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The Long-Lasting Gift of BTS's PROOF: a 3-Song Review

by Toyosi Begbaaji

On 14 June, 2022, one day after pop juggernaut BTS celebrated their 9-year anniversary, they uploaded this year’s annual Bangtan Dinner. In the video, they announced through a mix of lighthearted joking and genuine tears that they would be taking a small break from prioritising group activities, allowing each member to pursue solo music or other idol activities. The word used for the English translated subtitles was “hiatus.” This announcement recontextualises not only their latest comeback, but the last 2 ½ years of BTS’s musical career.

BTS during 2022 Festa's Bangtan Dinner - image credit:

PROOF is BTS’s anthology album that encapsulates the first nine years of their career and acts as the end to their “first chapter” as a group. It’s ambitious and remarkable: made up of 40 songs across 3 CDs, PROOF is a definitive showcase of how and why BTS have managed to become and stay so big. Among these songs are three new ones — the title track Yet to Come, Run BTS, and For Youth. Today, I’ll be reviewing these three songs and analysing how they act as a microcosm of BTS’s discography as depicted on PROOF.

The first new song on Proof, ‘Yet to Come’ is vulnerable and earnest, questioning the idea that they’re past their best (or most successful) years. As the title says, BTS believe that while their past has been great, their best is still ahead.

The song’s full title—‘Yet to Come (The Most Beautiful Moment)’—is a direct reference to BTS’s first compilation album, The Most Beautiful Moment in Life: Young Forever, from 2016. Young Forever was a celebration and rumination on youth and the perils that come with it. In referencing Young Forever (which secured the group’s first ever Album of the Year win), BTS places ‘Yet to Come’ in the same context as that album. While their past was great, they’re all looking forward to their future just as much, if not more so. It’s a very pointed and welcome perspective, given how prevalent burnout is among more established idols. When taken with astounding success BTS have achieved, it feels like they are truly taking up the mantle as leaders in the industry, hoping to change the mindset that idols (and people, in general) can only succeed in their youth.

Moments from the 'Yet To Come' music video, including references to past BTS songs (Spring Day, most notably) - image credit:

Production-wise, ‘Yet to Come’ is similar to ‘Life Goes On’ from their 2020 album BE—it’s laidback and sentimental, making use of chord progressions that tug at your heartstrings. In comparison, ‘Yet to Come’ is still more upbeat, driven by highly rhythmic drums, a mix of the kick drum and snares. The combination of soaring vocals and syncopathic piano gives the whole song the feel of a church song (which Anderson .Paak jokingly pointed out during a live performance). This isn’t the first (or last) time BTS have played around with a “church sound”—in ‘Friends’ from their 2020 album Map of the Soul: 7, a full choir joins the song in its final chorus to add an epic scope to the song. ‘Yet to Come’ even makes use of a call-and-response in the 2nd verse, encouraging the listener—ARMY or not—to join in the chant of, “We ain’t about it.

As far as BTS title tracks go, ‘Yet to Come’ is much more subdued, but it fits in the context of Proof and BTS’s current lull in group activities. When they end the song with a sombre but hopeful, “You and I, best moment is yet to come,” you can’t help but feel excited for every new release that follows this comeback.

In comparison to ‘Yet to Come’, ‘RUN BTS’ is drastically different in tone, genre, sound, and energy. Starting with a cool, “yeah, yeah,” from Suga before breaking into wailing guitar, ‘RUN BTS’ immediately jumps into a rockabilly-style, driven by its grungy guitar and drumming.

Lyrically, the song details their journey over the past 9-10 years but is full of swagger and confidence that only a group 9-10 years into their career can have. Vocalists Jungkook and V carry the opening verse before transitioning into the pre-chorus, where vocalist Jimin soars into high notes that play off Jungkook’s more rhythmic section. The pre-chorus is rounded out with the song’s key line, and the theme of ‘RUN BTS’: “If we live fast, let us die young.

I think lyrics like this, and ‘RUN BTS’ as a whole, call to mind another BTS song—‘Paradise,’ released in 2018. In that song, BTS say to stop running tirelessly and directionlessly, captured in the repeated line, “Stop running for nothing, my friend.” ‘Paradise’ was a song written for and about their fans/listeners; in contrast, ‘RUN BTS’ is written for and about BTS themselves. They recognize that they’ve been “running for nothing” for some time and cheekily assert that if they must continue to “live fast”—i.e. produce music at a tireless rate with no time to recharge creatively—then they will, in fact, “die young,” or burnout.

I think ‘RUN BTS’ is an amazing song on its own (made even better by the showcase of choreography during their concert in Busan!), but is also a testament to how BTS can be braggadocios yet earnest. They’re dizzyingly successful, but the reality is that they need a break or else they won’t be able to keep doing this thing that they love—making music for their fans.

