Riding the wave of success following 2015's The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, Pt. 2 and 2016's The Most Beautiful Moment in Life: Young Forever, BTS continued their global ascent with the release of their sophomore LP, Wings. Issued in late 2016, Wings pushed the creative maturation for the K-pop septet while maintaining the unique spirit that had so endeared them to fans looking for more than the typical K-pop industry product. In addition to a handful of requisite hits that deftly captured the contemporary pop zeitgeist, Wings allowed BTS to delve deeper into more serious topics (such as mental health, non-conformity, and female empowerment) and artistic expressions. Wings notably features seven solo tracks that showcase the personality of each BTS member. On V's soulfully jazzy "Stigma," Suga's intense "First Love," and Rap Monster's atmospheric "Reflection," gravity and introspection collide, grounding the dance-pop gems that bookend the album. Jungkook's "Begin" is bright and tropically inspired (much like lead single "Blood Sweat & Tears," it sounds like something produced by Major Lazer), while Jimin's bold "Lie" is buffered by lush orchestral production and Motown cool. Jin contributes a gorgeous ballad with "Awake," and J-Hope maintains the hip-hop heartbeat of BTS with "MAMA." The other half of Wings finds BTS together as a unit and in full K-pop hit mode on infectious dance tracks like "Lost," "Interlude: Wings," and the booming one-two punch of "Am I Wrong" and "21st Century Girls." Diehards will rejoice at the sight of "BTS Cypher 4" (the first since 2014) which features frantic trap-rapping akin to countrymate Keith Ape. With such a wide range of stylistic influences and lyrical content, BTS continue to push the limits of what can be said or done in K-pop. Wings is a testament that such risks can be both substantial and successful. ~ Neil Z. Yeung
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