Currently, the whole world knows the name of BTS, and if you don’t, you are probably living under a rock. Bang Tang Sonyeondan or BTS is the biggest boy band in the world right now, breaking numerous records, appearing in various shows, selling millions and collecting a lot of accolades and praises from all around. But how did this success come, that too for a non-English speaking band? Let us get into it.
BTS consists of seven members: Kim Namjoon, Kim Seokjin, Min Yoongi, Jung Hoseok, Park Jimin, Kim Taehyung and Jeon Jungkook, who are known by their stage name: RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook respectively. These seven boys have not gained a huge amount of popularity and success, but also have been an idol for millions of people around the world through their music. But their success was not an easy story, as in the beginning there were hardships, and without it, we don’t think BTS would have existed now.
In the early 90s, Big Hit Company launched the career of bands like 1TYM, 2am, 8eight, etc. All these bands got moderate hits, but then broke up due to various reasons. In the year 2010, Big Hit wanted a hip hop band that not only make music, but also relate to the listeners. Hence, the hunt started and here Kim Namjoon aka RM made an entry.
Namjoon had auditioned for a different label, but was not selected as he forgot the lyrics of the song. After this, he was advised to audition for Big Hit, and he impressed the officials in the label. Hence, the first member of the band was selected. He chose a stage name for him as Rap Monster, abbreviated as RM. He became the leader of the group at the age of 16.
MIn Yoongi was a rap enthusiast and performed in various high school events, although it was not appreciated by his parents. One day, he saw a flyer for a rap competition and immediately took part. Although the rap was not that long, the organizers of the competition really saw potential in him and asked him to be a part of a newly formed hip-hop band.
He signed the deal but was not ready to dance, however, the label made him dance. He chose a stage name as Suga, which is the first syllable of Yoongi’s favorite basketball position, Shooting Guard. Hence, they got the second member of the band.
Jung Hoseok has always been interested in dancing, and he was also a part of a dance group in his hometown, winning a lot of dance competitions. Initially, he auditioned for another company but was cut off after a few auditions. This was the time he decided to audition for Big Hit Entertainment.
The producers saw strong potential in him not only as a dancer but also as a rapper. Hoseok was not sure about his rapping, and at one point decided to leave Big Hit, but was convinced by RM to stay. Like this, he was selected as the third member of the band, and he chose his stage name as J-Hope. This name was chosen as he wanted to represent hope for his fans. He also has a very popular intro that he does, “I’m your hope, you’re my hope, I’m J-Hope.”
As the rappers and dancers were casted, now it was time to cast some singers.
Kim Seokjin was a very good looking guy, and was approached by other labels on the streets. But he refused those offers, thinking it as a scam. He wasn’t interested in singing or dancing, but always wanted to pursue acting. However, in a similar fashion, Big Hit approached him and convinced him to become a singer in the band. He started learning singing and dancing from level one, as he had no idea about it. Like this, he was selected as the fourth member and named him as Jin.
Jeon Jungkook wanted to become a badminton player when he was young. But after watching G-Dragon perform, he wanted to become a singer and auditioned for a South Korean talent show. Although he didn’t succeed, he grabbed eyeballs of nearly seven different labels, and one of them was Big Hit. Big Hit was comparatively a smaller company than others at that time, but he said that he chose this company because he thought RM was cool. Hence, he made the right decision, and the band got its fifth member.
Kim Taehyung belonged to a farming family, and he had a big passion for music. However, due to the economical condition of the family, it was hard for him. His father told him to learn musical instruments if he wants to pursue his music career, and spent hours practicing his saxophone.
One day, when Big Hit was auditioning in his hometown, he went as a companion for his friend. He had no intention to audition but was told to try and when he did, he was the only one that day to be selected. He was kept as a surprise member of the group and was given the stage name V, which stands for victory. Here, they got the sixth member.
Park Jimin was a very good dancer. He was naturally talented and looking at that, one of his teachers suggested that he audition for Big Hit. He gave the audition and was selected as the final and seventh member for the band. He was also called the powerhouse of the band because of his raw talent, and was the most fit one to be in the band.
Like this, the band was created and was named Bang Tang Sonyeondan, which translates as Bulletproof Boy Scouts, which is now simply known as BTS.
