In 2015, BTS entered an era they dubbed “The Most Beautiful Moment in Life.” This title referred to the period of young adulthood when anything feels possible and full of potential, but crippling insecurities and uncertainties linger around every corner as you attempt to live a life of responsibility and self-sufficiency. Six years later—older, wiser, and further removed from the intensity of that transitional period—the Korean group returns to that description.
This time, however, The Most Beautiful Moment in Life has evolved. It is no longer fixed to a specific phase of life or even anchored in the present. Yet To Come (The Most Beautiful Moment), the lead single from BTS’ upcoming anthology album Proof, is at once nostalgic and full of optimism for the future. “Yeah, the past was honestly the best / But my best is what’s next.” V sings from an early age, his voice is rich and luxurious in tone and confident in poise.
“Proof” — which largely contains the tracks that propelled BTS to the dizzying heights they are now (or demos and alternatives of those songs) — is a moment to take stock and reflect, and “Yet To Come” dives right therein a mode. On the other side of the track, a poignant slice of alternative hip-hop, the seven members weigh everything from the accolades they’ve received over the years to their purpose and future.
“That uncomfortable title we were given one day / We are still ashamed when called the best.” Suga raps as the soaring chorus’ melodies are bathed in super-deep bass. The humble spirit the group is still known for colors their minds, often dismissing the grand implications attached to the nicknames often used to refer to them (record-breakers, historians, and many more ). “We just loved music / We just run forward.” Jungkook offers soberly, while J-Hope suggests that despite the band’s lofty worldview, there’s still work to be done: “I still have a lot to learn / My life still has a lot to fulfill.”
The musings on ‘Yet To Come’ not only take a look back in time, but also tap into some of the themes that have remained constant in BTS’ work to date. As they rap and sing their story, they touch the notion of having a dream (“Do you have a dream? What is the end of this path?”), youth and growth (“On the way to the day / More like ourselves”).
Musically, too, the song is based on the past. It carries the same emotional vibe as 2017’s “Spring Day,” one of the group’s best songs, while throwing things back even further. Between the layers of the track there is a faint, high-pitched sound reminiscent of the chipmunk soul-sampling style of hip-hop in the early to mid-noughties. When RM raps “We will touch the sky before we die”it feels like not just a nod to Kanye West’s “Touch The Sky,” but a subtle, clever nod to that entire era.
The single isn’t the only fresh material on Proof, and the record’s other new tracks continue their effort to close this chapter in BTS’ history. Previously unreleased tracks “Quotation Mark” and “Young Love” carve smooth grooves and ooze soul, while “Run BTS” returns to the septet’s hip-hop roots with its infectious, upbeat rhythms. For Youth crowns these jewels in emotional form, sampling 2016’s Epilogue: Young Forever before paying tribute to the ever-growing fan base that has stuck by her side since 2013. “Yes, you are my youth / And my spring / My grateful friend / My pride, my sky and my love”, J-Hope half croons.
When an era comes to an end there is often a sense of finality, and that is the case with “Proof”. But, as the saying goes, when one door closes, another opens, and there are plenty of moments in these stirring songs that quash any apprehension that this might be the case forever. Just as “Yet To Come” tells us, life’s finest moment will always morph into new highlights, like Jungkook’s silky vows “Promise we’ll be back for more” suggests BTS won’t be far away.
BTS’ new compilation album “Proof” is out now