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BTS…What’s With the Hype?

Jordyn Hronec, Editor-in-Chief

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The 2017 AMAs that took place at the end of November were interesting to say the least. With P!nk, repelling down a building, to Christina Aguilera’s, er, interesting tribute to the late Whitney Houston, everyone had something to talk about. But arguably, the real show-stoppers of the night weren’t even American. They were a Korean music group by the name of BTS.

Many people didn’t understand the hype surrounding BTS. They didn’t know who they were, didn’t know what their lyrics were saying, since you know, they were in Korean, and they didn’t understand the thousands upon thousands of screaming fans in the audience. And that’s okay. You’re not expected to immediately hop on board and become an instant-fan. But upon further research into the group, I can’t say that you won’t inevitably find yourself falling madly in love with these seven guys.

To start, let’s dive into the backstory of BTS. Who are they? Where did they come from? And most importantly, why are they finding so much success in America?

BTS began under the company Big Hit in 2010, with RM (previously Rap Monster), or Namjoon, being the only remaining founding member, hence why he is the leader of the group. For the first few years of the group’s beginning, there was a revolving door of different members. The group didn’t become the seven members that it is today until its 2013 debut in South Korea. The group consists of RM, the leader, J-Hope, Suga, V, Jungkook, Jin, and Jimin. Amongst these members, talents include rapping, singing, and choreographing. The members write, compose, and produce all of their songs themselves, despite their ties to a major producing company. BTS won Top World Performer at the 2015 MAMA awards, a South Korean music award show, and Artist of the Year in 2016.

One of the group’s albums, Wings, debuted last year at the 30th spot on the Billboard Top 200 list in America. Their latest album, “Love Yourself: Her”, has held a spot in the Top 200 list for 7 weeks, the longest out of any Korean music group ever. BTS went on a world tour for this album, playing several sold out stadium shows in Newark, New Jersey, and in Anaheim, California. And as someone who attended one of these shows, I can tell you that their stage presence and their performance was absolutely incredible, and unlike anything I’ve ever seen. That’s a fact. The group went on to add songs to this album, re-releasing it under the title “You Never Walk Alone”. They then won Top Social Artist at the American Billboard Awards in 2017 by a landslide vote, as well as holding the top spot in the Top 50 Social Artists chart for for 50 weeks.

In September, BTS released an EP titled “Love Yourself ‘Her’” and it debuted in America at the 7th spot in the Billboard Top 200, becoming the first K-Pop album ever to debut in the top 10. Their recent single “DNA” has so far, made waves in America, and has been given some not-so-prime radio hours. (When I say not-so-prime, I mean like 2 am.)

But this is all bound to change quite soon, because rumor has it that BTS is signing with an American music label, meaning more major radio time and more recognition. During this current trip to America, BTS has made their impact, performing on James Corden’s Late Late Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and the Ellen Show, as well as doing an interview with On Air with Ryan Seacrest, and of course, performing at the AMAs. But soon, BTS will return to South Korea, where they hope to win big at the 2017 MAMA awards.

On November 24th, BTS released Mic Drop Remix, a collaboration piece with dance music god Steve Aoki and rapper Desiigner. And immediately, it shot to the top of the iTunes chart. This comes after news that BTS has grabbed a Guinness World Record for having the most social interactions with fans, mostly on Twitter, than any other music group, solidifying the grounds upon which they won their Billboard Music Award.

BTS’ music is inherently different than American pop music. Which is why I believe so many Americans are hopping on the hype train. Their sound is refreshing, and everything about the music produced in South Korea is incredibly polished. Their level of production, whether it be the music itself or the iconic music videos, or even the marketing, is over the top, the likes of which America never really seen. BTS’ image is extravagant, while also down to earth. And during American interviews, the dynamic where RM, the only fluent English speaker in the group, must quickly translate questions for the other members, upon which they shout out their answers, is frankly endearing. And this group’s ability to constantly connect with the fans that adore them over social media and livestreams creates an artist/listener connection that is unbreakable and admirable. BTS is made up of fresh-faced, young, talented guys, and together, the sum of these talents is honestly bigger than its parts.

BTS has thousands of fans, or ARMYs, as they are called, all over the globe. And if you hadn’t heard of them up until now, then get ready. Because they’re taking the world by storm, and they’re about to become a household name.

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