An In-Depth Look at BTS’ PROOF CD 1, from an Emotional Beginning to a New Ending
Nine years is a long time for K-pop groups. With how in-demand they are for music—releasing two or sometimes three EPs/albums a single year—any group is bound to have quite a few songs. Throughout BTS’ career, the group has released more than 200 songs total (including solo work, collaboration tracks, and other soundtracks).
BTS’ newest album PROOF brings together both fan favorites and chosen songs from the members of BTS themselves. In this blog, we will dive deeper into the songs on PROOF CD 1, which has a total of nineteen tracks.
PROOF CD 1: Track Breakdown
Of the nineteen songs on this list, all but one of them has had an official music video. Though PROOF CD 1 doesn’t contain any of the songs specifically chosen by the members, each song on this album has meant something to them and fans alike. They are all also the title tracks of their albums.
1. “Born Singer” – Original Release: July 11, 2013
The first song to kick off PROOF CD 1 is “Born Singer.”
About a month after the group’s debut, BTS released an adapted song. “Born Singer” has the original audio of J.Cole’s song “Born Sinner,” which had come out shortly beforehand. The group wrote their own lyrics and changed the song into their own.
Carrying a heavier message of chasing your dreams, the group sings lyrics of their battle to debut and fight against those who still looked down on them. In particular, the three rappers (RM, SUGA, and j-hope) have lyrics that include both emotional ties to the fans and things they remember from the past.
In SUGA’s verse, some of his lyrics translate to “I can handle it cause you’re supporting me / I can stand the pain cause I can hear shouting my name.” In RM’s verse, “Maybe I’ll let you down / I was afraid of making my people down / but I straighten my shoulders and make my debut.” And, finally, in j-hope’s verse, “Remember the day we’ve been through / three years, we were as one / that extremely hard days make me wet / after the stage, drop the tears.”
This song means a lot to fans in particular after the group’s performance of it in 2015 and 2017. For both stages, the group stands on a rotating circle on stage—they either face each other or face the crowd as they rotate.
2. “No More Dream” – Original Release: June 11/13, 2013 (Debut Song)
The next song on PROOF CD 1 is BTS’ debut song “No More Dream.”
Released a couple days before their debut album—2 Cool 4 Skool—this song introduced the members and packed a powerful punch.
As their debut song, it needed to match the meaning the group would have. In the 2013 Kiss the Radio interview the group did, member j-hope explained that their name and general concept were created with the thought of being a shield for adolescents who faced oppression and discrimination. They wanted to be a group that others found comfort in—this meant producing songs with deeper meanings.
“No More Dream” is a song dedicated to the kids who don’t necessarily have a dream, the ones that are pushed to follow the dreams of others or do things they’re “supposed” to according to their parents. This song is meant to speak to them and tell them they’re not the only ones without dreams.
Being the group’s debut song, it means quite a bit to them. It was the beginning of BTS, the beginning of their entire career and the start of these past nine years. When they first released this song, they had no idea they would accomplish so much in these past nine years. That makes “No More Dream” that much more fitting to come next on PROOF CD 1.
3. “N.O.” – Original Release: September 10, 2013
Later in their debut year, the group released their first mini-album O! RUL8,2? with the title track “N.O.”
While still in the hip-hop genre, the group completely swapped their album colors. Whereas 2 Cool 4 Skool was black with gold, this album was white with red.
Much like “No More Dream,” this song tackles the difficulty adolescents face when having no particular dream. This song in particular rebels against the school system—in the sense that kids are made to be “studying machines” and have to be number one to get the approval of their parents.
The biggest factor of this song is to push against the ideals pushed onto them by adults—the ones who demand them to have dreams, to be number one, and to be better than everyone else. It’s another song meant to bring comfort to adolescents and push BTS’ hip-hop concept.
This song signaled the group’s first official comeback. While not necessarily one of the most popular title tracks, it’s definitely a song people still listen to when they’re frustrated with the box they’re placed in by society. This earns it a spot on PROOF CD 1.
4. “상남자 (Boy In Luv)” – Original Release: February 11, 2014
The next track on PROOF CD 1 is “상남자 (Boy In Luv).”
This song was originally released as the title track on BTS’ second mini-album Skool Luv Affair. This song, and album, take a slightly different approach compared to the last two songs we mentioned.
Veering slightly from the hard-hitting hip-hop sound, “Boy In Luv” is exactly what you expect it to be. It’s a love song of sorts, one where the boys talk about how much they care about this girl and all of the confusing feelings that come with that. The music video also has the boys singing their lines to said girl (as she both ignores them and walks away from them).
