Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, you’ve undoubtedly heard of the rise of K-pop, fronted by the group BTS. With the boys making news for being the first Korean artist to win two awards at the BBMA’s last night it seems like the perfect time to appreciate the scale of what they’re doing. The band of 7 are making waves worldwide and are changing the shape of the music industry whilst they’re at it – here are just a few reasons why.
1) Their Fans
BTS have some of the most dedicated fans out there. ARMY’s are an incredibly driven and loving bunch who truly want the best for their boys and do whatever they can to support them – helping them win several fan’s choice awards in recent years. Fans buy multiple copies of albums, host regular giveaways and have curated a beautiful, friendly community for Army’s worldwide. More than that, BTS and their fans are combating the popular opinion of ‘fans’ as lovestricken teenage girls. The community is full of all genders, all ages and all nationalities and reminds the locals (or non-fans) that all you need to be a ‘fan’ is a good taste in music. High-profile celebrities endorsing BTS like Matthew McConneh go a long way in boosting the bands name and in breaking down harmful stereotypes.
2) Behind-the-scene Roles
In the UK a band is viewed as a separate entity, individual from management who often remain in the shadows. Asian culture is vastly different and BTS highlight just how much work is put in around them. Every release has a carefully chosen theme which is woven into an immensely detailed narrative which is ground-breaking in itself for its magnitude. When I think of BTS, I do not think of 7 boys from Korea, but of the fans around the world, their designers, their management and all who help shape their sound, visuals and character.
For BTS every move is analysed and inspected, whilst this may encourage people to see fans as insane they are actually onto something. Everything down to fashion choices, to hair colours, to miniscule changes in dance routines can indicate where the narrative of their music is heading. Their recent MAMA performance featured giant hands and puppet-like movements, leading to speculations that their next album will focus on ideas of identity and control. BTS are changing the way music and ideas are presented and demanding a widening of the scope of talent. Artists can no longer just sing or rap,
They are not just fashion icons and musical geniuses, they actually say something important. A sub-genre of music with something to say is on the rise in popular culture with bands like twenty one pilots and Imagine Dragons, but BTS take this further. Their music advocates mental health awareness, draws on generational differences in Korean culture and discusses their own fame. But the discussion continues, they urge their fans to love themselves and are so influential in their movement that they spoke at the United Nations which garnered even more attention and publicity and won the hearts of thousand more new fans. It is incredibly important for bands and artists to speak out about what is important and to use their platform to advocate love and positive change.
Radio stations and online publications are forced to widen their perspective to accommodate worldwide trends; gone are the days when popular music is entirely English. Though this was greatly helped by the popularity of latino music, BTS and their fans fought hard for radio recognition and the immense support they gather from fans and newbies alike is enough to get every major news source interested.
It is generally accepted that Asian artists (I’m speaking of what I know from J-pop, C-pop and K-pop) have incredibly crafted albums – don’t get me started on the Grammy. You don’t just buy an album, but you buy into an idea, a story and a family. I can see why fans buy multiple copies, not only are they beautiful but you could buy 10 and get something different every time. The one sat on my shelf seems incredibly lonely and I cannot wait to add to my collection.
BTS are changing the music industry and the world as we know it and I’m excited to watch their waves continue to ripple outwards. As more and more people grow to love the band taking over the world, I’ll be here smiling as it happens. Let us know how you think BTS are changing the world below!