BTS – The Freedom of Musical Expression Remains Unlimited MIND(s that filled) THE GAP(s) [VII]
In the past, there was The Beatles. In the second half of the 20th century, The Beatles became the most popular band in the entire world. Time passed and the 21st century brought new legends to the music industry. Most likely the biggest boy band in the world, BTS scored, in only 7 years since their debut, numerous records worldwide and they will not stop here.
BTS (Bangtan Sonyeondan, translated as “Bulletproof Boy Scouts”) is a South-Korean boy band which debuted in 2013. BTS consists of seven members: Kim Namjoon, Kim Seokjin, Min Yoongi, Jeon Hoseok, Park Jimin, Kim Taehyung and Jeon Jungguk. The company managing BTS is Big Hit Entertainment. As they say on their official website, “Artists under the Big Hit label include BTS, referred to as «The Beatles of the 21st century»”.
Since their debut, with the song No more dream, these seven talented men have been successful with each new album. Each time bigger, each time better, their fandom (named ARMY) has grown steadily. In 2018, their success reached colossal proportions.
BTS’s success is due to Big Hit’s good management and, surely, to their fans. But BTS’s evolution is quite strange and different from other k-pop groups in South Korea. When Big Hit Entertainment was created, it was such a small agency they rented only two floors in a beat-up building. The company did not have enough funds to promote BTS, as other companies did, so they used the SNS (social networking service) method. Bang Si Hyuk, the founder of Big Hit Entertainment, stated that social media was a big part of BTS’s success.
What made BTS a worldwide phenomenon, though, are their messages. They have consistence. While writing the songs and producing by themselves, their music talks about depression, love, hard-work, dreams and optimism. ARMYs all over the world love them for their talent and meaningful messages. BTS helped millions of people overcome their hardships in life through their music. More than that, BTS is considered to be a national treasure in South Korea since they are considered to be non-negligible contributors to the economic growth of the country.
Starting in 2017, Big Hit Entertainment and BTS have carried out the Love Myself campaign. Three of their albums, Love Yourself: Her (2017), Love Yourself: Tear (2018), Love Yourself: Answer (2019), send the message: True love always begins with loving myself. Love Myself campaign aims to support the #ENDviolence Youth Manifesto, UNICEF.
On September 24, 2018, BTS held a speech at the United Nations, talking about their fight against violence and about how people should love themselves. BTS’s leader, Kim Namjoon, spoke in the name of BTS, saying: “Let’s take one more step. We have learned to love ourselves, so now I urge you to speak yourself!… No matter who you are, where you’re from, your skin colour, gender identity: speak yourself!” (speech for the United Nations, 2018).
Compared to other bands, BTS’s uniqueness comes from their unconditional love for their ARMYs… and breaking over 20 world records. Among them, the most important ones are: Most-Viewed YouTube Video in 24 Hours (2018 and 2019); First K-Pop Group to Perform on a Major US Award Show (2017 American Music Awards); First K-Pop Group to be Nominated for a Billboard Music Award (2017, first K-Pop group to ever win a BBMA); First K-Pop Group to Have a Top 10 Hit on the Billboard Hot 100 (Fake Love, 2018, then Boy With Luv, 2019); BTS broke PSY’s Gagnam Style record on iTunes, with their song Black Swan, January 2020; First Korean Act to Present at the Grammy Awards (2019 Grammy Awards). Recently, in January 2020, BTS and Lil Nas X performed Old Town Road on stage with other known American artists.
BTS’s albums Love Yourself: Tear, Love Yourself: Answer and Map of the Soul: Persona hit No. 1 within 12 months (2019). The previous group to do so was The Beatles.
Without any doubt, BTS became one of the 21st century’s sensations. With a fanbase counting more than 90 million fans worldwide (as for 2019, according to Forbes magazine), this special k-pop group continues to surprise us. People are advised to listen to BTS to understand the reason for their appreciation. As a member of BTS said, “You will know when you listen to our new album and watch [our] performance that BTS was the best decision ever!” (Jeon Hoseok, 2020 Grammys).
Caulfield, Keith. 2019. BTS Scores Third No. 1 Album on Billboard 200 Chart With “Map of the Soul: Persona”. Billboard, https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/chart-beat/8507977/bts-map-of-the-soul-persona-no-1-album-billboard-200-chart.
Lufadeju, Yemi. 2018. We Have Learned to Love Ourselves, So Now I Urge You to “Speak Yourself”. UNICEF, https://www.unicef.org/press-releases/we-have-learned-love-ourselves-so-now-i-urge-you-speak-yourself.
McIntyre, Hugh. 2019. BTS Has Charted More No. 1 Hits in 2019 than Any Other K-Pop Act Has in Their Entire Careers. Forbes Magazine, https://www.forbes.com/sites/hughmcintyre/2019/11/10/bts-has-charted-more-no-1-hits-in-2019-than-any-other-k-pop-act-has-in-their-entire-careers/#10a25b11bbe4.
Raymundo, Fairlane. 2019. BTS Success – A Deep Drive (Part 1), https://hubpages.com/entertainment/BTS-Success-A-Deep-Dive.