Most noticeably, this song is pretty popular amongst ARMY because it’s what led us to getting the later track “Boy With Luv.” And the bad boy charm of it all… fans couldn’t resist falling for the group’s charm even more.
Fun fact, this song actually leads us to a future song—“Boy With Luv” is a different take on this song years after this was released. This title track no doubt is one we needed to have on PROOF CD 1.
5. “Danger” – Original Release: August 19, 2014
BTS’ first official full-length album came out at the end of 2014. Dark & Wild featured a total of fourteen songs with the title track “Danger.”
This song continues on with the theme from “Boy In Luv” as the bad boy love song.
In the song, the group sings/raps about a push and pull relationship.
Besides “Danger,” Dark & Wild actually brought quite a few classic songs ARMY love. This includes their tacks “Let Me Know,” “Rain,” and “여기 봐 (Look Here).” This entire album shows a different side to BTS—they take up more singing parts and expand their ranges. Quite loved, Jimin’s high notes in “Let Me Know” are still shown throughout the fandom as the member’s versatile voice.
“Danger” is tough, gritty, and mixed with a little love, making it the perfect moment of BTS’ history to include in PROOF CD 1. It’s one of the past songs from BTS that many fans still gravitate toward today, and it comes from the very first full-length album BTS released. That alone makes this addition to this anthology album important.
6. “I Need U” – Original Release: April 29, 2015
The sixth song on PROOF CD 1 is one everyone expected to be there. “I Need U,” from BTS’ third mini-album The Most Beautiful Moment in Life pt. 1, is the song of all songs. It’s a song that marked a change in BTS and started the path they’re on today.
The Most Beautiful Moment in Life pt. 1 is the first album of the HYYH series (also known as The Most Beautiful Moment in Life series or the Hwa Yang Yeon Hwa series). It’s the second official era of BTS’ career. Their sound changed ever so slightly and their concept adjusted to match.
“I Need U” is a turning point for BTS for many reasons. This song brought the group their first music show number one on May 5, 2015. For the first time since their debut not quite two years before this, the group finally seemed to see the fruit of their labors. This song went on to win the group five total number ones.
Above any other song, this one holds a special place in BTS and fans’ hearts. It means much more than just a title track. No, it’s a song that brought recognition to BTS and finally showed that they were gaining traction on the music scale. ”I Need U” is a classic song and is no doubt one of the most loved songs on PROOF CD 1.
7. “Run” – Original Release: November 30, 2015
The next song on the PROOF CD 1 tracklist is “Run.”
As the title track from The Most Beautiful Moment in Life pt. 2, “Run” is the song that continues the HYYH era. It’s just as emotional and heart-burning as “I Need U.”
“Run” is another moment in BTS’ discography that fans like to look back on. The song itself is amazing (but most BTS songs are…), but the video is what really captures the fans’ attention. If you don’t know, BTS has their own storyline to go along with their videos and songs—though the group has slowly stopped including things from their storyline in recent music videos.
“Run” includes a lot of storyline moments. It seems to be the key piece of storyline from the HYYH era. We won’t get into too many details with the storyline—as most of it is still unknown and has been pretty much left behind in the face of their newer videos—but just know that the HYYH era and “Run” in particular play a big part of it.
After BTS’ success with “I Need U,” they were able to secure three more music show number ones with “Run.” Though it wasn’t more than “I Need U,” it showed that the group was still able to bag some wins. Which was a step in the right direction as compared to not winning any.
8. “불타오르네 (Fire)” – Original Release: May 2, 2016
Closing of the HYYH era is The Most Beautiful Moment in Life: Young Forever compilation album with the title track “Fire.”
Much like a few songs off of the first two albums in this era, “Fire” is an explosive song that makes everything feel a bit like a party (in a good way, though).
Known notoriously for being the song that members love to perform on stage (yes, they still perform parts of it today during the medley section at their concerts… even if Jimin looks so over it when the members say “Fire” is their favorite performance song in interviews), “Fire” is a song that still ignites a passion in fans’ hearts. (Yes, I am trying to fit as many fire-related puns as I can into this section.)
There are a lot of memorable parts to this song, including SUGA’s “불타오르네” at the very beginning and his “용서해줄게” at the end, Jimin’s famous 3:33 dance, and V’s favorite “bow wow wow” lyric. It’s a song meant to pump up fans and spark joy/excitement from the first notes.
