BAND of the Week
Origin: Seoul, South Korea
Genre: K-Pop, Hip Hop, R&B and EDM
Years Active: 2013 - present
Record-breaking South Korean boy band BTS (aka Bangtan Boys) balance an energetic blend of dance-pop and hip-hop with deeply introspective lyrics, which helped them build a devoted global following while also becoming the most successful K-pop act in U.S. chart history. Debuting in the early 2010s with their Skool trilogy, they steadily expanded their audience until breaking into the mainstream consciousness with the Love Yourself series.
In 2018, their third official full-length, the platinum-certified Love Yourself: Tear, topped the Billboard 200, becoming the first K-pop to hit number one in the U.S. and the highest-charting album by an Asian act to date. They subsequently crowned the Billboard 200 again with the compilation Love Yourself: Answer (also 2018) and the 2020 release Map of the Soul: 7, which topped the charts in over 20 countries. Hitting another milestone that summer, BTS became the first all-South Korean act to top the Billboard Hot 100 with their single "Dynamite."
Formed by producer Bang Si Hyuk, the septet's lineup includes RM (Kim Namjoon), team leader and rapper; Jin (Kim Seokjin), singer; Suga (Min Yoongi), rapper; J-Hope (Jung Hoseok), rapper and choreographer; Jimin (Jimin Park), singer and choreographer; V (Kim Taehyung), singer; and Jung Kook (Jungkook Jeon), singer, rapper, and choreographer. In addition to production and composition, the members of BTS also write their own lyrics, which tackle topics like mental health, self-acceptance, and empowerment. With their youthful blend of club-worthy dance anthems, stirring love ballads, and aggressive rapping, BTS connected with a devoted fan base (dubbed "ARMY") and set themselves apart from the K-pop industrial machine when they debuted in 2013 with the first installment of their "School Trilogy" series, 2 Cool 4 Skool.
In early 2018, BTS received their first double-platinum certifications in Japan and became the first Korean act to receive two gold certifications in the U.S. BTS released their third official full-length, Love Yourself: Tear, which included the single "Fake Love." Days later, they returned to the Billboard Music Awards, performing and winning Top Social Artist for the second year in a row. Their Billboard success continued when Love Yourself: Tear soared to the top of the Billboard 200, becoming the first foreign-language chart-topper on the U.S. chart in over a decade.
Riding the international success of the Love Yourself series, the boys closed the era with a sold-out global stadium tour, which primed them for the start of the next BTS wave: Map of the Soul: Persona. While "Boy with Luv" climbed into the Top Ten of the Hot 100, the album topped the Billboard 200, becoming BTS' third number one in a year. The accompanying companion album, BTS World: Original Soundtrack, included a new track by the crew, as well as a trio of collaborations with guests Charli XCX, Zara Larsson, and Juice WRLD.
After a brief break from the spotlight, BTS returned in earnest in 2020. The group released their fourth Korean-language LP and second number one U.S. hit, Map of the Soul: 7. They extended the Map of the Soul era in 2020 with their fourth Japanese-language effort, Map of the Soul: 7 - The Journey.
As for English-speaking fans, the group released their first track sung entirely in that language later that summer. The disco-funk "Dynamite" broke streaming records within hours of release and debuted atop the Billboard Hot 100, making BTS the first all-South Korean act to top the U.S. chart. The same week, the group made their first appearance on the MTV Video Music Awards, performing "Dynamite" for a virtual audience.