BTS shines bright on the cover of the December issue of Elle Girl Russia. In the Christmas themed photo, the boys’ handsome faces can be seen peeking from behind red curtains. The photo is obviously from and older photo shoot, probably from the end of the last year, at least judging by their hair colors. The boys had this hair styles around the time they performed at the 2018 New Year’s Rockin’ Eve in New York.
The article featured in the magazine analyzes BTS’ fame in depth, touching delicate subjects as dating, having a very busy schedule but also their decision to speak themselves on important subjects. It covers their rise to fame and career, including the power of ARMY. It also talks about K-Pop in general. I tried to translate the full article in English for our i-ARMYs, so i hope you will be able to understand it’s essentials. You probably notice that i say article instead of interview as i believe all the quoted words from the boys are from older interviews. It is still a very good article though, so do read it and tell me what are your thoughts afterwards!
BTS: “WE HAVE ALWAYS TRIED TO SHARE OUR STORIES TO THE AUDIENCE – STORIES OF ORDINARY TEENS»
BTS – a band made of seven guys who turned around our understanding of music, creativity and love. We asked them about how the world’s idols actually live…
K-POP as a musical genre has been out there for a long time, but up until 2013 it was popular exclusively in Asia and it didn’t manage to enter the world music market. Everything changed when a small entertainment Agency Big Hit debuted with a group of teenage boys called Bangtan Sonyeondan. Short name BTS.
Why is everyone so hooked up on these guys? Let’s find out.
Even if some girl – which he doubted very much – was interested in him, Min Yoongi doesn’t want to think about love right now. He is already 25, but there is no place in his life for anything but work. For example, today he and all his colleagues got up around six in the morning. It is now eight in the evening, and they won’t be able to sleep for at least another few hours.
The guys have almost no days off.
The last time they took a vacation back in February – it was a cool three days when the guys enjoyed barbecue together and had a little rest.
“If you were in our position, you’d understand quickly,” Yoongi said. “We don’t have the time. As today, we’ll finish work in the morning and get up at the same time tomorrow to rehearse again.”
“I don’t think we can date anyone,” his friend and colleague, Park Jimin, supported him “Frankly speaking, there is no time to even see our own families. We don’t have a normal lifestyle. Even if there was some kind of a relationship, it would be difficult to call it a relationship… in the traditional sense of the word.”
They sat down in a music studio, equipped in hangar style, an hour drive from the center of Seoul, to share their thoughts and plans for life…
None of them has a girlfriend and they are not looking for one at the moment.
Of course, lonely and overworked guys can be found in any corner of the world, but Min Yoongi and his colleagues-friends are not invisible victims of urban alienation.
They are one of the most famous, successful and desirable young people on our planet.
Min Yoongi, or Suga, a pseudonym you probably know, is one of the members of BTS, a K-POP group which you could not help but hear about (unless you came to us from an alternative reality, where BTS does not exist – in this case we can understand your confusion). Along with the rest of the guys – RM, Jin, j-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook – they have become true superstars far beyond South Korea. Since their debut, from which only five years have passed, when they were just gentle teenagers, they have become guys who gradually conquer the world.
Over the past few years, they have performed in 16 different countries. And their recent tour included a trip from Seoul to California, doing shows in new York, Chicago, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin… In August, their album Love Yourself: Answer, hit the top spot on all American charts. The music video for the song “IDOL” broke the record for most Youtube views in the first 24 hours – with total of 56,2 million views, it even surpassed Taylor Swift with her legendary “Look What You Made Me Do.”
In September, BTS took 22 out of 25 positions on the Billboard World Digital Song Sales chart. More than 11 million people subscribed to their YouTube channel. And in 2017 their tweets were liked and retweeted so many times that their account had more engagements than the accounts of Donald Trump and Justin Bieber!
This would have been impressive even for young musicians from Los Angeles or Liverpool. But for BTS, it is even more so, as they managed to get through all this obstacles that stood in the way of their global success. They sing in Korean, a foreign language to all of their international fans.
Despite the fact that BTS, like many K-pop bands, are inspired by American rap, they retain their identity and do not chase texts full of aggressive sexuality and self-praise.
