Who the #$&@ is BTS?

February 11, 2018

I didn't realize how much my middle school students kept me in the kpop loop until after I left to teach university. University students' focus is torn between drinking and enduring hangovers, so they do a piss poor job of keeping me updated.

Last month during winter camp, I again found myself surrounded by elementary and middle school students all day for an entire two weeks. In their down time, they turned to youtube. The internet is a portal to vast amounts of content and music and artists, yet the two weeks were essentially limited to two boy groups (BTS and Wanna One), two girl groups (TWICE, Red Velvet), and PSY's dragged up version of Gashina

The most popular name was, hands down, BTS. 

I think they started getting mainstream, Western attention when they beat out Justin Bieber's reign and won Top Social Media Artist at the Billboard Music Awards in May of 2017 and a lot of people had the same question: Who the #$&@ is BTS? They also went on to win Choice International Artist at the Teen Choice Awards in August of 2017 and performed at the American Music Awards in November.

In English their name translates to Bulletproof Boy Scouts which, in my opinion, sounds much less cool than simply BTS. So, BTS = 방탄 소년단 = Bang-Tan So-nyeon-tan = BTS.

Before leaving my job at the middle school in 2015, I had only a handful of students who were fans of BTS and through those students I got to know some songs from their first album, Dark & Wild, which was released in the summer of 2014.

The songs were catchy, but they only had one full album so it wasn't too much to look into.

They released two EPs in 2015, "The Most Beautiful Moment in Life" part 1 & 2, which brought us singles like "Dope/쩔어" and the compilation album, "The Most Beautiful Moment in Life: Young Forever", brought us additional tracks such as "Fire/불타오르네". This is the moment they got me. I could hardly justify listening to the song alone without watching the music videos. Watch the videos, watch the choreography, and go ahead and disagree with me.

BTS' second full album, "Wings", was released in October of 2016 which held us over with singles like "Blood Sweat & Tears/피 땀 눈물" and "Not Today"

which are pretty good but I wasn't hooked by them again until recently with their EP, "Love Yourself: Her". These are the songs I was inundated with at winter camp, but I didn't resist. Notable singles are "MIC Drop", "Go GO/고민보다GO", and "DNA". 

I can't say exactly what makes BTS different from other kpop groups that are out right now, but their music does seem a lot more internationally marketable and more substantial than other groups. Shade aside, some other notable songs out right now have titles like "Peek-a-Boo" and "Likey". Not to mention those dance moves and their fans who literally refer to themselves as ARMY. And did I mention their dance moves? At the end of the day, if the world comes to know one kpop group and it can't be Big Bang, I'm not mad if it has to be BTS.


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