BTS Exploration Pt. 1: ‘I Need U’ MV (Regular)

Published on April 29th, 2015, the music video for “I Need U” was a concept unheard of from BTS. Sure they had songs like “Danger” and “Boy in Luv” that talked about the hardships of being a teen in love, but showing deeper struggles (addiction, abuse, depression, etc.) that are experienced in life was left untouched until the release of this music video.

As far as music videos go, this version remained primarily “PG,” with only a few hints of overdose and turmoil. Nothing too explicit was shown, and that is both confusing and understandable. It’s confusing because if an artist is going to address heavy topics, then they should not be afraid of going in-depth as it would make the video more relatable to viewers. However, it is understandable that they chose to keep the MV free of troubling images. Because of Korean censorship laws, showing explicit content could cause both the video and song to be banned from the airwaves. Before continuing on with the article, please watch the music video for “I Need U” so that the video and lyrical breakdown will be easier to follow: 

The Lyrics

If BTS had not made a music video to accompany this song, then it might have seemed as though the whole “Most Beautiful Moment in Life Pt. 1” mini album was just following along with the theme of distressed love. The lyrics alone speak of one-sided love, specifically how  it can feel when a person in a relationship falls out of love:

I need you girl
Why am I in love alone, why am I hurting alone.

However, because BTS chose to create an MV, the lyrics are given a totally new meaning. The word “girl” is now being used to refer to a thing rather than a person. In this case, that thing is toxicity.

In the intro of the song, the words “fall” and “everything” are repeated to suggest that someone’s life is truly falling apart. Suga is then the first member to contribute with his verse, “Because of you, I’m becoming ruined. I wanna stop, I don’t want you anymore. I can’t do it, this sucks. Please don’t give me any excuses.” It is clear that Suga is battling with something very toxic, something that is ruining him, but even though he knows that, he finds it difficult to sever himself from whatever it is that’s holding him back. This is an issue many people face when struggling with mental illness, addiction or abusive relationships. He knows that it’s bad for him, but he can’t seem to let go.

J-Hope‘s verse comes after Suga’s. J-Hope also presents ARMY with some troubling lines in his verse: “You can’t do this to me. All of the things you said are like a mask. It hides the truth and rips me apart. It pierces me, I’m going crazy, I hate this. Take it all away, I hate you.” While Suga seems unable to pull himself away from his troubles even though he knows they’re negative, J-Hope is still battling with being able to identify what it is that’s tearing him apart. For J-Hope, the toxicity in his life is wearing a mask, cleverly fooling him, and it’s driving him crazy. In a sad, sad way, J-Hope wishes it would all just end.

Up next in the song comes the chorus. The beautiful, twisted chorus.

But you’re my everything (You’re my)
Everything (You’re my)
Everything (You’re my)
Please go away huh

I’m sorry (I hate u)
I love you (I hate u)
Forgive me

I need you girl
Why am I in love alone, why am I hurting alone
I need you girl
Why do I keep needing you when I know I’ll get hurt?

I need you girl, you’re beautiful
I need you girl, you’re so cold
I need you girl (I need you girl)
I need you girl (I need you girl)

Take the word “girl” and replace it with “alcohol.” Now replace it with the name of an abuser. Now replace it with “pills.” See where this is going? These areas of toxicity are one-sided. They can envelope a person’s mind and hold on to it with a vise-like grip. People can fall so deep into bad habits that it seems like the habit is their everything, until they realize that all it’s doing is destroying their lives.

Right after the chorus, Rap Monster‘s verse is probably the most apparent reference to battling with bad habits:

It goes round & round, why do I keep coming back
I go down & down, at this point, I’m just a fool
Whatever I do, I can’t help it
It’s definitely my heart, my feelings
But why don’t they listen to me
I’m just talking to myself again (talking to myself again)
I’m just talking to myself again (talking to myself again)
You’re not saying anything, please, I’ll treat you well
But the sky is blue (the sky is blue)

Clearly, Rap Monster is facing a vicious cycle of trying to rid himself of his bad habits and running back to them. But while the most obvious reference to addiction in his verse may be during the first few lines, the most impacting section of his rap comes in the very last line when he says, “But the sky is blue.” In this line he is referring to the fact that when people are children, their naivety leads them to believe that growing up will be filled with blue skies, so when something bad happens it evokes the question “why?” Meaning,Why, the sky is blue, so how could something bad be happening?”

Jin‘s verse also eludes to that same question of how could bad things possibly be happening. He sings, “The sky is blue and the sun is shining. So my tears are even more noticeable. Why is it you? Why did it have to be you? Why can’t I leave you?”  In Jin’s case, the fact that the sun is shining only adds to his distress. His sense of guilt about going through struggles even though this is supposed to be a glorious point in his life is causing him to question if he is strong enough to deal with his issues.

After Jin’s verse comes one last chorus. As a whole, the song can be taken two ways. For a younger audience, the takeaway is about a boy in shambles because of a girl who doesn’t want him back. However, when speaking to an older, more mature audience in a mini album called “The Most Beautiful Moment in Life Pt. 1,” BTS has managed to delve in to a not-so-beautiful topic. In a way, what they have done with their switch in music is assured fans and listeners that even in the most wonderful periods of life unfortunate things can happen, but that does not mean that it cannot be a beautiful moment in life.

The Video

The music video for “I Need U” transformed BTS’ image from angsty teens to young adults battling serious issues. As mentioned above, the MV also changed the whole dynamic, not only for the song itself but of their third mini album, “Most Beautiful Moment in Life Pt. 1.” Like the lyrics, it’s easier to understand the story line of the video if it is examined member by member.

As far as addiction goes, the member that needs to be talked about first is, of course, J-Hope. There is no secret that J-Hope is battling with a serious addiction to prescription medicine, as the camera clearly shows him grabbing a pill bottle from a bathroom cabinet. Later he’s seen walking alongside a busy road on a bright sunny day with blue skies. While J-Hope is upset, dressed in tones of gray and black and overdosing on medicine, the world around him continues to progress, oblivious to the suffering that is happening under these blue skies. Like many teens and adults, J-Hope felt out of control and hopeless and therefore resorted to addiction to try and cope with his issues. However, later in the video he pours his pills into the bonfire, which shows that even in the darkest periods of life a change can occur and life can get better.

V is the next member to focus on. In the beginning of the video it’s unclear if V is struggling with something big. He looks like a typical sullen teenager, pulling his hoodie over his face and walking angrily while he knocks over a soda can. But when his story is revealed, we realize V is mostly likely living in an abusive household — a case all too common for millions of people worldwide. While his relationship to the woman and man are not specified, V lashes out at the man and then backs away in horror at what he’s done. For viewers, though, the message for V is clear: even if someone looks “fine” at first glance, that doesn’t mean they have a beautiful life.

Jin’s scenario should be looked at next, because out of the seven members, his is the least troubling. Yes, yes, he is crying in the video, and yes he does look sad while he sits on his bed, but it’s the costuming and prop choices that show that out of everyone, Jin is better off. First there is the fact that Jin is dressed in a white shirt, sitting on a bed with white linen sheets and is also placed in front of a window with white curtains. It’s usually common knowledge for those who have learned about symbolism and imagery in any middle or high school English course that the color white represents purity or a clean slate. However, in some Asian cultures lilies are gifted to a person who has experienced a loss, as it was believed that the lily flower would help ease the heartache. Jin sets six lily petals down on the floor. His heartache is not for himself. It is for the other six. Like many out there who have a friend experiencing hardships, it can be difficult to not feel heartache if there’s no way to help them.

As for the rest of the group, it’s unclear right now what’s troubling them. Suga is alone in a motel room playing with a lighter, Jimin is having a mental breakdown in a bathtub and burning a suspicious piece of paper, Jungkook is bumping into people and not even saying, “excuji me,” and Rap Monster is doing what every artist does to start out their career: rapping and selling his mixtape at a gas station. In all seriousness, BTS is acting as both a mentor and best friend to ARMY. They are reminding us that life can get extremely rough sometimes, and it seems like the world is crashing down, but that doesn’t mean things won’t get better. And at the end of the day they’ll be here to help us through it.

INU Ending 1

Check back for the next installment of “BTS Explorations” for a breakdown of their “I Need U” Music Video (Original Version).


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