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

BTS at the 2019 GRAMMYs

Photo: John Shearer/Getty Images

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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.

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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 They defy gender norms and push aside outdated ideas of pop star masculinity via their fashion and music choices, not unlike other young, modern stars like Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny.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.

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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."

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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.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">I just got home from work, and then what? My twitter account exploded!!! Am I dreaming? <a href="https://twitter.com/BTS_twt?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BTS_twt</a> congratulations! you really made it! I stan legends! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BTS?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BTS</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/%EB%B0%A9%ED%83%84%EC%86%8C%EB%85%84%EB%8B%A8?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#방탄소년단</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LOVE_YOURSELF?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LOVE_YOURSELF</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SPEAK_YOURSELF?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SPEAK_YOURSELF</a> <a href="https://t.co/Rtx9JhrXxY">https://t.co/Rtx9JhrXxY</a></p>&mdash; acai_ (@achaanneng) <a href="https://twitter.com/achaanneng/status/1097888592494440449?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 19, 2019</a></blockquote>

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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

6 Takeaways From 'BTS Monuments: Beyond The Star'
BTS (from left): V, Suga, Jin, Jung Kook, RM, Jimin and J-Hope

PHOTO: AXELLE/BAUER-GRIFFIN/FILMMAGIC

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6 Takeaways From 'BTS Monuments: Beyond The Star'

In honor of BTS' 10th anniversary, Disney+ released 'BTS Monuments: Beyond the Star.' Two of the eight episode docuseries are available to stream; read on for a deeper look at the septet's history, accomplishments, and behind-the-scenes moments.

GRAMMYs/Dec 22, 2023 - 08:38 pm

Today, it’s hard to avoid BTS. You might have heard their GRAMMY-nominated singles "Dynamite" and "Butter" playing at a random store. Maybe you learned about another record they broke in the news. Or, you probably know at least one person in their passionate, loyal fanbase, also known as Army.

But before there was BTS, the international sensation, there was Kim Seok-jin (Jin), Min Yoon-gi (Suga), Jung Ho-seok (J-Hope), Kim Nam-joon (RM), Park Ji-min (Jimin), Kim Tae-hyung (V), and Jeon Jung-kook (Jung Kook), seven hopefuls from across South Korea with one dream and thousands of hours of dedication to their craft.

A decade ago, it might have seemed impossible for a group like BTS to be at the top in their home country — let alone one of the biggest groups on the planet. In Korea, it was only likely to become successful if you had one of the legacy names, such as SM Entertainment, backing you, and they came from the virtually unknown Big Hit Entertainment (now Big Hit Music under conglomerate HYBE).

Year after year, the septet defied odds, from winning Best New Artist at the esteemed Melon Music Awards in 2013 to earning Top Social Artist across the globe at the Billboard Music Awards consecutively between 2017 and 2021. They have amassed 26 Guinness World Records and became the first Korean act to receive multiple nods from the GRAMMYs.

In honor of their 10th anniversary as BTS, Disney+ released BTS Monuments: Beyond the Star. The docuseries offers a deeper look at the septet's massive accomplishments, tracing back to their initial auditions in 2010. The first two of eight episodes are available to stream now.

Below, discover everything we learned thus far about the icons in their latest docuseries, BTS Monuments: Beyond the Star.

The BTS Grind Never Stops

You see their flawless choreography, calculated facial expressions and glamorous outfits, but you never know the amount of preparation it takes to get there.

For example, BTS rehearsed the lead single, "Danger," from their debut studio album, Dark & Wild, until the wee hours of the morning for weeks. They then traveled to Los Angeles to promote the single and, despite Big Hit’s unstable financial state, implemented a huge budget to produce the music video. The goal was to win the television competition "SBS Inkigayo."

"As expected, we didn’t place first and left the charts in a day," RM remarks in the episode.

The intense training and dieting caused them to question if their slow traction was worth the battle. "To be honest, I didn’t think this was fun in the past," Jin tearfully mentioned in a 2013 fan meeting. "There were a lot of things they couldn’t get started because they weren’t sure what path we were on."

Through their frustrations, BTS never gave up, and eventually, the perseverance led to their first mega-hits, "I Need U" and "Fire" in 2017. They obtained their desired results and still never decreased their work ethic, which skyrocketed their career to an even higher level. "We’ve always worked hard, whether there was a crisis or not," Jin explains.

Everyone Had Their Unique Strengths

What makes BTS a powerhouse is that each member had a clear-cut reason they joined, and as Suga notes, it took "countless" changes to perfect it into the current lineup.

