Like it or not, there’s no escape from them. Every time you turn on the radio, TV, log into Twitter or Tumblr, or even flip through the pages of a magazine, they’re always there. John Cena is obsessed with them.
No, not the Kardashians. I’m talking about one of the most unlikely, albeit successful, international music phenomenons, BTS, or Bangtan Sonyeondan.
Whether you’ve heard of them, have no idea who these guys are, or you’re just genuinely curious to know what all the hype is about, here’s some facts and just a few reasons why you should consider stanning.
BTS is a seven member boy band from Seoul, South Korea, consisting of rappers: Kim “Rap Monster/RM” Namjoon, Min “Suga” Yoongi, and Jung “J-Hope” Hoseok. Their vocal line consists of: Kim “V” Taehyung, Jeon “Kookie” Jungkook, Park Jimin, and Kim “Jin” Seokjin.
The group debuted on June 12, 2013, and in the K-pop industry you need to audition. If selected, you’re put into training, which is where you work on your singing, dancing, and acting skills, and will learn to speak different languages.
Though they do come from South Korea, which is known as a powerhouse when it comes to producing some of the biggest acts and names in modern music, such as EXO, Shinee, GOT 7, Big Bang, LOONA, Red Velvet, and BlackPink to name a few, it wasn’t easy.
They started from practically nothing, having to ask people to come see their shows, even being so poor that they had to cast staff members into their music videos.
Yoongi’s parents weren’t supportive, and would even throw his songs into the trash, telling him to focus on school. However, little did they know that in three years, that was all about to change.
While their first few albums, titled School Trilogy along with their EP, gained moderate success, it was really their sophomore album, Wings, that thrust them into the international spotlight.
With singles such as “Blood, Sweat, and Tears”, and “MAMA” propelling them to the top of the international charts, that was only one of the first steps in their story of pain and gain.
So, exactly what is it that makes these boys so successful in countries that don’t even speak Korean, or causes people that aren’t even Korean or Asian themselves to adore them so much?
While at first glance, they may just seem like another group of pretty boys who can sing and dance, it takes a lot more than good looks and catchy hooks. Their music, while primarily marketed to millennial and Gen Z females, is known for being socially conscious; “No More Dream” and “N.O.” cover their frustrations with how children are treated in the education system.
In Asia, the education systems are a lot stricter, with parents and teachers more likely to encourage children to strive for success rather than doing what they love.
“Bapsae” discusses the generation gap regarding wealth and opportunities, and they even get political in “I Am Wrong”, criticizing the indifference of people who aren’t politically active. They’re even shown to be supporters of feminism, as the song “21st Century Girl” encourages women to be strong on their own.
Their music is also experimental; while they do rap, in their latest single, “IDOL” they incorporate African beats. “Danger” and “Boy in Luv” include elements of R&B and even rock.
The septet is also notable for their large social media presence; as of Sept. 2018, they have 11 million subscribers on YouTube, 16 million followers on Twitter, 12 million followers on Instagram, and have even been retweeted more times than Justin Bieber and President Trump. They are even the first Korean artists to beat out chart toppers such as Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande, and Taylor Swift in winning Top Social Artist at the Billboard Music Awards in 2017.
While the boys are a force to be reckoned with, don’t underestimate the fandom, also known as the ARMY (Adorable Representative M.C. for Youth) they’re one of the reasons BTS is worldwide famous. Being an ARMY myself, don’t think for a second that we won’t defend them to the death should anyone insult them, and don’t think that we won’t stop stanning anytime soon.
We’re arguably one of the most diverse fanbases in the world. Most of the ARMY identifies as LGBTQIA+, along with many of them being people of color, with tens of thousands coming from all over the world, from the Caymans to California. The second they post a tweet or a photo, or even just a preview on YouTube, we’re the first ones to like, comment, and share.
There are thousands of fan accounts on Twitter and fan blogs, along with fanart and fanfiction on Tumblr and elsewhere dedicated to Bangtan as many dedicated to Harry Potter.
Overall, BTS’s journey to fame and recognition has only begun, and don’t think it’s going to stop anytime soon.