K-Pop Phenoms BTS Keep Breaking Records: Here's Why

BTS at the 2019 GRAMMYs

Photo: John Shearer/Getty Images


K-Pop Phenoms BTS Keep Breaking Records: Here's Why

There's something special about the Bangtan Boys

GRAMMYs/Feb 23, 2019 - 02:48 am

It's official: The seven stars of BTS—J-Hope, Jin, V, Jungkook, Jimin, Suga and RM—have created an "ARMY" of worldwide fans. As they continue to break records, it's become increasingly clear that the K-pop titans are currently the most visible representatives of where mainstream pop music—American pop music in particular—is headed. 

Now, K-pop itself is certainly nothing new (the genre in its contemporary form has been around since the '90s). So, what is it about BTS that has America in such a frenzy? Here are five major reasons why the seven-piece band stands apart from the pack, and why they're unlikely to slow down any time soon.

1. BTS Defy Expectations…

At first glance, and considering the industry's ebbs and flows, it might be easy to write BTS off as just another musical fad. But that would be underestimating BTS' power to connect with audiences: Not only do their steady stream of albums touch on important topics like self-love and follow a developing story arc, last year BTS packed arenas on their Love Yourself global tour. The North American leg alone, which brought the boys to eight cities, had four sold-out shows at the 21,000 capacity Staples Center in Los Angeles. And their first-ever stadium show in the U.S., at New York City's Citi Field, welcomed 40,000 loyal fans for another sold-out show.

What's more, BTS openly experiment with K-pop and boy-band aesthetics, crossing genres and subverting expectations. They defy gender norms and push aside outdated ideas of pop star masculinity via their fashion and music choices, not unlike other young, modern stars like Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny. In their live review, the LA Times noted BTS' "thrillingly evolved presentation of gender," with multiple costume changes, including "frilly white blouses" and "baggy tracksuits," and playful on-stage interactions

"The effect was a welcome disruption of what we expect a male heartthrob to look and sound like—a radical cultural act made only more encouraging by how enthusiastically it was received by the diverse crowd inside Staples Center," Mikael Wood, a pop music critic for the paper, wrote.

2. …And Gracefully Crosses Genres

Additionally, in his review of the NYC show, longtime New York Times pop music critic Jon Caramanica eloquently summarized how BTS' music is more than just airy takes on bubblegum pop. "Those albums [Love Yourself: Tear and Love Yourself: Answer] show how BTS navigates an increasingly variegated and complex sound: Chainsmokers-esque EDM-pop, 1990s R&B, hip-hop from New York and the South, and much more. As singers and rappers, the members are gifted. As dancers and performers, they are nimble. And at this show, their execution was relaxed," Caramanica said.

3. All Seven Members Offer Unique Talents To The Group

At first glance, seven members may sound like a lot for a group that doesn't actively play instruments. But, as any ARMY member will be surely attest, Jin, V, Jungkook, Jimin, J-Hope, Suga and RM each play an important role in shaping who BTS are. For starters, the band splits duties between rapping and singing. And, unlike boy bands of yesteryear, there are no de facto "leaders" or frontmen. RM, who is fluent in English, often speaks on behalf of the group, but he is not necessarily the lead member. 

More: BTS On The Creative Process, Breaking Records, Their Responsibility As Artists & More

As Caramanica also pointed out in his show review, BTS readily share the spotlight onstage, much to their fans' delight: "Near the end of the show, 'The Truth Untold' showcased the sweet harmonies of the four singers (Jimin, Jin, Jungkook and V), and was immediately followed by 'Outro: Tear,' which displayed the versatility and range of the three rappers (J-Hope, RM and Suga). Each member was given a solo turn as well — V's sensual R&B on 'Singularity' was a high point, and on 'Serendipity,' Jimin pulled off some balletic, Matrix-esque dance maneuvers."