According to HYBE chairman and the group’s creator, Bang Si-hyuk, he was impressed by RM’s "depth of character and base of knowledge"; Suga had a unique sarcastic, dark side; J-Hope was "the personification of diligence" and a strong dancer; Jin’s handsome features would easily attract a fandom; Jung Kook had "a lot" of potential; V was effortlessly charming; and Jimin was instantly talented and intrigued the team.

They’re More Than Colleagues — They’re Family

It’s common for manufactured groups not to bond beyond the stage. However, BTS see themselves more like family than co-workers.

Showing up for one another’s personal affairs was second nature. Without question, they watched Jung Kook enter high school, taking photos and teasing their younger brother, or maknae. The docuseries also flashes back to J-Hope’s surprise birthday party, where the six created a sentimental video of his family.

"I had found my place," J-Hope shares. "I believe that [joining BTS] was the most fateful moment of my life."

Being A K-Pop Idol Wasn’t Always Respected

For many aspiring musicians, especially those of Asian heritage, becoming an idol is the ultimate goal. You completely surrender to your art, spending nearly every waking hour doing what you love. If you’re lucky enough to debut at a company like HYBE, you will undoubtedly join the ranks of K-pop’s most influential. Better than anyone else, BTS knows that wasn’t always the case.

"There was a strong negative view of idols," Suga recounts of their breakthrough EP The Most Beautiful Moment in Life. "Nowadays, we are acknowledged for our achievements and performances overseas, but it was a really agonizing time for us back then. We had a lot of unreasonable controversies."

They became "desperate and spiteful," but because of the support from the Army, they overcame the rough patch and switched the narrative. As a thank you to their fans, they wrote "2! 3!" to say, "Let’s forget it all."

The United States Was A Turning Point In Their Career

By 2016, BTS knew they were stars in Korea. They performed in the biggest venue at the time, the Olympic Gymnastics Arena, with a capacity of 25,000 people. They won the Mnet Asian Music Awards' most coveted honor: Artist Of The Year.

"In a movie, the credits would start rolling. At that point, we’d done everything we could as Korean artists," Suga says with a laugh. So, what’s next? Conquer the rest of the world.

The following year, BTS performed at the Billboard Music Awards, certain that nothing would come of it. To their surprise, they won Top Social Artist, which had previously only been awarded to Justin Bieber.

"It was the start of raising people’s awareness of us as the group BTS," RM reveals. Things continued to snowball: they performed at the American Music Awards and dropped a remix with Steve Aoki.

By early 2022, BTS were making history. The group performed their smash hit "Butter" onstage at the 64th GRAMMY Awards.

They Believe In The Power Of Art

When the pandemic began in 2020, entertainment was the first sacrifice. "‘Concerts may never be held again. People are unable to gather,’" Suga recalls hearing on broadcasts. They began to wonder if there was a point in releasing music.

After two years of self-reflection and improvement, they knew COVID-19 could not be the end. Music gave them purpose. "That was the driving force," J-Hope says. "I wasn’t completely aware of how important music and dancing was to me. I realized that I shouldn’t take it all for granted."

The lockdown also showed them the impact Army had on their lives. They motivated them to keep going because they knew how much the band meant to their fans. They witnessed it constantly when they saw the fervent cheers and tears on tour. BTS has brought together millions of people. As Namjoon promises, "Art can change the world," and "Music transcends languages, nationalities and races."

15 K-Pop Songs That Took 2023 By Storm: From Seventeen’s "Super (손오공)" to NewJeans' "Super Shy"

15 K-Pop Songs That Took 2023 By Storm: From Seventeen’s “Super (손오공)” to NewJeans' "Super Shy"
NewJeans perform on stage during Lollapalooza in Chicago in 2023.

Photo: Josh Brasted/ FilmMagic / Getty Images

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15 K-Pop Songs That Took 2023 By Storm: From Seventeen’s “Super (손오공)” to NewJeans' "Super Shy"

From global tours to viral TikTok hits, explore how acts like Seventeen, Fifty Fifty, and newcomers like NCT DOJAEJUNG shaped the evolution of K-pop with new song releases in 2023.

GRAMMYs/Dec 21, 2023 - 02:16 pm

2023 was a busy year for K-pop. As the South Korean industry moves at lightning speed, new albums were released almost every day, and dozens of artists made their debuts. K-pop tours crossed the globe, and acts like TWICE and BLACKPINK filled out stadiums. Songs like Jung Kook’s "Seven" featuring Latto, or Fifty Fifty’s "Cupid," were playing everywhere, from TikTok to Target stores.