“Fire” was an explosive ending to the HYYH era; it signaled a new beginning was coming and the current one was burning out. This song added three more music shows to BTS’ list of accomplishments and the album itself brought BTS their first Daesang award. With “Fire” on PROOF CD 1, this moment in BTS’ career won’t be forgotten that easily.
9. “피 땀 눈물 (Blood Sweat & Tears)” – Original Release: October 10, 2016
The ninth track on PROOF CD 1 is the unforgettable “Blood Sweat & Tears.”
As the group’s second full-length album, Wings is yet another turning point for the group. Not only did they start diving into solo songs within the album, but they started diving into different concepts. “Blood Sweat & Tears” is known for its particularly sexy concept—shirts with low cuts or one extra button left undone, silky fabrics, and smooth choreography.
Wings went on to be a massive point in BTS’ career. First, the album was the best-selling album of 2016 in South Korea—according to the Gaon Chart, it sold over 750,000 copies. Then, the Wings Tour went on to be the biggest for BTS at that time. The Wings Tour was the group’s second official world tour, bringing in around 550,000 fans for forty different shows.
BTS’ first world tour was The Red Bullet Tour, where they played more than twenty different shows but only sang in front of about 80,000 fans. The Wings Tour showed just how much BTS had grown in popularity, having venues double and even triple the size of that on their first world tour.
Wings also brought new content for BTS’ storyline. In a more direct way, the group released individual WINGS Short Films that went along with their solo songs on the album. Each video expressed a part of that member’s backstory in BTS’ overall storyline. PROOF CD 1 would be incomplete if “Blood Sweat & Tears” wasn’t there—it was actually voted by fans (during a special event BTS put out) as one of the top three tracks that were their favorite.
10. “봄날 (Spring Day)” – Original Release: February 13, 2017
Coming in at number ten on the PROOF CD 1 tracklist, we have the queen herself—“Spring Day.”
From the group’s repackaged album You Never Walk Alone, “Spring Day” is not only a long-time favorite of ARMYs but it is also quite the record-breaker. Hence why fans refer to “Spring Day” as the queen… because she simply is.
“Spring Day” includes lyrics about missing someone and trying to reach them. The music video is overlayed with blue tones and the members are alone for a good duration, really hammering down the idea of being alone and longing for someone else.
However, there is another meaning to the song that fans speculate. “Spring Day” was released a few years after the Sewol Ferry incident—an unfortunate event in South Korea’s history that led to the death of more than 100 passengers (a good majority of them high school students). Both the music video and some of the lyrics throughout the song seem to speak about this incident.
If “Spring Day” is the queen, she needs to have a crown, right? While the song hasn’t hit any of the records for most viewed music video in twenty-four hours or best-selling record, “Spring Day” has done what no other Korean song has before. Since its release, “Spring Day” has maintained a spot on the Top 100 Melon Weekly Chart. As of right now, it holds over a five-year record on this chart. For five years, this song has yet to leave the Top 100 Melon chart. That’s insane!
11. “DNA” – Original Release: September 18, 2017
After “Spring Day,” we have the start of a new era. “DNA” is the eleventh track on PROOF CD 1 and the title track of the first Love Yourself series album.
Love Yourself is the fourth era in BTS’ career. It took place from 2017, with the first album Love Yourself: Her, until the end of 2018, with the last album Love Yourself: Answer.
“DNA” is an EDM/pop song that combines powerful dancing beats with a catchy chorus. It’s a sweet love song that talks about their love being in their DNA. The song went on to win the group ten number ones on Korean music shows.
Once the Love Yourself series kicked off, BTS announced they would be launching a campaign with UNICEF called the LOVE MYSELF Campaign. This campaign aimed to fight against abuse and mistreatment toward children and teens. By 2021, the campaign raised an incredible $3.6 million.
BTS is known very well for their positive message and their campaign of loving yourself. “DNA” is the title track that started it all. It’s the first title song from the Love Yourself series and will always signify the beginning of BTS’ love yourself message. The remaining songs on the PROOF CD 1 tracklist definitely see an increase in popularity compared to BTS’ earlier songs because of it.
12. “Fake Love” – Original Release: May 18, 2018
This album has a total of eleven tracks, each rich in meaning and lyrical prowess. Some fan favorites from this album include “134340” (also known as Pluto), “낙원 (Paradise),” and “Magic Shop.”
“Fake Love” brought the sexy concept back from “Blood Sweat & Tears.” However, instead of silk and low-cut shirts, “Fake Love” had harnesses/chains and the familiar bad-boy vibes from BTS’ earlier work.
