Memo: “Come Back Home” BTS Version

We’re not a blog that is dedicated to reviewing music (including Kpop), but because we absolutely adore BTS and their music, we decided to do a memo-style review of BTS’s version of “Come Back Home”.

***Note: If this is your first time browsing the Drama Files, please read The Rules on how our Memo-style reviews work.***

Memo

Dear Reader,

You asked me to analyze the meaning of BTS’s version of “Come Back Home” and to look at how BTS’s version of this song is different from the original by Seo Taiji & Boys.

Conclusion

  1. “Come Back Home” from BTS’ version is about getting over one’s failures and striving for one’s dreams. BTS has done an excellent job with modernizing the original song.

Analysis

Jubiemon J: This song, when interpreted with the MV, is about people trying to go back to their “home”/roots/themselves after going through a rebellious phase that was triggered by some failure. We first see a frustrated man in the forest who embodies all the people in their 10s-30s that are struggling. I say that because when a teenager gets beat up by people, this guy also spits out blood. When this boxer’s knuckles are hurt, this guy’s knuckles also get hurt. At the end of the MV, the guy comes back home by symbolically getting the cassette tape for this song.

Here’s the MV description in Korean: “트랜디하고 감각적인 일렉트로 트랩(Electro Trap) 비트와 방탄소년단 멤버 랩몬스터(Rap Monster),제이홉(j-hope)이 직접 참여한 랩 메이킹은 원작자에 대한 존경심과 방탄소년단의 음악적 자신감까지 고스란히 드러난다. 특히 방탄소년단은 가출청소년이라는 사회적인 메시지를 담았던 원곡에자신만의 꿈을 향해 노력하는 젊은 세대의 땀과 노력, 열정이라는 메시지를 더해 단순한 리메이크 수준을 넘는 새로운 곡 해석을 선보인다.”

I put this text in Google Translate to see what it would say and here it is: “The rap-making and sensual Electro Trap beat, Rap Monster, and J-hope make rap-making a reality with respect for the original author and the musical self-confidence of bulletproof boys. In particular, the Bulletproof Boys presents a new interpretation of the song beyond the simple remake level by adding the message of a young generation’s sweat, effort and enthusiasm toward their own dreams in the original song that contains the social message of runaway youth.” I think this confirms what I said above.

Now that we understand the MV, we will look at the BTS’s version of the lyrics to see how they add to the MV.

(See figure below and credits to the translation of the lyrics goes to here) Like the guy and the youth in the MV, BTS’s lyrics admit to being “hangry” and point out that there “was no future”. We see the frustration from the start of the song with the two verses: “Why am I trying so hard now to find what? Where am I continuously drifting to?” We get the feeling that they’re capturing the annoyance that youth feel towards their hazy, challenging future.

However, BTS injects some positive notes by saying that “because we are still young, there is a decent future”. Thus, they recommend us to “wipe away our tears and come back home.” This means that we need to stop rebelling or sulking in our anger/frustrations and get back to our roots/old selves. I see the question “Why are you wasting your time?” as one to, again, remind us not to keep wasting our time through complaints or sulking. Our efforts will eventually be rewarded because our “blood and sweat tears are truthful”. That’s why right after the “blood and sweat tears” verse, we have the line “let’s imprint my name on the trophy and come back home”. We’ll come back home and show everyone that we’re successful. BTS also encourages us by noting that we are working hard for our family and that we “started from the bottom and we still going up”.

Overall, I think BTS is trying to send the message that despite our failures and frustrations, we need to keep going on and keep fighting for our dreams that we used to have. In the end, we will succeed because our efforts will be rewarded.

CUZ I’M COMIN BACK HOME

Why am I trying so hard now to find what?
Where am I continuously drifting to?

I’ve seen the end of my life
I feel suffocated inside my heart
What is blocking my life
is my fear towards tomorrow

Angry? Hungry? Yes I’m hangry
Eveyday is repeating, the future is shitty
There was no me
And there was no future

Because we are still young
There is a decent future
Now wipe those cold tears and COME BACK HOME

Why are you wasting your time?
My blood and sweat are truthful
Now let’s imprint my name on that trophy and COME BACK HOME

YOU MUST COME BACK HOME Warmer than my heart which has left
YOU MUST COME BACK HOME in this rough life
YOU MUST COME BACK HOME Warmer than my heart which has left
YOU MUST COME BACK HOME I will complete myself

COME BACK TO MY HOME COME BACK HOME
COME BACK TO MY HOME COME BACK HOME (in this rough life) COME BACK TO MY HOME COME BACK HOME
COME BACK TO MY HOME COME BACK HOME (I will complete myself)

