BTS - The Band We Didn't Know We Needed in 2020
By Rachael Lovette
Whether you know them as BTS, Beyond the Scene, Bulletproof Boy Scouts, Bangtan Sonyeondan, or “that K-Pop group”, you’ve probably heard of these seven men from South Korea. From Jimmy Fallon to James Corden, American TV shows have gone crazy (and rightfully so) for a piece of these guys’ time. What you and many others may not know (and American media fails to show) is all the good they are doing for the world through their music, actions, and more.
Why We Need Them
Through charitable work, such as the 2017 ‘Love Myself’ Campaign, their Love Yourself album trilogy, and their outspoken nature to challenge the status quo, BTS has continually pushed the boundary of what it means to be a good person. It makes sense that BTS' philosophy has always been to encourage appreciation of diversity, establish the ground for new synergies to be born, and to above all us, love yourself.
In 2020, a time that started out so promising but has become quite bleak, BTS has proven that they are a beacon of hope for fans and non-fans alike.
In January 2020, BTS launched a global art project across London, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Seoul, and New York. BTS Connect as it was aptly named, is about connecting people on opposite sides of the world through art and music in hopes of effecting positive change on the world who has lost touch, feels isolated, and/or alone with their devices. Visitors were able to view the art installations for free in-person or online.
On June 7th a virtual graduation event was live-streamed across the world in hopes of inspiring, motivating, and encouraging graduates to not lose hope. The members shared feelings of empathy during the coronavirus pandemic, their own touching graduation stories (Jungkook was lucky enough to have the members at his graduation), and provide relatable advice for the future. The group also went on to share special pre-recorded productions of “Boy With Luv”, “Spring Day,” and “Mikrokosmos” for fans watching at home.
“Remember there is a person here in Korea, in the city of Seoul, who understands you. We are all in different parts of the world, in different environments and circumstances, but at this moment I hope we can all give each other a warm pat on the back and say, ‘It’s OK.’” Jimin
Livestream & Concerts
Over the past few months, the members of BTS have regularly posted live-stream videos on VLive and YouTube as well as done a variety of concerts and appearances as a way to connect with their fans in real-time. From discussing their self-produced album and eating a meal with ARMY to hosting ‘fake’ radio shows to share songs and ‘interview’ guests (aka each other) and doing various craft projects (bracelet making, painting, etc.), the members have been doing their part to ensure fans feel a little less isolated and alone during this pandemic.
Black Lives Matter
On June 3rd the group’s Twitter account tweeted, "We stand against racial discrimination. We Condemn violence, You, I and we all have the right to be respected. We will stand together. #BlackLivesMatter.” Behind the scenes, BTS and their management company Big Hit donated $1M US to Black Lives Matter following the protests over the death of George Floyd. Following BTS’ lead, ARMY (BTS fans) pulled together and matched the group’s $1M donation in just 24 hours. How awesome is that?!
If I had to sum up ‘Stay Gold’ in one word: awestruck. The track opens with soft vocals from Jungkook singing the lines, “In a world where you feel cold, You got to stay gold baby,” immediately capturing the hearts of those listening, before moving onto an upbeat hip-hop inspired beat and chorus. The song conveys the message that while the world is not full of great things right now, it’s important to not let it dim your light.
The music video compliments the lyrics perfectly by flashing between moments of the members happy and all together, to each of them being completely isolated and alone, seemingly wishing to get back to one another. The music video ends with them all meeting in a beautiful landscape, in what one would only hope is the prediction of 2021.
National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) Donation
In honor of his 26th birthday, BTS leader RM donated to a cause very near and dear to his heart; ART! The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) in South Korea was the recipient of 100M won [$84.2K US] to be used for reprinting hard-to-find and out-of-print books which are related to art. These books will then be sent to elementary, middle, and high schools in 400 places across South Korea and will also be available for purchase in MMCA's bookstore.
BTS delivered a special speech about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic during the 75th UN General Assembly. The members were filmed individually and spoke about how the outbreak of the pandemic interrupted their plans for the year -- both good and bad. Even though the general mood was solemn as each member spoke, RM took the opportunity to fans to love themselves.
"When I start feeling lost...I remember the words I spoke here two years ago: 'Love yourself, speak yourself,'" he said. "Now more than ever, we must try to remember who we are and face who we are. We must try to love ourselves and imagine the future. BTS will be there with you.”
BTS challenged themselves in the highly anticipated track, ‘Dynamite’ both in lyrics and in sound. This retro, disco-pop groove is very reminiscent of the Maroon 5 ‘Sugar’ era and strays away from the group’s usual introspection and evocativeness. It also marks the first time that all members of BTS performed a track entirely in English, and as you can imagine fans were sold from the get-go. The track is light, airy, and all about letting loose, which is exactly what the world needs right now. It offers a foot-tapping air of familiarity but signals BTS’ agility to adapt to the world around them while still supporting their fans through their music (as always).
Aside from speaking their truth and being very charitable, BTS is well-known for its charismatic silliness and sometimes sexy antics on international TV. The group has been making appearances on American TV since 2017 when they performed their hit song “Fake Love” at the Billboard Music Awards. While viewers were busy being mesmerized by Jungkook’s chocolate abs, ARMY [their fandom] knew this was the beginning of something special. Since their debut, they have proven time and again that their ability to adapt and evolve while staying true to themselves is unlike any other. Their duality to go from hilarious to sexy and sultry to inspiring are why they continue to capture the hearts of fans across the globe. They are authentic, goofy, have no ego, and genuinely look like they not only love and care about one another but also their fans (and why I chose these as their most notable U.S. appearances to date).
Following their performance and first U.S. award show win at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards, Billboard News’ Chelsea Briggs had some fun interviewing BTS about their win, got a dance lesson, and even received the token pick up line, “You know BTS?”
Flinch on the Late Late Show with James Corden tests celebrities' to see if they have nerves of steel or nerves of jello. The guys split up into groups and step behind a sheet of plexiglass and must remain still as various fruits are fired at them at high rates of speed.
In February 2020 BTS “took” over the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon as a special promotion of their new album, Map of the Soul: 7. BTS and Jimmy challenge each other to a series of mini-games while they ride the New York City subway.
After performing their single “Black Swan” off their latest album Map of the Soul: 7, Ashton Kutcher and James Corden play a game of hide and seek in the studio where the goal is to find the most members of BTS and bring them back to the main stage by any means possible.
Their selfless attitude, respectable nature, and love for their fans have earned them the nickname, “the humble idols” and rightfully so. Not only are these men talented, socially conscious, and relatable on so many levels, they also make some pretty great music.
Whether you're an ARMY like myself or a casual listener, you’ll find yourself quickly admiring these guys, as artists and as genuinely great human beings. Their combination of talent, authenticity, and charm make them increasingly difficult to ignore.
Rachael Lovette is the Digital Director at Flower Bomb Media with a passion for everything K-Pop, fashion, model advocacy, and pop culture. Make sure you follow her on Instagram as she journeys through the fashion industry from behind the lens.