You Got No Jams
It’s August 2021 and BTS’ Butter has maintained its position in the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 for 12 weeks now, with nine of those weeks in the coveted Number One spot. You may have heard this catchy song bouncing its way out of your radio while scrolling the dial and you’ve probably noticed the singers have a particular accent and their pronunciation is just a bit off. There’s a reason for that.
BTS, and its seven members, are not from America. English is not their first language, (and for some of them) it’s not their second. They hail from the only divided country in the world and they speak Korean.
I love listening to music. I can do it all day. But it’s not the lyrics that make or break the song for me. It’s the instrumental track behind them. I pride myself on the fact that I can pick out the trap set, the synth, and can harmonize with most melodies. This is the reason why I don’t dislike any genre. It’s the reason why I can listen to anything playing on the radio.
When driving around MHK with my team, I often sing the neglected bass line or drum out the beats on my lap and everyone looks at me in surprise, commenting, “I’ve never heard that part before.” But maybe, they’ve never tried to listen to anything other than the lyrics.
Recently, one of my friends agreed to give BTS a shot and listened to my playlist in her tractor while working fields. However, she couldn’t seem to get past the fact that she couldn’t understand what they were saying and eventually stopped listening.
Can I speak and understand Korean? No, but I don’t need that to recognize what BTS is saying. Often, the tone of the music, the beats, and the emotion conveyed is enough for me to pick up the basic message.
Do I get it wrong? Yeah, I do sometimes. But again, that’s not the point. Music is what I wish for it to be. Everyone can listen to the same song and understand a different message from it. That’s the splendor in it. There’s more to the song than just the lyrics, and that creates a beautiful analogy to life.
Maybe if we look deeper than the surface level at the world, and what the people are saying in it, we can find special meaning within the details. Maybe we can pick up the hidden sound of a bass guitar or the forgotten strains of a piano in the bridge. Maybe we can find potential in FFA members that they can’t see themselves and help them to reach that. Maybe we can connect to others around us better and empathize with where they are in life. After all, it takes all kinds to make up all kinds.
Whether you decide to listen closer or not is up to you. I’ll keep playing BTS and doing what I’ve been doing.
Currently vibin’ to Black Swan,
Kansas FFA Vice President