방탄소년단 Romanized as Bangtan Sonyeondan (literally bulletproof boy scouts) is a Korean pop group of seven male members. They also go by BTS, Bangtan Boys and, as of July 2017, Beyond the Scene. Now, you might be wondering why I am writing about a Korean pop group.
There are two reasons why I wanted to write this article. First, I love them and I like to write about things I am passionate about and this is definitely one. Second, they are becoming more relevant in the United States than ever before and this is groundbreaking for the music scene.
BTS consists of seven members who each have different (though sometimes overlapping) roles in the group.
Now, on to the serious things. BTS came back with their newest album which just released on September 18, 2017 named LOVE YOURSELF: Her. According to Jeff Benjamin, before the album’s release, thousands of fans in the United States had already been requesting physical copies be available for preorder.
At the 2017 Billboard Music Awards, BTS beat out popular artists like Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber with the help of their global fanbase. To many, this win came as a shock as many wondered who these people even were.
Their win skyrocketed awareness of their group as now even major news sources like the New York Times are willing to publish articles about this amazing group.
With the release of their album, there was also the monumental release of the music video to their title song ‘DNA’ on YouTube. This video, while different from their other videos with its pastel and dream-like scape, managed to capture the hearts of millions. In 24 hours since the release the video has earned a hefty 21 million views. The current check in at September 20, 2017 8:21pm is 34,837,629 views. Wow! In BTS Smashes K-Pop Records With ‘DNA’ Music Video, Caitlin Kelley tells how BTS was rewarded the 11th spot and 6th spot for most views recorded in 24 hours for song and video, respectively.
What could have made this group so insanely popular? There are tons of male Korean pop groups. Why is this one gaining so much momentum in the United States? I will offer my opinion on the success of BTS.
While in Korea it is typical to remain uncontroversial and stick with what works, Bangtan Boys have taken another route. Without fear, they address topics that are relatable to our generation no matter where in the world you are. Issues like tension between generations, the “silver spoon” mentality, and mental health are addressed in their songs. They even make open references to the government and existential crises that are common in millennial groups. This head-on approach to the world is refreshing and appreciated to say the least.
In another of Benjamin’s articles he transcribes an interview with two of BTS’ rappers:
“Worldwide, our young generation shares the same issues socially and politically,” says BTS member Suga. Although K-pop music generally steers away from controversy, Rap Monster says that remaining outspoken “is important to us. And the bigger the voice we get, the more powerful our words become.”’
I know I personally tend to say that I wish music were more meaningful. Of course, BTS has its love songs, but I adore the messages in some of their hits like ‘baepsae’ and ‘dope.’ BTS is genuinely seeking to give encouragement to their fans while addressing things that matter. LOVE YOURSELF: Her is all about encouraging fans to find things they love about themselves.
On the album, you’ll even find a collaboration song between Chainsmokers and BTS titled ‘Best of Me.’ Who knows where BTS will go next? Jungkook has already said he wants to collaborate with Justin Bieber while Drake seems to be a top on Rap-Monstar’s and Suga’s list. They’ve already claimed the Korean music market, I’m thinking international ventures will be next.
What do you think about this Korean pop sensation?