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Why Is BTS So Popular? 9 Questions About The K-Pop Phenoms Answered
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Why Is BTS So Popular? 9 Questions About The K-Pop Phenoms Answered

With BTS' first anthology album, 'Proof,' on the horizon, GRAMMY.com breaks down what has made the K-pop group such a global force. Find out who the South Korean septet has collaborated with, what inspires their music and more.

GRAMMYs/May 27, 2022 - 04:32 pm

Since their debut in 2013, BTS has become the epitome of pop music phenomenon. They've been nominated for two GRAMMYs, they've charted four number 1 albums faster than any group since the Beatles, and have broken 25 Guinness World Records. And the South Korean group did it all while singing mostly in their native language, creating strides for other Asian music acts.

The septet — consisting of members J-Hope, Jimin, Jin, Jungkook, RM, Suga, and V — hasn't released an album since 2020's Be, so naturally, fans are excited for BTS' upcoming anthology album, Proof, on June 10. The three-part project will include both old and new tracks, and will surely showcase the magic that is BTS. 

In preparation for the release, let's brush up on the record-breakers' captivating career as they return to their roots in a fresh way. Whether you're part of the ARMY or simply wondering what makes BTS so special, GRAMMY.com answers some of the most burning questions about the K-pop phenoms.

Has BTS Always Been A K-Pop Group?

BTS debuted on June 12, 2013 with a single album called 2 Cool for Skool. The project had a rebellious nature, taking on topics of misunderstanding and prejudice. Musically, it leaned more hip-hop — but that's not too surprising, as members Suga and RM have a background in the underground rap scene in Korea. Still to this day, BTS' hip-hop influences allow them to stand out with authenticity. 

While they identify as a K-pop group, they've changed up their style throughout the years, and have always had a strong rap throughline. The strength of their rapping skills has allowed them to be one of the few non-Western artists to land on Billboard's Top Rap Album's chart. (The 2020 re-release of 2014's Skool Luv Affair debuted on the chart that November). 

Their rap inspirations continue on Proof: One of the upcoming singles, "Born Singer," is adapted from  J. Cole's "Born Sinner" from his 2013 album of the same name. BTS unofficially released and performed the track back in 2013.

Their music — which spans several languages, including Korean, English and Japanese — attracts a global audience, even causing a huge spark in tourism in their home country. In 2020, the HRI reported that at least 796,000 people visited South Korea for BTS. 

This is only a glimpse of how expansive and diverse their ARMY is. Their fan base — which stands for Adorable Representative M.C. for Youth — has also proven to be incredibly loyal, particularly on social media. Each member has over 34 million Instagram followers on their personal accounts, and the group's 64 million followers make them the most-followed group on the app. On Twitter (where the group has 46 million followers), each of their posts garners around 2 million likes.

There are many appeals to BTS. Good music that transcends genre is only icing on the cake. They're also extremely talented performers, have uplifting messages in their music, speak up on important issues, and have built an organic bond with their fans. It also doesn't hurt that their friendship with each other is palpable. Because of the community and comfort many people find in the group, it makes fans that much more passionate in supporting them.

Was "Dynamite" BTS' First English Song?

"Dynamite" — which took the world by storm in 2020 — was BTS' first all-English single of their own, but one of their 2018 collaborations with Steve Aoki, "Waste it on Me," marked their first entirely English song. (Only Jungkook, RM, and Jimin sing on the track, though.) The chill EDM single followed earlier Aoki/BTS team-ups like 2017's "Mic Drop" and 2018's "The Truth Untold."

Who Has BTS Collaborated With?

Along with Aoki, BTS have hopped on tracks with a notable amount of their superstar peers. Calling back to their rap influences, the septet has collabed with several rappers, including Nicki Minaj, Desiigner, Wale, and Megan Thee Stallion. Snoop Dogg also claims he has something in the works with the group. 

