Who Are BTS? Meet The K-Pop Band That Made U.S. iTunes History

Jacques Peterson | February 21, 2017 1:00 pm
BIGBANG Interview
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When it comes to K-Pop, even folks that pay little attention to the Korean music scene are aware of superstars like 2NE1, PSY and G-Dragon. Well, I hate to break it to you, but it’s not 2013 anymore. There’s a new wave of polished K-Pop idols winning over international fans — with boy band BTS leading the pack.

The 7-member band made history last week when their new single, “Spring Day,” became the first track from a K-Pop group to crack the top ten of the US iTunes download chart. The group’s new album, You Never Walk Alone (a re-release of their 2016 sophomore album, Wings), also temporarily knocked Lady Gaga’s Joanne off the top of iTunes’ Pop Albums chart.

This isn’t the first time BTS has impacted the American market. Wings topped iTunes’ main album chart last year and debuted at number 26 on the Billboard 200. To date, it has sold just shy of a million copies worldwide — more than Joanne, Britney Spears’ Glory and Fifth Harmony’s 7/27. So, what is it about BTS that appeals so strongly to Western audiences?

Like BIGBANG and 2NE1 before them, the group’s music is rooted in US-friendly genres like hip-hop and EDM. The cutesy bubblegum-pop or more experimental aspects of K-pop are virtually absent from their discography. Their major breakout hit, “I Need U,” is a propulsive pop-rap ballad with a quaking dubstep hook, while tunes like “Save Me” and “Blood Sweat And Tears” wouldn’t sound out of place on Justin Bieber’s Purpose. (Well, apart from the Korean lyrics!)

BTS are also more creatively involved than many of their manufactured counterparts, with writing and production credits on multiple singles and album cuts. The group’s most prolific member is Kim Nam-Joon (aka Rap Monster), who has penned over 60 songs and collaborated with some of Korea’s most-respected hip-hop artists.

While the boys are yet to announce plans for an American campaign, they will be in the States at the end of March for their latest world tour. After concerts in Chile and Brazil, BTS will play two shows each at Newark’s Prudential Center and Anaheim’s Honda Center as well as one at Chicago’s Allstate Arena. Tickets for BTS’ tour are available through Ticketmaster.

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