By Teresa Nicole
Editor - Paola Duran
Imagine this, it is January 8th of 2020, the start of a new year. Living in a country free of the coronavirus, walking around 6 feet closer to loved ones, you get a notification from Twitter stating that a comeback map has been posted for BTS’ upcoming album Map of the Soul : 7. Following that day, music videos, art galleries and teaser photos were to be released in accordance to the schedule. Every single day BTS fans (known as "ARMY’s") from around the world anticipated BTS’ biggest comeback to date.
The comeback schedule began with the release of ‘’Shadow’’, and many can recall the memories tied to the release of the song. It was imposing a new era amongst BTS’ musical journey, and a new start for fans all over the world. The following weeks would bring new content to bring attention to this highly anticipated album.
January 21st rolled around and a tour announcement was released. At that time, devoted fans seemed to be charged with excitement as the biggest boy band in the world was set to have a world tour. The trending page on Twitter filled with hashtags anticipating these dates. Communities within these cities were bound together by a collective eagerness to see BTS. The mere thought of cancellation was not to be spoken of. Such an idea was never even meant to exist.
For many, these promotions bring memories of those final months before the world was pushed into an unfamiliar state. The words ‘lockdown’ and ‘pandemic’ were unfamiliar to our daily vocabulary. It was a world in which we could embrace loved ones with no fear of contracting a deathly virus, it was one filled with excitement.
For BTS this album represents a collection of stories after being together for seven years, but for ARMY it represents those last few weeks of total normalcy. My story is merely one of many, but personally, this album brings me back to bussing home in the winter with my best friends. It was something I took for granted. These bus rides were about more than getting home, it was a time to converse about what had happened at school or what was happening in the realm of KPOP. These rides were a means of connecting, and although I was bundled up in layers of winter clothing, the warmth of this album paired with the company of my friends brings back memories I wish to relive. As for those concert tickets, the level of excitement I felt receiving that email confirming my pre-sale code has never been matched. My best friend and I ended up leaving school early to purchase tickets in the middle of winter, but it was a decision I will never regret. We were so eager to witness live performances of an album that was yet to be released, but that money was definitely well spent.
Fast forward to February 21st of 2020, Map of the Soul : 7 was finally released. However this was the beginning of an end. The virus had started to take a rise on the global stage and it was spreading at a rapid pace. The world was slowly sinking into a lockdown, one that everybody seemed to deny. A few weeks later on March 11th of 2020, the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic.
An inevitable tour postponement announcement was released which left many fans all over the world in a state of utter disappointment. What was supposed to be a year filled with uncontainable excitement was later contained in the walls of our bedrooms. Nights passed and people continuously pondered over one word: ‘when.’ When were we going to witness these songs be performed live? When would we finally get to meet our online friends? When will this be over? Questions like these ran through the minds of people of all ages internationally, but one listen to Map of the Soul : 7 had the ability to take all these worries away. It became a means of escaping back to those last few weeks before lockdown. Nostalgic memories filled the minds of those who took comfort in this album. It was a source of healing in a world where life had taken an unexpected turn.
In the end, an online concert was held for BTS to finally showcase what had been stolen away during the pandemic. Nothing would be able to match the energy that an in-person concert could give, but this was the only way. BTS MAP OF THE SOUL ON:E was held on October 10th of 2020 and millions of fans joined in from around the world to witness these missed performances. Fortunately enough, I was able to watch this concert with my best friends, but it was bittersweet. I felt as if I was missing out on what ‘could have been’. This tour was at my fingertips and yet it slipped right through. Each performance exceeded my expectations and I was left in awe of how BTS was able to bring these songs to life.
Although the Map of the Soul era is conceptually over, ARMY’s continue to resonate with this album in relation to the coronavirus pandemic. In the title track ‘’ON’’, BTS proudly sing “bring the pain on”. The world may seem to be in a state of eternal suffering but we have to persevere. There are concerts to be attended, albums to be heard, and songs to be loved. We cannot give up due to temporary pain.
*ARMY - fans of the Korean boy band BTS