The idea of art being a medium to transcend barriers had always seemed important to me. The thought of expressing ideas, of sharing grief or love, or what it meant to be human with another — despite barriers, despite language, despise the multitudes of what made us ‘us’ — seemed too important.
It was one of the first things that brought me into BTS. It was one of the first things that made me stay. It was one of the first things that had brought me into appreciating more literature, music, art, etc, that made me understand it was important. There was art I didn’t understand but then there was art that did and that more than anything meant the world to me.
On the 24th of September, both Coldplay and BTS both came to perform, “My Universe”. The title was aptly named, romantic, I admit. I did not know what to expect. Both Coldplay and BTS were some of my favorite musicians. I had grown up listening to Coldplay and grown into BTS. It was the best of both my worlds coming together and this coalition did not surprise me like it should have, either.
In a documentary released on BTS’ channel, Bangtan TV, the documentary showed Chris Martin flying across the States to South Korea to record their song together. J-Hope of BTS added that this act made the song more meaningful and when one saw the videos of BTS and Chris surrounding a microphone, singing their hearts out, beaming, you can easily understand why.
When Chris told BTS what he wanted out of my universe, Jin explained he expressed the idea of “Coldplay and BTS as representatives of Earth, coming together to build a new universe”. What comes from two planets colliding can always be mass destruction and chaos but there is always life that springs when the dust settles. My Universe is just that. It is a song of not just hope, but love and warmth. It is reaching out to the person you love to tell them, “At the end, I am made out of you just like you are made out of me.”
The lyrics for My Universe are made out of love. Romantic and affectionate, the lyrics paint celestial imagery of one flying in the stars and coming together to create a universe with the person they love. The lyrics tell “You are my universe and you make my world light up inside,” and “What lights me up is the star that was embroidered with love that is you”, painting love akin to a brush of constellations across your sky. To look up and realize it is forever, even after we’re long gone, even after we cease to exist.
RM also admitted that Chris confessed this was a song incredibly personal to him. The lyrics he wrote were meant to talk about what it meant to live in a world as performers where you could not perform. “I thought about how to make this relevant to BTS,” He said. The band had not performed in front of a live audience in nearly two years and just had to cancel the North American leg of their sold-out tour, “Since the lyrics go, “You are my universe”, this song should definitely be dedicated to ARMY. I wrote the lyrics while picturing the day we reunite with ARMY.” He said, referring to BTS’ fandom.
Something that really stood out to me was the level of respect and admiration Chris had for BTS. While it comes with little to no surprise about Chris’ character (from the way he holds himself, to the way he writes and performs), it was with a refreshing gentleness Chris spoke of BTS’ impact and words.
“I think it’s very special to me that the most popular artist in the world speaks Korean and is like a group of brothers not from the West. It just feels very hopeful to me. In terms of thinking of the world as one family. Then of course when you see who they are as people and their songs. It's really a message of togetherness and finding, being yourself.” — Coldplay X BTS inside ‘My Universe’
In an interview for the Kelly Clarkson show, Chris admitted the lyrics of My Universe spoke of what it meant to truly love and how no boundaries or separation exist for something that comes so naturally, something we’re truly meant to do. “We thought it would be good to sing this with BTS because maybe we’re not supposed to do this together.”
The faces of two different definitions of what it means to be a band; Coldplay, based in Britain, with traditional instruments and a lead singer and BTS; based in Korea, a blend of dance, music, and performance, their lyrics in a tongue not common to all, coming together as one seems incredibly powerful and in a world, as divided as ours is now, incredibly important.
My Universe is a celebration of love in a time where the world needs it most. It is not a reminder of why we should love but a reminder that we have always loved. Both Coldplay and BTS’ music mirror that message — which is why it did not surprise me when I realized they would perform together. There was that brief surprise, of course. Then elation. But once everything had sunken in, it was Of course, that makes all the sense in the world.
In the documentary for My Universe, Chris revealed that the song is about how the power of love transcends all things, borders and rules and genders and race and every sexuality. “If you look at people right now who are divided by a border, or can’t be together. That’s what the song is about. About how nothing can really stop people loving each other.” A lyric from My Universe goes, “It used to be that I felt more comfortable in the darkness, inside the lengthened shadow. And they said that we can’t be together, because, because we come from different sides.”
The idea of love being a transformative force, something that could sustain you, something that could change you, and something that could carry you from one day to the other was important. A lyric written by BTS in My Universe goes, “What lights me up is the start that was embroidered with love that is you.” The idea of love that can hold you, that can keep you warm — My Universe is a celebration of exactly that.
It is Coldplay and BTS, an unlikely duo to some, a perfect duo for many, who come to say; this is love, this is what we’ve always done and this is why it’s important we continue to do so.
Lyric Translation Credits; Doolset Bangtan