True to the title of their new song “Dynamite”, South Korean boy group BTS made an explosive VMAs debut this past August 2020. The group set the stage (and the night!) alight while performing their English-language smash hit, which is still currently the top song on Billboard as of this writing. That marks two weeks of airplay domination for the boys!
BTS, also known as Bangtan Boys, have always been known for their high-intensity performances, and their most recent one certainly did not disappoint. They made their debut back in 2013, a mere seven years ago, but you’d think they’ve been at it for decades. From their synchronized dance moves to their electrifying stage presence, they left audiences wanting more.
Their performance at the VMAS isn’t the group’s first foray into U.S. award shows. It was just one of the many milestones they have achieved since their break into the foreign market. Check out their equally dynamic performance at the Grammy’s!
BTS New Single Dynamite
The group dropped their latest single “Dynamite” on August 21 and the song’s music video quickly soared to millions of views within a day. Such is the power of BTS’ fandom, also known as BTS Army. According to Big Hit, the company behind the group, “Dynamite” is a disco pop single that’s full of confidence and joy. With the song, the group seeks to inject some much needed energy to the global community.
The song also marks their first full English title track, to make sure that every listener from around the world would be able to feel and understand its message. Now, BTS is no stranger to creating inspiring music. Why is BTS so popular? Whether they’re singing in English or in Korean, their purpose remains the same: promote positivity. It’s an idea that resonates with many people, especially the youth.
Just how popular is “Dynamite” currently? In the United States alone, the song has earned over 17.5 million streams and 182,000 digital downloads! It is also one of the select songs, only 43 in the chart’s history, that have debuted at top rank on the Billboard Hot 100.
BTS: Early Beginnings in the United States
Things weren’t always so easy for BTS. It’s no secret that their company, Big Hit, didn’t have strong industry connections and a significantly smaller budget when compared to the industry giants in South Korea. But call them the K-pop group that could.
While there were other artists that attempted U.S. debuts before them — think back to Wonder Girls and Girls Generation — few can argue that it is BTS who succeeded tremendously. Some BTS Army might even say that the U.S. market warmed up to the boys before their home turf did.
One of their first performances overseas was in 2014 for KCON, an annual K-pop convention held in Los Angeles. The BTS members amazed those in attendance. Sure, they wore adorable schoolboy outfits, but their music belied this innocent image. Their sound had touches of EDM and hip-hop, which were popular in the West.
The First K-pop Group to Win a Billboard Music Award
The group would continue to tour the U.S. in the years following their initial success at KCON, all while earning new fans with every record they put out. In 2017, BTS became the first K-pop group to win a Billboard Music Award. They also made it to the top 10 of the Billboard 200 chart.
In November of the same year, the BTS members performed at the American Music Awards and successfully made their U.S. television debut. This was followed by appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Ellen Show — major achievements for a K-pop act at the time!
Why is BTS so popular internationally?
Many believe that their large social media presence contributed greatly to their success. They draw in crowds by the thousands and the influence BTS Army had as a fandom is just as palpable. Aside from this talent, it’s their impact that got many U.S. TV shows interested.
The Fan Connection: BTS Army
They are called Army for a reason.
The tight bond between the group and their fans was carefully cultivated by their company through social media. Ever wonder how BTS Twitter managed to gain over 20 million followers — more than Beyoncé and Ed Sheeran — despite the fact that most of their posts are not in English? That’s thanks to their international fans who act as unpaid translators for the group. They have produced subtitles for BTS videos and text translations for the group’s non-Korean speaking audience.
Did you know that back in April 2018, with the help of their fans, BTS won the Time Magazine reader poll? Their success doesn’t stop there. The following month, they became the first South Korean group to reach the top of the Billboard 200 chart!
From South Korea to the World: BTS Members at the United Nations
By 2018, the group continued their steady climb to the top. They conquered the U.S. market and were looking to expand even further. Near the end of 2018, they became the first K-pop group to address the United Nations.
In honor of UNICEF’S initiative “Generation Unlimited,” the group urged the youth to believe in their own voices and convictions.
“We have learned to love ourselves, so now I urge you to speak yourself,” BTS RM remarked during the UN General Assembly. The leader of BTS recalled his own youth back in Ilsan, South Korea, and all of the struggles that he had faced. He also spoke about the early beginnings of the group and how challenging it had been for them: “Even after making the decision to join BTS, there were hurdles. Most people thought we were hopeless. Sometimes, I just wanted to quit.”
Despite the challenges, the BTS members continued to use their voices, and their music to “speak up” even when they felt no one was listening. They succeeded by believing in themselves. This is the message they want their fans and the youth to receive.
BTS Grammy Awards, SNL, and Billboard Domination
BTS welcomed 2019 by becoming the first K-pop act to present at the Grammy’s. By then, the reach that they had when it comes to the U.S. market was solidified. This was followed by a performance on Saturday Night Live—a show watched by millions in the country!
From rookies who couldn’t even break into their local market at first, BTS became the third group in over 50 years to have managed three number one albums on the Billboard 200—within less than a year! They also won Top Group during 2019’s Billboard Awards.
There’s no doubt that the group is a worldwide success, and the best bit? They are only getting started. Should we expect a BTS movie in the future? Until that happens, stay up to date with the boys through BTS Twitter and BTS Instagram!