Before officially releasing a song, all the seven boys were given some social media presence by posting covers and their picture. Later, Big Hit started a countdown to officially launch them. Finally on 12th June 2013, they held a press conference and BTS performed two of their songs, “We are Bulletproof part 2” and “No More Dream”. The music video was also released, and they kept on performing their songs. However, it was difficult for the song to peak, and their first album didn’t do well. Yet still, people saw how talented and good looking they are.
But they kept on making music, and one by one their albums and songs started to appear in the charts. They also won the New Artist Award in 2014. They also released the third album of School Trilogy that year, which became a global success.
Later that year, they appeared in American Hustle Life, a reality show that was made by American rapper Eminem, and BTS travelled to Los Angeles. They also got to perform for the first time in America, and helped them learn more about hip hop and make connections.
In August, they released their first full length studio album, Dark & Wild. It was a moderate success and peaked at number 2 in South Korea. They also went on a tour called The Red Bullet Tour to 13 different countries. They also made a Japanese version of their album featuring a lot of Japanese artists.
In 2017, they changed their style. From dark, emo, r&b and hip hop to gentle melody, that was the year when the success started to follow them. They released a song, “I Need U”, which was a huge hit and was cited as one of the best k-pop songs. They later released another song “Dope”. Their songs started to deal with more realistic things like mental health, anxiety, depression and all, which the audience related to.
The major success came with the song “Blood, Sweat and Tears”, which broke the Youtube record for most viewed K-pop song within 24 hours. The song also peaked internationally on Billboard. Another song was “Spring Day”, which was a huge success, and the song is still in the charts even after four years of its release.
In 2018, they had a trilogy album called Love Yourself: Her, Love Yourself: Tear and Love Yourself: Answer. This was the album that had multiple songs which are now very popular and because of which people know BTS. The songs include “Mic Drop”, “Idol”, “Euphoria”, “DNA”, “Fake Love”, etc. This was the moment when BTS started to get international recognition and also their songs featured international artists such as Nicki Minaj and Steve Aoki.
They released another album, Map of Seoul: Persona, which featured the very popular singer, Halsey, in their song “Boy With Luv”. The song was an instant hit breaking the YouTube record for most viewed video within 24 hours. It peaked on different charts and broke various records. Another single of the album was “Make it Right”, which was also written by Ed Sheeran.
Their other album was Map of Seoul: 7, which became number 1 album in different countries of the world. They were supposed to go on a tour, but were halted due to COVID-19 pandemic. Yet still, they performed virtually for their fans in various events.
BTS also became ambassadors to the United Nations, and spoke in the general assembly during the era of Love Yourself.
In 2020, they released their biggest and first full-length English song, “Dynamite”, which broke the YouTube record for most-viewed video within 24 hours. The song got 100 Million+ views also making it the first song to do so, till their other song, “Butter”, broke that record. “Dynamite” gave the group their first Grammy nomination, but unfortunately lost to “Rain On Me” by Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande. The song also topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
The same year they released “Life Goes On” amid the pandemic, and in 2021 they released “Butter”.
K-pop is a type of genre that has existed for many years, but BTS somehow managed to bring it on top. Seven boys, selected randomly, became the biggest boy band in the world right now. Their story really makes us believe that anything is possible with hard work and focus. The music world that was dominated by English songs, BTS came in and made their mark. Their charisma and talent really made a place in the hearts of millions of people around the world. As they say, music has no language, BTS really proves that.
A lot of A-listed singers are fans of BTS’s music. The American talk show host, James Corden, is considered Papa Mochi, who shows his support to BTS every other time. Rapper Cardi B, makes her daughter Kulture listen to BTS. Halsey has always been vocal about her love for BTS and she is considered as their elder sister and eighth member of the group by the fans. Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, and the Jonas Brothers are also fans of BTS and they also love them a lot.
ARMY has also created a fan chant for BTS, and they usually sing this in their concerts. The chant goes:
Also, they use the phrase “I Purple You” which is equivalent to “I Love You”. The finger heart sign is also very popular among the fan base.
Along with BTS, other K-pop groups that are very popular are Blackpink, Exo, MonstaX, Twice, Red Velvet, etc. All these bands are creating a benchmark for K-pop music all around the world.