Debuting 2013, BTS, also known as the Bangtan Boys, is a South Korean K-Pop group formed under what was formerly known as Big Hit Entertainment. Originally debuting as a hip hop group, their music has evolved through experimentation with various genres over time.
The group is composed of seven members: Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V, and Jungkook. Over the years, BTS has developed into one of the most popular groups in the world; they regularly take top rankings in the Billboard Charts, were featured as the “Next Generation Leaders” on the Time’s international cover, and have even partnered with the United Nations.
Junior Bella Fowlers thinks that BTS is successful due to the variety of their music. “People that like hip hop can listen to [their older] music, and now they sort of do some poppy stuff and then they had a few songs [that were] jazzy,” she said. “They’ve collaborated with a lot of different artists too, so if you don’t like BTS you can listen to some songs that have an artist that you like that collaborated with BTS.”
Sophomore Rachel Stanton believes what makes BTS so successful across the globe is the message they send through their music. “They continuously had a message [with] the entire Love Yourself Series.”
In an interview on the Tonight Show, RM, the leader of BTS, explained the meaning behind this series. “It’s mainly about speaking [for] yourself, like, instead of letting other people speak for you. Cause to truly love ourselves, it’s important to firstly know who I am, and you know, where I’m from, and what my name is, what my voice is, kinda like that,” he said. Essentially, we must learn to love ourselves for who we are. Rachel said, “It’s a message that definitely was needed, and definitely is not something that we always see in pop music in general.”
On August 21, 2019, BTS released their first full English single “Dynamite” – a disco-pop song taking influences from 70s music intended to spread positivity amidst a global pandemic. “I was really excited that [I] could sing along to it,” said Rachel. “It had good timing to it too. We’re ending the summer, [and] now, here’s this bop,” she added with a laugh.
From there, “Dynamite” took to the charts: ranking number one on the Billboard Hot 100 (the first all-South Korean act to do so) and staying there for three weeks, charting in the top 10 in 25 different countries, setting three new Guinness World Records, and even receiving a Grammy Nomination.
While Rachel believes that “Dynamite” is a “banger and a fun song,” she also believes that it points out the biases in the American music industry. “BTS has songs that could have gone so much further even with [their new] album they drop[ped] after ‘Dynamite,’” she said. “We love groundbreaking-ness but I think it definitely points out what the American music industry is looking at and wants.”
Despite “Dynamite’s” global success, BTS did not win the Grammy for “best pop duo/group performance” in 2021. Many ARMYs, the BTS fandom name, were saddened by this Grammys loss. Bella thinks “that anybody that has heard their music knows that they were robbed.”
Rachel also noted that BTS’s 2021 Grammys performance was saved for the very end of the show. “They know right after BTS is done, everyone’s gone. Nobody’s watching [the Grammys] anymore after BTS performs.” However, Rachel believes that BTS will “go on” after this experience. BTS will “come back again next year with another bop,” Rachel said.
From then, “Dynamite” continued to grow in views, and on April 12, the video reached one billion views on YouTube within 8 months of its release. “I feel like they definitely deserved it,” said Bella. “They’ve released so much good music in the past, and it’s exciting that they’re getting so much recognition now.”
BTS continues to check off boxes in the music industry internationally. As BTS evolves, many ARMYs are excited to see what is to come. Rachel hopes for another “21st Century Girls style anthem.” Rachel hopes that future BTS music will incorporate a “worldly girl power” that can be marketed as a “hot girl summer song but BTS.”
Bella, on the other hand, wants BTS to reschedule the concert she purchased tickets for. “I’m also really interested to see how they format the concert. Is it going to be the original setlist or are they going to incorporate some of their newer music?” Bella wondered.
Regardless of the direction of future BTS music, the group has had a record-smashing start to 2021.