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(Newsmaker) Bangtan Boys feel 'life's most beautiful day' has come

All Headlines 16:21 November 07, 2016

By Chung Joo-won, Lee Eun-jeong

SEOUL, Nov. 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korean boy band Bangtan Boys, or BTS, the darling band of the relatively small Big Hit Entertainment, has achieved a rare success that even artists of well-established agencies crave.

The band with the acronym BTS started out as "a band with an awkward name" in 2013 but now stands tall as ambassadors of K-pop to the global music realm. Its second and latest full-length album "Wings" crashed into 26th of the Billboard 200 Chart, but the achievement is only one of the many indicators of its global recognition.

Members of South Korean boy group Bangtan Boys, or BTS, appear in this photo provided by Big Hit Entertainment. (Yonhap)

The seven-member act -- with Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, Jungkook and Rap Monster -- said they are surprised by the lyrics-come-true moments they are experiencing these days.

"We sang about the 'The Most Beautiful Moment of Life' and woke up to experience it," said band leader Rap Monster, 22, in his interview with Yonhap News Agency last week.

"Because our two previous works ranked 171th and 107th (in the Billboards), we'd thought we'd kill to have our new LP ('Wings') get somewhere between 70th and 80th. When got up as high as 26th, we were amazed to reach so high, as if we all grew wings, like the name of the LP,'" the singer continued.

To the K-pop idol group, the globalization of pop music has never been so clear than to see it enter the mainstream music charts of the United Kingdom -- a country in which BTS has never performed. The band did perform in four countries in Europe, but the U.K. was not one of them.

Rap Monster recalled, "We were extremely flattered and encouraged to see our band on the British chart because, as far as we know, it's a highly conservative chart with a high sense of pride in its homegrown work."

In a meet-and-greet event for BTS fans, the band members met some British fans from London who wished to see the K-pop band perform in their home country as well. The mere thought of performing in the island nation excited the BTS members, according to Rap Monster.

Rap Monster of Bangtan Boys, or BTS, poses for a photo at a press event in Seoul on Oct. 10, 2016, on the release of the K-pop band's second album "Wings." (Yonhap)

By far the most frequently asked questions for BTS was how the band was able to win such a large global fandom, especially when it does not belong to South Korean entertainment behemoths such as S.M. Entertainment, YG Entertainment, JYP Entertainment and the like.

Some of its most powerful weapons turned out to be video-sharing platform YouTube and social media, including Twitter, Rap Monster said.

In March, BTS was dubbed the most retweeted global artists in the past 30 days on Twitter, one of the virtual barometers of a celebrity's popularity, according to a data journal compiled by the Forbes U.S. edition. The data showed that BTS ranked No. 1 on the top 10 most retweeted artists chart with a dominant 5,393,500 retweets, by far dwarfing No. 2 Kanye West with 3,750,000 retweets. Other Western peers, including Justin Bieber, Zayn, Ashton Irwin of 5 Seconds of Summer and Ariana Grande, were retweeted between 2,095,000 to 3,589,100 times.

BTS snagged the No. 4 spot in the YouTube Music Global Top 100 for global artists, on top of collecting 2.2 million subscribers of its YouTube channel.

Patience was another magic ingredient in their global popularity. The members went the extra mile to make their posting steady and lasting.

"Even before our debut, we've been uploading many things about us, like unrevealed songs, selfies and other daily trifles," Rap Monster said.

"The 'data' piled up for the listeners to watch freely on Twitter and YouTube, and eventually connected us to our global fans," he added.

This image, provided by Big Hit Entertainment, shows South Korean boy group Bangtan Boys, or BTS, at 106th on the Billboard 200, updated on Oct. 26. (Yonhap)

Singing a globally shared message was another key booster of BTS' popularity.

Rap Monster said some messages bear a particularly great impact among those in similar age groups, perhaps best exemplified by BTS' "Am I Wrong," a rebellious song of youthful hearts, enlisted in "Wings."

The song sings, "Yes, you're crazy / Being sane in an insane world makes you crazy / If you feel nothing about that news / If you feel nothing about that comment / You're abnormal for being not normal."

The K-pop artist said, "The song is like, 'I'm living in a world going crazy, how about you?' It really clicked with fans from all around the world. They said they've felt the same kind of feelings too -- The lyrics come in Korean but our global fans translate them into their own languages, like French and Romanian."

He claimed such a universal message, incorporated with a trendy sound, powerful performance and high-quality music video, results in a distinctive identity for the band.

Once he read a column that analyzed how K-pop was able to grow into a globally accepted culture.

"I think people's discovery of these factors, and how they relate to each other, eventually turns them into 'core fans' who collect our albums."

Global fans of Bangtan Boys, or BTS, cheer at the K-pop boy group during the K-pop concert in "KCON 2016 France" in Paris on June 2, 2016. (Yonhap)

Since BTS' online efforts had gone unrecognized by many, the band still has an image of an "upstart," he said.

"Two years ago when we released our first LP, the album's lead song 'Danger' ranked 54th, then we disappeared from the chart the next day. (The fleeting grade) showed us the daunting divide between us and our listeners. Some even made fun of our band name, calling it a name from the 80's.'"

Having risen to today's glory, BTS is still reaching for greater recognition in the global stage.

"Whether it's through our music or music video, we want to become people's must-see-in-this-life kind of band," Rap Monster said, craving stronger band loyalty from the world's music listeners.

A world tour is one of the strongest ways to make this dream come true, according to the K-pop artist. To him, a world tour is a badge of excellence in music and stage performing.

"Some day, I want to travel all around the world and hold concerts in stadiums, just like world pop stars Coldplay, Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber," he said, his fingers crossed.

Members of Bangtan Boys, or BTS, pose for photos at a press event in Seoul on Oct. 10, 2016, on the release of their second album "Wings." (Yonhap)

jwc@yna.co.kr
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