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Essential BTS collaborations you don’t want to miss

  • Published : May 2, 2019 - 14:03
  • Updated : May 2, 2019 - 14:03


Having teamed up with Halsey in its latest single “Boy with Luv,” it’s no secret that BTS has emerged as one of the most in-demand acts in the global pop scene. Over the past few years, the K-pop sensation has seen some of its casual social media interactions with award-winning acts bloom into groundbreaking team-ups.

Big-name acts like Dolly Parton and Shawn Mendes have also publicly addressed their desire to work with the Grammy-nominated K-pop group, sending fans into a frenzy of speculation about more mega-hit collaborations.

So here’s a look back on BTS’ rich history of collaborations, a testament to the band’s particular artistry and global presence.

1. BTS X Halsey - “Boy with Luv”

US singer-songwriter Halsey recently became the latest BTS collaborator on the group’s “Boy with Luv,” the lead track on its chart-topping “Map of the Soul: Persona” EP. The bubbly pop-leaning bop, which serves as a parallel track to the band’s 2014 single “Boy in Luv,” features Halsey’s airy vocal on the already-catchy chorus, where she melodically sings, “Oh my my my, oh my my my.”

Joining the BTS vocals on the catchy refrain, she goes again, “I want something stronger / Than a moment, than a moment luv / I have waited longer / For a boy with, for a boy with luv.”

While the song was the first time the two had linked up on an album, their friendship goes back to the 2017 Billboard Music Awards, where they hobnobbed backstage and talked about a possible collaboration. After a brief meet-up in Seoul and several more affectionate shout-out and tweets to each other last year, BTS reportedly reached out to Halsey upon listening to “Boy with Luv” thinking her vocals might suit the track.

2. BTS X Ed Sheeran - “Make It Right”

Fans’ prayers for the BTS X Ed Sheeran collaboration have been answered when the UK singer co-wrote “Make It Right,” the fourth track on the group’s “Map of the Soul: Persona” album, along with the BTS rappers. While the four-time Grammy winner didn’t lend his melting vocal to the track, his fingerprints are all over the sleek pop track, blending BTS’ sonic color with his unique Brit-pop vibe.

The two acts had hinted at their collaboration in December last year, when Suga shared a photo of a screen that showed a new song he was working on, with the caption, “hmm… this is for you @edsheeran #SUGA.”

“This is the first K pop song I’ve had the honour of helping write. Check out the rest of the project too. Well done @bts.bighitofficial,” the British singer-songwriter wrote on Instagram after the release of the song.

3. BTS X Nicki Minaj - “Idol”

Laden with the sound of Korean traditional instruments, the alternate version of BTS’ “Idol,” the lead track off of the act’s “Love Yourself: Answer” album out in August last year, features US rapper Nicki Minaj.

The Minaj-assisted track kicks off with Minaj calling out BTS and “Chun Li,” the title of her hit, leading into her unique verse where she fiercely delivers her English line: “Uhh what‘s good Korea. You know I been a boss for my whole career. I’m bout to jet in the leer and put more than my hands in the air.”

In the video for the experimental track, Minaj appears in flamboyant and brightly hued fabrics, waving feathered fan and taking selfies in front of similarly vibrant sets. While she serves her verse, her English lines appear behind her in Hangeul, the Korean alphabet, which was later revealed as the rapper’s own idea to write how her rap sounds like in Korean.

4. BTS X The Chainsmokers - “Best of Me”

The essential collaboration between BTS and the EDM duo marked the first time the K-pop juggernaut has collaborated with an American artist on an album. Co-written by The Chainsmokers’ Andrew Taggart, “Best of Me” is an upbeat dance track that melds the duo’s infectious EDM sound and the K-pop act’s smooth vocals and hard-hitting rapping. The two artists met in May 2017 when BTS attended the Billboard Music Awards to grab award in the top social artist category.

The duo reportedly suggested a meeting to the septet during their hangout time backstage, then confirmed the collaboration by dropping a group selfie on Twitter with the caption that had tons of fans totally stoked: “Love these dudes! See you guys in summer!”

5. BTS X Steve Aoki - “Mic Drop (remix),” “The Truth Untold,” “Waste It on Me”

Already having three collaborations under their belt, BTS and Steve Aoki are a match made in heaven. The two acts first teamed up on the remixed version of BTS’ mega hit single “Mic Drop,” featuring Desiigner, in November 2017. Its first Stateside hit, the song had peaked at No. 28 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and made BTS the first Korean group to have a song certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

The two later collaborated on the remix version of evocative “The Truth Untold,” off of the act’s third studio album “Love Yourself: Tear,” and ambient EDM track “Waste It on Me,” BTS’ first song that is
entirely in English.

