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5 reasons why BTS put every boy band in their pockets

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Applause magazine

The whole world is talking about BTS. Hardly any other boy band has polarized as much in recent years as the seven boys from South Korea. Madleen Kamrath and Daniel Koch took a closer look for Applause Magazin what sets the currently most successful boy band in the world apart from other groups. Photo: imago images / ZUMA Press

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Bangtan Sonyeondan, or BTS for short, are among the most successful bands on the planet and are the reason why everyone has heard of K-Pop by now. We explain again what RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook actually have ahead of all boy group colleagues.

1. BTS fans are a force

There is a surefire option to come out as a smart-shitting music journalist who has only briefly read into the subject of BTS: You just have to write that this band is so incredibly good at social media. Why is that wrong? Well - like all K-Pop bands, BTS are constantly supplying their fans with new output on various platforms. The reason why everything they do is accompanied by an unparalleled wave of traffic is not the work of the band, but that of their fan base.

ARMY, in Korean 아미, regularly ensures that the Internet glows when BTS perform somewhere again, publish something new or just feel like indulging in the love of fans. For example, instead of an April Fools joke, ARMY kept themselves happy last week by sharing memories of BTS 'debut year 2013. So if an American talk show host is hoping for a traffic peak on YouTube, Twitter and Instagram, he likes to curry favor with BTS and their fans - which in most cases is, unfortunately, very, uh, obvious. Yes, Jimmy Fallon - you are meant ...

2. Against the BTS choreographies, even the young * NSYNC and Backstreet Boys seem like gross motor skills

When it comes to choreography and dance, the K-Pop acts are in a league of their own. Which is certainly due to the fact that this aspect is at least as important as the music itself - which you can also see in the always spectacular video clips.

And it is because there is almost such a thing as training to be an “idol” in a K-pop band, which is characterized by a similar discipline as the entire working life in South Korea. Which of course doesn't end when success comes. On the contrary: Anyone who dances like BTS will spend hours and hours rehearsing. It could take weeks to check out BTS 'dance practice clips, but we think that one of their greatest performances is enough to convince all doubters:

3. Of course: the music!

A factor that is generally neglected when music journalism looks at BTS in particular and K-pop in general. Even on the day on which BTS played in German arenas for the first time (and sold them out within minutes), the assembled music and culture press did not yet know what had just ended up there and ensured that young fans were already there Gathered at the locations days before the show.

This ignorance is then accompanied with a sniffy sniffle that the music is just industrialized pop off the shelf. What a bullshit. It's true that K-pop takes some getting used to after you've been shaped by Anglo-American pop like most. If a band has to put four great singers and three tight rappers into one song, as in the case of BTS, then of course a lot more happens than in other songs.

The great joy in breaking styles also requires a certain openness. But once you've gotten into it and appreciate the sound of the Korean-English mixture, classic American pop often seems surprisingly free of surprises.

Just as annoying about the blanket criticism is the total disregard of the lyrics. Sure, many K-Pop songs sound a bit generic, especially in the English parts, but especially the early BTS actually negotiated socially relevant topics in their songs and cleverly throw around pop-cultural references. Her own role in the K-Pop game is also often taken up. So there is much more to it than you should wash off so easily. By the way, the YouTube channel DKDKTV is very good at unraveling everything.

4. BTS are seven independent musicians, songwriters, producers, dancers ...

The song "IDOL", which was dismantled above, already deals with the topic that idols are often dissed or viewed as service providers who do what the management tells them to do. However, the seven heads of BTS understand their creative craft.

One could take apart all seven biographically here, but as a representative only band leader RM - formerly Rap Monster - is presented here. Not only that his solo mixtapes "RM" and "Mono" show him as a damn good rapper and producer, RM still writes and produces diligently and is now involved in over 130 songs according to the Korea Music Copyright Association (KOMCA).

The not-for-profit South Korean copyright collective for musical works, founded in 1964, only elevates the most successful members to the category of “full members” - and curates the selection by a committee that only allows a total of 25 active full members. Of the seven BTS members, Suga was the first to receive this industry honor, followed by RM and J-Hope at the beginning of the year. To this day they write and produce the BTS songs with other producers and songwriters.

With BTS soon facing the situation that their oldest members have to go into the military, it will be exciting to see how they advance their solo careers. Especially Suga is on a good course with his very great Halsey guest performance “SUGA's Interlude” (which in turn kicked off her career with the BTS guest performance on “Boy With Luv”).

And J-Hope's smash hit “Chicken Noodle Soup” with Becky G (an update of the song of the same name by Webstar And Young B) also shows that he has what it takes to be a solo star. And then there is the fact that BTS now also know how to use their role as an ambassador for a whole culture in society.

Because BTS support programs such as “Generation Unlimited” of the UN, both financially and with their presence - which they celebrated with an eloquent speech at the United Nations. However, if you hear them talk like that and know their biographies, one would wish that K-Pop stars would become more accessible, give in-depth interviews and do things that others do.

The fans are all the more happy to receive any personal message. Just recently the guys gave their fans hope and courage in this difficult time for all sides with a moving message about the COVID-19 crisis:

5. BTS have the cutest merchandise under the sun

Actually, all K-Pop acts have the commercial aspect of their careers under control. However, BTS are already one level ahead. Together with the designers of the "Line Friends" characters, which are particularly celebrated in Asia, they designed eight cartoon characters. Tata (V), Shooky (Suga), Cooky (Jungkook), Koya (RM), Chimmy (Jimin), RJ (Jin), Mang (J-Hope) and Van (the embodiment of ARMY) are BT21 - and maybe that cutest merchandise a band has ever made.

When BTS are in town for a concert (which will hopefully be the case again soon), you can often recognize the ARMY by the fact that they wear fabric shookies on their heads, have a chimmy on their backpack or have koya ears. The sweet figures are available in umpteen variations as items of clothing, pillows, cell phone protection and as classic stuffed animals.

By the way, the new season of “BT21 Universe” will start soon, where you can watch BTS giggling as they discuss the new adventures of their comic characters and the artists and designers then try to turn them into a coherent storyline.


Can't get enough of BTS? Then we recommend this 7-hour (!) Spotify playlist to listen to up and down:


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