Nikita Punia, Mumbai, Maharashtra
Flow in Psychology is defined as a state of mind in which one becomes fully immersed in the enjoyment of their activity and forgets about their surroundings. Sea, by BTS, has that very feeling of taking you into a state of flow and, for just a little over five minutes, rendering you feeling lifted. As a hidden track of BTS’ discography, Sea remains something private and personal between BTS and their fans, ARMYs. This song is fondly referred by ARMYs as the “hidden track” due to its nature of being quietly included on the physical CD version of Love Yourself: Her; in 2017, as for those who need to hear these words will find this song eventually and enjoy this lyrical and metaphorical masterpiece curated by BTS.
The song starts with the sound of sea waves crashing against the shore and the slow guitar riff makes its way to our ears. To match the uniquely sympathetic guitar, BTS’ main vocalist Jungkook harmonises with the melody for the next few seconds. In line with the group’s several other songs, this too starts with the leader, RM’s rap which immediately lets you feel that it is going to be a comforting and strength-giving song; even if you aren’t well versed in Korean.
In his verse, the rapper can be heard expressing the thoughts of someone who has lost his way and doesn’t know whether the image in front of him is that of an ocean or a desert. By now ARMYs know the significance of using the metaphors of the sea and the desert in BTS discography as both these elements are intricately weaved up in their music and message throughout years. His words talk about a phase of life we all go through; where we feel uncertainty and feel the pangs of unexplained sadness. But at the same time, we also experience small rays of hope now and then.
This is most evident when J-hope, the other rapper of the group mentions the words ‘hope’ and ‘despair’ which are used to represent the sea and the desert respectively. They talk of enduring life’s seemingly endless hardships, believing deep down that they will make it.
The inspiration behind the lyrics is revealed in Suga’s verse. If you’re an ARMY you’d already be aware of the fact that BTS’s television debut in the music industry happened because of an idol group that didn’t show up that particular day for their TV broadcast show and BTS was asked to fill in their spot. While making their way to the well-deserved pedestal that they are on now, they had to face an immense amount of criticism and degrading comments from the public as well as the industry. The versatile rapper, Suga aptly fits his feelings in a line that goes, “They say these kids can’t make it (big) because their agency is too small.” He further raps about the time when they had minimum resources which caused all seven of them to share a single room.
During those tiring training days when they thought that they will forever remain insignificant, they still strived to achieve their dream. The feeling of not being able to grasp the mirage in the desert, they prayed for that to not be their ultimate reality; and due to their persistent efforts, they were able to reach the mirage which once felt too far for them.
Pros and cons exist simultaneously, and it was the same case for the group. Once they began making their place in the industry, the unforeseen reality of becoming celebrities and public figures dawned upon them. It isn’t a hidden fact that artists who get a lot of love and support from their fans during shows and on social media tend to not only feel intimidated but also empty at times. Once again Suga’s verse gives way to this very impression, “In the end, we reached the mirage, and it became our reality. The scary desert became the ocean with our blood, sweat and tears…but why is there this fear in between the happiness? Because we know too well that this place is a desert.” We get a glimpse of the downside and the sadness that fame brings along with it and, it is also reflected in the line, “For idols there is no scope for rest, ever,” and this again becomes a reason for their continued despair.
“Where there is hope, there is always hardship,” is a sentence that one would most likely hear in the reverse order from their peers as a motivational quote, but BTS purposefully made it the chorus because they wanted to talk about the amount of effort it takes to not only reach the top but also remain there. It is not just hard work and practice that is required; one must have a strong mind and the ability to maintain composure under all circumstances.
Sea is the perfect representation of a conflicted and realistic state of mind, allowing you to feel determined and embrace any challenge that comes your way, as you flow with its encapsulating aura. In RM’s words, “Sea is more special, more closer, to our true hearts.” As there are several fan-made available versions of the song since it is a CD only song; you can still listen to it here: https://on.soundcloud.com/RyiT1ANUMf2SkUtc9