The very first song on the very first BTS single album, 2013’s 2 Cool 4 Skool, begins with an audio sample from DJ Frizz: “We are now going to progress to some steps which are a bit more difficult. Ready, set, and begin.”
The BTS boys of nine years ago took that introduction seriously. It’s often been said that they’ve been “running” since their debut, which is to say they’ve been working practically nonstop, breaking records, making history, and carving a path where there was previously only been untamed wilderness. Over the course of over nine studio albums, six compilation albums, and six EPs, BTS has redefined what a pop act out of South Korea can be.
It’s this idea that reveals itself as the crux of their new anthology album, PROOF, available today, June 10th. A whopping 48 songs were pulled from different eras of BTS’ career, a number that includes three brand new tracks, previously unreleased entries (“Born Singer” and “Young Love”), and a plethora of never-before-heard demos.
It can be hard to know where to start when diving into and analyzing something so vast — or at least it was for this writer. But in listening to PROOF, which was structured very intentionally into three sections, BTS’ story all but tells itself. Below, we’re unpacking it all.