Monday, August 27, 2018

K-Pop Superstars: BTS

Unless you live under a rock or have become a hermit, I don’t think that you wouldn’t know BTS. The Korean boy band has exploded like crazy in the past couple of years and has broken through the US and other international markets. Everyone knows them and practically everyone loves them, my niece included.

This is a group that is not a surprise hit. It’s not a group that just exploded into the scene. To give them credit, before they broke out internationally, they have been a group since 2012 and were launched in 2013. It still took the group a few years before they gained the success that they have today. I think just on that basis alone they are not a group that will just pop out and disappear. This is a group that has paid its dues and is now being rewarded for it.

Honestly, I didn’t know who they were until my niece became obsessed with them last year, which led me to an online search of BTS merchandise that I could give her as a gift over the holidays. That was when I realized how popular they were: there is so much merchandise and most of them are very VERY expensive! It’s crazy! The only items I have been able to get for her so far is the Army Bomb and a Barbie/Mattle-made doll of Jungkook.

It’s a welcome surprise to me how popular they are in the US. I was telling my niece that so many Asian (including Filipino) artists have tried to break into the US market but have not succeeded. America is a tough nut to crack for musicians, especially Asian ones. Considering that most of their songs are in Korean, I am amazed by how much they have been embraced by Americans (who most likely don’t even understand the lyrics -- or are in the process of learning Korean, so they can). The band has performed in a couple of awards shows and appeared on popular TV talk shows in the US and almost always they are doing so to the screams of their devoted fans (who remind me of Beatle mania with how crazy they can get with their screaming). I must admit, the fans -- the BTS Army -- are a strong and loyal group!

Some may say that the band is only popular because of how powerful social media is but I beg to differ. I think they do have good music, but it was also because their management was smart enough to maximize the power of social media and use it to their advantage that they were able to break barriers and introduce themselves to the rest of the world.

I may not understand their songs because they are in Korean but even I can acknowledge that their songs are catchy and entertaining. Their music videos are usually interesting and very entertaining to watch too. I don’t really care much about the looks (I’ve told my niece that I can't figure out who is who) but they do have a certain style that is unique to them compared to other boy bands.

These days I enjoy listening to the new songs on their latest album (do they still call them albums these days?) where they collaborate with people like Steve Aoki (Mic Drop) and Nicki Minaj (Idol). The music videos for these two songs are amazing too. These boys can move, much to the delight of the young girls who obviously swoon over every move they make. Ah, to be young and boyband-obsessed! I’ve been there, and I understand it completely!

I hope that with the entrance of Asian artists in the US and international music scene that they can pave the way for more Asian performers to make their mark globally. It would be wonderful to see how Asian singers, bands, etc. can break into this scene in the future with BTS paving the way for them.

I wonder which Asian artist can break through next?


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