BTS – ON (English Translation and Ramblings)

Track 11 of the Map of the Soul: 7 album.

Written by:
Pdogg, RM, August Rigo, Melanie Joy Fontana, Michel ‘Lindgren’ Schulz, Suga, j-hope, Antonina Armato, Krysta Youngs, Julia Ross

 

I haven’t had time to listen to the album carefully yet (curse you, real-life work~!!!), but I got too excited about the lyrics of this song so I had to do this quickly.

 

The song is weirdly straight forward with fairly direct translation to English possible… and yet, subtly not quite the same in English.  Oh, the fun.  I love this stuff. : )

The MV and the official subs are quite good!

 

 


I can’t understand what people are sayin’
Which tune am I supposed to dance to?
This whole line, “which tune am I supposed to dance to” is a common saying in Korea.   The original saying implies people are insisting that he follow their opinion (eg. tune), as well as being inconsistent with the opinions.
Example would be multiple people with different opinions all insisting that BTS do as they say (sometimes impossible if these opinions are opposite).  Another example would be if people think BTS should be one way but when they actually do that, they change their tune and insist that BTS be another way.
With taking each step, the shadow grows another step
When I wake up from sleep, where am I again?
Maybe Seoul, or New York or Paris
The body that reels when I get up
Hmm.. trying to think of the exact word for that unsteadiness/reeling.  It’s like feeling faint and unsteady.

 

Look at my feet, look down
The shadow that resembles me – 
Is this bastard the one that wavers?
Or is it the small tips of my toes?
I really like this part, because RM calls the shadow “이놈/this punk or bastard”…which is kind of friendly diss name that boys call their closest buddies, in an affectionate way.  So it sounds like RM is comfortable enough with his shadow, almost like it’s his buddy that he’s teasing.   He did call his fear his friend (coming to hold his hand) in his song Reflection, and his shadow would contain things like his fears.  But here, the tone of the words sound so much more casual.
Of course, there’s no way that I’m not afraid
Of course, there’s no way that everything’s alright
Still, I know
Awkwardly, I flow
Together with that black wind, I fly.
Flying has been used as a metaphor for growth through many of BTS albums.
The blackness, would represent things like Black swan/shadow.
If you think of phrases/songs like “wind beneath my wings”, I guess you can say now that their shadows (the black winds) raises them up, gives them flight, and gives them growth.

 

Hey na na na
If you don’t want to go insane, you have to be insane
I know the “na na na” is supposed to be like “la la la” but because “na” means “I” in Korean…  and the second line doesn’t specify the subject (as a lot of Korean sentences have to take into context to figure out the subject)… so these lines sound like:
“Hey, I, I, I
I have to be insane if I don’t want to go insane. “

Hey na na na

I throw all of myself to both sides of the world.
I guess the both sides of the world could be like the metaphorical two sides of the world, like light and dark, as well as two sides of a person such as persona and shadow.
Hey na na na
Can’t hold me down cuz you know I’m a fighter
I’ve walked with my own feet into this beautiful prison. 
Find me and I’m gonna live with ya

(Eh-oh)
Bring it, bring the pain oh yeah
(Eh-oh)
Climb up, bring the pain oh yeah
The words “climb up”, in their MV is translated as “Come on up.”
“Come on up” – could mean, climb here to the top (eg. top of the music industry) and on top of their careers, they’re saying to bring on the pain (eg. welcoming and willing to take on the pain)
The word choice for “climb/coming up” is 올라타 which is also most commonly used to climb onto an animal (like a horse).   Considering this line follows “bring the pain”, it almost sounds like they’re climbing on top of this pain, almost like you’d climb onto a  horse to tame it or control it.
Or, you could say that the pain, when they climb on it, will lift them and let them go higher, similar to previous section where their shadow (black wind) gave them flight.
Rain be pourin’
Sky keep fallin’
Everyday oh na na na
(Eh-oh)
Bring it, bring the pain oh yeah

 

Bring the pain
It’ll probably become my blood and flesh
Something becoming your “blood and flesh” means it will become parts of your essence and growth – not just physically, but more commonly growth as a person.  So the pain will become parts of him, nourishing in his growth.
Bring the pain
No fear, now I know the way
With the small things, breathe
Possibly reference to “Boy With Luv”, with Korean title being, “A Poem for Small Things.”
I think the “small things” are ARMY, so the above line translates to “With the ARMY, breathe”
They’re my oxygen and light in the darkness
The strength that lets me be me
Even if I fall, get up again, scream.

