How BTS is changing the world
In 2013 seven boys from diverse backgrounds, who had have left their homes and families to pursue their goal of becoming K-pop artists were about to launch. Then, shortly after their hopes fell short because of the negative publicity through the press, their internal conflict and the lack of proper funding caused them to close their doors repeatedly. However, they continued to fight to achieve their goals even if it was requiring living in one cramped room and having to persuade fans to attend their shows. They had humble beginnings. One of them, Yoongi, recently had an operation to repair the shoulder labrum that had been torn. The injury was a result of an injury that took place in 2012 when the actor was struck by a vehicle in one of his delivery-boy shifts.
Fast forward to the present and the similar group of guys of South Korea, Bangtan Sonyeondan (BTS) are today one of the largest boy groups in the world. Apart from other impressive achievements, they’ve got multiple no. 1 albums on the US Billboard Hot 100, 15 Guinness World Records and over 300 awards. BTS are among the youngest winners of the South Korean Order of Cultural Merit award and the first K-pop artist to earn the Grammy nomination. They have revolutionized the world and the image of K-pop forever. They’ve paved the way for other artists.
For a long time, BTS struggled to get their music heard. They weren’t an instant success, as some might think. Because of their struggle and despite this, they were global famous and South Korea’s joy and pride. BTS aren’t content to stay to the confines of “K-pop” industry, instead often exploring different multi-faceted styles and music genres such as Hip-Hop, Jazz, EDM, R&B, Latin pop, Ballad, Country and Rock and many more. The seven members have different roles and positions within the group, like vocalist, dancer as well as leader, rapper choreographer, producer and many more.
The music of BTS transcends language, the boundaries of time and culture; their authentic and relatable music are a hit with people who are experiencing different phases of their lives. The healing impact of their music doesn’t make any distinction. A majority of their own written and self-produced songs address the social and political issues of our society like mental health, toxic masculinity women’s empowerment, self-love burn-out, capitalism, the challenges of growing up and growing up, among others. Most of their topics are still taboo in the culturally-conservative Asia and are often brushed away as non-existent.
In the Korean musical industry has become well-known as having a “manufactured” and “engineered” sound. The artists have no input into the music they sing about, instead they are able to have their music written and recorded by a team of experts who meet industry standards. BTS is breaking all of those conventional rules by allowing a voice to the music they compose. They’ve begun an exciting new trend for Korean singers to investigate the more intricate and powerful themes.
The motifs are frequently found in their studio albums as well as their individual mixtapes. In their most recent album “BE”, which was released on the 20th of November 2020 BTS revealed their struggles and their dreams in the wake of the outbreak, as well are embracing “Be”-ing in this new environment. The songs with relatable tunes and catchy lyrics of songs such as “Fly to my Room”, “Dis-ease”, “Stay” and “Telepathy” are contrasted with the emotional, raw ballads such as “Blue & Grey” and “Life Goes On”.
The album also includes their first-ever English language track, “Dynamite”. It comforts those struggling with mental health issues during these difficult times, and serves as an encouraging message to fans that it will all be okay as life will go forward. This album is like a hug from a friend on a cold winter day.
BTS’s supporters, referred to as the ARMY (short to Adorable Reply MC for Young People) are an enthusiastic group of talented individuals from all walks of life who support BTS and each other the thick and thin. Shehrin Tabassum Odri, a digital marketer and ARMY member since 2018 shared her experience of the huge effect BTS has had on her life. “When I was at my loneliest, having hit rock bottom and losing the will to live, BTS was there for me. It was the day they released their ‘Life Goes On’ music video,” she declares. “The song was like a wakeup call. It made me realise how many future opportunities and loved ones I will be losing if I give up now and that I’m not the only one feeling this miserable and lost, the members of BTS have gone through this phase too. If they have found a way to stay hopeful for the future to change and better times to come, maybe I should hold on a bit longer too. BTS gave me the hope to keep living.”
“In conservative countries like ours, masculinity is associated with tall, bearded men with deep voices,” writes Sumaiya Islam who is who is a Nuclear Science and Engineering student. “In a society where men struggle to be vulnerable and be seen as ‘manly’ enough, BTS breaks the gender norms by wearing makeup, jewellery, gender-neutral clothes, and long, colourful hair. They have completely changed my viewpoint on Asian men.” Sumaiya is an ARMY member since.
Atanu Roy Chowdhury has said that the group will make the singer be “seen”. “Mental health is affecting our lives, but people don’t want to talk about it. BTS is using the universal language of music to tell the world how important mental health is,” the singer states. “One of my closest friends died by suicide in 2012, and there are times when it still breaks my heart thinking that I will never see her or talk to her again. Songs from BTS albums help to ease the pain. Having my favourite musicians talk about such issues makes me feel more connected to them.”
By tearing down old false beliefs such as “men don’t cry” and “only girls can wear makeup” and openly discussing their struggles and sharing their feelings, BTS are showing the world that gender doesn’t need to define anyone, and there shouldn’t be any one set of standards for being. BTS of members Min Yoongi (Suga), Kim Namjoon (RM) and, more recently, Kim Taehyung (V) and Kim Seokjin (Jin), are well-known for their openness about their battles with depression, anxiety and burn-out. “I have been called ‘girly’ because I like cooking, cleanliness and keeping my hair long. Even the way I walk has been criticised. Terms like ‘girly’ and ‘gay’ are so easily used as insults, when they should not be,” says Atanu. “Toxic masculinity is so ingrained in us, and it affects people of all ages. BTS is fighting a difficult fight, and kudos to them for that!” The sight of an individual as sexy and attractive like BTS’ Jungkook be named “Sexiest International Man Alive 2020” In a field typically dominated by white guys is a great thing in the lives of brown Asian guys across the globe, making them a person who they can relate to. Another member of ARMY, Niaz Ahmed, revealed that the lyrics of the band’s album “Love Yourself” (a trilogy of their album released in 2018) impressed his. “Their music was eye-opening, and helped me to start thinking that being happy with who I am is very important,” Niaz Ahmed says.
For those who have been involved with BTS for a few years, like me it’s as if we’re growing with them, and experiencing both the lows and highs of their lives and careers with them, not just as a distant supporter, but as a trusted friend. There’s a saying in the fandomthat says “If you are not a fan of BTS now, it’s because you’re not at a point where you need them yet. Just wait, they’ll find you and come to you when you need to be healed, never too early or too late.”
In the world of pop-culture that our society is awash with, BTS have successfully utilised their platform for music to communicate messages about social inequity and injusticethat youngsters are often confronted with. Through their vocalizations on the issues at hand, BTS have not just breaking stereotypes of society and raising awareness, they’re also encouraging their followers to follow suit. The group’s leader, Kim Namjoon (RM) from the UNICEF talk in the United Nations in 2018, “No matter who you are, where you’re from, your skin colour, gender identity: speak yourself.”