And… yet another award goes to BTS. On the second day, MTV Awards: Unscripted, it was revealed that the K-pop band won their 26th MTV Awards for their documentary Break the Silence: The Movie. The documentary showcases behind the scenes of BTS’s 'Love Yourself: Speak Yourself' tour. In their acceptance speech, the all-boy band thanked MTV and dedicated the award to ARMY. On Tuesday, the group also dropped the official teaser for their upcoming song ‘Butter’.
BTS, an acronym of Bangtan Sonyeondan or “Beyond the Scene” has a huge fanbase called ARMY, which stands for Adorable Representative M.C. for Youth (fans of BTS who will never leave their side). And if you are a member, there is a big chance that you already know the band’s history, stories of their rise to success, their struggles, and other fascinating facts about the group. While we have been following the band, which comprises Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V, and Jungkook, just as other publications, there are still stories and facts that interest us.
At TBC, we want to share some of the things that most fascinate us about one of the biggest boy bands in the world.
Why are they so popular?
Last year, particularly after their super successful track ‘Dynamite’, the Bangtan Boys were compared to The Beatles frequently. The comparison was based on the fact that BTS has had as much impact on the music industry as 1960s band. At the 10th Annual Innovator Awards, after the septet won the 2020 Music Innovator Award, rapper RM said that the band is not like the Beatles. He said that he considers the BTS to be a group of normal kids who love music. Meanwhile, Jin and Jungkook considered it to be a huge honour for the K-pop group.
The thing with K-pop bands is that they are usually extremely loved in South Korea. They are flocked and followed by fans. But of all the bands in the country, BTS has been the only one to break old international records or match them. Now, even though the boy band credits their success (humbly) to the ARMY, it stands to question why over 30 million users on Twitter are a part of their fanbase.
First of all, K-pop is anyway started gaining momentum and people around the world are now keen to listen more and new from the genre. This served as a big advantage for BTS. ‘Love Yourself: Tear’, their Korean song became “the first primarily foreign-language No 1 album in over 12 years,” according to Billboard.
From what we understand and ARMY (oh, so passionately admires) is that while most bands in Korea have songs on love and relationships, BTS also focuses on other major subjects - self-harm, academic stress, inferiority complexes, bullying, depression, elitism, and mental health. Their ability to connect with people from all age groups is something that has garnered them a lot of love and attention. Since the group members were quite young when they started in 2013 with their first album, they started with songs that appealed to a younger generation with songs like – ‘Boy in Love,’ ‘Bapsae,’ and ‘No More Dreams’, among others. As they grew in age and popularity, the themes of their songs also changed to appeal to that sector of society. One of the reasons they are so loved is that they’ve touched upon topics that most in Korea don’t talk about, thus making their music quite refreshing.
One of the other things that BTS is an expert in is finding unique sources and inspirations for their song. While most of their songs are in Korean expect – ‘Dynamite’ and their upcoming ‘Butter’ – most of them are inspired by their experiences. Their recent album, Map of the Soul: 7, is one such example. Songs in Map of the Soul: 7 album was inspired by the analytic psychological theories of Carl Jung. While the album traces the band's journey since the year of their debut, the songs are conceptualised around human psychology - persona, shadow and ego.
This kind of new sources and psychological relatability that the band attains through their music is one of the things that attracts their fans towards them. And since their songs also depict have a part of their lives or struggles and the humbleness of their journey makes the TIME’s Entertainer of the Year 2020 very lovable.
Music bind people in a very interesting way. But while BTS churns out some of the most interesting songs, which either keep topping the Billboard Hot 100 chart or are a part of the list, it is their appreciation of their fans that has got them a huge and loyal following, internationally. The band is known to frequently connect with their fans, through live sessions or other social media platform. It can be argued that all artists appreciate their fans, but BTS doesn’t only appreciate their fans on stage and in ‘thank you’ speeches, they try and connect with them on a more personal level.
The septet’s fan club gained attention from the international media when it helped the band bagged Top Social Artist (which is a fan-voted category), with more than 300 million votes, at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards. Because of ARMY, it was the first time in six years that BTS ended Justin Bieber’s streak in the category.
Even though there are many artists worldwide who have a huge following internationally, and thus there are many social media accounts that provide translations to the artist’s interviews, but when it comes to BTS, it’s more emotional. The large cult-like following of the band has many social media accounts to choose from that exclusively provide translations to the group’s interviews and their social media posts. In a Time article, Jiye Kim, owner of a Twitter fan translation account for BTS, talks about her dedication towards the account and says, “In promotional season, about two weeks before an album drops, I would probably clear my schedule as much as possible of non–work related events… My sleep clock would change.”
While many become a member of ARMY because the themes of the songs resonate with them, many join BTS’s music has helped them survive their darkest days. After all, through their music, the band is forthcoming about their struggles. And since the band does not identify with one genre, but instead tries a variety of them, people across ages love them. We do too!