2019 was a busy collaboration year for BTS, as they recruited Halsey for the colorful single "Boy With Luv" and Lauv for a remix of "Make It Right" (Jimin and Jungkook featured on a Lauv song called "Who" in 2020). That summer, BTS released a soundtrack album called BTS World: Original Soundtrack (from the mobile game of the same name), which featured Charli XCX, Zara Larsson and the late Juice WRLD. In 2021, BTS joined forces with Coldplay for the anthemic single "My Universe."

What Inspires BTS' Music?

BTS don't just make music, they make art. Though it's easy to enjoy their infectious melodies and punchy beats, there's also a deeper layer that can be explored. Much of their music is inspired by literature and psychology. 

Their 2016 studio album Wings was inspired by Hermann Hesse's Demian, with references to its theme apparent in the video for "Blood, Sweat, and Tears." "Persona," from their EP Map of the Soul: Persona took inspiration from "Jung's Map of the Soul," the music video for "Spring Day" referenced Ursula K. Le Guin's "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" with a sign that read "Omelas," and "Butterfly" reflects through RM's direct lines on the plot of Takashi Murakami's "Kafka on the Shore." There's many more hidden gems throughout their work worth exploring.

Who Is The 8th Member Of BTS?

Although BTS has always been publicly known as a seven-piece group, they were almost known as eight. Kim Ji-Hun trained with BTS and hoped to join the final lineup — initially scouted for his breakdancing skills — but was cut by management before the group debuted. 

In an interview with Vice, Ji-Hun details life training as an idol and his relationship as a "second parent" to the other members. Ji-Hun now works at a government job in veterans health while also making YouTube videos under the name Bitoon.

Does BTS Have Any GRAMMYs?

BTS have been nominated for two GRAMMYs, both for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. Their first nom came in 2021 for "Dynamite," then "Butter" earned their second nod in 2022. While they aren't the only GRAMMY-nominated Korean musicians, they are the only K-pop act to receive nominations.

Who Writes BTS' Songs?

All members of the group have had a hand in songwriting since the group's debut, most frequently RM, Suga, and J-Hope. (RM has recent writing credits on both "Black Swan" and "Butter.")

The group has also outsourced to fellow pop stars including Ed Sheeran, who is credited on "Permission to Dance" and "Make It Right," and Troye Sivan, who co-wrote "Louder Than Bombs" a cut from Map of the Soul: 7. DJ Swivel, who is best known as Beyoncé's personal recording engineer, has co-written several of BTS' songs from 2018 to 2020. South Korean producers/songwriters Pdogg, Supreme Boi and Hitman Bang are also listed as songwriters across different projects over the years.

Which Issues Does BTS Fight For?

BTS have long been supportive of mental health awareness and self-love, evident in the themes of their music — most notably, the Love Yourself album trilogy. Starting in 2017, they also joined UNICEF for the Love Myself campaign against violence and spoke at the United Nations in 2018 to promote Generation Unlimited, a campaign for educating young people and vocational training. They were joined at the UN with former South Korean President Moon Jae-in in 2021 where they were appointed as presidential envoy for future generations and culture.

In 2020, they also made a statement in support of BLM coupled with a donation of $1 million. This sparked fans to match their donation within a day.

Next up, BTS is heading to the White House as Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month comes to a close on May 31. The group will meet with President Joe Biden to discuss diversity, Asian inclusion, representation, and anti-Asian hate. 

The BTS guys have addressed the discrimination they've experienced in the past, issuing a statement condemning anti-Asian hate in early 2021 amid a spike in Asian hate crimes. "We stand against racial discrimination," they wrote. "We condemn violence. You, I and we all have the right to be respected. We will stand together." 

Japanese Breakfast, Blackpink, Enhypen, Stray Kids, Mxmtoon & More | Listen To GRAMMY.com's AAPI Month 2022 Playlist

BTS Release Stunning Music Video For 'Map Of The Soul: 7' Single "Black Swan"

BTS - "Black Swan" Music Video

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BTS Release Stunning Music Video For 'Map Of The Soul: 7' Single "Black Swan"

The striking visual is the latest offering from the South Korean septet's chart-topping album

GRAMMYs/Mar 4, 2020 - 11:19 pm

BTS are back with another stunning music video off their newly released, chart-topping album Map Of The Soul: 7. Today (March 4), the global pop superstars released the official music video for "Black Swan," the first single off the album.

