One of the things you’ll hear the most about why people like BTS is because they bring them joy. This is far from being the only thing that explains their success, but it’s also true that the group owns this brand like no one else.
“Butter” (2021) follows BTS’s previous hits such as “Boy With Luv” (2019) and “Dynamite” (2020) in that it drives on nostalgic funk-pop instrumentals, undeniable positive vibes, catchy and relatively easy lyrics to sing along. Not only does the recipe works, it’s also the type of song that relies heavily on the performer’s charisma, and few have as much as BTS.
Production-wise, “Butter” recalls the groovy beats and funky basslines of BTS’s “Telepathy” (2020), “Seesaw” (2018), “Pied Piper” (2017), and funk with guitars of “Boyz with fun” (2015). But, songwriting-wise, “Butter” is a little different from what BTS has done in the past, and that’s not only because its lyrics are entirely in English (it’s only the third song by the Korean group with lyrics in English, not counting the members’ solo songs and collaborations). Even “Butter”‘s chords, familiar to ears used to American pop (a variation of this same chord progression is found in songs like John Legend’s “All of me”), are not commonly found in BTS’s discography.
However, the BTS signature is there, in the melodies that highlight Jungkook, V, Jin, and Jimin’s unique timbres, and the witty verses of members SUGA, RM, and j-hope, shaped in the style of old school rap.
You won’t be surprised to see how j-hope shines at the end of the song, rapping over an exhilarating guitar if you’ve seen him singing along to the bridge of Bruno Mars and Cardi B’s “Finesse” in Carpool Karaoke (2020) — or, really, if you’ve ever seen j-hope doing anything at all. Should “Butter” have the chance to be performed for a crowd anytime soon, he will certainly own the crowd in this part.
The lyrics make for the song’s sassiness, featuring puns such as “Don’t need no Usher / To remind me you got it bad” — a reference to “U remind me” (2001) and “U got it bad” (2001), by singer Usher, of whom BTS have shown to be fans before.
ARMY, the BTS fandom, also gets a nod in “Butter”. They were referenced only indirectly by the group’s music before, in songs like “Boy With Luv” (2019) and SUGA’s verse in MAX’s “Blueberry Eyes” (2020). In “Butter”, BTS calls them by their name in a lyric that has many times proven itself to be true (“Got ARMY right behind us when we say so”).
Other than that, “Butter” has no profound lyrical concepts, nor does it need it. It’s a charming, proficient pop performance delivered by a group that has been pivotal in engendering discourses on pop culture. It’s only right that, again, BTS brights the summer with their music — a summer that, for many people across countries where the pandemic is still at its worst, might not mean much more than dancing to a song like this at home.
BTS spread joy like butter, and this is by no means the only thing their music has to offer, but it’s something they do like no other.