BTS follows up “Spring Day” with a defiant synth-hop track, “Not Today.” Switching from their slower-paced and introspective side, “Not Today” has more in common with “Fire” and “Dope” with its heavy beat. It’s aggressive from the very start, with a rally cry for all the underdogs to fight. It’s sure to become a staple on many fans’ playlists.
The visuals of “Not Today” are phenomenal and, as this isn’t one of BTS’ high-brow, high-concept MVs, it is far more accessible to casual or even non-fans. The opening drone shot of an abandoned wasteland places the audience in a dystopian universe. The rest of the MV sticks to this overall aesthetic, reflecting the more brash attitude the members are going for this time around. With a focus more on the choreography and the occasional shots of the boys running, “Not Today” as a MV stands alone from the overarching narrative they previously explored in “I Need U” and “Run”.
There’s very little plot to the video; BTS and their army of ninjas are being chased by some unknown entity. At one point, all the members are shot except for Jungkook. During a close-up of Jungkook’s eye we see a figure clad in white, but it’s unclear exactly who it is or what it’s supposed to represent. Maybe it’s the inevitability of their popularity fading, maybe it’s Jungkook, or perhaps it means absolutely nothing since the rest of the MV focuses on their dancing. While it isn’t as complex as “Fire” or “Danger,” the choreography for “Not Today” is definitely as visually impressive. The complicated footwork is difficult enough on its own, but getting all seven of them, plus the backup dancers, in sync is an accomplishment.
There are two parts of the choreography that caught my eye; the first being during Rap Monster’s second verse when he’s walking along the line of ninjas. You can see the other members following him as he moves down the line behind the backup dancers and right before J-Hope begins his rap, they kick down the wall. It is such a great visual representation of what BTS is doing as a K-pop group. With “Not Today” alone, they broke their own record for K-pop MV with most views in 24 hours. And with Wings, they debuted at number 26 on the Billboard 200. Having J-Hope kick down a wall visually reminds people exactly how they’re breaking barriers for K-pop artists.
The second is immediately after the breakdown, when the members lead the backup dancers on the mirrored platform. I’m a sucker for sharp movements that emphasize something in the backing music, in this case, the stomping. Jimin is in the center, leading the charge, and he nails the moves flawlessly. I would love to see a dance version on just that mirrored platform. I don’t think we got enough of it in the MV.
Lyrically, “Not Today” is definitely an underdog anthem. All the lyrics are in support of resisting being trampled by others’ expectations. During the pre-chorus, the maknae line goes:
Run if you can’t fly (Today we will survive)
Walk if you can’t run (Today we will survive)
Crawl if you can’t walk
Crawl to gear up
They want to make it very clear to everyone listening that they worked hard to be where they are and they will continue to work to earn the respect and love of their fans. During the chorus, they call on all of their supporters to join them to keep on fighting. The most interesting lyric to me, though, is “Break it up! Break it up!/Break the glass ceiling that locks you up.”
Rap Monster addressed comments about them misusing the term in a post, saying they had done research and read articles about the glass ceiling issue. He goes on to explain that, “the reason why we used such term was to state that we will also not stay silent about the social and unreasonable matters.” It’s admirable to see a group like BTS decide to use their platform as one to bring attention to social justice issues. Time will only tell if they will back up their statements.
My only complaint about “Not Today” is one that all K-pop fans have. The line distribution in “Not Today” is abysmal in comparison to “Blood, Sweat, & Tears.” Jin once again is relegated to the background and barely gets any screen time in the MV. I know it’s difficult to always make sure everyone gets similar amounts of screen time and lines, but after “Blood, Sweat, & Tears,” I hoped that would carry over to their next comeback.
Overall, “Not Today” is a strong and engaging MV. It fits the overall hype vibe of the song and gets you ready to fight, or simply face your day. It’s a good companion to the more mellow “Spring Day” and does a decent job of showcasing the direction BTS is heading.