Last summer, BTS dominated the charts and rewrote the history books with their gargantuan Grammy-nominated single “Dynamite.” Their first song fully recorded in English, “Dynamite” took notes from funk and dance music to create a feel-good anthem that truly carried BTS into pop superstar territory. For their new single, BTS seems to be doubling down on the strategy that made “Dynamite” so successful.
Their latest offering, “Butter,” builds on the bubbly effervescence of “Dynamite” with a more of a focus on dance and EDM influences. Just as “Dynamite” became one of the songs that ruled Summer 2020, “Butter” looks to do the same with Summer 2021. With writing credits that include Columbia Records executive Ron Perry, group member RM, and pop music heavyweight Jenna Andrews, “Butter” is two-and-a-half minutes of smooth and easily digestible Top 40 sweetness. The group sings of a sweet romance that’ll “melt your heart into two” and “pull you in like no other.” Jungkook and Jimin particularly shine on the infectious chorus, and the run Jungkook hits on “bad” in the second verse is a nice touch. The most impressive thing about “Butter” is how much it’s able to fit into such a short amount of time without the song feeling rushed. There are multiple verses and chorus repetitions, a rap bridge, an instrumental break, and a post-chorus, yet no one part feels disjointed from the next.
The lyrics include references to musical icons Michael Jackson and Usher. Usher’s seminal “U Got It Bad” gets a shoutout with the lyric “don’t need no Usher/To remind me you got it bad,” while The King of Pop’s influence casts its shadow over the opening lines of the song. In the “Dynamite” music video, BTS paid homage to MJ through some of their choreography, and on “Butter” they begin the song by referencing “Smooth Criminal” with the line “Smooth like butter/Like a criminal undercover.” The two songs may appear to be simple and fun summer singles (they are), but little Easter eggs like that display a deeper connection between the two dance anthems. “Butter” is completely devoid of any heavy emotional or sociopolitical message. This is fine because, as seen on BE, their most recent album, the boys normally leave the songs that best express their artistic identities for full-length projects. “Butter” is one of those dance-pop songs that are fun to dance and sing along to in the moment. It’s well-produced, the pacing is solid, and the melody is catchy. The song doesn’t innovate or bring anything new to the table, but not every song needs to do that, especially when the energy is as undeniable as it is on this one. It’s hard to match the innate explosiveness of “Dynamite,” but “Butter” makes a valiant effort to do so. “Butter” will likely follow in “Dynamite’s” footsteps success-wise, but hopefully the group’s next smash hit is more in line with more interesting tracks like “Fly To My Room” or “Black Swan.”