BTS finish their surprise performance of 'RUN BTS' during the Yet To Come: In Busan concert on 15 October. - image credit:

The song ends with a slight alteration of the lyrics—rather than, “run, bulletproof,” rapper RM switches to sing, “run, beautiful.” This minor change adds a needed sprinkle of hopefulness to the song’s ending. Hopefulness tinged with triumph since, in the end, BTS are getting the break they sorely deserve and have no doubt earned.

If the callbacks to Young Forever weren’t obvious enough, the final new track on PROOF makes it glaringly obvious. Beginning with a recording of ARMYs singing along to ‘Young Forever’ from the group’s Permission to Dance: in LA concert and literally titled ‘For Youth,’ this song is like the score of rolling credits at the end of a film. It’s sweet and heart-wrenching, as BTS celebrate how their success was made possible by their fans, ARMY. “If I never met you, oh, what would I be like?” asks Jungkook in the opening lines. The aim of this song is plain: BTS are ruinously thankful to ARMY, love them deeply, and hope that fans will stick around even after they’re past this hiatus.

‘For Youth’ is tentative and sincere, laced with the anxieties BTS feel with regard to taking this step into Chapter 2 of their career. On numerous occasions, BTS have expressed their worry about fans forgetting about or moving on from them, a fear that any artist would have upon reaching such heights in their career. “Really don’t wanna say it, but,” sings V, followed by Jin asking again, “If I never met you, oh what would I be like?” Though, clearly, BTS recognise that it’s better for them to have met ARMY, summed up in the refrain, “You’re my best friend for the rest of my life.

BTS perform 'For Youth' as part of their special 'PROOF Live' Comeback Show - image credit:

Sonically, ‘For Youth’ is closer in genre to ‘Yet to Come’ but is much softer, keeping to a waltz time signature that makes you feel like you’ve been swept up in a dance of emotions. And this song is emotional—if the opening of ARMYs singing or the members of BTS voicing their worries so openly wasn’t enough, Jungkook leads the song into a modulation up for the song’s bridge while belting, “I wish I could turn back time.” The passion is palpable, especially as Jimin and V conclude the song by singing, Back then, when everything was easy, I should’ve said it more often, those words. I’ll be with you for the rest of my life.” These lyrics—and in fact, the entire song—are extremely fitting and continue to resonate, particularly with Jungkook’s speech during the 2022 The Fact Music Awards, when he said BTS would work hard to be ARMYs’ “forever artists.”


It’s now been roughly five months since BTS first announced their hiatus, or break, or pause in group activities. Since then, each member has had at least one individual opportunity—Jin’s collaboration with MapleStory, a game he enjoys; V’s solo Vogue magazine cover; RM’s collaboration with rising group Balming Tiger on ‘Sexy Nukim’; and, most epic of all, the release J-hope’s solo album Jack in the Box and subsequent headlining performance at Lollapalooza. And finally, there was the massive Yet to Come in Busan concert held at the Asiad Main Stadium, performed in front of 53k live spectators and 49 million via on Weverse livestream alone (not counting other official streams such as NaverNOW and Zepeto, or the JTBC television broadcast). Despite BTS being on a “break,” they seem to be just as active as before.

BTS during the encore to their Yet To Come: In Busan concert. - image credit:

But there’s been a noticeable shift in how they’re approaching their fame and the opportunities that come with it. RM has said that his approach to future collaborations will be more akin to ‘Sexy Nukim,’ which allowed him to work with a lesser known but still talented group whose overall style he felt he vibed with. And I think that is key to BTS’s second chapter of their careers—synergy. In the Bangtan Dinner video, they talked about how being apart from each other (in this case, moving out of their shared dorm) paradoxically led to them having even stronger cohesion as a group. This break, I believe, will work much the same. Unlike group hiatuses of the past, BTS still work together, see one another often, and — despite what some may speculate — very much like each other. Now, though, they do not have the pressure of being together one-hundred percent of the time. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and in their absence from one another, it has reaffirmed BTS’s desire to keep making music with one another.

As time has gone on since the release of PROOF and its three new songs, I find myself returning to them often. They’re great music, of course, and they become recontextualised every time BTS reconvene as a group to perform or go on a livestream or just comment on each others’ Instagram posts. The release of PROOF was no doubt bittersweet and terrifying for BTS — that said, I imagine the members feel unimaginable relief after sharing their fears and receiving a resounding show of support from ARMYs.

NOTE: On 17 October 2022, BIGHIT MUSIC announced that the members of BTS would be proceeding with their mandatory military service. They ended the English translation of the announcement as such:

“Yet To Come (The Most Beautiful Moment)” is more than a track from their latest album, it is a promise, there’s much more yet to come in the years ahead from BTS.


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