“Dynamite” is cheerful, bright, and contagious — but in a good way. That’s one reason I decided to record a version of it. We could all use a little joy, and this song is full of joy.
I also like the ESL poetry of the lyrics — a series of common English-language phrases, many of them encouraging commands, but perhaps not quite arranged in the order that a native speaker of English would place them. Well, perhaps. There are certainly many English pop-music lyrics far more curious than BTS’ lyrics.
I love that it’s a song to begin your day, and that milk is involved. The first verse begins: “Shoes on, get up in the morn’ / Cup of milk, let’s rock and roll.” In the video, Jungkook actually drinks a glass of milk. Which reminds me: if you haven’t seen BTS’ original video, you really should watch before you read any more of this.
There’s so much to enjoy in the video — choreography, fashion, androgyny, both recognizable sets (attic bedroom, record store) and hyperreal ones (those rainbows near the end).
The video affirms the group’s portrayal in BTS’ many interviews and public appearances: these fellows are all friends. They enjoy each other’s company. Indeed, they get along so well that they’ve quarantined together during the pandemic.
The song itself is four-chord disco reminiscent of the Bee Gees in the 1970s. OK, an eight-chord song if you count the modulation up a step near the song’s end. But its pop sound is familiar and friendly.
In case you haven’t noticed, one theme of my Plague Songs series is difference. R&B, rock, disco, country, punk, jazz, folk, gospel, pop, and now… K-Pop! Fortunately for me, this song has English-language lyrics. (I’ve attempted a song in German, but I cannot speak any Korean.)
Also, a series of Plague Songs should have at least one song released in the year of the plague — 2020. And now that we have a vaccine, this particular lyric has become welcome encouragement and good advice: “I got the medicine. So, you should keep your eyes on the ball.” That is, since the vaccine now exists but is not yet widely available, you should stay vigilant. Keep your eyes on the ball by social-distancing, wearing a mask, washing your hands. We’re very nearly there. Just a few more months.
So. Hang in there. Keep dancing. Drink your milk. Take care of yourself and others.
You may enjoy some of BTS’ many performances of this song, such as:
… at the VMAs (Aug. 30)
… with Jimmy Fallon and The Roots (Sept. 28)
… on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon (Oct. 2)
… on GMA3 (Nov. 23)
… on The Late Show with James Corden (Nov. 25)
And there are countless cover versions. I didn’t realize how many covers there were until after I recorded my version and did a quick YouTube search.
New Hope Club. (I wish I had seen their arrangement before attempting mine! Much, much better than what I did.)
Rise Up Children’s Choir
One Voice Children’s Choir
Oh, and did I mention the dance covers? Because there are lots of great videos of people dancing… all over the world.
Searching for “Dynamite Cover” or “Dynamite Dance Cover” sends you into a vast YouTube vortex from which it is difficult to return. (You have been warned….)
Want to perform a song but need ideas? The playlist below will give you many places to start.
- Plague Songs
- Sing. Sing a Song. #PlagueSongs, no. 1 (17 Mar. 2020). Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.”
- Do Not Touch Your Face. #PlagueSongs, no. 2 (24 Mar. 2020). The Weeknd’s “I Can’t Feel My Face.”
- The Bright Side. #PlagueSongs, no. 3 (31 Mar. 2020). Monty Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” Also the first post where I began my practice of using a lyric as the title.
- It’s later than you think. #PlagueSongs, no. 4 (7 Apr. 2020). Prince Buster’s “Enjoy Yourself.” (Also: the discovery that I cannot play ska.)
- There doesn’t seem to be anyone around. #PlagueSongs, no. 5 (14 Apr. 2020). Tommy James and the Shondells’ “I Think We’re Alone Now.”
- Be an optimist instead. #PlagueSongs, no. 6 (21 Apr. 2020). The Kinks’ “Better Things.”
- Kick at the darkness. #PlagueSongs, no. 7 (28 Apr. 2020). Bruce Cockburn’s “Lovers in a Dangerous Time.”
- So far away, but still so near. #PlagueSongs, no. 8 (5 May 2020). Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own.”
- If you just call me. #PlagueSongs, no. 9 (12 May 2020). Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me.”
- In the end, they’ll be the only ones there. #PlagueSongs, no. 10 (19 May 2020). Hanson’s “MMMBop,” and a few chords from Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
- No matter how I struggle and strive. #PlagueSongs, no. 11 (25 May 2020). Hank Williams’ “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive.”
- Love. #PlagueSongs, no. 12 (1 June 2020). Medley of Nick Lowe’s “(What’s so Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love, and Understanding” and the O’Jays’ “Love Train,” with brief snippets of the Staple Singers’ “This Train” and the Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love.”
- This is the time. #PlagueSongs, no. 13 (9 June 2020). Lou Reed’s “There Is No Time.”
- My neighbor and my friend. #PlagueSongs, no. 14 (16 June 2020). Fred Rogers’ “Won’t You Be My Neighbor.”
- If you’re lost, I’m right behind. #PlagueSongs, no. 15 (23 June 2020). Everything But the Girl’s “We Walk the Same Line.”
- Live to see another day. #PlagueSongs, no. 16 (30 June 2020). The Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive.”
- Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives, and I decline. #PlagueSongs, no. 17 (7 July 2020). R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine).”
- Someday we’ll find it. #PlagueSongs, no. 18 (14 July 2020). Kermit the Frog’s “Rainbow Connection.”
- Can’t control my brain. #PlagueSongs, no. 19 (21 July 2020). Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated.”
- 4’33” #PlagueSongs, no. 20. AND 43 notes on silence, time, and the corona era (28 July 2020). John Cage’s 4’33”, plus an essay inspired by the piece.
- Mann, wer hätte das gedacht, dass es einmal soweit kommt #PlagueSongs, no. 21 (4 Aug. 2020). Nena’s “99 Luftballons.”
- Banish sadness and strife. #PlagueSongs, no. 22 (11 Aug. 2020). “Look for the Silver Lining,” composed by Jerome Kern and Buddy DeSylva. My version is based on the Chet Baker recording.
- Don’t write yourself off yet. #PlagueSongs, no. 23 (27 Oct. 2020). Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle.”
- What’s that sound? #PlagueSongs, no. 24 (3 Nov. 2020). The Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth.”
- Go tell that long-tongued liar. #PlagueSongs, no. 25 (17 Nov. 2020). A song known variously as “Run on for a Long Time” and “God’s Gonna Cut You Down.”
- What Is Your COVID-19 Routine?