BTS has proven their cleverness by nurturing their music with rich, profound lyrics, and meaningful music videos. Since the very beginning, the septet treated music as intellectual works of art. Among many BTS masterpiece, here is a list of BTS songs that were heavily inspired by literary works, especially books.
Literary Works and Books that Inspired BTS Songs
1. Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart by James R. Doty
‘Into the Magic Shop’ is a non-fiction memoir of James R. Doty (or Jim), who learned life lessons from Ruth, a woman he met at a magic shop. Ruth opened his heart and mind and inspired him to change his fate from a poor boy to become a neurosurgeon.
@BTS_twt @jamesrdotymd @N2themagicshop #intothemagicshop @BBMAs thank you for using my book as #inspiration 방탄소년단의 새 음반 LOVE YOURSELF 轉 ‘Tear’ 에 중요한 모티브를 제공한 서적인 < 닥터 도티의 삶을 바꾸는 마술 가게 (원제 Into The Magicshop)>— James R. Doty, M.D. (@jamesrdotymd) May 21, 2018
The book inspired BTS maknae to produce ‘Magic Shop’ for the ‘Love Yourself: Tear’ album. The song encourages fans to open their hearts when they are hurt and that they’re not alone.
2. Demian by Hermann Hesse
BTS second full studio album, ‘WINGS,’ was heavily inspired by Hermann Hesse’s book, ‘Demian.’ The 1919 novel tells a story of a boy who fluctuates between the ‘world of light’ and ‘world of illusion.’
Demian’s influence is not only on the lyrics but also on the jacket photos, trailers, and music videos. Furthermore, the most noticeable influence is in quotes and scenes about realms and temptation in the ‘Blood, Sweat, & Tears’ MV.
3. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
BTS leader, RM, is known as a book lover, and one of his favorite authors seems to be Haruki Murakami. Therefore, it’s no surprise Haruki Murakami’s books inspire BTS lyrics. This 2002 novel follows a runaway teenage boy and an old man who can talk to cats.
The lyrics of ‘Butterfly’ reflect one of the two plots in Murakami’s ’Kafka on the Shore.’
‘I don’t know if this is reality or a dream,
my Kafka on the shore,
don’t go to those woods over there.’
4. The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula K. Le Guin
BTS ‘Spring Day’ linked us back to the 1973 short story about the utopian city of Omelas. In the story, a child must live in misery who lives in a filthy basement in exchange for the town’s happiness. Once the truth comes to the surface, many people accept it as a necessary evil and keep living in Omelas. However, the others walk away, and no one knows where they go.
If we pay attention to ‘Spring Day’ MV, BTS includes a neon ‘Omelas’ sign. Furthermore, many ARMYs believe that Jungkook is the ‘child,’ while the others are ‘the ones who walk away.’
5. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
Another book by Haruki Murakami that inspired BTS song is ‘1Q84.’ The story takes place in Tokyo, in the year 1Q84, a fictionalized 1984 that is in parallel with the ‘real’ one.
The international best-seller book loosely ties into the hidden track of ‘Love Yourself: Her.’ However, the most vivid inspiration is in the lyrics of ‘Sea,’ where BTS hint at some places in the dystopian novel’s universe.
‘I see ocean, I see desert
I see the world
Everything, same thing
6. The Owl Service by Alan Garner
‘The Owl Service’ is a 1967 fantasy novel about a pair of step-siblings who discover plates with flowery patterns at their home. The plates can turn into magical owls when traces onto paper. The kids uncover the mystery of the owl service and become trapped within a local legend, playing roles in a tragic story that has repeated for generations.
Although BTS didn’t officially mention Alan Garner’s book as their inspiration, fans began to make connections after spotting the words ‘Owl Service’ in one of the jacket photos of the ‘You Never Walk Alone’ album. The ‘Owl Service’ characters are trapped in a never-ending cycle, like BTS in their interconnecting music video plotlines that began with ‘I NEED U.’
7. The Pied Piper, a German Folklore
One of the literary works that inspired BTS lyrics is the German folklore, ‘The Pied Piper.’ It tells a story of a pied piper who pipes the village free of rats. The pied piper then calls the village’s children with his music when the villagers refuse to pay him for his work.
BTS ‘Pied Piper’ invites listeners to escape their everyday lives by listening to BTS music. And yes, the song was exclusively written for ARMYs!
8. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The 1943 French novella inspired BTS Jimin for his solo, ‘Serendipity.’ The story follows a boy who falls in love with a rose but doesn’t know how to show his love for her.
In ‘Serendipity,’ Jimin is the little prince who sings about his love for his own ‘rose.’ The whimsical space imagery surrounding Jimin in ‘Serendipity’ MV reflects the novella’s setting.
Meanwhile, ‘The Truth Untold’ was also inspired by ‘The Little Prince’ in terms of the similarities in capability as the prince.
9. Flower by Kim Chunsu
The poetic masterpiece by the late Kim Chunsu has been famous over the years. And BTS Jimin brought the lines in his intro for ‘Serendipity.’ It tells about the wish that one has to become someone else’s flower to validate their existence.
10. Jung’s Map of the Soul: An Introduction by Murray Stein
Murray Stein’s book is a psychological book that is easy to understand. It describes the work of Carl Jung, who theorized and gave ideas about the human psyche and its various elements.
BTS ‘Map of the Soul: Persona’ was inspired by Murray Stein’s book, with the name of the album directly deriving from the book title, ‘Jung’s Map of the Soul’.
11. Anpanman by Takashi Yanase
Well, it’s pretty different from the other literary works that inspired BTS songs. But, let’s admit it, BTS ‘Anpanman’ brings back so many memories from our childhood. ‘Anpanman’ is a literal adaptation of the famous superhero comic book (and turned into an anime) of the same name. The uplifting lyrics and music, as well as the happy choreography, bring the hero bun man alive again!
Now as we are waiting for BTS new album, what literary works or books will inspire them this time?
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