During an interview with Billboard, Suga had said that Aoki “seems like an amazing older brother” and that “his passion for music was one of his many qualities that I respect.” Aoki also revealed his respect for the seven boys duringn an interview, saying, “These guys are the geniuses. They’re so creative on every level -- on their dance, on their sound, on their style, their flow. ... They developed their own brand and they‘re global. It’s incredible working with artists like that.”

6. RM X Fall Out Boy - “Champion (remix)”

RM of BTS lent his rap skills to the remix of US rock band Fall Out Boy’s hit “Champion” in 2017. In the power-driven song that projects positive messages about life, the rapper belts out in English, “Ain’t gotta be somebody, be anybody / Rather be anybody than live in a dead body.” RM later shared that his verses were about “people who became champions of people who couldn’t become champions.”

Sharing the story of how he got to know the BTS rapper, Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz said that he had actually seen RM at an arcade in Los Angeles, where the rapper was playing a dance game with a “zillion fans” following him around.

“So, we reached out after we investigated. We were like, ‘Would he want to do a feature,’ and they were like yes. He was really specific. They told us he wants to a remix of ‘Champion’ and he’s got an idea for it. We were like ‘Oh, great’ and that was that,” said Wentz during an interview in Berlin last year. The song had peaked at No. 2 on Billboard’s Rock Digital Song Sales Chart upon its release.

7. RM X Warren G - “P.D.D”

The groovy hip-hop smash, standing for “Please Don’t Die,” holds significant meaning for the BTS rapper, as the song was produced by hip-hop legend Warren G, who was also RM’s musical mentor while BTS featured on Mnet reality TV show “American Hustle Life” in Los Angeles in 2014.

Penned by RM himself, “P.D.D” is a shout-out to his naysayers who used to belittle the musician early on his career. Flexing on his haters, he raps in Korean, “Thank you for all the hating / Once I release my mix tape which is super cool based on that, try rating / I don‘t care that s--- go on twitter go share that s--- / Your narrow sight, prejudice, pride I’ll tear that s---.”

After tutoring RM on “American Hustle Life,” where the BTS member was tasked to write new lyrics for the hip-hop guru’s hit “Regulate,” Warren G reportedly reached out to RM to suggest a collaboration.

Showing his affection and respect toward RM, Warren G once said in an interview,“When I hear Rap Monster’s songs, it sounds like Snoop Dogg or me rapping with the beats we’ve made.” “Speaking as an artist and a producer, Rap Monster is an exceptional rapper. His delivery is amazing,” he added.

8. RM X Wale - “Change”

In what would be one of the most politically fraught BTS collaborations, RM and US rapper Wale linked up on their song “Change” to lament about everything from education, justice system to social media. Trading off verses in English with Wale, RM raps, “Kill people with fingers on Twitter / More than a gun, more than a knife / The tip of your tongue just glitter.” Tackling education system, he declares, “Oh, f--- the school / All we got is mad teachers and some visible classes / Divided spaces, and forever-lastin‘ stresses.”

The collaboration was initiated as Wale tweeted at RM, asking if he wanted to work together after discovering through a fan’s tweet that the BTS rapper had previously freestyled over Wale‘s “Illest Bitch.”

9. RM X Tiger JK - “Timeless”

RM teamed up with the Tiger JK of Drunken Tiger on “Timeless,” the track off the Korean hip-hop guru’s 20th anniversary album “Rebirth of Tiger JK” in November last year. Explained as the most original and unique hip-hop track from the album, bombastic “Timeless” features the BTS rapper paying respect to Tiger JK releasing the last album under the Drunken Tiger name: “This album be the last, but it will forever last/ Things gon be a past, but fest post to be fast/ Hope it for the best, but see you already blessed/ All you spit was blast so don’t you worry dad/ You ain‘t dead.“

During the press conference, Tiger JK said, “RM was the first musician I reached out to for a collaboration. Together, we saw eye-to-eye that we should make a song that doesn’t get bound by chart rankings. We just did what we both wanted.”

The hip-hop talent also confessed that he had held prejudices against idol rappers but RM helped him tackle those stereotypes. ”Timeless“ went Top 5 on World Digital Song Sales chart upon its release.

By Hong Dam-young (lotus@heraldcorp.com)