BTS, also known as the Bangtan Boys, is a seven-member South Korean boy band formed by Big Hit Entertainment. They debuted on June 12, 2013 with the song "No More Dream" from their first album 2 Cool 4 Skool. They won several New Artist of the Year awards for the track, including at the 2013 Melon Music Awards and Golden Disc Awards and the 2014 Seoul Music Awards. The band continued to rise to widespread prominence with their subsequent albums Dark & Wild (2014), The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, Part 2 (2015) and The Most Beautiful Moment in Life: Young Forever (2016), with the latter two entering the U.S. Billboard 200. The Most Beautiful Moment in Life: Young Forever went on to win the Album of the Year award at the 2016 Melon Music Awards.
Their second full album, Wings (2016), peaked at number 26 on the Billboard 200, which marked the highest chart ranking for a K-pop album ever. In their native South Korea, Wings became the best selling album in the Gaon Album Chart history at the time. The album went on to sell more than 1.5 million copies, making it BTS' first "million seller", and the group was subsequently awarded Artist of the Year at the 2016 Mnet Asian Music Awards. The group's next release, Love Yourself: Her (2017), debuted at number seven on the Billboard 200, marking the highest rank for an Asian artist in history. The group also managed to debut on the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time with the album's title track, "DNA", which entered at number 85 and peaked at number 67. Another track from the album, "Mic Drop", was remixed by Steve Aoki with a feature by Desiigner and peaked at number 28 on the Billboard Hot 100. Both tracks went on to be certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, a first for any Korean act ever. The album sold over 1.2 million copies on South Korea's Gaon Album Chart in its first month, reclaiming its title as the best selling album in the chart's history and becoming the biggest selling Korean album by month in 16 years, coming second to G.o.d's album in 2001. BTS was awarded the Mnet Asian Music Award for Artist of the Year for the second year in a row in 2017. Their third full album Love Yourself: Tear (2018), debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, making them the only K-Pop act to achieve this feat so far. Since their debut, they have sold an estimated 5 million albums worldwide.
Known for their large social media presence, BTS were listed by Forbes as the most retweeted artist on Twitter in March 2016. Following that, Twitter launched its first ever K-pop Twitter emoji featuring BTS in May. In October 2016, Billboard placed BTS as number one on their Social 50 chart, making them the first Korean group to top the chart. To date, they have spent 76 weeks as number one on the Social 50 chart. That same year, they also charted on YouTube's Music Global Top 100: 17th on the video chart, 6th on the artist chart and 14th on the tracks chart. In May 2017, they won the Top Social Artist Award at the Billboard Music Awards, becoming the first Korean group to win a BBMA. In June 2017, Time magazine named the band one of the 25 most influential people on the internet. On November 20, 2017 Guinness World Records revealed that BTS had earned a spot in their 2018 edition for "having the world's most Twitter engagements for a music group". That December, they were revealed to be the most tweeted about celebrity in 2017, being "liked or retweeted over half a billion times (502 million)" worldwide, more than U.S. President Donald Trump and Justin Bieber combined. BTS' achievements led the group to be ranked number one on Forbes Korea Power Celebrity list for 2018, a list ranking South Korea's most powerful and influential celebrities.
The group's name, BTS, is an acronym for the Korean expression Bangtan Sonyeondan (Hangul: 방탄소년단; Hanja: 防彈少年團), literally meaning "Bulletproof Boy Scouts". The name was conceptualized with the thought that BTS would block out stereotypes, criticisms, and expectations that aim on adolescents like bullets and protect the values and ideals of today’s adolescents. In Japan, they are known as Bōdan Shōnendan (防弾少年団), which translates similarly. On July 2017, BTS announced that in addition to being known as Bangtan Sonyeondan or Bulletproof Boy Scouts, the acronym would also stand for "Beyond The Scene" as part of their new brand identity. This extended their name to mean "growing youth BTS who is going beyond the realities they are facing, and going forward."
Auditions for a possible boyband were held in 2010 and 2011 by Big Hit Entertainment, and the lineup went through several changes before it was finalized with Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V, and Jungkook in 2012. Six months prior to their debut, they began to gain attention for their presence on various social media websites, as well as song covers on YouTube and SoundCloud.
