BTS’s RM Curates Personal Playlist For the Lonely Hearts, “mono.”
All Photo Credits: Big Hit Entertainment
BTS’s leader, UNICEF ambassador, United Nations keynote speaker, receiver of the Cultural Medal at the Korea Entertainment Awards, rapper and producer RM has released his latest solo mixtape or, for the more intimate, his latest solo playlist. The rapper’s latest project overflows with minimalism and sentimental attachment, an ode to his previous releases and supporters. It fails to lack in personality, being stylized from its cover to song titles and lyric videos. It’s personal and intimate, being released as a playlist rather than a mixtape. In fact, RM made sure to scratch out the word “mixtape” from the tracklist art. Song titles are not capitalized, there is no elaborate cover art with a highly produced image of the artist. “mono.” could’ve been burned on a CD by your best friend as a gift to you so that you feel a little less lonely.
Playlists have long been described as the most heartfelt gift from and to music lovers. And so this is RM’s love letter to himself, his listeners, and his journey. As the title itself suggests, “mono.” raises the discourse on being alone, belonging to only one; however, it lacks melancholy and passiveness. “mono.” brings its listeners a comfort in being alone, in recognizing that the worst might come but it will pass. RM provides extreme amenity for the lonely hearts in acknowledging that loneliness is not so condemning, afterall.
The opening track, “tokyo,” sounds like what you’d hear when waking up on a gloomy Sunday morning after a long night of rain. It’s soothing, reflective, and deeply personal. Listeners get a glimpse of RM’s own image of himself, setting the tone for the playlist. It provides inquiries lacking resolutions. As gloomy is it might be, the track is not sad. It doesn’t welcome unwanted feelings, it opens a healthy probe on one’s adulthood. It’s worth noting that the track was produced with Supreme Boi, producer at Big Hit Entertainment and a member of BTS’s first line-up.
seoul (prod. HONNE)
“seoul” is the perfect ode to big cities. The lyrics describe frustrations and comforts brought by the city, the familiarities of being home, but the annoyances that seem inevitable with big buildings and car jams. With the continuous theme of adulthood, the city of Seoul has changed him; it has made his youth seem even more distant. As a Brazilian in her twenties living in New York City, “seoul” brought me to tears quicker than it should have. Why does Seoul sound like “soul,” why does a city have a soul, why is it so vibrant yet distant, why does a city have the power to make me feel like myself? Love and hate become the same word when even attempting to understand the effects a city has on understanding yourself in its appalling familiarities. RM perfectly describes what Seoul feels like to him, as it is now his home and the place he goes back to to feel like himself.
This track is a personal favorite. It does help that the lyric video feels like a The 1975 production, straight out of A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships. “moonchild” is the perfect definition of being happy while being sad. The song assures its listeners that while we are born to be sad and must suffer to be glad, the moon will rise and then you will shine. It invites me into a brief inquiry of my own sadness, an understanding and acceptance that hardships are ever present and might seem everlasting, but my time, too, will come.
badbye (ft. eAeon)
Standing as the interlude to the two halves of the playlist, “badbye” might be the only truly sad, agonizing song on the playlist. Minimalism reaches its peak with the song’s simple verses. “badbye” is the one song that provides no light at the end of the tunnel, and in doing so, it might just be the most important song on the playlist. The track is the ultimate recognition of sorrow. In a collection of songs dealing with loneliness and realizations, a farewell, and one that isn't happy or good, "badbye" is dark and the much needed track that acknowledges sadness as valid and present.
If the first half of the playlist was a reflection on the sorrows of loneliness and the changing and passing of time, the second half starts with the ultimate recognition self-love with “uhgood.” While the track comes across as cheerless, it chants, “All I need is me.” It’s the recognition that loneliness isn’t truly lonely after all. This is that track in which the rapper truly invites the listener to begin their own journey of self discovery and find in themselves the person they want to be. It’s all about feeling like you’re good enough, because if RM says so, I am not the one to argue against it.
everythingoes (ft. NELL)
With the second-to-last track, "everythingoes," the playlist begins to rise to its climax. Even if not listening to the song itself, the message is already explicit through its title. RM's rap is soothing and calming; he assures that while it might seem like there is no positive side, it will pass. “everythingoes” is the beginning of the conclusion: it’s the acceptance that those days in which nothing is bright, nothing is positive, everything still goes, the rain eventually will come if we allow for life to take its path. The song, however, stands as a contradiction, soothing its listeners through its calming melody and arrangements.
RM takes a different stance on rain than the clichêd theme that it will eventually wash your sorrows away. The rain is present; it imposes itself on you, you can’t ignore it, and when it’s here, it’s present and uncontrollable. Loneliness isn’t so lonely if you acknowledge it, much like the rain. In this track, RM paints the rain as a friend, one free of judgement and ever-present, that even on the loneliest days can make you feel a little less alone in the world.