However, their recent single, “Idol”, featured Nicki Minaj who is known for her witty songs with ambiguous overtones. Their collaboration still turned out cool, without a single hint of something rude or frivolous. They once again reminded all of us how important it is to move forward, not to sit still, and not to doubt yourself, even if someone is trying to lead you astray.
These kids sing about love and openly say that it is necessary to go beyond the limits imposed on us by society, parents and teachers.
Another great part of BTS is their fans, known as the ARMY. The name doesn’t mean military, but is actually an acronym for “Adorable Representative MC for Youth”. The ARMY members are streaming music, filling stadiums, tweeting and retweeting videos, memes, gifs, emojis and love messages.
American online portal Vulture even called ARMY”the most active fandom in history.”
K-POP performers have struggled for many years to enter the English speaking market, and BTS managed this perfectly. Therefore, the group is continuously writing, rehearsing, promoting, performing it’s legendary hits and giving spectacular shows. Even now, all seven live in the same house (two of them still share a room), eat together and spend all their free time in each other’s company, under the supervision of managers, assistants and bodyguards.
The members of the group advertise many different products – from LG to Puma and Coca-Cola. They have several Twitter accounts (Korean Twitter has more than 16 million followers, which is 1/3 of the total population of South Korea). They also share backstage videos, vlogs and clips from rehearsals which is one more thing that attracts fans madly.
BTS is not just a music band.
It’s something more – a brand, a reality show or even a social network. No wonder the members just don’t have time for a relationship.
“I think the pressure on the K-POP groups is really unique”, shared RM (this, incidentally, is short for Rap Monster. ) “It is pretty sad, but that’s why people relate to the idols with so much enthusiasm as they live together and do everything together. They rehearse a lot, barely have time to sleep. We are under pressure, but it is our choice. I think it makes us really special.”
K-POP is a musical hybrid, full of synthesizer sounds, incendiary rhythms and eclectic dances, hip-hop, rap and dubstep.
All songs are polished, but the visual part is as important as the auditory: energetic choreography, colorful videos, stylized music costumes and images of young performers. K-POP groups, as a rule, consist exclusively of men or exclusively of the girls, and their names are also relevant – SHINee, f(x), Super Junior, EXO, TVXQ!, Wonder Girls or Girls’ Generation.
Hundreds of thousands of applicants , potential ” idols”, as are the K-POP stars often called -appeal to entertainment agencies, which subsequently control every aspect of their career. Those who are selected after auditions, are initially called “trainees”: they daily sing, dance, learn all that they have to do to become real stars. After several years of such hard rehearsals they form groups – and that’s when the hardest part begins.
There are strict formulas and rules in the manuals of such agencies that the K-POP groups need to follow.
There’s everything from the best camera angles for music videos to shades of eye shadows that fans from different countries will appreciate. However, until a certain point, such tricks still did not work. Despite the frenzied popularity in Asia, outside of South Korea, China and Japan, the fame Of K-POP groups still wasn’t out there. The English market was closed to them.
In 2012, when Korean rapper Psy became worldwide popular with Gangnam Style (this song was the first to overcome 1 billion views on YouTube), the producers of the K-POP groups thought that the right moment finally came. But it was still early.
The obstacle in the form of the Korean language was too much.
Previously, local music groups that appeared on the world stage had to rewrite their hits into English. For example, you surely know the band ABBA, who’s songs you could hear in the musical Mamma Mia!, originally sang in their native Swedish language. They were listened to by a certain audience. But they won world fame only when they rewrote their hits and began to perform them in English.
It would take a huge amount of time and energy for the K-POP stars to do the same, and it seemed unprofitable for the producers to spend so many resources-because the English texts could alienate the main, Korean, audience.
Everything changed in 2013 when a small entertainment Agency named Big Hit made its debut with a group of teenage boys, which were called Bangtan Sonyeondan. Or shortly, BTS.
Who are BTS?
