BTS “I NEED U” (Original Version) Music Video Analysis
I was actually going to do a music video analysis post for “피 땀 눈물 (Blood Sweat & Tears),” but I realized that I should probably watch all the Wings short films before doing so. I started to watch the first short film, “Begin,” but right before I began writing the analysis post for the short film, I had my second realization and reached the conclusion that I was probably missing out on a lot of connections because I never analyzed the music videos from BTS’s The Most Beautiful Moment in Life concept series…
… Which is why I’m now currently writing this analysis post for “I NEED U”! 😄
I’ve decided that if I’m going to analyze BTS’s music videos, then I might as well do so from the beginning of their 花樣年華 series. 😉
So, without further ado,
Let’s start analyzing! 😄
Connections to the Japanese Version of Blood Sweat & Tears
Since the Japanese version of “피 땀 눈물 (Blood Sweat & Tears)” recently came out, scenes from “血、汗、涙 (Japanese Ver.)” are really fresh in my mind. Immediately after watching “I NEED U (Original Ver.),” I found two distinct connections between the music videos.
First of all, in “I NEED U,” after about a minute of introductory scenes, we get the black backdrop with 花樣年華 written in front and white flower petals falling from above.
Before Rap Monster and Jin’s ending scene in “血、汗、涙 (Japanese Ver.),” the same black backdrop with white flower petals are shown, but with one difference: 花樣年華 doesn’t appear.
I think this is a close-circle ending for BTS’s 花樣年華 concept series. They started off the series with “I NEED U,” and now they’re wrapping it up with “血、汗、涙 (Japanese Ver.)” to perhaps create a clean slate for whatever new album and concept they might be releasing this year. The fact that the closing scene in “血、汗、涙 (Japanese Ver.)” doesn’t contain the title of their concept series suggests that, for BTS’s music, 花樣年華 is over — gone from sight.
It’s interesting for me to note that the flower petals are white because in the Chinese culture, white symbolizes mourning, funerals, or death. I know in Korean culture, however, the color white is often associated with purity and innocence. If we’re going with white = death, then the fact that the flower petals are white would mean a lot of sense because they emphasize the end of the 花樣年華 period.
Or if we’re going with white = innocence, perhaps it hints that innocence persisted throughout BTS’s journey and that childish innocence will stay with them forever, even after their 花樣年華 period?
We shall find an answer to that by the end of the 花樣年華 music video analysis series! 😄
*fist bump* 👊
In addition, I want to take note of the transition that happens between the scene before the 花樣年華 clip and the 花樣年華 scene itself. Right before “花樣年華” comes up, we have a scene with Jimin holding a piece of burning paper. Right when he drops the sheet of paper, the video goes to the 花樣年華 clip. As a result, the falling petals give the illusion that they’re coming from Jimin’s falling piece of paper.
Keep that in mind when you read the section on why so many things are set on fire in the music video! 👍
The Color White
One color that really stands out throughout the music video for “I NEED U” is the color white. In all the scenes where Jin is by himself, white surrounds him: he’s wearing white, interacting with a white lily, and in a white room.
I mentioned above that, according to my research, the color white is often associated with purity and innocence for the Korean culture. I couldn’t find anything confirming that white = death and funerals online in terms of within the Korean culture, but I do have a Korean friend, and she confirmed that white symbolizes death/funerals in Korea as well. The fact that the color white in Korean culture can be seen in these two main ways — purity/innocence or funerals/death — already makes analyzing this music video very complex. Which one do I go with?
(Now I understand why there are so many theories online regarding BTS’s music videos… 😶)
I’ve decided that I’m going to use both symbolisms of the white color for this analysis, because for me, it makes sense. Jin, by wearing white, seems to appear the most innocent and pure member within the group, especially in contrast with V, who murders his father. After V kills his father, Jin leaks a tear, almost as if he is burdened by the other’s loss of innocence.
