This post has been brought to you and sponsored by my undying love and thirst for all things BTS. You are thusly forewarned and forearmed. The rabbit hole is quick and deep and merciless. All BTS images courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment. You can catch my ongoing series about BTS here or just sign up for my newsletter.
I have finally given in and pushed through the feeling of overwhelmedness that summing up my epic love for BTS brings because can there really be a good tl;dr for all things BTS that doesn’t just end up being, “GAH THEY ARE SO AMAZING OMG I LURV THEM SO MUCH MY OVARIES AND HEART THEY ASPLODE PLZ STAN BTS POR VIDA!!”?!?
No. There cannot. Thus, I will not even try.
However, now that I have accepted there is no way to fully sum up the depth of my BTS feelings and GAH-ness, I can carry on and attempt to give a brief piece (and by brief, I mean relative to how it would quickly spiral into a LET ME TELL YOU ALL THE THINGS type post) on the BTS facts.
Also also? For a more insightful piece on BTS and their impact on me as an Asian American woman, I refer you to a piece I wrote for Overachiever Magazine.
We shall do it Q&A Style because that’s what I’ve decided to do.
1) Who is BTS?
BTS is a 7-member South Korean boy band who has taken over the world with their catchy songs, deep lyrics, knife-like choreography, stunning visuals, and genuine personalities. They are, in fanchant order: RM (leader/frontman), Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook.
Don’t worry. I know you skipped all their names and your eyes kinda glazed over because there are just too many people.
I understand. I was the same.
If it makes you feel better, with enough exposure, you eventually can identify them by their hands.
2) What does BTS MEAN?
Their name is the Korean acronym for Bangtan Sonyeondan / 방탄소년단 / 防彈少年團 which loosely translates into Bulletproof Boy Scouts. The idea being that they were bulletproof to society’s criticisms and insults about them and their music (or something like that) as well as act like a shield to protect their fans from the same. It’s kinda cheesy but now, in retrospect, I don’t mind so much.
Also, though you did not ask because you didn’t know to, the BTS fandom has a name and it is ARMY. What does BTS ARMY stand for? Officially, it’s an acronym of horrendous proportions and if you really must know, you can Google. Wherever you find BTS, ARMY is sure to follow because we are loyal, we are proud, and we are massive. We are also diverse in pretty much any definition of the word.
3) What IS the BTS Music Genre?
Yes. Except for country.
That seems flippant until you realize that with a discography of 150+ songs (not including solos, collaborations/features, or covers but including remixes and multiple languages), they pretty much do every genre popular on the radio.
EDM? Check. Hip hop? Check. R&B? Check. Pop? Check. Rock? Check.
Why? Well, because K-pop (Korean pop music) is already kinda genre-bending/crossing and also because they can.
Good music is as good music does.
For a quick intro, Spotify has a playlist of their more popular songs. You can also check out the free music they’ve released (including 4 mixtapes, covers, and solo releases) on the BTS Soundcloud.
(Also, in the future, I will do posts featuring my favorite BTS songs in each genre and then handily come back and link everything together because I’m a giver.)
This is, in my opinion, one of their MOST American radio friendly songs is MIC Drop, and it’s one of the first songs of theirs that I remember. Glow Worm (5) and Cookie Monster (9) were instant fans and would play this video non-stop and follow the choreography. See? BTS will also bring you closer to your children. Click the “cc” button if you want to know what they’re rapping/singing about.
4) What are BTS songs about?
Oh, friends. FRIENDS!! I am so glad you asked.
Look. I love vapid bangers about making bank, love, and having sex with good looking humans as much as the rest of society because let’s be real, I have basic musical leanings.
I can have layers. And so can you.
BTS members write the majority of their own music and lyrics (with the participation of their quality in-house producers) and their mission is to provide healing and solace to their listeners. They have had several concepts, but the overarching direction is towards self-love – and not in a cliché riven way. No, the self-love they are striving for is the result of agony, self-examination, and hope.
BTS songs cover topics such as the social critique of South Korea’s rigid educational and class systems, hormonal teenage rants about girls, figuring out adulthood, finding love, losing love, losing oneself, identity, mental health, rage against their haters, and whatever else they are personally experiencing. And they do it all through clever wordplay, beautiful melodies, and banging beats.
I could go on about their concepts and how they delve into Carl Jung’s Map of the Soul from almost Day One, but that’s getting a bit ahead of myself. You get the idea though, right? They go deep.
This single, Fake Love, talks about how they tried to be someone so this person would love them, except that when they eventually showed their true selves, the person they loved left. For their full lyrics in English, click the “cc” button on the video or go here.
5) DOES BTS SING in English?
No. They sing in Korean. Because they are a South Korean boy band.
6) How can you understand what they’re singing?
YouTube is super helpful! Thanks to the hardworking fandom, there are music lyric videos with the original Korean, Korean romanization, and English translations along with telling you who is singing/rapping at that very moment.
Also, I use the internet and Google. I follow fan translators on Twitter and on their blogs. Plus, many of their YouTube music videos include closed captions in English (but not always).
I will additionally throw in the cliché but not wrong statement of music transcending language. I only bothered looking up the lyrics because the music was good enough to capture my interest. After all, who cares how great the lyrics are if the music is terrible? Thankfully, BTS has both in spades.
But to be honest, when I first started listening and watching, I was interested mostly in the musicality and dancing and amazing music video visuals. K-pop videos are on another level entirely. They’re visually overwhelming and for lack of a better word, AMAZING.
This is a “dance practice” of Blood, Sweat, and Tears. BTS dance practice is a misnomer because I see only the RESULTS of practice.
7) Wait. DoES BTS wear makeup?
They also have a makeup line because they’re smart.
I get it. For some people, the idea of dudes wearing makeup is a dealbreaker. DECEIVERS! HOW CAN WE POSSIBLY KNOW WHAT THEY REALLY LOOK LIKE?
I assure you they also have lots of pics and selfies without makeup and they’re still unfairly good-looking with awesome bone structure and talent.
8) Is that it?
To borrow another The Princess Bride reference, not remotely!
However, it’s really a lot to take in. They have variety shows, travel shows, a webtoon, a “universe” and a bunch of theories and books and videos and whatnot. Cartoon avatars for LINE (an Asian messaging app). This does not include all their other performances and YouTube Channels and SO MUCH MORE.
If you are the impatient sort and want to dive in head first, I applaud you! It’s the best!! I recommend you go to this handy Reddit Wiki all about BTS and go for it. There are no wrong ways to Bangtan!
Otherwise, wait around and I will write more posts about BTS love (though I make no guarantees on timeliness or quality). There are so many things to talk about and it’s seriously one of my favorite topics – much to the chagrin of my friends in real life. However, they do benefit from pictures of abs so I guess it’s a draw.
9) Where can I find all this amazing BTS Stuff for myself?
One note: all their social media is group only. They do not maintain public social media as individuals because first and foremost, they are a group and that is a huge reason for their success. So any “individual” accounts are fan-made and not official.
Because I am lazy and efficient, I will refer you to this excellently maintained (and accurate) page from my favorite subreddit on Earth: Official BTS Links.
Alright. I didn’t think it was possible, but I have actually finished a brief post about BTS that hopefully gives you a quick overview of who they are. Actually, I don’t think it remotely does them any justice, but if you were here for just the facts, then you would have just gone to the Wikipedia article and read about them and moved on.
Instead, you have stayed because I am entertaining and you love me. Oh, not the reason? PFFFFT. You hush. And go watch BTS on YouTube.
If you like this and want to read more about my BTS Obsession, then you’ll love these posts: