Only a handful of names could evoke a cultural phenomenon in music as the South Korean boy band BTS. With 7 names embedded deep in the hearts of millions of armies (name of BTS fanbase) across the globe- BTS has cemented their names as global icons.
The boy group made its debut in 2013 and has now amassed a crazy following of 30.1 million on Twitter and 42.6 million on Instagram all while speaking in Korean.
BTS, or Bangtan Sonyeondan meaning Bullet Proof Boy Scouts, are a septet comprising of Kim Seokjin (28), Min Yoongi (28), Jung Hoseok (27), Kim Namjoon (26), Park Jimin (25), Kim Taehyung (25) and Jeon Jungkook (23). They have been in the industry for almost 8 years and with the support of their dedicated fanbase each year they receive greater heights.
Their lead single ‘Butter’ earned an impressive 113 million in 24 hours surpassing the previous record of 103 million by their previous English single Dynamite.
Opening up with IANS in a candid tete-a-tete, the South Korean band decodes their skyrocketing worldwide success.
“I’m guessing our sincerity reached our audience. We’ve tried our best to deliver sincere music and performances,” says Taehyung (stage name V). The 25-year-old pop star is known for his immaculate deep voice and his love for fashion and photography.
Jung Hoseok (stage name J-hope) chimes in, “And we have always shown our fans all our behind-the-scenes through various contents. I think opening ourselves up without hesitation helped us convey our sincerity.” BTS unlike any artist feed their fans with constant updates in the form of v-live, Bangtan Bombs & Run BTS (A game show starring BTS). Through this, they are putting out content for fans to consume which helps them generate a constant fan-artist interaction.
The rise of the band has been a phenomenon that has not only reorganized the contemporary mainstream music scene all over the world but has also defined the shifting socio-politics of showbusiness. The success of BTS, after all, has widely been seen as a triumph of inclusivity. In turn, the band, which started as a hip hop group, evolved quickly to adapt to a larger market.
Their rise to fame has been full of strife and tribulations. The band belonged to a small Kpop label Bighit (now recognized as HYBE). They hardly got promotions or slots at local TV shows. Throughout the years BTS rose like a phoenix challenging those with power and become the biggest artist to hail from South Korea. This entirely changed the power dynamics of the K-pop industry forcing the big3 (the 3 most powerful Kpop labels) to let down their hat.
ARMY, the band has said time and again, has been an important part of their growth. Wider reach and a growing fan base ensure better feedback, they point out, and BTS delivers the best they can put out.
“When we go on tour, we get to perform a lot, which helps me improve,” says Kim Seok-jin (stage name Jin). To which Jung Hoseok (stage name J-Hope) chimes in saying that the feedback they get for their songs has worked because it tells the band which areas to focus on, to grow.
“I was able to check what I lacked and what I had to pay more attention to,” J-hope is the main dancer and official sun-shine of the group. He and Kim Namjoon (Stage name RM) and Min Yoongi (stage name Yoongi) are the group’s rappers. Jin on the other hand is the certified World Wide Handsome guy and master of dad jokes. He is part of the vocal line along with Jimin, V, and Jungkook.
Park Jimin (stage name Jimin), who was the last member to be added to the group and trained only for six months before their debut on June 13, 2013, says the challenge is about seeking out the right direction when it comes to improving one’s performance. “I couldn’t really find an answer to what I should do to improve, but if I can find a better direction, I will be able to take a step forward,” Jimin says.
The need to grow is what keeps them evolving, says Jeon Jungkook (stage name Jungkook)- the maknae (youngest) of the group. “I think the biggest factor is that I always feel like I’m lacking and I have the continual ambition to get cooler,” says Jung Kook. The energetic good-at-everything-maknae has given us five makeovers in six months — blonde, blue, mint-choco, silver, and purple – making army’s go gaga over it. For the latest single Jungkook has lost weight within 5 days for the music video shoot of ‘Butter’.
While talking about the pandemic and it has affected them Kim Namjoon (stage name RM)-leader of the group- says, “We encounter new things and our stage always gets bigger, so it does give me pressure. However, I tried to expand my mindset so that I don’t make mistakes.”
BTS has released several songs and 2 albums during the pandemic. Their song ‘life goes on’ shares the message that whatever happens, whatever pain you might be going through, it will soon go away because life goes on.
By Ankita Mohanty