Tuesday, June 1st, 2021

BTS – Butter

BTS gives us English single number two…


Katie Gill: It’s interesting that they reference Usher when this song is obviously more Bruno Mars. Likewise, it’s very weird how this song has a mostly Western songwriting team when a few of these lyrics feel like they’re translated from Korean into English — “side step right left to my beat” is the worst offender. Anyway, it’s just basically “Dynamite” again, an attempt to firmly cement the band on to the Western charts with a bright, dance track with vaguely retro stylings. But at least it’s a more fun “Dynamite!”

Juana Giaimo: Yes, “Butter” is definitely a “Dynamite 2” and, even though they mention Army, it is evidently directed to a worldwide general public who doesn’t even care who BTS is and who can casually enjoy this while shopping or listening to a playlist they didn’t make. As much as I like when artists release singles that target their fandom, I also find “Butter” extremely fun. I like the contrast of the beat-marked verses with the more melodic pre-chorus and chorus. My favorite parts are the rap verses, especially those “OH!”s and chants that add mess to an otherwise too-pretty song. This isn’t unique, but who doesn’t like butter? 

Kayla Beardslee: Butter is not a great title (although it is a hilarious way of pandering to the American market), but, considering that its lyrics are a parade of vague, forgettable cliches, it’s not like there were any better options. You can’t even say that the writing seems AI-generated, because an AI would be funnier and weirder and feel much less focus-grouped. I don’t even hate this song: a better, fuller, and richer-sounding improvement on “Dynamite.” But, damn, it’s so easy to dunk on, because “Butter” is a song completely devoid of any artistic meaning or purpose. Even “Dynamite” had a bit of spirit and novelty to it, with its desire to break the Western market in a way that hadn’t been done before. But BTS has broken the market, they have cracked the code, and they could easily now stagnate at Blackpink levels in their English-language efforts. Let’s hope not, but this is a sign that Hybe leadership is at least thinking about it, because I can’t find a scrap of substance or originality in this song. We all eat junk food and pay attention to pop culture, sometimes by choice and sometimes not: empty calories like “Butter” are a fundamental part of the systems of consumption that we exist within, for good and for bad. Also, screw being existential: “No ice on my wrist, I’m that n-ice guy” prevents me from giving this anything higher than a [5].

Al Varela: One day I’m going to have to admit to myself that I love BTS’s shameless attempts at winning over the American market. There’s something to their energy that always puts a smile on my face, no matter how formulaic and calculated the song is. I know what this song is trying to sell me. I know there’s not much personality or creativity that went into it. But I don’t care because it’s such a joyous, delectable song that takes its concept and goes all the way with it.

Nortey Dowuona: The strangeness of Butter isn’t in the music — the music is pretty well made, standard proto 80’s robo-funk. It’s not even the singing by JungKook and V with assists from Jin and Jimin, nor the perfunctory rapping by Suga and RM. It’s that it’s entirely in English, and sounds like something the 1975 could make in their sleep.

Dede Akolo: My friend Katrina (who I know is reading this, hello!) brought up an interesting point with the release of BTS’s first English-language song, “Dynamite,” last year: not everyone has the charisma to pull off that song. It’s not just charisma, which has seen BTS beautifully transition from rough-n-tough schoolboys to heartbroken angst-riddled teenagers. No, it’s disco charisma. The kind of charisma that verges on corny and hinges on sex appeal. Seeing “Butter” however, I am inclined to say that not everyone got the part they needed to pull off “Dynamite.” It hit me in the first pre-chorus: Jin sings the word “two” with the same charm as that “ding!” in “Kiss Me More.” It makes me smile because Jin’s voice is stable, nothing with main vocal potential, but it sustains in all that dancing and brings a distinctively boyish quality to their songs. A brightness, the way for Jimin to finish the first half of the song and for everyone else to sing the remainder. My least favorite part of the song is the first verse; it’s a rocky start. I feel like it should’ve had a longer pure instrumental, but I know that doesn’t help streaming numbers. 

Thomas Inskeep: The bigger they get, the more that BTS seem to become the Backstreet Boys of the 2020s, and that’s not a positive. Five to seven years ago, they were making really progressive pop, but nowadays, chasing the dollar, it’s just more of the same pop-by-committee — “Butter” has, surprise surprise, seven credited writers — guaranteed to be globally huge but artistically empty. Invest well, guys.

Edward Okulicz: Clearly the work of complete nerds, this pulls off its slavish retro tendencies with such a rictus grin you can’t help be won over. Once you get your groans out of the way at the opening line, “Butter” shares more properties with things you might put butter on rather than butter itself — popcorn, primarily. Adding a ’90s boyband rap to an ’80s bassline is never not going to work, and all I’m sitting here wondering which out of RM and Suga is Abs and which one is J.

Alex Clifton: “Butter” is an unappetizing title and the song doesn’t do much to help itself either. It’s bland, yet I know it will be everywhere this summer. Since BTS broke into the US market, it seems that their releases have become less daring and more radio-safe, a way of toning themselves down for Western audiences. In addition, Army will eat everything up, as it’s a public stamp of approval of the b(r)and, but that doesn’t mean that the product itself is good. While I applaud how hard BTS have worked over their near eight-year career to achieve an astronomical amount of success across the globe, I’m frustrated with how mediocre their biggest songs are becoming. BTS were scrappy underdogs who fought their way to the top, but now that they’re there, it feels like they have pushed aside a lot of the risks that made them interesting. 

Reader average: [6.75] (4 votes)

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2 Responses to “BTS – Butter”

  1. At least it doesn’t have a key change that makes me want to tear my face off.

  2. vastly improved when performed by a Real Vocalist with Talent