BTS Image Credit: Twitter

#1. Connecting with the present & the future:

If you’re young (or old) and haven’t heard about BTS (Jimin, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, V, RM, Jungkook) or their music,  you’re living under a rock. There’s a reason why BTS (from the Korean phrase Bangtan Sonyeondan, literally meaning "Bulletproof Boy Scouts") have been on Time magazine cover — not once, not twice — but thrice.

The record-breaking group is arguably the biggest boy idol group not only in South Korea but in the world. Driven by flashy videos, their lyrics make for LSS (or last-song-syndrome); their powerful dance moves are emulated by young people across the world. That's how viral they've become.

In the United Nations, BTS members actually hold important roles: they are the UN Special Presidential Envoys for Future Generations and Culture. That's how viral the group's influence has become. Here, BTS vocalist V (real name: Kim Tae-hyung) was honoured with a birthday tribute on Dubai's iconic Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest tower.

#2. Dynamite music:

Their songs are chart-topping dynamites, with a repertoire that includes mainstream K-pop music that has its own distinct recipe for multiple-hit wonders. The key ingredients: a catchy hook, paired with a signature dance move that’s wrapped up in a snazzy video. With this formula, they create a unique package that can be enjoyed by people of all tastes, enabling BTS to capture the hearts of many.

20200907 top news bts
$1.4 BILLION WORTH BTS 'DYNAMITE': K-pop sensation BTS's US-chart-topping single 'Dynamite' is estimated to generate more than $1.4 billion for the South Korean economy and thousands of new jobs in the country, a government study claimed. The trailblazing septet cemented their prominence in the world's biggest music market, when the all-English track debuted at No. 1 in the Billboard Hot 100. The feat had previously eluded rapper Psy, whose "Gangnam Style" was a global megahit but peaked at number two in the US for seven weeks in the fall of 2012.

By aligning themselves with a feel-good messaging, it's no wonder they gained global renown. Their song "Dynamite" grabbed the No. 1 spot on the Hot 100, and also broke records on Billboard's Global charts and Digital Song Sales chart in April.

#3. Global fandom:

BTS management's savvy use of social media is a case study for modern-day marketers. They reach out to fans (who declare themselves "ARMY" members), starting with the group’s 47 million Twitter followers. This huge, diverse fandom is glued together by a sort of “behind-the-scenes” movement, able to hold a global audience together, and connect them through their love of K-pop music, while also prodding them to embrace cultural diversity. The message of inclusiveness and diversity shines through across all K-pop fans, that's hard to ignore even for a busy man like US President Joe Biden.

#4. Intense choreography:

The BTS moves are known for intense choreography, especially for chart-toppers like Black Swan, On, Dynamite, Boy With Love, Butter, Blood Sweat and Tears, among others. The ability to pull it all off boils down to their compete-against-yourself posture. A week before a concert, the members reportedly practice up to 12 hours a day. While BTS members are very much in charge of their choreography on stage, their moves also reflect global influences.

For example, their choreographer Sienna Lalau, a young Samoan, has choreographed the K-Pop superstars' music video On and also dances in it. Dancer-choreographer Nick Joseph, who has also worked with BTS, said in an interview: “I truly admire 3J's work ethic.” He was referring to BTS members J-Hope, Jimin and Jungkook. The K-pop stars certainly don't need permission to dance.

PERFORMANCE IS WORK: A week before a concert, the members reportedly practice up to 12 hours a day.

#5. Cultural icons:

Not only have they won various awards both at home court and the US. They’re part of an elite group of global entertainers that include Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, Khalid, Lady Gaga and urban Latin star Ozuna (on Time's Annual "100 Most Influential People" List).

BTS are the first Asian group to be nominated and win Best Artist at the American Music Awards and first all Korean band to perform at the Grammy Awards and to receive a nomination. They were the first Korean group to win a Billboard Music Award too.

BTS are the first Asian group to be nominated and win Best Artist at the American Music Awards and first all Korean band to perform at the Grammy Awards and to receive a nomination. They were the first Korean group to win a Billboard Music Award too.

#6. Gratefulness:

There’s no denying BTS are masters of their own game, in their own terms. But they clearly compete with themselves, instead of competing with others in the K-pop scene or on the global stage. They certainly know how to be grateful.

Asked whether BTS considers Psy, who reached global fame in 2012 for Gangnam Style (the first video to have more than 1 billion views on YouTube), BTS’ Suga says Psy “paved the way” for them. “We were able to follow his footsteps… he was always someone I was grateful for,” Suga said of Psy, whom he collaborated in That That.

Psy achieved global fame in 2012 for "Gangnam Style", and opened the door for K-pop wonder BTS to the world stage. Image Credit: File

#7. Positive messaging:

People — young and adults alike — confess this to be the case: the more they watch BTS videos, listened to their songs, the better they felt good about themselves. They felt motivated. BTS’ influence is such that they naturally push the message out for people to have the will and motivation to change their lives for good.

Their songs align with the rather simple, but strong message: self-support, self-love and self-care, which are important value as much as altruism and love for others is valued across cultures.

Their humanity also shows in their campaigns. Despite being successful mega-stars, members candidly acknowledge deeper emotional issues and the need to overcome down moments. BTS has participated in a “Love Myself” campaign promoting youth self-acceptance. 

Their advocacy seeks to help young people struggling with personal issues — to feel less alone and get a grip on inner turmoils. This leads young people to make the extra push to somehow follow their dreamsbest.

#8. Global influence:

Parents looking at BTS projects find that the members are active in helping charity programs like UNICEF. That means that they are a good influence to their fans. Their songs inspire you to never underestimate yourself, to be proud of who you are. When the BTS were invited to the UN, they sent a message of hope for young people, with heartfelt messages of consolation and hope for youth and those against Asian hate crimes. That’s encapsulated in the chorus of their hit “Permission to Dance”, performed at the UN headquarters:

Permission to Dance (chorus)
“I wanna dance, the music's got me going
Ain't nothing that can stop how we move, yeah
Let's break our plans and live just like we're golden
And roll in like we're dancing fools
We don't need to worry
'Cause when we fall, we know how to land
Don't need to talk the talk, just walk the walk tonight
'Cause we don't need permission to dance.”

#9. Talent

I kept this last on my list, but it's not the least. On their own, BTS members are incredibly multi-talented in individual skills. Within the group, talent is abundant: J-Hope has written dozens of songs, including music for his career as a solo musician, band member, and songs for other performers. That’s been BTS’ brand: chart-topping songs (and rap) with dance moves to mesmerise you. Not only do they write original music, but are also unafraid to collaborate with others.

My son Toffee, 8, rattles off the reasons why he thinks BTS is such a hit: “They’re popular because of their music and talent… Suga is a good rapper and can do belly dance moves; RM is a poet and speaks fluent Korean and English; Jimin reaches the high pitches; Jungkook sings well and is a good voice actor; Jin has a wide range of voices, plays the guitar and is a snowboarder; V is a sax player. Don’t write about them. Just watch their videos. Then you’ll see...”