BTS, (방탄소년단), a South-Korean boy band that debuted on 13th of June 2013. BTS is a seven-member group whose music focuses on spreading the vital message of loving oneself. The seven of them come from small-towns in South-Korea and started small. Yes, the multimillion-selling, stadium-filling superstars were regarded as flops in their debut days. People didn’t take them seriously and even ridiculed them due to their name which translates to ‘Bulletproof Boy Scouts’. Their debut song ‘No More Dream’ talks about the issue of how society crumples the dreams of youths by mocking them with the statement, “Is that all your dream is?”
BTS has repeatedly talked about subjects like mental health, self-love and following one’s heart, which are otherwise disregarded in our world.
Their music has helped millions of people across all age groups and countries. BTS has time and time again proved that music transcends the language barrier, that we can all connect through music, despite our differences. Their journeys were of course, not very smooth. It was a long and arduous journey that brought them to where they are today. They aren’t afraid of voicing their fears and thoughts and often display them through their songs. The song ‘Black Swan’ is about their fear of falling out of love with making music.
“The heart no longer races
When hearing the music play
Tryna’ pull up
like time has stopped
Oh that would be my first death
I been always afraid of
If this can no longer resonate
No longer make my heart vibrate
Then like this may be how
I die my first death.”
Here, they display one of their greatest fears. The feeling that if music can no longer make them feel anything, it would be like their first death. And as the legendary dancer, Martha Graham said, “a dancer dies twice—once when they stop dancing, and this first death is the more painful.” In an interview, BTS talked about their thoughts on how someday in the future, BTS’s popularity would decrease and how they hope it’s not a crash but instead a more gradual decline. In fact, SUGA’s solo, Interlude: Shadow has shed light on this matter as we can see in the lyrics:
“I’m afraid, flying high is terrifying
No one told me How lonely it is up here
I can leap in the air but also plunge…
The moment I’m flying high as I wished”
“My shadow grows in that blasting stark light
Please don’t let me shine
Don’t let me down
Don’t let me fly
Now I’m afraid
The moment I face myself brought lowest
It so happens that I’m flying the highest…“
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He talks about how he has accomplished what he wanted to and is flying high, but is also afraid of crashing down. So he says: ‘don’t let me fly, don’t let me shine’. The members are realistic and know their limits, which is crucial for any person.
My journey with them began in August 2018, around the time they released their hit single ‘IDOL’. In around June, my friend came up to me and eagerly told me about a new K-pop boyband that she’d listened to the day before, and told me to give it a try too. Now, at the time, I’d never listened to K-pop and had a rather stereotypical view of them as ‘Chinese people singing stuff in some language’. So after I went home, I searched up what they were and listened to a song of theirs. Of course, due to the silly idea of them that I had, I didn’t bother listening to them and gave up on it. Then, around a month later, a song of theirs re-surfaced in my YouTube recommendations. I clicked on it and from then on it was like falling deeper and deeper into the K-pop hole, there was no going back. By August end, I was enraptured by them. Most of my searches were related to BTS, my playlists consisted mostly of BTS and my interests were almost wholly BTS. I admit I may have been a little obsessed with them during my early ARMY(name of the fanbase) days, but haven’t we all been through such a phase? BTS has inspired so many people including me, to try to give my best whenever I do anything. But above all else, BTS’s songs have comforted me and continuously told me to value and love myself. After hearing their message of loving oneself for so long, over and over, I think, over the last 2 years, I have learned to value myself more. I believe that the ‘me’ in the present is better than the ‘me’ 2 years ago.
So, we can see that the relationship between BTS and ARMY is symbiotic and one of mutual support and love. Their journeys were tough and challenging and the path they had to take to reach where they are was also trying. But the seven of them made it because of their persistence, teamwork, hard work and the support they received from various people. As they move forward, they must face their shadows and fears as must everyone else. Someday, even after BTS has disbanded, and we’re all grown up, we won’t forget the impact they had on us. The message that no matter what, we cannot stop.
“Can’t hold me down cuz you know I’m a fighter…
Bring the pain oh yeah
Get on, bring the pain oh yeah“
BTS’s latest albums (Map of the Soul: Persona and Map of the Soul: 7) focus on facing one’s shadow and fears
“The shadow resembles me
Is it the shadow that’s shaking
Or is it my feet that are trembling?”
From inner feelings to fears, this album features them all and the members’ feelings about these topics. While ‘Persona’ focuses on their identities as their stage personas and their true selves, ‘7’ centres more on their journey till now, their messages to themselves, intimate thoughts and concerns about the future. Of course, BTS has spoken about simpler matters such as being a youth in love and life as a youth in general. How they want to be free and soar in the sky without being shackled down by society’s standards, follow their own heart and dreams and more. What sets BTS apart from most other artists is that they discuss topics that are otherwise neglected or belittled. The variety of topics they talk about is unusual these days. Compared to the generic love songs produced in masses in the west, and I’m referring to the child artists singing about heartbreak, love and other shallower topics, I prefer to listen to songs that talk about more relatable themes such as, self-love, fear of falling behind everyone in life etc.
The thing is that many people still have a close-minded and hateful view towards these foreign artists just because they sing in a language other than English, saying that “you don’t even know what they’re saying”, ” why do you listen to them?” or “they’re just ching chongs”. The thing is that music transcends the language barrier and if haters could be more open-minded and less stereotypical, maybe they could enjoy something unique. This is not to say everyone has to like K-pop, just respect people’s likes and don’t instantly start criticising people who like something different. Remember, once you get over the small barrier of subtitles, there is a world of undiscovered and incredible things.
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