Before they were international superstars, BTS were just a group of immature boys in luv. Now, a few years older — and wiser — the Korean septet are on the cusp of dropping what could be their biggest release yet. On Sunday (April 7), BTS announced the lead single from their forthcoming mini album, Map of the Soul: Persona, with a teaser featuring American pop star Halsey. But what surprised fans most wasn’t the Halsey collab (though, that’s pretty cool because she’s a major BTS fan), but rather the title of the single itself: “Boy With Luv.”
It’s impossible to know what kind of vibe BTS are going for with “Boy With Luv” from this short snippet. After all, BTS teasers are notoriously hard to decipher. But what we do hear sounds promising — an electro-pop beat and Jungkook’s crystalline vocals singing, “then a boy with love.” The imagery is also striking. Halsey, with her hot pink hair, is seen closing a ticket window and strutting past BTS as they sit outside a small movie theater, its neon sign reading “Persona” in blue letters. The scene then changes, as the seven members of BTS stand with their backs facing the camera under a sign that says “Love.”
Of course, astute fans have already caught on to the fact that the point choreography seen in the teaser mimics that of their 2014 single, “Boy In Luv.” Given the fact that leader and rapper RM’s Persona intro track also featured a sample from the group’s 2014 song, “Intro: Skool Luv Affair,” it seems like BTS are coming full circle with their latest release, a testament to their growth and maturity as a group and also as individuals.
It’s also important to note that the Korean title for “Boy With Luv” roughly translates to “A Poem for the Small Things.”
BTS have never shied away from their past, even taking the time to reflect on and own up to past mistakes. And in fact, it looks like “Boy With Luv” is the result of that self-reflection. (Hence the movie theater setting; what better way to reflect than to see scenes from your past?) Coming off the heels of the Love Yourself era, in which the group produced a trilogy of albums that told a story of love, loss, and self-discovery — and ended with a celebration of self-love — Persona aims to pick up where the group left off. Having learned that loving yourself is the key to true happiness, BTS are now boys with love to share.
The contrast between being boys in love then and being boys with love now is important. Back then, in 2014, they acted out, sometimes aggressively, in the name of love or infatuation; now, the love they harbor comes from within, the purest form of love. This was teased during the group’s performance at the Mnet Asian Music Awards in December last year with a brief vignette that read: “You gave me power. You gave me love. So now I’m a hero, so now I’m a boy with love. I’ll show you the map of the soul. I’ll show you the dream.”
Of course, “Boy With Luv” isn’t a conclusion; BTS aren’t so naive as to think they’ve figured it out completely. They keep evolving — as musicians, as artists, as humans — because self-discovery is a journey, not a destination.
“Boy With Luv” will be released simultaneously in South Korea and the U.S., dropping at 6 p.m. KST, or 5 a.m. EST and 2 a.m. PST, on Friday, April 12. The Korean group will then make their Saturday Night Live debut on April 13.