Does BTS have an argument

K-Pop Superstars BTS: The Perfect Idols

You have to cover your ears if you want to prevent that Dynamite worms himself into it. Very catchy, the number. It could come from a Bruno Mars who successfully upcycled 1970s disco pop to new heights and fabulous chart successes.

But the song comes from BTS, the most successful K-Pop band, yes, the most successful boy band of today. It is their first all-English song, a tool with which the seven boys did what they do best: break records.

He gave them their first number one in the US and made them the first South Korean band to receive this consecration. On the current, ninth studio album of the group, which appeared for the first time in 2013, BE, which is only eight numbers long, spoken dialogue between the band members only deals with how great this is. "Don't you think this is what happiness is like?" Are the final words of the ski.

Both on Spotify and on Youtube - the video that appeared in August now has 675 million views - the numbers exploded as soon as the dynamite manifested itself there. RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook were the first K-Pop bands to be nominated for a Grammy.

Boy and girl band revival

BTS are a phenomenon within a phenomenon: that K-Pop, i.e. Korean Pop, which has existed in its modern form since the 1990s, would take the whole world by storm, is one of the bigger surprises in recent music history. Even as Gangnam style by Psy 2012 had been released with great success, the matter was considered to be a flash in the pan, at most a funny meme. At that time nobody seriously thought what would become of K-Pop, especially not in the form of the boy or girl band, which had long since seemed a thing of the past.

There are still American girl and boy groups - the Pussycat Dolls only recently started a comeback - but the choreographed hopping around, the coordinated clothes, the calculated "personalities" that the band members had to embody had somehow become obsolete. The fact that individualists like Billie Eilish have received great acclaim in American pop in recent years has hardened the thesis that cast uniform pulp is a thing of the past - at least if it is to be successful for longer.

Now South Korea teaches us that we have cut ourselves properly. That the desire for perfect pop production is just as great as it was back then when Backstreet Boys, Spice Girls and the like made children and young people scream.

Absurd, but pretty 2020

BTS are not just warmed-up goulash with a Korean touch, they serve the spirit of the times in terms of content. Her songs not only negotiate cuddling with loved ones, but also topics such as mental health and social injustice. And of course the seven androgynous twenties also embody a different image of men than, say, the Beatles. Your ARMY, as the unbelievably large fan club of BTS is called, are both an internet mob, who mows down anyone who thinks only one bad word about the band, and a charity organization that campaigns for philanthropic causes. That is exactly the contradicting world surrounding BTS. A completely unreflective idol cult on the part of the fans goes hand in hand with "wokeness", ie the increased awareness of privileges and the injustices associated with them. Absurd, but pretty 2020.

The fact that, unlike many other K-Pop bands, BTS write most of their hits themselves should not hide the fact that the seven gentlemen have less of a say in creative decisions. Bang Si-hyuk, the head of Big Hit Entertainment, takes care of that, the Korean record company and agency that is now listed on the stock exchange and that has not only handpicked the members of BTS at national auditions, but also dictated the path to be picked. Originally planned as a hip-hop troupe, Bang Si-hyuk would prefer "a hero who can lend them a shoulder to lean on, even without speaking a single word" for the youth. Very poetic, pretty concrete and somehow horrible.

This is exactly what BTS deliver relatively scandal-free, while the K-pop scene around them has been rocked by a number of suicides in recent years.

In the meantime, South Korea is busily marketing its stars. The country has not gone unnoticed by the "Korean wave" (the Chinese term for it is Hallyu) - in other words, a worldwide increased interest in Korean culture and especially pop culture. No wonder. The song Dynamite alone generated 1.4 billion for the tax authorities. "Don’t you think this is what happiness is like?" (Amira Ben Saoud, December 10th, 2020)