If we’re going to use white symbolizing both death and innocence in this music video, then Jin himself would symbolize the death of the innocence of the other members. Perhaps he surrounded himself with white to protect his innocence, but instead, his innocence is actually slipping from his grasp as the story goes on. The loss of everyone else’s innocence as they mature consequently causes Jin to lose his own innocence, which he had kept for longer than any of the others as the oldest member of the group.
When I researched what white flowers were popular in Korean culture, I found that white chrysanthemum are used for funerals, but Jin’s flower isn’t a white chrysanthemum — it’s a white lily, symbolizing purity, but lilies are the flower most associated with funerals, according to this article. Once again, we have the blend of white symbolizing death and innocence at the same time.
There is a point in the music video where Jin puts down white lily petals on the ground within a small patch of sunlight. This act could mean that Jin is putting his source of innocence away, and by putting the flower petals in the sun, he is making that visible to the other members so they can see he wants to join them in maturing.
However, not much later in the music video, Jin is shown to be standing in a dark room with a white lily blooming on his shirt.
This suggests that even though Jin tried to throw away innocence, it still blooms within him. It is not his time to throw away his innocence — yet. The continued prevalence of the color white for Jin hints at the fact that something within Jin is dying (his purity/innocence), though it’s not completely gone yet.
Another character closely associated with the color white in his solo scenes is Jimin, who appears in a pristine bathroom with a bathtub filled with milky white water.
The white in his scenes indicate that Jimin was trying to drown himself — however, it’s clear he doesn’t by the end of the music video. As a result, the white also explains why he couldn’t drown himself due to the remaining purity and innocence within him.
A Connection Regarding Motels
Here is another connection regarding “I NEED U” and “血、汗、涙”: motels. The room Suga appears in for “I NEED U” appears to be a motel room, as indicated by the “高野 MOTEL” sign outside the window.
Similarly, in “血、汗、涙,” Jungkook and Rap Monster are shown sitting in a room with a motel sign in the outside. I don’t know how this connection is significant right now, but I’m sure I’ll be able to figure it out by the end of this analysis series.
In Cantonese, 高野 would roughly translate to something like “high thing” in English. If I put 高野 into Google translate from Korean to English, however, it translates to “Takano,” which is a Japanese surname meaning “high field.” Once again, I’m not sure how this is significant (or if it even matters to the story), but I’ll nevertheless take note of it. 😊
I think most people already know about the member pairings for the music videos, but I want to find out why the members are paired up as they are. “I NEED U” definitely feels like an introductory video — after watching it, I feel like there’s more to the story. In this video, all the member pairings were introduced, but not enough happened for me to determine why the pairings are significant.
The member pairing with the most tying them together for this particular music video would be Rap Monster and V.
If there’s one thing I’m positive about, it’s that the members are paired together as so because they are supposed to compliment or help each other in some way throughout this concept series. This is especially apparent for Rap Monster and V around 4:20 into the video. At that point in the video, short clips of V having fun with Rap Monster play in the midst of the scenes with V killing his father. This contrast of V having fun versus losing his childhood innocence by killing his abusive father strengthens the bond between Rap Monster and V, as V now associates childhood innocence and purity with Rap Monster, and the loss of it with himself.
Suga and Jungkook are also a pair, as well as Jimin and J-Hope. Not much is given about their relationship as a pair other than the fact that they are happy when together and appear quite depressed when alone. *tear* 🙁
Idea of Two Different Worlds Happening
As I watched the music video, it became quite clear to me that there seemed to be two different worlds: one being reality, where all the members seemed to be suffering in their own lives; the other being either their imagination of their memories, where all of the members are having fun together.
It’s important to note that in the happy memories/dreams scenes, the members are interacting with Jin by touching his shoulder, walking besides him, and even going to a restaurant to eat with him. (Eat Jin on vApp everyone! 😂) However, in the “reality” scenes, Jin is alone with the color white surrounding him. In reality, none of the members are happy, while in their memories of all the BTS members hanging out together, they are laughing and smiling — perhaps they are remembering a time when they all had untainted innocence and purity, both of which is disappearing as they mature.