Amidst so much content, what singles best defined this year? There’s mighty chart-toppers, such as NewJeans’s "Super Shy" and AKMU’s "Love Lee," and sales monsters like Seventeen’s "Super" and Jisoo’s "Flower." Of equal importance, there are also songs that entered our collective unconscious — whether for their flawless melodies, such as NCT DOJAEJUNG’s "Perfume", or for their sassy irreverence, like (G)I-dle’s "Queencard".

In terms of musical trends, retro sounds dominated the scene, taking inspiration from synth-pop, to disco, to Jersey club. There’s a few blustering tracks, too, proving K-pop’s versatility and reinvention powers in a style that has been often overused.

Years from now, when we look back to the sounds that shaped 2023, the 15 songs below — listed by order of release — will definitely be remembered:

Fifty Fifty - "Cupid"

Rookie girl group Fifty Fifty turned heads with their sublime debut EP, The Fifty, at the end of 2022. This year, they made their first comeback in February with the sweet "Cupid" and reached even further. The single went massively viral on TikTok, peaked at number 17 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, and reached no. 8 on the UK Singles Chart.

Fifty Fifty were poised to be 2023’s big breakouts — an impressive feat for a group coming from a small company like ATTRAKT. However, at the end of June, the quartet found themselves embroiled in a complex legal battle against the label. In October, ATTRAKT terminated the contracts of members Aran, Sio, and Saena, leaving Keena as the only active member of the group. For all those reasons, "Cupid" is a bittersweet listen. Its sugary synths and bubbly harmonies are still delightful, but its background story and the feeling of lost potential tinge every chord with sadness.

Jimin - "Like Crazy"

BTS’s Jimin had long proved his prowess as a soloist (seen in "Lie," his 2016 solo released under the group), but it wasn’t until this year that he put forward a proper solo debut album. Out in March, Face presented Jimin at his truest: he co-wrote five out of six songs, and helped conceptualize the record and the music video for title track "Like Crazy."

Inspired by the 2011 movie of the same name, "Like Crazy" is a dark synth-pop journey through desperation. In the lyrics, Jimin tries to hold together whatever is left of a crumbling relationship. "I'd rather be / Lost in the lights, lost in the lights / I'm outta my mind / Can you help me numb the pain?" he pleads. Delivered with stirring mastery, the song resonated with audiences across the globe, leading Jimin to become the first South Korean to top Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.

Jisoo - "Flower"

After Jennie’s "Solo," Rosé’s R and Lisa’s Lalisa, BLACKPINK fans couldn’t be more eager for the quartet’s final member, Jisoo, to make her solo debut. Luckily, her single album Me came out in March, featuring lead single "Flower" and b-side "All Eyes on Me." At the time of release, Jisoo became the first K-pop female solo artist to become a million-seller, with Me exceeding 1.31 million pre-orders.

"Flower" is elegant and delicate, with pop synths that swirl around trap beats and lots of space. Traditional Korean music elements enhance its royal feel, while Jisoo’s husky vocals lament the loss of a relationship. Here, Jisoo proves her potential as a soloist, and opens the doors for BLACKPINK to begin a new era.

IVE - "I Am"

Another promising girl group to emerge in 2022, IVE are hitmakers with an empowering edge. From the meaning of their name ("I have") to their self-penned lyrics, the sextet aims to give the public as much confidence as they display on stage.

"I Am" spearheaded their first full album release in April, I’ve IVE, and quickly topped music charts in South Korea. With a disco flair reminiscent of ABBA, the single is a momentous celebration that reminds us to live life to the fullest. As they sing in the chorus: "That's my life, it’s a beautiful galaxy / Be a writer, the genre is fantasy / A big, big stage will open for me tomorrow / So that is who I am."

NCT DOJAEJUNG - "Perfume"

SM Entertainment’s decision to unite three of the smoothest vocalists under NCT into a subunit was one of 2023’s best decisions. Formed by Doyoung, Jaehyun and Jungwoo — or DOJAEJUNG — the trio released the unexpected but impeccable EP Perfume in April.

The eponymous title track encapsulates their vocal talents in a sultry R&B jam, overflowing with ‘90s nostalgia and heavenly harmonies. "I'll fill your day with heavenly scents / To remind you of my name at every step," they sing. Like the best perfumes, its notes spread and linger, creating a mesmerizing effect. Few songs flow so effortlessly.