4. Their Music Feels Authentic To Fans

While BTS have clearly mastered how to look and sound good, they do more than just draw people in with catchy hooks and eye-catching clothes and hair. They tackle important issues, like mental health and self-love. The group acknowledges the importance of serving as role models to so many young people around the world. In Korea, K-pop stars are even referred to as "idols"—and BTS don't take that responsibility lightly.

Back in Sept. 2018, the GRAMMY Museum hosted A Conversation With BTS, where 300 fans listened to the group talk about a breadth of topics, including their responsibility as artists.

"That makes us think more about our responsibilities, how we should act, how we should make our music. So it makes us think more deeply about what we do, how responsible we should be about what we're doing, and the music we're making," Jungkook said.

They also discussed their creative process and how they work collaboratively as a team, as well as with Bang Si-hyuk, the head of their label, Big Hit Entertainment. "When we had our conversation with Mr. Bang when we first started out, he always emphasized that we should sing about our own experiences, our own thoughts, our own feelings. So, that has always been at the center of the music that we made," RM explained.

He also emphasized their collaborative process as bandmates. "We try to participate together as much as we can. I think our participation in the process makes the music more sincere, make the songs more sincere, and that changes our attitude about how we approach our songs," RM said.

Even More: BTS: "Fans Gave Us The Wings That Allowed Us To Be Where We Are"

5. BTS Think Of Their ARMY As Family

You can't talk about BTS' record-breaking rise without also highlighting their loyal ARMY, which stands for Adorable Representative M.C. for Youth.

In fact, BTS has two official Twitter accounts: At the time of this writing, @BTS_twt is home to 18.5 million followers. The ARMY is very active on the platform, as evidenced by one unoffical ARMY account having sent out a fervent 116k tweets to date. Additionally, BTS' official YouTube page has over 15.6 million subscribers.

Yet just as fans support BTS, BTS supports their fans. All in their mid-to-early-20s, the members of BTS know how to use social media as a tool to connect with their millions of admirers online, giving fans regular access and updates on their lives. While many social-media users at risk of falling into feelings of isolation the more they "like" and scroll, BTS actively leverage positivity on social media. Fans follow suit, filling BTS' YouTube page with upbeat, supportive chatter. Together with their fans, BTS creates a giant, supportive family.

And the BTS U.S. takeover is only just getting started: Following the announcement of BTS' new 2019 tour dates, fans took to Twitter to share in the excitement, with some wondering if this was how their parents felt when The Beatles toured. Others pointed out the significance of some of the venues: For example, the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, where BTS will be performing on May 4, is a football stadium with a capacity of 90,888. Rose Bowl concerts are reserved for the likes of the Rolling Stones and Beyoncé and Jay-Z, who brought their OTR II tour for two nights to the huge venue last September.

The numbers don't lie: Between record and ticket sales, streaming numbers, self-aware lyrics and a fervent fan base, BTS have tapped into a formula for history-making success—in America and all over the world.

All The Ways BTS Won Our Hearts At The 2019 GRAMMYs

Allen Hughes' "The Defiant Ones" Wins Best Music Film | 2018 GRAMMY


Allen Hughes' "The Defiant Ones" Wins Best Music Film | 2018 GRAMMY

Director Allen Hughes' four-part documentary takes home Best Music Film honors for its portrayal of the unlikely partnership that changed the music business

GRAMMYs/Jan 29, 2018 - 02:09 am

The team behind The Defiant Ones celebrated a big win for Best Music Film at the 60th GRAMMY Awards. The crew awarded include director Allen Hughes and producers Sarah Anthony, Fritzi Horstman, Broderick Johnson, Gene Kirkwood, Andrew Kosove, Laura Lancaster, Michael Lombardo, Jerry Longarzo, Doug Pray & Steven Williams.

In a year rife with quality music documentaries and series, the bar has been set high for this dynamic category. The Defiant Ones is a four-part HBO documentary telling the story of an unlikely duo taking the music business by storm seems better suited for fantastical pages of a comic book, but for engineer-turned-mogul Jimmy Iovine and super-producer Dr. Dre, it's all truth.The Defiant Ones recounts their histories, their tribulations and their wild success. These include first-hand accounts from those who were there in Iovine's early days, such as Bruce Springsteen and U2's Bono, as well as those on board when Dre and Iovine joined forces, such as Snoop Dogg and Eminem.