 

Even if I fall, get up again, scream.
Because we were always this way
Even if my knees fall the the ground
So long as they’re not buried under
It’ll just be a small incident that will pass.

Win no matter what
Win no matter what
Win no matter what
No matter what you say, no matter what whoever says
I don’t give a uhh
I don’t give a uhh
I don’t give a uhh

 

 

Hey na na na
If you don’t want to go insane, you have to be insane
Hey na na na
I throw all of myself to both sides of the world.
Hey na na na
Can’t hold me down cuz you know I’m a fighter
I’ve walked with my own feet into this beautiful prison. 
Find me and I’m gonna live with ya

(Eh-oh)
Bring it, bring the pain oh yeah
(Eh-oh)
Climb up, bring the pain oh yeah
Rain be pourin’
Sky keep fallin’
Everyday oh na na na
(Eh-oh)
Bring it, bring the pain oh yeah

 

In the place of my pain
Please let me be breathing
These lines are really interesting.
In English especially (and to some extent in Korean), it sounds like, “let me survive in the place of pain.”
But breathing is often used to describe acts that are very natural and effortless in Korea.
So in Korean, the lines actually feel more like, “let me live naturally in that place of pain” or…maybe even “let that pain be infused with my life.” Like the place of pain becomes a natural and comfortable place.
My everythin’
My blood and tears
Got no fears
I’m singin’ ohhhhh
Oh I’m takin’ over
You should know yeah
Can’t hold me down cuz you know I’m a fighter
Into the blindingly dark depths, I willingly drown
Find me and I’m gonna bleed with ya

 

(Eh-oh)
Bring it, bring the pain oh yeah
(Eh-oh)
Climb up, bring the pain oh yeah
Rain be pourin’
Sky keep fallin’
Everyday oh na na na
(Eh-oh)
Find me and I’m gonna bleed with ya
I love these little changes they do.  Earlier in the songs, it was “live with ya,” but now it’s “I’m gonna bleed with ya.”  I have to be really careful when I’m copying/pasting repetitive parts.

 

(Eh-oh)
Bring it, bring the pain oh yeah
(Eh-oh)
Climb up, bring the pain oh yeah
All that I know
is just goin’ on & on & on & on
(Eh-oh)
Bring it,  bring the pain oh yeah

5 thoughts on “BTS – ON (English Translation and Ramblings)

  1. This album has so many beautiful songs. Thank you for your translations as always. Looking forward to your take on 욱, Respect and Moon. 💜

  2. I’m so grateful! Every comeback they have, I’m always looking foward to read your thoughts about the songs. Finding your blog was truly a blessing! Understanding a bit of the lyrics by reading more than just random translations has brought so much significance to their music… Thank you so much for this!

  3. I’m so happy to see your interpretations! For the “oh na na na” part I was originally like, well that’s something kind of overused in songs over the years but whatever. But you pointing out the extra korean meaning (that I probably should have noticed lol) really elevated it for me! Even if it’s a small double meaning I love that there’s even that much more nuance in the lyrics they use. Also I know this is kind of like accepting your shadow\pain as part of yourself but hearing them say like, “let the pain be natural for me” really hurts…it sucks that that’s how they might think and probably do need to be to survive…man I’m sad lol BUT!! I’m super looking forward to your thoughts on other songs when you get the time! Respect is something I’m especially curious about

  4. I don’t think I’ve ever told you, but thank you so so much for your translations and notes on BTS songs. They always illuminate their lyrics so clearly and interestingly. When I found your blog when I first became an ARMY it was a godsend. I genuinely can’t put into words how much your translations mean to me, but I wanted to at least say thank you

  5. thanks for the translation. i always love reading your translation and your explanation for the song. It’s really insightful.

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