How BTS Succeeded Where Other Boy Bands Couldn’t

After BTS’s Love Yourself World Tour bought out throughout the globe, it wasn’t unusual to see American media evaluating their tour to the Beatles’ arrival within the U.S. and the British Invasion of the 1960s as a complete, as BTS has left of their wake a protracted path of sold-out stadiums stuffed with screaming followers. The comparability got here as BTS stormed by two large venues — Citi Field in New York and the O2 Arena in London — invoking the picture of the English band’s historic efficiency at Shea Stadium.

Being the world’s greatest boy-band isn't any small feat. Just just a few years in the past, it was troublesome to think about Okay-pop act would inherit the throne beforehand held by the likes of New Kids on the Block, N’SYNC, and One Direction — all from Anglophonic international locations, and virtually all of them white. But a more in-depth have a look at BTS’s music and message exhibits that even calling BTS a “boy band” could also be an understatement.

The time period “boy band” is a product of Anglophonic pop music historical past, and carries with it a sure set of assumptions. Beginning with the Jackson 5 and the Osmonds and culminating with New Kids on the Block, the time period was used to indicate a pop act made up of handsome younger males, performing music created by an imperious producer. Their audience was teenage ladies, towards whom the boy band’s music and messaging could be directed. The lyrics have been often saccharine, and the songs have been about getting into into, or exiting from, a romantic relationship with a younger lady. Typically, music from boy bands was hardly ever adventurous, and consisted of straightforward and predictable bubblegum pop tunes.

In one sense, it's not unsuitable to name BTS a “boy band.” Okay-pop’s idol manufacturing system is instantly traceable to the boy band manufacturing within the U.S. and U.Okay. The boy bands of the Anglophonic pop world loved big reputation in South Korea as properly, a lot in order that when New Kids on the Block held a live performance in Seoul in 1992, the following stampede killed a fan and hospitalized 50 others. Korea’s producers sought to emulate the system that created the Jackson 5 and New Kids on the Block. This ultimately resulted within the notorious “trainee system” of Okay-pop, which additionally created BTS beneath the auspices of BigHit Entertainment. Like different boy bands and Okay-pop idol acts, BTS is a bunch made up of handsome younger males performing music that leans closely on visible aesthetics.

But that's the place the similarities finish, as lots of the historic assumptions about boy bands are inapplicable to BTS. Underneath the floor similarities, BTS operates on a special mannequin that enables them to succeed in a bigger vary of viewers than the earlier reigns of boy bands.

At this level, Okay-pop’s idol bands are musically in a special place. While there are Okay-pop teams that do take pleasure in bubblegum pop, the main Okay-pop acts continuously introduce daring and revolutionary sounds. In its track “Rum Pum Pum Pum”, f(x) pushed boundaries by making unusually structured digital dance pop and NCT’s “The seventh Sense” works as a result of it’s constructed on a minimalist and hypnotic sound. These songs are adventurous to the purpose that they don't even have a lot in frequent with different Okay-pop music.

Anglophonic boy bands of the ’90s additionally experimented with forward-thinking sounds and genres aside from pop music, however Okay-pop idol bands have taken it a step additional. In this sense, they’re musical heirs of Michael Jackson, whose music left an indelible imprint within the Korean pop scene of the 1990s. (Seo Taiji and Boys, the fountainhead of recent Okay-pop, have been obsessive about Jackson’s music.) It is value remembering that Jackson additionally started his music profession with the Jackson 5, a proto-idol band that emerged earlier than the time period “boy band” got here for use broadly. Yet Michael Jackson took his music to an unprecedented stage by visually and aurally mesmerizing the followers. Taking Jackson’s cue, Okay-pop idol bands constantly sought to current a complete package deal of daring sonic expertise, glorious choreography, and charismatic stage presence. This side of Okay-pop has been essential in reviving the “boy band” style that has been really fizzling out within the States and the U.Okay. BTS has been profitable as a result of they have been one of the best in presenting this whole package deal. They’re a multi-faceted group composed of three rappers and 4 singers, in distinction to the U.S./U.Okay. boy bands which are often all singers with one or two lead roles.

For U.S. and U.Okay. boy bands, the producer is inseparable from the product. It is troublesome to ascertain New Kids on the Block with out Maurice Starr, Backstreet Boys with out Lou Pearlman, or One Direction with out Simon Cowell. The identical mannequin was imported into Okay-pop, and most Okay-pop idol bands are intently related to their manufacturing corporations — often SM Entertainment, JYP Entertainment, or YG Entertainment, all bearing the initials of their founders. But it's much less so with BigHit Entertainment and its founder Bang Si-hyuk, who emphasised inventive freedom over a selected home model. With the assistance of a small variety of in-house producers, BTS members participated within the music-making course of from the start, composing their very own songs and writing their very own lyrics.

Although the affect of Bang Si-hyuk and BigHit’s in-house producers is clearly current in BTS’s music, such affect is much less pronounced in comparison with, say, Starr’s fingerprints on New Kids on the Block or Max Martin’s sonic imprint on the Backstreet Boys and N’SYNC. BTS’s music comes throughout as natural as a result of it's a pure output of the members’ personal minds. It is just not a coincidence that BTS started their musical journey with hip-hop, the style that maybe has the very best bar for authenticity. In the start, BTS was nearer to being a hip-hop group in a boy band format, slightly than a boy band attempting out hip-hop.

BTS’s inventive authenticity shines even brighter in its lyrics and messaging. While BTS do sing about love and courting, it's extra typically about self-reflection and observations concerning the individuals and the world round them. They look inward, as a substitute of singing outward at another person. BTS are sincere about their struggles; they usually’re vital and defiant concerning the challenges imposed by their adversaries and society at giant. Their message — which finally boils all the way down to loving your self — is optimistic and optimistic, because it springs naturally from their youthful power. This hopeful observe — which echoes Michael Jackson’s Heal the World message — put BTS at locations hardly ever reached by pop stars, such because the UNICEF anti-violence marketing campaign and a speech given throughout the U.N. General Assembly.

What units aside BTS from the earlier greatest boy bands on the planet can be what permits BTS to succeed in a better vary of followers than their predecessors. BTS’s followers are extra various culturally, ethnically, and generationally than these of some other boy band that got here earlier than them. The ARMY fan base is really a world drive, with a whole lot of hundreds of thousands of followers unfold throughout Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Notably, the Love Yourself World Tour attracted an enormous variety of middle-aged followers. For most boy bands, a throng of middle-aged followers would come just for the reunion tour, however at any given BTS live performance, it was not unusual to see three generations of ARMY in attendance, or a mother-daughter pair during which the mom was the BTS fan whereas the daughter was appearing because the chaperone.

English-speaking media remains to be attempting to course of BTS’s sudden rise. Because BTS appeared to emerge utterly out of the blue, there’s been a wrestle to discover a body of reference, which is how we’ve landed on “boy band.” The descriptor is just not unsuitable, however not utterly right both. While BTS’s arrival within the U.S. has been likened to the Beatles and the British Invasion, we may very well be seeing the heirs of Michael Jackson within the 21st century.