Making it as a musical artist isn’t easy. You have your Drakes and your Biebers who can never go wrong with their music, but reaching their position involves a lot of time and persistence. It’s hard enough for local artists to find a place in the US charts, but for international acts, it’s almost impossible. Unless you’re this K-pop band, that is.
Who is BTS?
BTS is a 7-piece band from South Korea. Their name originated from the expression Bangtan Sonyeondan which in Korea means Bulletproof Boy Scouts. The intention with their name was to fight back against the stereotypes and expectations that young people often face. Since achieving success, the boys have been known by other names, such as the Bangtan Boys and Beyond The Scene.
BTS has been around since 2013 when they released their first song “No More Dream.” The single only peaked at number 124 in the Korean charts, but this was just the start. “No More Dream” came several years after Big Hit Entertainment started holding auditions for a boy band. As with many big groups formed by record labels, like the Spice Girls, the lineup went through several changes. It took until 2012 for it to reach the point it’s at now.
Although their first few singles didn’t have a significant impact on the Korean charts, their debut album “2 Cool 4 Skool” still peaked at number five in the country. It’s shifted around 130,000 copies so far, one of their lowest to date. Where better to have your lowest sales than at the start of your career? From there, things blew out of control.
Between 2013 and 2017, the band released six albums and five extended plays. Of these 11 releases, eight have hit the top spot in Korea, while all but one have been in the top five. The latest of these, the extended play “Love Yourself: Her” has sold well over 1.5 million copies in Korea. At the time, it was also their highest charting release in the US, landing at number seven and selling 21,000 units. It likely helped that it featured one half of musical duo The Chainsmokers on the song “Best of Me.”
Success in the US has only come within the last year. Their first single to chart on the Billboard was DNA which reached number 67 and brought them to the attention of thousands of people. By the time their newest album, “Love Yourself: Tear” debuted in May 2018, more than 100,000 people in the States were fans of BTS. Their album landed at number one on the Billboard 200, while the lead single “Fake Love” hit the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100.
This isn’t the first time a Korean has had success in the US. Back when PSY was a hot commodity, his single “Gangnam Style” sold over 5 million copies and hit the number two spot. However, no other Korean band has managed the same level of success.
The new superstars
Ever since they first came to public attention, BTS has been on fire. They’ve won dozens of awards in Korea, as well as several in the States. Their popularity on social media won them a Billboard Music Award in 2017 and 2018 for Top Social Artist, another thing that no other Korean band had ever managed.
The boys have also been involved with a lot of philanthropy, with their “Love Myself” releases intended to raise money for children and teenagers dealing with domestic abuse and assault. Within a matter of months, they’d already collected over $500,000 for the cause.
Becoming a successful musical artist is an arduous journey, but BTS has done everything right in their quest for stardom. Their social media presence is strong, their releases frequent and, of course, their music is pretty great too. Expect plenty more big things from this boy band.