Seventeen - "Super (손오공)"

Since their debut in 2015, one of K-pop’s most beloved acts, Seventeen, shows no signs of slowing down. The 13-member group continues to grow their fanbase and break records every year — 2023’s proof being their tenth EP released in April, FML. According to their agency, Pledis Entertainment, the EP sold 6.2 million copies — the highest sales ever in K-pop — and recently won Album of the Year at the 2023 MAMA Awards.

FML came with two lead singles, "F*ck My Life" and "Super," but it’s the latter’s grandiosity that stood out the most. Inspired by Sun Wukong, the mythological Monkey King of classic Chinese novel Journey to the West, the boisterous track blends Jersey club and bass drums into a larger-than-life celebration. "I love my team, I love my crew / We already made it this far," they sing, acknowledging what brought them to where they are.

Le Sserafim - "Unforgiven"

When the legendary Nile Rodgers chooses your song to be his first foray into K-pop, you must be doing something right. That is the case of Le Sserafim, the fearless girl group under Source Music (a sub-label of HYBE), and their May single "Unforgiven."

Off their debut studio album, also named Unforgiven, the track samples Ennio Morricone’s theme song from the 1966 film The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, with Rodgers’ funky chords adding even more flair to a pop-country, hip-hop feast. "Never asked for forgiveness or anything / Gonna target taboos, watch me now," the quintet professes. Above all, "Unforgiven" is about freedom, and extends that concept to music creation as well.

aespa - "Spicy"

"Tell me what you see / When you look at me / ‘Cause I am a 10 out of 10, honestly," raps Giselle in the ultra-confident "Spicy." Off aespa’s third EP released in May, MY World, this gripping single provides the best of cheeky ‘90s pop mixed with rubbery synths and a revving pulse.

The SM Entertainment quartet gained attention upon their 2020 debut for incorporating avatars of themselves (æ-aespa) and an AI-inspired lore in their music. As their discography has grown, their concept and sound evolved to encompass new styles that reflect a bulletproof self-esteem. With "Spicy," aespa have proven to be more than just a hyper-tech fad, and entered main character territory.

(G)I-dle - "Queencard"

During a press conference for the release of their sixth EP in May, I Feel, the leader and producer of (G)I-dle, Soyeon, said that "the core message of 'Queencard' is that you can be a beautiful person if you adore yourself."   

If you aren’t there yet, "Queencard" might just be the antidote. Here, (G)I-dle employ their megawatt charisma to deliver an irreverent, unabashedly pop track with hints of rock and roll. Part satire, part girl power anthem, "Queencard, I’m hot / My boob and booty is hot," is one of the most iconic lines of 2023, and if that doesn’t boost your self-esteem just a little, you might be taking yourself too seriously.

ATEEZ - "Bouncy (K-Hot Chilli Peppers)"

ATEEZ are one of the most commanding boy groups in K-pop. Since debuting in 2018, they captivate the stage: their facial expressions, knife-sharp choreographies, and hard-hitting sounds make it impossible to do otherwise.

Cut to 2023, when they made everyone "slow it down" and "make it bouncy," as goes the chorus of their June single "Bouncy (K-Hot Chilli Peppers)." Aside from the name reference, this has nothing to do with the Red Hot Chili Peppers — ATEEZ just wanted to show the world "A different kind of spicy, Cheongyang chili pepper vibe." It works. "Bouncy" is a tour de force in their discography, making a wild spectacle out of distorted, dystopian chaos.

NewJeans - "Super Shy"

2023’s definite hit of the summer came by the hands of NewJeans — the trailblazing girl group from HYBE’s sub-label ADOR. Their 2022 debut EP, New Jeans, took K-pop by storm, but this year proved they’re global stars to watch: the quintet was nominated Time's Next Generation Leaders, landed high fashion ambassadorships with brands like Gucci and YSL, performed at Lollapalooza in August, and released their sophomore EP in July, Get Up.

"Super Shy" is the album’s effervescent first single. "I'm super shy, super shy / But wait a minute while I / Make you mine, make you mine," they sing in flirtatious lilts, underpinned by UK garage and Jersey club beats. The result is a shot of pure pop serotonin.

NCT Dream - "ISTJ"

July’s "ISTJ" brings soaring harmonies and a propulsive melody to shape one of this year’s most enthusiastic hits. Off NCT Dream’s third studio album of the same name, it was inspired by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality test, which is widely popular in South Korea. Individuals with the ISTJ personality type are said to be quiet and practical — nothing to do with the high-energy hip hop that NCT Dream portray in their song.

