The cultural impact of BTS is unmatched

Credit: Getty Images

For those who are unaware of BTS, they are the world’s leading band.

Of course there’s a very big chance that you have heard of them but perhaps you don’t quite understand exactly why they are such a big deal, or how they came to be said big deal.

A crude summation of the seven-piece K-Pop juggernaut could be that they are a really popular band with catchy hits, who are huge on social media, with millions upon millions of fans, both in their native South Korea and across the world.

But as any of their dedicated fans (their Army, come on) know, there is so much more to BTS than that. If you need a bit of schooling on Bangtan Boys — and a reason to really sit up and take notice of a group who are worthy of the global stage they are building for themselves — this is for you.

They are record breakers. They are taste makers. They have wreaked glorious havoc on a music industry that was becoming staid and predictable. They are revolutionising the business in a way that, just a few years ago, nobody could have predicted.

Credit: Getty Images
Credit: Getty Images

One of the many ways they are doing this is by forging on ahead despite the perceived xenophobia and the gatekeeping that occurs within the industry. From the VMAs creating categories for K-pop to exclude BTS from established categories to so-called comedians making xenophobic ‘jokes’ like ‘when I first heard something Korean had exploded in America, I was worried’. Clearly, BTS have significantly rattled the West.

Taylor Swift’s ‘You Need to Calm Down’ won Video of the Year at the 2019 VMAs with 20 million views in 24 hours yet BTS’s unrivalled ‘Boy with Luv’ hit 74.6 million views and won ‘Best K-Pop’ and ‘Best Group’. Congrats to BTS who were nowhere to be found at the awards ceremony. If these shows attempt to limit their award show success — try again. They absolutely do not need these award shows for international recognition. They get this on their own merit. Besides this, their award collection does all the talking for them. Mind you, this is just a snippet of their many awards!

As BTS continue to carry the entire music industry on their backs — their lack of promotion in the Western world is not surprising. They consistently outsell the West’s top artists like Billie Eilish and Ariana Grande — with selling over 573,000 albums from January — July 2019, compared to Billie Eilish’s 465,000 and Ariana Grande’s 297,000. Their lack of Grammy nominations in the past might be due to their global superstardom, which frightens the Western music industry. Don’t get it twisted though, BTS don’t need Western validation because their extensive catalogue and support speaks for itself.

Credit: FilmMagic

The Billboard Hot 100 #1 group released their first English single, ‘Dynamite’, hitting 101.1 million views within 24 hours on Youtube. As amazing as this is, BTS effortlessly hit these numbers but all of a sudden, they sing in English and the music industry goes wild and asks silly questions like “Which American artist would you like to collaborate with?”

Credit: WireImage

Give BTS the same chances as everyone else on the charts, just once, and they have already outdone the industry within a week. Dynamite, with just over 250 million sales in the first week or how they have extended the record for the group with most weeks at #1 on the Billboard Artist 100? Pure talent and hard work. If you watch their videos and interviews, you will hear about their rags-to-riches story from living together in a 1 bedroom apartment to now becoming global superstars.

Their lack of English songs speaks to their authenticity and retains their Korean identities. People will listen to BTS whether they sing in Korean or English — their musical experience extends beyond this language barrier. BTS rapper, Suga, didn’t want to restrict K-pop to the musical genre because it encompasses makeup, choreography, the visuals and much more. If you listen to K-pop — there is not one distinct sound but a variety from hip-hop, EDM, pop and whatever you name it.

What other musicians provide us with outstanding performances and choreography, whilst challenging toxic masculinity on a regular basis? With their catchy lyrics and colourful hair, they have revolutionised the global music industry by paving the way for K-pop. When you have people wanting to visit South Korea and learn Korean because of BTS? They may not have been the first K-pop artists but are the most impactful — so impactful that in 2018 they were awarded the Order of the Cultural Merit, as the youngest recipients!

With their large collections of number of #1s under their belt, BTS is set to continuously dominate, especially with the work of ARMY constantly bragging for BTS who remain nothing but humble.

Culture writer and award-winning community champion | https://bashiratoladele.journoportfolio.com

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