Simple yet striking, the "Black Swan" video shows the South Korean septet deliver a gorgeous dance performance inside an equally beautiful theater. Directed by YongSeok Choi and co-directed by Guzza, both from the Lumpens creative collective, the visual depicts the members of BTS transforming from swans into the song's eponymous black swans onstage. 

The "Black Swan" video follows the group's recent cinematic visual for Map Of The Soul: 7 single "ON," which last week (Feb. 28) broke YouTube's record for most views for a video premiere. Last month (Feb. 21), BTS released the Kinetic Manifesto Film: Come Prima, the first visual for "ON" that unfolds like a short film.

Released last month, Map Of The Soul: 7, BTS' fourth studio album, is breaking records around the world. Already the best-selling album of the year worldwide, the album topped the Billboard 200 chart, their fourth No. 1 album in the U.S., while lead single "ON" currently sits at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, marking their highest record on that chart to date.

Read: BTS Talk New Album 'Map Of The Soul: 7': "The Genre Is BTS"

In an interview with the Recording Academy last month, BTS explained their creative approach to Map Of The Soul: 7, which sees the group exploring everything from pop ballads to hip-hop jams.

"I think it's less and less meaningful to divide music into genres now," BTS member Suga said. 

"The genre is BTS. That's the genre we want to make and the music that we want. New genre," the group's Jungkook, V and J-Hope added. 

Map Of The Soul: 7 follows a dazzling performance from BTS at the 62nd GRAMMY Awards last month. They joined Lil Nas X in a star-studded performance of "Old Town Road" that also featured Billy Ray Cyrus, Diplo and Mason Ramsey

Map Of The Soul: 7 marks BTS' first full-length project since their 2018 album, Love Yourself: Tear, which topped the Billboard 200 chart and solidified the group as the first Korean act to accomplish that record-setting feat. It's also the second installment in BTS' ongoing Map Of The Soul series, which launched with the chart-topping Map of the Soul: Persona EP last April.

Why is K-pop's popularity exploding in the United States?

62nd GRAMMYs Poll: Which Artist Had Your Favorite Red Carpet Look?

Photo: Emma Mcintyre/Getty Images

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62nd GRAMMYs Poll: Which Artist Had Your Favorite Red Carpet Look?

From Lizzo’s classic Hollywood gown to Ariana Grande’s puffy grey dress, who wore your favorite red carpet look?

GRAMMYs/Jan 27, 2020 - 05:52 am

The 62nd GRAMMYs red carpet didn’t disappoint. Every color, pattern, style and texture under the rainbow was represented.

Take, for example, Lizzo’s elegant white classic Hollywood-inspired gown or Lil Nas X’s hot pink cowboy suit. Shawn Mendes opted for a vibrant purple suit and Tyler, The Creator made a splash with a light pink bellboy outfit. Billie Eilish homed in on the color green for the evening while Yola rocked hot pink.

With so many great looks to see on Music’s Biggest Night, we wanted to know, which artist wore your favorite look?

Check out the complete 62nd GRAMMY Awards nominees and winners list here.

Japanese Breakfast, Blackpink, Enhypen, Stray Kids, Mxmtoon & More | Listen To GRAMMY.com's AAPI Month 2022 Playlist
(Clockwise L-R): ENHYPEN, Karen O, Arooj Aftab, Japanese Breakfast, mxmtoon, Jhené Aiko

Source Photos (Clockwise L-R): The Chosunilbo JNS/Imazins via Getty Images; Rick Kern/WireImage; Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella; Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella; FilmMagic/FilmMagic for Outside Lands; Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella

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Japanese Breakfast, Blackpink, Enhypen, Stray Kids, Mxmtoon & More | Listen To GRAMMY.com's AAPI Month 2022 Playlist

As we celebrate the contributions of AAPI artists throughout the month of May, GRAMMY.com presents a genre-spanning playlist of emerging and established artists you should know, including BTS, Jhené Aiko, B.I, TWICE, Arooj Aftab, and many more.