HUNNIT BAND HUNNIT BAND HUNNIT BAND
An honor to my family to my mother
And to make my family get stuffed till the stomach explode
I continuously work hard, work hard, work hard
Friends, don’t you worry
Our future path is bright
STARTED FROM THE BOTTOM AND WE STILL GOING UP
I still want more

Because we are still young
We have a decent future
Now let’s wipe those cold tears COME BACK HOME

Why are you wasting your time?
My blood and sweat are truthful
Now let’s imprint my name on that trophy and COME BACK HOME

YOU MUST COME BACK HOME Warmer than my heart which has left
YOU MUST COME BACK HOME in this rough life
YOU MUST COME BACK HOME Warmer than my heart which has left
YOU MUST COME BACK HOME I will complete myself

OH YOU MUST COME BACK
YOU MUST COME BACK
YOU MUST COME BACK HOME (Come back home)
OH YOU MUST COME BACK
YOU MUST COME BACK
YOU MUST COME BACK HOME (Come back home)

CUZ I’M COMIN BACK HOME
YOU MUST COME BACK HOME Warmer than my heart which has left
YOU MUST COME BACK HOME in this rough life
YOU MUST COME BACK HOME Warmer than my heart which has left
YOU MUST COME BACK HOME I will complete myself

COME BACK TO MY HOME COME BACK HOME
COME BACK TO MY HOME COME BACK HOME (in this rough life)
COME BACK TO MY HOME COME BACK HOME
COME BACK TO MY HOME COME BACK HOME (I will complete myself)

How does the BTS lyrics compare to the one by Seo Taiji & Boys’? I see BTS’s version of “Come Back Home” as an extension of Seo Taiji & Boys’ song, sort of like a modernized, more positive sequel. I’m looking at this analysis mostly from a lyrical point of view as I’m not an expert in music. I decided to compare BTS’s lyrics with the original. I’m not fluent in Korean, but I thought I’d compare the Korean to see where BTS decided to keep the original lyrics. (See the Table 1 below.)

Here’s an explanation of how the table works. The first column on the far left is BTS’s version in Korean. Beside that is the English translation of the lyrics  (Here are the credits for this translation.) I couldn’t find a complete English version of Seo Taiji & Boys’ “Come Back Home”, so I had to take the French version I found here. Then I translated the French into English. I bolded the beginning verses because the BTS version was identical to the original one. I did highlight the second verse because in the Seo Taiji & Boys’ song, they use that as the last verse of the song. BTS did not. Whenever BTS decided to keep the original lyrics, the same colour was used for both songs’ lyrics (i.e. The verse in red font on BTS’s end is the same as the one found in Seo Taiji & Boys’ song). I decided to colour code because that’d make it easier for us to see where BTS decided to place the original lyrics. Finally, the italicized lyrics on BTS’s side means that those are different from the original song lyrics.

(Side note: You’ll notice that sometimes the translation of the Seo Taiji & Boys’ lyrics are different than the BTS’s translated lyrics even though I’ve marked the two song lyrics as the same. That’s likely do to translation style differences. Unfortunately I do not know much Korean, so I cannot comment on which translation is more accurate or more suitable. We’ll just have to make do for now)

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As a general observation, I see that the two songs are very similar in meaning. The original song is also demonstrating that the youth are facing frustrations but they should keep going on as the future is still good. The differences come from the part where the original talks about parents controlling the start of lies and how the kid felt that there was no love from the parents. It seems like the original song wanted to, perhaps, highlight the pressure that parents might have given to their children to succeed and do well. Therefore, part of the frustration and feeling of being lost comes from the parents’ upbringing of their children. The original song also talks about society lying to the youth and how they feel deceived. BTS’s version doesn’t mention those lies.

Instead, BTS focuses on other parts. One is that the children want to please their parents by working hard and make sure that the family lives comfortably: “An honor to my family to my mother and to make my family get stuffed till the stomach explode[s].” There’s no hatred or resentment towards the family in BTS’s song. Another is about setting aside any feelings of frustration/purposelessness in life and focusing back on people’s initial goals/dreams.

In terms of the musical differences, we can immediately hear that BTS’s version has a faster tempo and more drums. The beginning of the original song starts at a lower, flatter key and has a funkier and more reggae vibe. I get more of a slight hip hop vibe to BTS’s version. The original’s chorus also came much earlier than BTS’s one (time wise it’d look slower because the original song has a much slower tempo, but when you look at the distribution of lines, then you’ll see what I mean). Moreover, there’s a slight dance break in the original, but we don’t see that in the BTS one. According to the MV description, Rapmonster and J-Hope made this into an electro-trap style and kept the heavy base line.

These differences are interesting and make the BTS version an excellent version of the original one. We can still identify that it’s Seo Taiji & Boys’ song, but it’s modernized and given a BTS twist. Overall, fabulous job by BTS!

 

 

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