Overall, this song broke a lot of records for the group at the time. It was the first song for BTS that received a Perfect All-Kill (PAK) on Korean charts—meaning the song reached number one on all of the major Korean charts. “Fake Love” is also the first song of BTS that made it into the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 chart—it peaked at the number ten spot. Finally, “Fake Love” is the first song the group performed at the Billboard Music Awards (BBMAs, 2018). Though it was technically their second American award show performance, this one was at a show where they were also nominated for an award.
“Fake Love” is known for its hard-hitting lyrics—which were about a relationship gone bad—and its insane video—where the members are putting themselves through quite the peculiar location (Jin is in a room that explodes around him, j-hope is laying on a tower of Snickers, Jimin is in a room that starts flooding, and SUGA is in a room that ignites into a ball of flames).
13. “Idol” – Original Release: August 24, 2018
To finish off the Love Yourself series and take the number thirteen spot on the PROOF CD 1 tracklist, we have the trendsetting “Idol.”
Their second compilation album, Love Yourself: Answer, closes off the series with a collection of tracks from the first two albums and seven new songs.
The “Idol” music video depicted a lot of things that K-pop videos get called out for or stereotyped as—videos with random and chaotic imagery, bold colors, and some things that just don’t make sense. With the lyrics being about the group feeling proud over their idol title, BTS kind of made a song to the haters.
It’s well known that 2016~2018 were difficult years for the group to go through. While they were gaining some recognition on the international scale, they weren’t getting the same praise from their own country. Many K-pop fans (of other groups) still didn’t believe BTS’ sales were honest since they came from a small company and many other artists looked down on them because they were “idols.”
The Love Yourself: Answer album debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart and was the best-selling album of 2018 in South Korea. It was also the first Korean album to spend a year on the Billboard 200 chart.
“Idol” is a song that not only shows how proud BTS is to be themselves, but it shows that BTS had overcome those who were putting them down—they were idols, so what? This title track on PROOF CD 1 might seem like one that’s loud and the kind you jump your heart out to, but it means quite a bit more than that when you look a little deeper into what BTS was going through at the time.
14. “작은 것들을 위한 시 (Boy with Luv) (feat. Halsey)” – Original Release: April 12, 2019
Not to be confused with the group’s earlier track “Boy in Luv,” the fourteenth track on PROOF CD 1 is “Boy with Luv,” the title track for their mini-album Map of the Soul: Persona (shortened as MOTS:P).
This song is a collaboration between BTS and Halsey—an American singer the group had made friends with a couple years prior.
MOTS:P is an album that created a bigger movement for BTS in America. Their collaboration with Halsey brought a lot of media attention to them and even got them some radio play (not a whole lot, actually, but more than before… which was nothing).
“Boy with Luv” broke their previous Hot 100 record and debuted at number eight on the chart. They were able to perform this song live with Halsey at the 2019 BBMAs. They also made a guest appearance on Saturday Night Live with this song.
Since BTS and Halsey are such great friends, fans were ecstatic to see them do a song together (it was the first one for them; SUGA later did a song with Halsey for her/their album Manic). Out of the songs on the PROOF CD 1 tracklist, this is the only collaboration.
15. “ON” – Original Release: February 21, 2020
As the song and album that came out right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, “ON” was going to be massive. As the fifteenth song on the PROOF CD 1 tracklist, we should take a moment to remember what BTS had planned for this album.
“ON” was the title track for their fourth full-length album Map of the Soul: 7 (shortened as MOTS:7). Though the track “Black Song” was released first as a special video, “ON” is the main title track of the album.
MOTS:7 was going to be the album of all albums for BTS. Not only was it the number seven—something fans and BTS hold special, as the group has seven members—but it was going to be BTS’ seventh anniversary that year. So they planned to make this album something special.
They had interviews, performances, and special events planned in America, they had a special art concept entwined with this album (it was called CONNECT, BTS—they tried to bridge the gap between art and music), and they had a massive world tour lined up. Unfortunately, promotions and events for this album were cut short when the pandemic hit.
“ON” is a powerhouse song; it has a heavy beat, an anthem feeling, and a keep-going attitude. It was the song for BTS, the one that was going to show how much they could truly do as a group and how far they could go. If the pandemic wouldn’t have happened, who knows how far they could’ve gone with everything they had planned.
16. “Dynamite” – Original Release: August 21, 2020
If “Spring Day” is the queen, then “Dynamite” is the king (at least, in spirit). As the group’s first full-English song, “Dynamite” no doubt has to be on PROOF CD 1’s tracklist.
“Dynamite” was originally released as a single in August. When the group released their seventh mini-album, BE, “Dynamite” was added to the tracklist.
