(ATTN: UPDATES with sales figures of new album in last para)
By Park Boram
SEOUL, Feb. 21 (Yonhap) -- K-pop phenomenon BTS dropped a new album, "Map of the Soul: 7," Friday with a majestic music video of the album's lead track, "ON," ready to rock the world music scene once again.
The upcoming 20-track album is the second part of its "Map of the Soul" album series, following "Map of the Soul: Persona," released in April last year.
Like its predecessor, "7" is a soul-searching musical journey, focused on facing up and embracing the shadows as well as the glories of the band's eventful seven-year band career.
The lead track "ON" is a captivating, powerful hip hop number, which parallels "N.O," the lead track of the band's first EP, "O!RUL8,2?," released in September 2013, just three months after the band's debut.
With the official album release, BTS also dropped the latest lead single's music video, labeled as "Kinetic Manifesto Film : Come Prima," a dazzling visual rendering of the new song.
A team of some 30 dancers and marching band members help the septet put on a majestic dance performance of the song against the background of an outdoor scene.
"ON" primarily explores BTS' devotion and sense of being artists, developed and refined through the band's seven-year history. The song poetically calls the double-edged quality of the band's stardom and global musical career as "a beautiful prison into which I walked into with my own feet."
The septet called the main track "a big diary (of BTS) over the past seven years."
"It's like a (shrunk-down) version of the whole BTS identity," member RM said on Apple Music's "New Music Daily with Zane Lowe" show Friday morning (Korean time).
"It's like a declaration that we have admitted our destiny," the BTS leader said in English, elaborating on the new lead song.
Looking back on the band's musical journey so far, he said "We did expand our musical expanse and everything has been upscaled (including the size of the audience) ... so everything got bigger and happier."
The seven-year journey to the global stardom has been paved with ordeals and the band members have also been burdened by shadows of their global success, the band's management agency Big Hit Entertainment said in its specification of the new album.
"But BTS is more focusing on the future to come ... The band is determined to continue on its journey along with the fan club, Army," Big Hit said.
BTS prereleased three songs from the album: "Interlude: Shadow," "Outro: Ego" and "Black Swan." The band premiered the latter on American TV show "The Late Late Show with James Corden" last month.
Including the prereleased tracks and the main song, the new album has 15 brand new numbers, like "Filter," "UGH!," "00:00 (Zero O'Clock)," "Inner Child," "Moon," "Louder than Bombs" and "We Are Bulletproof: The Eternal."
They also include a special digital version of "ON" featuring Australian singer-songwriter Sia.
"Filter" is a solo effort by member Jimin that delves into Jimin's growth from K-pop trainee to adult. On his solo track, "Inner Child," V talks about an ordeal he faced, while Jin expresses his love for BTS fans -- the "Army" -- in "Moon."
Pop star Troye Sivan helped produce "Louder than Bombs."
The album also contains five hit songs from "Map of the Soul: Persona," including "Boy With Luv," "Make It Right" and "Dionysus."
The band is currently in the United States for their appearance on American TV program "The Today Show" on Friday (U.S. time).
In a live video log on South Korean online broadcasting platform V Live, aired from the U.S. on Friday, the BTS members talked about their new release.
"It's our comeback (to release a new album) after 10 months. We spent a record length of time on the preparations and practiced for the longest time," leader RM said.
"The album walks through the seven years since our debut ... carrying (the process of) confronting (one's) shadows that have been hidden and acknowledging them as part of one's own self," he said.
Member Jimin said the Army may feel proud of themselves, knowing that "ON" depicts moments BTS shared with the fans.
Following the TV appearance in the U.S., the band will then fly back to Seoul to host a global press conference in the South Korean capital on Monday.
"7" has shown signs of making another global mega-hit after BTS clinched three No. 1s on the Billboard 200 album chart within a span of one year, rewriting Billboard history.
Preorders for "Map of the Soul: 7" had reached 4.02 million copies as of Monday, a record in South Korea.
"ON" immediately topped real-time music charts of five major online South Korean music streaming services including Melon, Genie Music and Bugs! as of 10 p.m., four hours after its release.
The new album's other tracks also made it to the top 10 lists of the music charts, taking them by storm.
"Map of the Soul: 7" sold more than 2.13 million copies in less than two hours after its release.