They won two Billboard Music Awards, performed at the American Music Awards with their hit song DNA, and recently attended the 61st Grammy Awards to present the award for Best R&B album to artist, H.E.R. Surely you must have heard of them. BTS, also known as Bulletproof Boy Scouts when they first arrived on the Kpop scene, is one of the most famous boy groups to attract international audiences. Hailing from Seoul, South Korea and operating under a small but mighty entertainment company, BTS has overcome many obstacles to reach their goals and share their music with the world. So, what’s the big deal with BTS, a group who wears makeup and dances on stage?
The seven members of the group—RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook—debuted in June 2013 with their debut song, No More Dream. Despite coming from a lesser known company, Big Hit Entertainment, BTS began climbing to the top with their catchy bops, relatable lyrics, politically active songs, and diss tracks. In September 2013, they released the album “O!RUL82?” (Oh! Are You Late Too?). Their featured song, N.O, addressed the amount of pressure students receive from adults to get into a good university and to find a job that pays well. BTS represent their hometowns in Satoori Rap and remind themselves of where they came from.
The year 2014 saw them describe the feelings an adolescent has when they’re crushing on someone in Blanket Kick, and the uncertainty of what their next step in life would be in Tomorrow. The year 2015 marked the start of their trilogy, “The Most Beautiful Moment in Life,” and touched on topics of reflection (Move), generational stereotypes (Baepsae), and the beautiful days of youth (Young Forever). BTS blessed fans in 2016 with solo tracks for their album Wings, with the soothing ballad Spring Day and the energetic Not Today. The year 2017 marked the start of the (now ongoing) “Love Yourself” series, emphasizing the need to love oneself and keep moving forward when life gets tough.
Okay yes, the music is good, but why are fans so obsessed with them?
“You gave me the best of me
So you’ll give you the best of you
You found me, you recognized me
You gave me the best of me
So you’ll give you the best of you
So I’ll find you, the galaxy that’s inside of you”
Above are lyrics for their song Magic Shop, an emotional ballad written for their fans. It doesn’t matter if you have listened to their music for 3 weeks or 3 years — you’ll realize through lyrics, interviews, and concert recordings that BTS has gone through numerous ups and downs to get where they are today. Their epilogue concert, 2018 MAMA music award speech, and their hidden track Path from their first album, 2 Cool 4 Skool, all reveal the hardships the group has endured over the past 6 years.
But wait…Isn’t one of their songs extremely problematic and degrading to women?
The truth is, not every artist that gains popularity has a clean slate. BTS has been in controversies surrounding the usage of the n-word and misogynistic lyrics. Despite their past, the members of BTS continue to educate themselves on feminist, gender, and other subject matters that are more prominent in the West (in this case, blurring a Korean word that sounded like the n-word on stage).
Here’s what I think: No, BTS is not just a Kpop group obsessed with ratings. No, BTS isn’t feminine. No, BTS isn’t doing this for the money. Yes, the members of BTS own up to their mistakes. Yes, their music comforts fans in a time of need. Yes, the leader of the group, RM, gave a speech at the United Nations. Yes, BTS love what they do and contribute to the community.
And yes, BTS are just 7 boys who are just following their dreams.
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