Sometimes music only needs to be felt to be loved. The connection made through sound alone with the lyrics being secondary. Listening to a band who don’t perform in your native tongue can seem pointless to some. However bands like BTS are giving fans a whole new perspective on music altogether. After being introduced to the seven member K-pop group through an internet friend, I have been swept up in a new and completely engaging wave of music. Not only is the band’s music jaw dropping in its genre range but the members themselves preform to a soaring level of dedication and effort.
Listen to the first BTS song I was exposed to, ‘Not Today’, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DwzBICPhdM
‘Not Today’ is an explosive introduction into BTS, I will admit, however it’s a song and music video that completely encapsulates the band from their high powered vocals to insane choreography. Each of their music videos containing the same cinematic style and magnetism, with their performance style being nothing short of polished. The band have managed to connect with fans beyond their music through not shying away from ‘topics they deem important even in a conservative society.’ Topics such as death and loss as well as school bullying and mental illness. With a taste of their music upon your tongue, we can now delve further into the band themselves.
BTS is a seven member band that were put together by Big Hit Entertainment with various line-up changes from the years 2010 to 2012. In 2010 and 2011 auditions were held for a possible new boy band who eventually became J-Hope, V, Jimin, Rap Monster (RM), Jungkook, Jin and Suga. The name BTS correlates to many things (such as the Korean expression Bangtan Sonyeondan meaning ‘Bulletproof Boy Scouts’ and Bangtan Boys) but has most recently been announced to stand for ‘Beyond The Scene.’
In the beginning of their career, BTS only saw moderate success from their song covers on Youtube and SoundCloud but began gaining attention through various forms of social media. In June of 2013, the band released their debut album 2 Cool 4 Skool, which was to be the first part in their School Trilogy series. Most of their early singles, such as ‘No More Dream’, failed to make it high into the charts however the band persevered through other forms of promotion. For example the guys starred in their own variety show based on a fake broadcast station that allowed fans to get to the boys behind the music. The release of the second in the School Trilogy series, O!RUL8,2?, in the same year, contained the topically important single ‘N.O.’ The single holds this title due to the fact that it is a critique on the educational industrial complex, the music video depicting the solider like obedience expected of pupils.
Listen to the song and watch the music video for ‘N.O’ here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmgxPLLLyVo
By the end of 2013, BTS were slowly gaining more and more popularity and were being recognised with several New Artist of the Year Awards. Once the boys released their final instalment of their School Trilogy series, Skool Luv Affair, they saw success through topping the Gaon Chart as well as peaking at number three on Billboard’s World Albums Chart. From here BTS participated in many events over the year such as acting as judges for a K-pop cover dance competition in Russia and attending KCON in Los Angeles. In 2014 their first Korean studio album, Dark & Wild, was released and sold over 200,000 copies. Dark & Wild explored a different sound to any of the School Trilogy series and contained the singles ‘Danger’ and ‘War of Hormone’ and saw the band entering a more R&B/rock genre to their previous music. ‘War of Hormone’ received some backlash due to the lyrics being labelled as misogynistic causing the band’s label to issue an apology in 2016.
Listen to ‘Danger’ here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bagj78IQ3l0
And ‘War of Hormone’ here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQmpVHUi-0A
With success rapidly building for the boys, it was only inevitable they began to enter the mainstream by 2015, releasing the EP, The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, Part 1. The EP was listed in Fuse’s ‘27 Best Albums of 2015 So Far’ and was the only Korean album on the whole list. The lead single ‘I Need U’ became the band’s first music video to hit over 100 million views on YouTube and won first place on SBS MTV’s The Show. After this, their single ‘Dope’ hit number three on Billboard’s World Digital Chart and was accompanied by a music video depicting the band members in different styles of career dress.
Watch the music video for ‘Dope’ here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVwAVbKYYeM
Throughout 2015 and leading into 2016, BTS continued to release multiple singles as well as commencing with their 2015 Live Trilogy Episode: The Red Bullet world tour and being a part of the Summer Sonic Festival tour in Japan. Their EP, The Most Beautiful Moment In Life, Part 2, also topped Billboard’s World Albums Chart, remaining in that position for several weeks. This made BTS the first K-pop band to own this achievement and lead on to the boys winning Best World Performer at the 2015 Mnet Asian Music Awards. In 2016, BTS released their second Korean studio album, Wings, to sell over 500,000 pre-order copies in the first week alone. The success of this album entered them at number 62 on the UK Official Album Charts and solidified them in history for achieving high levels of success in the western world. Their music video for ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears’ broke a Youtube record by gaining 6 million views in only twenty-four hours.
Watch ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears’ here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmE9f-TEutc
This year has seen BTS appear everywhere you look, with fans all over the world eagerly anticipating their new music. Songs such as ‘MIC Drop’ and ‘DNA’ flooring fans in typical BTS style with captivating music and even more hypnotising music videos. As their success continues to grow, I doubt we will be seeing the end of BTS any time soon.
By Skye W. Winwood