The competition was stiff as the category was filled with compelling films such as One More Time With Feeling, Two Trains Runnin', Soundbreaking, and Long Strange Trip. 

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Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam

Photo: Kevin Mazur/


Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam's Mike McCready says "if you love music," record stores are the place to find it

GRAMMYs/Feb 13, 2019 - 04:05 am

Record Store Day 2019 will arrive on April 13 and this year's RSD Ambassadors are Pearl Jam. Past ambassadors include Dave Grohl, Metallica, Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P), and 61st GRAMMY Awards winner for Best Rock Song St. Vincent.

McCready was also the 2018 recipient of MusiCares' Stevie Ray Vaughan Award

The band was formed in 1990 by McCready, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, and Eddie Vedder, and they have played with drummer Matt Cameron since 2002. They have had five albums reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and four albums reach No. 2.

"Pearl Jam is honored to be Record Store Day's Ambassador for 2019. Independent record stores are hugely important to me," Pearl Jam's Mike McCready said in a statement publicizing the peak-vinyl event. "Support every independent record store that you can. They're really a good part of society. Know if you love music, this is the place to find it."

With a dozen GRAMMY nominations to date, Pearl Jam's sole win so far was at the 38th GRAMMY Awards for "Spin The Black Circle" for Best Hard Rock Performance.

Pearl Jam will be performing on March 3 in Tempe, Ariz. at the Innings festival, on June 15 in Florence, Italy at the Firenze Rocks Festival and at another festival in Barolo, Italy on June 17. On July 6 Pearl Jam will headline London's Wembley Stadium.

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Portugal. The Man To Aida Cuevas: Backstage At The 2018 GRAMMYs



Portugal. The Man To Aida Cuevas: Backstage At The 2018 GRAMMYs

Also see James Fauntleroy, Reba McIntire, Latroit, and more after they stepped off the GRAMMY stage

GRAMMYs/Jan 29, 2018 - 05:39 am

What do artists do the moment they walk off the GRAMMY stage from presenting, accepting an award or performing? Now, you can find out.

Take a peak at Album Of The Year GRAMMY winner Bruno Mars, 60th GRAMMY Awards Host James Cordon, Cardi B minutes before her electrifying performance of "Finesse," and more!

Also see Best Pop Duo/Group Performance GRAMMY winners Portugal. The Man posing with their first career GRAMMY Award, Best Roots Gospel Album GRAMMY winner Reba McIntire right after she walked offstage, Best R&B Song GRAMMY winner James Fauntleroy, Best Remixed Recording GRAMMY winner Latroit, and many more, with these photos from backstage during the 60th GRAMMY Awards.

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Original Misfits Unleash One Night Only L.A. Reunion Show

Glenn Danzig

Photo: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images


Original Misfits Unleash One Night Only L.A. Reunion Show

Dark punk legends to play first show with Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only since last year's Riot Fest reunion

GRAMMYs/Aug 22, 2017 - 05:28 am

There's big news today for punk-rock fans aware that the Misfits made much more than just T-shirts.

The massively influential punk band announced a special show touted as the "only 2017 performance in this world… or any world" and billed as "The Original Misfits" in Los Angeles at the Forum on Dec. 30.

This will be the first Misfits show featuring original singer Glenn Danzig and original bassist Jerry Only with long-time guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein since the band reunited for a pair of Riot Fest appearances in Chicago and Denver in 2016. Last year's Riot Fest gigs, which featured drummer Dave Lombardo, marked the first time in 33 years the original Misfits members played together.

"OK Los Angeles, you've waited almost 35 years for this, here's your chance to see the "Original Misfits" in this Exclusive L.A. only performance." said Glenn Danzig. "No Tour, No BS, just one night of dark metal-punk hardcore brutality that will go down in the history books. See you there."

Tickets for this "one night only" show go on sale Friday, August 25.

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