“Dynamite” is another changing point for BTS. As their first all-English track, there were high expectations for it. And, of course, it more than delivered. The song is a funky disco-pop tune that truly just makes you want to get up and dance. Coupled with the fun video, this song was the perfect recipe to make it big internationally.
And make it big it did. “Dynamite” became BTS’ first song to reach the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. And when ARMY found out they could reach this milestone, they just didn’t stop. “Dynamite” stayed in the number one spot for two consecutive weeks and returned to it later for a total of three weeks. Of course, the song still stayed on the chart for multiple weeks—many times in the top ten—it just wasn’t in the number one spot more than those three weeks.
Since “Dynamite” was released as a single first before being added to BE, it was able to be included as a track on PROOF CD 1. This song means a lot to fans and BTS; many “new” ARMY became fans of the group after “Dynamite” played on their local radio station. Without “Dynamite,” there’s no saying what kind of exposure BTS would have had in the US.
17. “Life Goes On” – Original Release: November 20, 2020
“Life Goes On” is a song for those struggling to keep going in the face of the pandemic. For most, life was upended when the pandemic hit—no one could go anywhere, do anything, or see anybody… it was no different for BTS.
BTS’ major tour that year was cancelled. They were no longer able to perform songs from their newest album and they couldn’t just go outside to feel better. Instead, BTS was in lockdown like the rest of us.
BTS has spoken about this briefly in interviews and V-Lives, but it was hard to get through the pandemic for them. For a career such as theirs, which relies heavily on being able to see fans and perform in front of people, they were at a full standstill. “Life Goes On” is a comforting track that’s meant to bring people together (not physically, of course). The boys wrote this song to remind themselves and remind fans that life will still go on even when it seems like it won’t.
As a self-directed album, BE has so many pieces of the members in it. Each member took part in the process of creating this album—from music video directing to photoshoot themes—so it means a lot to them. And it meant even more when ARMY were able to nab the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Life Goes On,” a Korean track rather than an all-English one.
18. “Butter” – Original Release: May 21, 2021
The following year after “Dynamite” was released, BTS released yet another all-English track.
The second-to-last track on PROOF CD 1, “Butter,” is one of the best summer anthems anyone could ever want. It’s smooth like butter, warm to listen to, and quite fun.
Like “Dynamite,” “Butter” was expected to be a big hit on the international scale. I doubt the group knew it would be this big of a powerhouse song, though. “Butter” stayed at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for a total of ten weeks. It not only debuted in the number one spot, but it kept there for seven consecutive weeks.
When “Permission to Dance” came out, “Butter” bumped down to a lower position and traded with “Permission to Dance.” The next week, “Butter” was back in the number one spot. It was the only time in Billboard history that something like this had happened.
“Butter” was another popular song with the international crowd. While “Dynamite” gave BTS some exposure to radio play in America and a multitude of performances, “Butter” seemed to give BTS ten times as much exposure. Everyone loved the song—it was played on radios, in stores, at sports events, and anywhere else you can imagine. The song did a lot for the group as a whole, bringing them more attention and recognition for their talents.
19. “Yet to Come” – Original Release: June 10, 2022
It was released quite literally the other day with the rest of the album and a music video.
If you’ve been a fan of BTS for any length of time, then this song and video no doubt made you a little emotional (I know it did for me). Much like some of their past songs, “Yet to Come” is a song BTS use to tell their story (not their storyline, but the story of them as humans and as artists).
The lyrics mention the pressures of being labeled the best but remain steady on their conviction for doing what they’ve always done: make music. This song details that BTS still hold their passion for music and will continue to make it, as the best for them has yet to come.
And if the lyrical meaning isn’t enough to make emotions go a little crazy, then the imagery of the music video will. The music video itself shows a combination of the members in recreated scenes from their past music videos. From the train car we’ll never forget associated with RM and Jimin’s specific movements from “Spring Day” to the bus from “No More Dream,” there are a ton of hidden moments throughout the video that overlap with things from BTS’ past.
Do you have a favorite track from PROOF CD 1?
I know this was an insanely long list of songs, but these songs mean a lot to BTS and ARMY. By having them on PROOF CD 1, the group is helping fans remember all that BTS has gone through—from their hip-hop beginning to their explosive entrance to the international music scene.
The first CD of their anthology is the journey itself. It shows the group’s growth and their passion.
If you want to read a deeper dive into the other two CDs of PROOF, then keep an eye out on our K-Pop Category. In the next two days, we’ll be releasing blogs for each CD! And be sure to check out the other blogs we’ve written for BTS Week.