In the memories, J-Hope ends up dumping his pills in the fire. If that was his reality, he would not have been later shown to wake up from where he fainted on the bridge. The purpose of the memories/dreams is to show the stark contrast of the memories/dreams of the members’ past with the present conditions of their lives, where they all seem miserable and lost in life.
Significance of Jin Driving
For a few scenes in this music video, Jin is shown to drive a car with J-Hope, Jimin, and possibly Suga and Jungkook as the passengers. Rap Monster and V stand outside as Jin drives in circles around them. The passengers of the car are all shown to be laughing and enjoying the present, including Jin, who is in the driver’s seat.
It’s important to note that Jin is the driver in the “Run” music video too. Perhaps this could symbolize that he’s trying to drive all the members back to the way they were in the past, all innocence and fun? Or it could also mean Jin is like a taxi driver: the members tell him where they want to go, and he needs to drive them to that particular location, even if it means a place where they will lose their childhood innocence.
I can’t confirm this now, but I will definitely have a clearer idea after I analyze “Run.”
What are they setting fire to?
In addition, throughout the music video, fire appears many, many times — and many things are set on fire in the video. The flower petals that Jin sets on the ground are set on fire; Suga sets his own bedroom on fire; J-Hope dumps his pills in fire; and Jimin sets a piece of paper on fire.
Since this is a BTS music video, they can’t just be simply setting fire to objects just for the fun of it — the objects they set on fire most likely means something important to the story they’re trying to convey.
When Jin’s petals are set on fire, I can only think of how Suga is often associated with fire throughout this concept series. Perhaps Suga tried to burn Jin’s innocence, or was a significant factor in Jin wanting to throw away his innocence to join the other members? We later know this didn’t work — the white lily had bloomed on Jin’s shirt, meaning Jin couldn’t throw away his innocence just yet.
There is, however, a contrast between Suga and Jimin — after Suga is shown to play with a lighter, he brings in a literal tank of oil/gasoline and pour it around his room, wanting it to burn even more. However, Jimin seems to burn his piece of paper knowing he won’t get hurt because he can immediately quench the fire with water. Perhaps this indicates Suga’s desire to jump into maturing and learning more about the realities of the world, while Jimin is more reluctant and tentative — like the water present while he plays with fire, Jimin’s character in this series will always have a backup safety plan to jump on if something goes wrong.
One random thing: what in the world is that black box sitting in that indent of the bathroom next to Jimin? I’ve been trying to figure out what it is, but all the shots of it are blurry. Is it a phone? A box of candy? Soap??? 🤔
“I NEED U” vs. “I NEED U” (Original Version)
Okay, and lastly, to wrap this up… Why are the endings different for “I NEED U” and “I NEED U” (Original Version)?
For the end of the original version, the members stare out into the ocean, seemingly excited and happy. The last scene of the music video doesn’t have the members in it — it’s just the wide sea.
From what I know will happen in the later music videos, the sea seems to symbolize the vast world of adulthood, AKA reality. The members are on shore, surrounded by their memories, which give us a glimpse to when they weren’t in the world of adulthood yet and were happily having fun with childhood innocence still very much present in their lives.
However, in the other version of “I NEED U,” the last scene shows the members sleeping in what seems like the garage they were partying in the night before. Maybe this was the day when the members began to fall apart and sink into the problems they are currently shown to be struggling with in their present?
I’m so glad I decided to go back to the beginning of BTS’s The Most Beautiful Moment in Life concept series because I already feel like I’m catching so many more details within the music videos that I overlooked before. My next analysis post will be on “Run,” so look forward to that!
Tell me your theories for “I NEED U” below! Thanks for reading, and I will cya next time! 😄
Want to Read More?
If you like this post, then read…
this post on an amazing book by Maurene Goo about K-dramas + Korean culture,
or this post on thoughts about dreams and growing up!
There’s also another post on what languages I speak + want to learn (including Korean!),
and here’s my start of drawing more Asian characters for diversity.
If you want more BTS, then here’s a list of posts for that: