In “Life goes on” their No. 1 single released last November, the members of BTS extended a reassuring hand.
“Close your eyes for a moment / Hold my hand,” they sing before shooting into the chorus. “For the future, let’s run away.”
It feels like the future finally arrived on Friday with the release of the group’s latest single, “Permission to Dance.” The cowrite of Ed Sheeran – along with Jenna Andrews, Steve Mac and Snow Patrols Johnny McDaid – the song is filled with irresistibly bouncing piano bars and lyrics written with the sole intention of lifting. According to the group̵
Providing comfort in the middle of the dark is what BTS does best; that’s what they’re always been doing for the eight years since their debut. When the COVID-19 pandemic began and forced the group to indefinitely postpone their upcoming worldwide stadium tour, RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook threw themselves into their new mission to give their fans, ARMY, with a distraction from despair. “Permission to Dance” is the latest single in the group’s series of pandemic-produced work, which includes last summer’s smash hit “Dynamite”, current Billboard No. 1 single “Butter”, and their November album BE.
“Most of the music I grew up listening to was about dreams, hopes and introspection in the midst of despair,” rapper Suga told BuzzFeed News in May when the group released “Butter.” “I was influenced by that kind of music and became who I am today. So in return, I also want to give that kind of influence. ”
Where the music of the past year has provided distraction, friendship and melancholy understanding, “Permission to Dance” offers another form of comfort: the hope that the future promised in “Life Continues” is just around the corner. . This hope manifests itself physically in his music video as a ubiquitous bunch of balloons in different shades of purple – the signature color of BTS and ARMY. A newspaper headline seen in the song’s teaser released earlier this week reads: “Criminals of Hope: Purple Balloons Means the End of COVID-19.”
As always, the music video is full of these subtle nods to BTS ARMY, even down to the release date – July 9, 2013, was the day the group’s fans officially got their name, and every year fandom celebrates its anniversary on this day. But “Permission to Dance” also celebrates wider-scale societies, highlighting a diverse cast of characters from across the globe, thus promising that the message of hope conveyed with the song is extended to everyone without exception. The inclusion of the song’s message is even reflected in the choreography that integrates the international sign language into “dance”, “fun” and “peace” in its bridge.
A special focus on service workers throughout the video evokes the message from BTS’s song “Anpanman” from 2018. Inspired by the Japanese picture hero of the same name, this song was a promise from members to give everything to improve fans’ lives; when they debuted for its performance, they dressed in uniforms from firefighters and construction workers, the daily superheroes who do the same. They performed it again on Today shows in 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when healthcare professionals were rightly heralded as our front-line heroes.
“Permission to Dance” presents something similar: scenes with masked employees in an office welcomed after a year away; a server dancing alone in an empty dining room; a housekeeper’s ballroom dipping a teacher in a deserted schoolroom; a postman who catches sight of one of the ever-present purple balloons as she goes out on her duty. The last 60 seconds of the music video are dedicated to the crew working with BTS behind the scenes: a crowd of stylists, choreographers, makeup artists, each and every one of the many people doing the supporting work to get music to dance the song’s choreography along with the stars themselves. It’s a warming celebration for society, and fine, I admit it: it melted my pessimistic heart. (Like butter. Heh.)
The message of “Permission to dance” is by no means revolutionary, but to treat it with a completely uncynical mind still feels radical. As human beings, we are so prone to deny ourselves happiness, and it may feel inappropriate – or just as impossible – to be happy after almost a year and a half of increasingly pulling hopelessness.
“Permission to dance” is, however, a refreshing reminder that happiness is not only possible, but there is no shame in feeling it – even if it is only to begin with for a period of three minutes and seven seconds carefree summer pop sang.