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What makes BTS’ Permission to Dance an anthem of Hope?

by Clyde Ericson H. Nolasco

video and screenshot from Hybe Labels Youtube Channel

With the inspiration of St. Ignatius of Loyola, who taught us to find God in all things, we do our best to find and encounter Jesus in everything, even in K-pop music.

K-pop music is not new to my ears.

Pre-pandemic, even years before lockdown, my students would encourage me to listen to BTS, Blackpink, Momoland and Twice to name a few. They would always find ways to mention their favorite groups or their “biases” during recitation especially when asked, “Who inspires you?”

I have also heard of the early generation groups like 2NE1, Super Junior, Wonder Girls, Girls Generation and Big Bang. They were dominating the hit charts during their era.

And as I did with the K-drama years ago, I shrugged off the idea of listening to music that I can't understand. That’s actually how I casually reasoned back then.

If not Ben&Ben, Carousel Casualties or Ransom Collective, I listen to .Fun, Lany and the like. Until the pandemic happened.

These days, my go-to playlist on Spotify is either K-pop Daebak or Energy Booster: K-pop. I guess I just dived into a rabbit hole that will not be easy for me to go out of anytime soon.

Permission to Dance

There were a lot of K-pop songs that were released in the past months but one that really made history was BTS’ single “Butter.” It broke world records for "most viewers for the premiere of a video on YouTube with 3.9 million concurrent viewers for its premiere, for the most viewed YouTube music video in 24 hours with 108,200,000 views and for the most viewed YouTube music video in 24 hours by a K-pop group."

Though it may just be a B-side to Butter, their 3rd all-English song “Permission to Dance” or PTD is bringing us another set of excuses to stan the group.

PTD was co-written by Ed Sheeran, an English singer-songwriter who is known for “Shape of You,” “Thinking Out Loud” and a lot more. He was so proud of this song that he even tweeted about it upon its release.

Stop Asian Hate

With snappy lyrics and fun beat, the song speaks of one making a decision to enjoy, to be happy and to dance. It's undeniable that the music video (MV) is also noteworthy to discuss as it sends a lot of positivity to those who are watching it.

This 3-minute summer song is true to K-pop’s signature visuals, from the well-thought-out set, striking graffities, eye-catching colored hair to perfectly coordinated outfits.

The song’s MV championed diversity and inclusivity by featuring people of different ages, statuses and nationalities. We can see kids of different colors being happy together and people of different professions enjoying the company of one another. Many would even say that it is BTS’ subtle way of saying “Stop Asian Hate.”

Sign Language

K-pop is also known for complicated choreography. It is not an easy feat for fans to learn these K-pop moves. Much to the ARMY’s delight, many commented that PTD has the easiest choreography to dance along to. But what was really impressive and remarkable was the inclusion of international sign language.

The World Health Organization (WHO) even commended the K-pop group for this innovation. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tweeted praising BTS’ third English-language track: “Thank you, @BTS_twt, for including sign language in your #PermissiontoDance music video.”

Towards the end, BTS danced featuring the sign language for the words “fun,” “dance” and “peace.”

Thus, makes the song vulnerable and relatable even to those with two left feet and those who are physically challenged.

An Anthem of Hope

PTD’s MV is a preview of, God willing, a not-so-distant future for us. A world that is COVID-free where everyone can go out and mingle with others without wearing face masks and being scared of getting infected by a virus. A world where love is nourished and cultivated. A world where everyone can live peacefully with one another regardless of age, race or profession.

This song summarizes our hopes and prayers.

“It is not by sidestepping or fleeing from suffering that we are healed, but rather by our capacity for accepting it, maturing through it and finding meaning through union with Christ, who suffered with infinite love.” ― Pope Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi

In his encyclical, Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI reminds us that suffering is part of our journey as people of God and that the only way out is by carrying our cross, being crucified and waiting for our own resurrection. Like Jesus Himself, the good pope encourages us to endure the pains and pangs of life with faith that soon everything will be alright and will return in glory.

As we sing along with BTS, we continue to hope and pray that health protocols, lockdowns and vaccination efforts will “permit us to dance” again within the foreseeable future.

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