However, that’s because "ISTJ" is written from the point of view of their opposite type: ENFPs, who are usually the life of the party. Such a creative concept reinforces why NCT Dream keep on rising — from the teen sub-group made up of the youngest members from the collective NCT, they have now matured into charismatic leaders of their own.

AKMU - "Love Lee"

The first release in two years from sibling duo AKMU — formed by Lee Su-hyun and Lee Chan-hyuk — "Love Lee" is as lovely as it sounds. Out in August along b-side "Fry’s Dream," the track swept Korean charts since day one, and stayed atop the Circle Digital Chart (one of the biggest music charts in the country) for six non-consecutive weeks.

Initially unassuming, this jaunty ballad reveals its charms slowly, like honey dripping from a spoon. Su-hyun’s crystalline voice would be enough to steal the show, but here it is paired with sweet production quirks from Chan-hyuk, making the track a simple, yet memorable highlight of 2023.

RIIZE - "Get a Guitar"

For the past seven years, all male trainees under SM Entertainment eventually debuted in NCT — a larger group which holds several units like NCT 127 and NCT Dream. 2023 marked a change in that dynamic: in September, fresh-faced RIIZE launched their first single album, Get a Guitar.

The groovy title track is anchored by guitar plucks and retro synths, providing a feel-good introduction to their charms and a bright, light vibe to follow. Preceded by the wistful "Memories," Get a Guitar was a commercial success, receiving over 1 million pre-order sales — a new record for debut albums under SM. In 2024, these young men are sure to rise even higher, starting with an upcoming comeback on January 5.

Jung Kook - "Standing Next to You"

BTS’s youngest member Jung Kook took his time to officially launch a solo career. Since the band announced a break in group activities last year, he carefully directed his efforts to the Western market, releasing a series of collaborative singles like "Left and Right" with Charlie Puth, 2022 FIFA World Cup’s "Dreamers,"  "Seven" with rapper Latto and "3D" featuring Jack Harlow.

While all these songs are hits on their own, it turns out Jung Kook was saving the best for last. In November, he finally dropped his debut solo album, Golden, and title track "Standing Next to You." Inspired by the best of Michael Jackson, he moves through the song with conviction and poise, delivering a timeless hit for years to come.

2023 In Review: 5 Trends That Defined K-Pop

Global Spin Live: LE SSERAFIM Spends A "Perfect Night" With Fans On The GRAMMY Museum Stage
LE SSERAFIM

Photo: SOURCE MUSIC

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Global Spin Live: LE SSERAFIM Spends A "Perfect Night" With Fans On The GRAMMY Museum Stage

K-pop quintet LE SSERAFIM hit the GRAMMY Museum stage for an energetic live performance of "Perfect Night," their latest English single.

GRAMMYs/Dec 19, 2023 - 06:00 pm

For the rising K-pop girl group LE SSERAFIM, their most “Perfect Night” might consist of partying with your closest friends from dusk to dawn. Or, in this case, spending an evening in Los Angeles with their loyal fanbase, FEARNOT.

In this episode of Global Spin Live, watch the quintet light up the GRAMMY Museum stage with a premiere performance of their latest single. They take turns at the center before quickly positioning into a new formation.

“I got all I need/ You know nothing else can beat/ The way that I feel when I'm dancin' with my girls,” they cheer in the chorus. “Perfect energy/ Yeah, we flawless, yeah, we free/ There's no better feelin' in the whole wide world.”

Released on Oct. 27, "Perfect Night" is LE SSERAFIM's first all-English track, co-written by member HUH YUNJIN. The group teamed up with the video game 'Overwatch 2' to create the animations for the music video; they later promoted the track at the gaming convention BlizzCon 2023.

Global Spin Live is held in conjunction with GRAMMY Museum and GRAMMY.com as a live extension of the popular online series Global Spin, showcasing Global Music artists. Press play on the video above to watch LE SSERAFIM's infectious performance of "Perfect Night," and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Global Spin.

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New Music Friday: Listen To Releases From Beyoncé, Lana Del Rey, ATEEZ & More
ATEEZ perform during their Fellowship: Break The Wall tour

Photo: Adrián Monroy/Medios y Media/Getty Images

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New Music Friday: Listen To Releases From Beyoncé, Lana Del Rey, ATEEZ & More

December begins with a blast of new music from some of music's biggest stars. Press play on five new releases Jung Kook & Usher, Tyla and others, out on Dec. 1.