We know their birthdays, favorite movies and food, pet names and basic character qualities. Jin has two sugar glider pets, and he calls himself “Worldwide Handsome”. V likes Pomeranians and hates ghosts. J-hope constantly squirms and fusses. Jungkook’s favorite color is red, black and white, and Park Jimin can not imagine his life without an eyeliner.
When the band appeared on American television in the past year, in all the interviews they were explaining that RM is the only member fluent in English, which he learned thanks to the endless viewings of the series “Friends”.
“In General, like many cool artists, we love what we do and we know how to do it.” – this is the phrase with which RM explained the success of BTS. “We have always tried to bring our stories to the audience -the stories of ordinary teenagers and young people. Plus the visual part, choreography, music videos, YouTube, and in General all social networks – probably mixing it all, we have exactly what our fans like. Because I think the world needs young rock stars. Well, I think that’s right. Everything coincided very well: our stories, the age of social networks … Turned out really well.”
Passion, dedication, social media, glamour, life texts, incredible contact with the audience – that’s the essence.
The band focused on the messages they wanted to convey through their music. They dreamed of becoming the voice of the new generation. The first BTS album that came out in 2013, when the youngest member, Jungkook, was only 15, was called 2 Cool 4 Skool.
They sang about what worries teenagers: about the future, about the choice, about dreams.
Just remember the lyrics of No More Dream: “Tired of the same, repetitive days. Adults and parents continue to impose me limited dreams. Is a public servant – my future career?”
“There are things that someone should talk about,” says Suga. “Someone just had to become the voice for the people living in our time, and we decided that this is our mission. We started talking.”
Suga is incredibly talented. He grew up in a poor family in Daegu, and now not only sings and writes songs, but also produces. Suga managed to record a solo work called August D, which turned out to be much darker than his work in BTS.
He talked about his anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, visiting a psychiatrist, and self-loathing that came to him along with fame.
Remember his song The Last? “I was afraid of people, so I hid in the bathroom and stared at myself. Then I thought I could make up for it. But as time passed, I began to feel like I was becoming a monster. My monster was called success, for which I exchanged my youth.”
“In our society there is a stereotype that it is not necessary to speak openly about mental health” shares Suga. “I wanted to convey the idea that to speak about it, is in fact, quite normal. Because sometimes you really need treatment. I wanted to help people.”
At first glance, K-POP is not the best career choice for a man struggling to regain his peace of mind.
BTS’s agency, BigHit, is still quite small compared to the main three, dominant in this industry. When the guys talk about their success, they note this fact, plus the flexibility and creativity they enjoy being in a small company. However, K-POP is K-POP, a dream based on idealized images of performers that are simply unattainable in reality, but must be kept on stage and in social networks at all costs.
Another interesting point in K-ROP stars’ contracts that everyone is talking about is the ban on relationships
As V noted,“This story is more like a unicorn, because no one has ever seen it, but everyone is talking about it.” But one of the other K-POP companies recently dismissed two of their stars, HyunA and E Dawn, after they found out about their relationship.
The pressure on the idols can be literally deadly
A singer named Seo Min-Woo died in March of a heart attack, and he was only 33 years old. Last year, Jonghyun, a member of the band SHINee, committed suicide after a long struggle with depression. In his suicide note, he admitted: “Life in the rays of glory is not for me. It’s a miracle I’ve lasted this long … Please don’t blame me.”
Another stumbling rock for K-POR stars and their fans is military service.
In South Korea, all adult men are required to complete two years of military service (unless they are released for health reasons, of course). There are a couple of exceptions: for example, athletes who have received medals and award-winning musicians. But not pop stars, as you might think, but classical musicians.
This year, fans created a petition in which they proposed to change the rules specifically for BTS and protect the guys from this fate. The government was indeed considering amending the law…
But instead of expanding the list of possible exemptions, the Government intends to reduce it.
“This may relate to BTS, and it may not”, says Suga. “It can help us grow up. We have to wait and see what happens.”
In the meantime, the future of the guys seems so uncertain, we can only hope that whatever changes happen, they will all benefit them and their creativity. We will listen to their songs all day long and believe that one day the guys will come to Russia as surely concerts in our cities will be remembered for the rest of their lives 🙂