Spring Day’ presents its own narrative, one about loss and coming to terms with it.
In terms of these underlying pieces of art, this sense of loss and movement from the paradise is – though narrated fragmentarily – quite clear. On the one hand, we have V walking alone through the snow, Rapmonster walking into the Omelas hostel, and whilst the others are enjoying themselves, Jin is left alone at the bottom of the stairwell, only to look through a camera lens. When connected to the mountains of laundry upon which Suga sits, the allusions to Boltanski’s No Man’s Land (which the artists admits apparently symbolise ‘death’), we see that Jin, as portrayed in ‘The Best Moment in Life’ and ‘Blood, Sweat, and Tears’, may indeed be the sacrificed friend of Omelas: in order for the others to live their paradise, one must be lost.
Whilst this MV has no choreography, like the original ‘I Need U’, we get to see the group really demonstrate their acting, storytelling, and performance skills: like some of the previous BTS MVs, these carefully crafted narratives require a lot of precision and careful consideration that, if not undertaken properly, will lose sense and appeal. ‘Spring Day’, on the other hand, completely and utterly draws you in, swinging you from being uplifted to melancholy in seconds, to-and-fro, until we are left with the final image of the shoelace-tied shoes hanging from the branches of a lone tree in an empty snow-covered meadow. Whatever story that BTS are trying to tell us, they want us to work hard to make sense of it, and it’s with us that ultimately the story is left to rest and blossom.
Review written by Tariq