GRAMMYs/Dec 1, 2023 - 06:09 pm

While 2023 may be coming to an end, the first releases of December prove that it's far from time to wind down.

From Taylor Swift — who released "You’re Losing Me," a song originally recorded for her 2022 smash album — to Dua Lipa’s extended edit of her single "Houdini," and Lana Del Rey's cover of "Take Me Home, Country Roads," listeners are being treated to new tracks from familiar favorites today.

But surprise releases were the theme of the day as Beyoncé dropped "MY HOUSE," a single accompanying her Renaissance concert film.

Dec. 1 also sees a bevy of reissue and archival releases, exciting new projects from artists like singer/songwriter Dove Cameron, and the second studio album from K-pop group ATEEZ

Start off your month by listening to these tracks and albums from seven artists that will jumpstart your month.

Beyoncé - "MY HOUSE"

Queen Bey surprised fans with an early Christmas present by dropping "MY HOUSE," her first single since 2022’s Renaissance. This track was featured during the credits of her new Renaissance concert film.

Written and produced by The-Dream, this song showcases Beyoncé’s rapping skills, as she effortlessly weaves verses over a powerful horn melody. There's a vibe check in the song's second half, where the music becomes a smooth, electronic dance groove reminiscent of Renaissance’s ballroom vibe. 

Jung Kook & Usher - "Standing Next To You (Remix)"

BTS' pop singer Jung Kook is back with a remix to his track "Standing Next To You," this time joined by an R&B sensation. The remix features a new verse from  Usher, who adds a delicate touch to the vibrant, high-paced song.

The original track was released last month as a single on Jung Kook’s debut album, GOLDEN. This could be fans' last time hearing Jung Kook's music for a while — the "golden maknae" of BTS announced he’s enlisting for mandatory military service this month.

Tyla - "Truth or Dare"

GRAMMY-nominated Afrobeats star Tyla is closing the year with a sneak peek of her upcoming self-titled album. The hypotonic single "Truth or Dare," following the success of her GRAMMY-nominated song "Water" (the song is nominated for Best African Music Performance at the 2024 GRAMMYs alongside "Amapiano" by ASAKE & Olamide, "City Boys" by Burna Boy, Davido's "UNAVAILABLE" feat. Musa Keys, and "Rush" by Ayra Starr).

In this new song, Tyla revisits an old flame — this time with newfound wisdom and assurance that she won’t fall for his charm anymore: "So let's play truth or dare, dare you to forget / That you used to treat me just like anyone."

Tyla announced her upcoming self-titled album on social media, captioning, "African music is going global and I’m so blessed to be one of the artists pushing the culture. I’ve been working on my sound for 2 years now and I’m so ready for the world to hear it."

Lana Del Rey - "Take Me Home, Country Roads"

After performing during "Christmas At Graceland," a televised tribute to Elvis Presley, Lana Del Rey dropped a surprise cover of John Denver’s 1971 hit "Take Me Home, Country Roads."

This cover might not come as a shock for fans after she referenced a line from Denver’s 1972 "Rocky Mountain High" on her track "The Grants" from GRAMMY-nominated album Did You Know There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd. (At the 2024 GRAMMYs, Did You Know is nominated for Album Of The Year alongside Jon Batiste's World Music Radio, Olivia Rodrigo's Guts, Swift's Midnights, Janelle Monae's The Age Of Pleasure, SZA's SOS, Miley Cyrus' Endless Summer Vacation and the record by boygenius. Did You Know is also nominated for Best Alternative Music Album alongside The Car by Arctic Monkeys, PJ Harvey's I Inside The Old Year Dying, Gorillaz's Cracker Island and boygenius' album.)

The track features Del Rey’s signature soothing vocals, as a Western-style melody balances the instrumentation. She brings her own sultry style to this '70s country classic, while continuing to show her musical versatility.

ATEEZ - The World EP:FIN:WILL

Five years after their debut album, K-pop group ATEEZ  have returned with The World EP:FIN:WILL. The 12-track album is led by "Crazy Form," an Afrobeats/dancehall-influenced track, and also features many solo and unit tracks from the group.

Members Hong Joong and Seonghwa took the reins on "Matz," a dynamic hip-hop track, while Yeosang, San and Wooyoung collaborated for the R&B-influenced "It’s You." 

During a Seoul press conference, Lead Hong Joong spoke about the group’s evolution and how fans should look forward to future releases. 

"This year marks our fifth debut anniversary and so far, our greatest achievement has been establishing a strong relationship with our fans around the world. We hope to continue presenting music that can make our fans proud of us," he said. 

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