GRAMMYs/May 19, 2022 - 11:02 pm

Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) musicians have created a plethora of transformative art, which is ripe for exploration. To help you do it, GRAMMY.com has put together a 30-song list with music from AAPI musicians including Luna Li, Wallice, Weston Estate, Kainalu and OHYUNG, along with other AAPI artists you should know like Deb Never, Lucy Liyou and Sunset Rollercoaster. You may even find your new favorite artist along the way.

This playlist spans genres and moods, and its primary goal is to expose you to fantastic new AAPI artists you might not find in less curated places, like your motionless Spotify algorithm or crooning through your car radio. You can think of this playlist as a first-rate tasting menu of what AAPI-made music has to offer — something to turn to when you’re looking for solidarity, inspiration or just some really good music.  

Listen to GRAMMY.com’s official 2022 AAPI Month playlist below and follow the Recording Academy/GRAMMYs on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music and PandoraPlaylist powered by GRAMMY U.

5 Emerging AAPI Artists You Need To Listen To: Luna Li, Wallice, OHYUNG & More

Everything We Know About BTS' New 2022 Album 'Proof'
Jungkook, RM, Jin, Suga, and Jimin of BTS at the 2022 GRAMMYs

Photo: Johnny Nunez/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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Everything We Know About BTS' New 2022 Album 'Proof'

Later in 2022, BTS will release a three-part anthology of key tracks, new songs, and previously unreleased rarities. Here's everything to know about 'Proof.'

GRAMMYs/May 12, 2022 - 08:51 pm

There's a new stirring in the fabric of the BTS universe — a big one.

On June 10, the GRAMMY-nominated pop juggernauts will release Proof, a collection of tracks from throughout their discography, as well as brand new tracks, never-before-heard demos and more.

Spanning three discs, Proof promises to celebrate the band's past, present and future through a lovingly curated song cycle. If members of the BTS Army ever wanted to hear demos of tracks like "Jump," I Need U" and "DNA" — as well as an a cappella version of Jungkook's "Still With You" — they're in luck.

In the wake of Proof's recently released tracklisting — featuring well-known tunes like "Dynamite" and "Butter" (and so much more), here's everything GRAMMY.com could find about the career-spanning compilation by a giant of 21st-century pop.

It's Called Proof, And It's Out June 10 Via Big Hit Music

That's according to the official press release.

It'll Contain A Wealth Of Treasures, Previously Unreleased Or Not

According to said press release: "The new album consists of three CDs that contain brand new tracks, members' selections, demo versions, unreleased tracks and more."

Proof Acts As A "Chronicle Of BTS"

The first disc begins with a remastered version of "Born Singer," from all the way back in 2013, which the press release describes as "BTS' candid emotions they felt after one month of their debut." The disc ends with the lead single "Yet To Come (The Most Beautiful Moment)."

The second disc consists of "15 solo and sub-unit tracks," beginning with the new track "Run BTS," and highlights each BTS member's distinct tastes and personality.

The third disc, only available on CD, is said to be "dedicated to the fans," featuring unreleased tracks and demo versions that any fan will eat up — as well as a new fan song, "For Youth."

Read More: Smooth Like "Butter": How BTS' GRAMMY-Nominated Mega Hit Came To Be

The Album Celebrates Nine Years Of BTS

Can you believe it's been almost a decade? Yet it feels like the Bangtan Boys are just getting started.

BTS Initially Teased The Music Back In April

During their Permission To Dance Onstage concert in Las Vegas, BTS shared short clips with the text "We Are Bulletproof" and "2022. 06. 10." While this initially fueled speculation that a new album was coming, the release wound up materializing as Proof.

They Shared The Tracklist On Instagram

It's in the Highlights section of their Stories, where BTS also announced that "Yet to Come" will be the lead single.

They Released A Trailer, Too

See below — and watch this space as more details of Proof are unveiled!