Recently, David Stewart, one half of the songwriter duo behind BTS‘ “Dynamite,” opened up about what the writing and production process was like!
The duo, made up of songwriter Jessica Agombar and songwriter/producer Stewart, have been collaborating on music for a long time and have written for popular Western artists such as the Jonas Brothers and Hailee Steinfield. When they found out that BTS were looking for their first English-language single, they were determined to write them the most unforgettable hit.
In an interview with GQ, Stewart gave detailed insight on the work that went into writing the song. He explained that Bighit Entertainment were looking for an upbeat song that “doesn’t take itself too seriously.”
He explained that the key element of “Dynamite” is its simple yet ridiculously catchy chorus.
Simplicity is the key, really, and a good title. […] I’ve always been a big chorus guy. I am good at doing an understated chorus, but what I’ve always loved is a big, in-your-face chorus, hence the key change at the end of “Dynamite.” There’s nothing subtle about that. With “Dynamite,” we did the Beatles’ method, which is to start with the chorus. That way, you’re instantly hooked in. Before you’ve even got to a verse, you’ve already heard half the chorus anyway. It’s kind of designed to seep into your brain straightaway.
It comes as no surprise that the chorus is the most important element of the song. Once the producers had a vision, the melody followed easily–unlike the lyrics.
Even though the lyrics are still kind of off the wall, a bit weird and wacky, they were originally much more weird and wacky. They weren’t originally quite as PG as they are now. We had to tailor them to what was correct for BTS. That was how it started and the song was initially called “Mr Dynamite.” We ended up looking at the phonetics of the song and changed the hook from “So call me Mr Dynamite” to “Light it up like dynamite.” […] There were about five lines that we had to change.
Now we’re curious as to what the original lyrics were–maybe we’ll get to hear them one day!
As for the reception of the song, he was rightfully nervous about how Bighit Entertainment and Columbia Records, BTS’ overseas promoters, would react to it.
It was silent for a bit. But we had a shared link and we could see them playing the song over and over again. Just from experience, if someone likes something they often do play it over and over. […] That was quite exciting, but I didn’t get my hopes up.
Thankfully, two weeks later, he received some unexpected news: they loved it and immediately wanted to start working on it!
My manager forwarded on an email from Ron Perry, the head of Columbia Records, saying, “Yeah, it’s on and we need to get this thing moving because we want to shoot the video ASAP.” […] It was just the break that I thought I was going to have with “What A Man Gotta Do” [the song he wrote for the Jonas Brothers] at the start of the year. Even though that was a hit, it didn’t do what “Dynamite” was going to do. Ron was pretty confident that [“Dynamite”] was going to go to No1.
He was confident in the song and his songwriting and producing abilities, but he had no idea that it was going to be as incredibly successful at it has been.
I just had an offer accepted on a flat that I now live in and I was thinking, “Oh, my God, I just need one little thing to come in to help me not worry about paying off the mortgage for the flat.” Three days later [the email] came in.
Finally, he touched upon how supportive BTS fans have been and how they even thanked him and Agombar personally for the work that they’ve done in bringing “Dynamite” to existence.
I’ve never seen anything like it. The morning before the song came out, they found out who had written it, so Jess and I, our Instagrams, Twitters and everything just went absolutely berserk. Their fans are the most incredible fanbase you could ever ask for really.