The group's debut single album 2 Cool 4 Skool, the first installment in their "school trilogy" series, was released simultaneously with its lead single "No More Dream" on June 12, 2013. While the album peaked at number five on the Gaon Album Chart and sold over 105,000 copies, "No More Dream" and the subsequent single "We Are Bulletproof Pt. 2" were not major hits. Expanding their endeavors into Japan, "No More Dream" was later re-recorded in Japanese and released on June 4, 2014.
The second part to the "school trilogy" was the extended play O!RUL8,2?, released on September 11, 2013, which sold over 120,000 copies to date and peaked at number four. Its supporting singles "N.O" and "Attack on Bangtan" (Korean: 진격의 방탄; Revised Romanization: Jingyeogui Bangtan) failed to chart high. That same month, BTS starred in their own variety show, SBS-MTV's Rookie King Channel Bangtan, based on a fake broadcast station, "Channel Bangtan", through which members parodied variety shows such as VJ Special Forces and MasterChef Korea. At the end of the year, BTS was recognized with several New Artist of the Year awards, including the 2013 Melon Music Awards and Golden Disc Awards and the 2014 Seoul Music Awards.
The last act to their "school trilogy", Skool Luv Affair (2014) topped the Gaon Chart and sold over 200,000 copies. It also peaked at number three on Billboard's World Albums Chart. The album was supported by the singles "Boy in Luv" (Korean: 상남자; RR: Sang-namja) and "Just One Day" (Korean: 하루만; RR: Haruman). That June, BTS participated as judges for a K-pop cover dance competition in the Bridge to Korea festival in Russia, an event that aimed to promote tourism between the two countries, where they also performed on stage. In August, the group also attended KCON in Los Angeles. That same month, they released their first Korean studio album, Dark & Wild, which peaked at number two on the Gaon Chart and sold over 200,000 copies. It was supported by two singles: "Danger" and "War of Hormone" (Korean: 호르몬 전쟁, RR: Horeumon Jeonjaeng).
Their Japanese studio album, Wake Up (2014), released that December, peaking at number three on the weekly Oricon Albums Chart and selling 28,000 copies. Along with re-recorded Japanese versions of older songs, it also contained the original tracks "Wake Up" and "The Stars". Their first concert tour, 2014 BTS Live Trilogy – Episode II: The Red Bullet, was held from October to December.
Wake Up: Open Your Eyes tour. They also held their second solo concert in Korea, BTS Live Trilogy – Episode 1: BTS Begins. Their third EP, The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, Part 1 (2015), was released that March and was the only Korean album to be included in Fuse's list of the "27 Best Albums of 2015 So Far" that year. The lead single "I Need U" was a top five hit on the weekly Gaon Digital Chart in South Korea and garnered BTS their first ever music show win on SBS MTV's The Show. Although the second single, "Dope (Korean: 쩔어; RR: Jjeoreo)", peaked at number 44 on the weekly Gaon Digital Chart, its music video became BTS' first to accrue over 100 million views on YouTube in October. "Dope" later peaked at number three on Billboard's World Digital Songs Chart. The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, Part 1 have sold over 300,000 copies to date.
BTS' fourth Japanese single, "For You", was released that June to celebrate the first anniversary of their Japanese debut. The single topped Oricon's daily chart, selling over 42,000 copies within its first day. They also commenced their 2015 Live Trilogy Episode: The Red Bullet world tour, and participated in the Summer Sonic Festival tour in Japan.
During their three-day The Most Beautiful Moment in Life: On Stage tour, the group performed the new song "Run", the lead single for the EP The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, Part 2 later released on November 30, 2015. The album topped the weekly Gaon Album and Billboard World Albums charts and remained atop the latter for multiple weeks, making BTS the first K-pop act to achieve that feat. It also peaked at number 171 on the Billboard 200 Chart with over 5,000 copies. At the 2015 Mnet Asian Music Awards, they received the Best World Performer in recognition of their international fanbase.
The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, Part 1 and Part 2 were later combined into the Young Forever (2016) edition, and was supported by three singles: the top 40 hit "Epilogue: Young Forever", the top 10 hit "Fire" (Korean: 불타오르네; RR: Bultaoreune), and the top 20 hit "Save Me". A two-day concert at the Olympic Gymnastics Arena in Seoul was held in May to support the album, followed by their Asia tour. The group also headlined both US KCON shows held that year in New Jersey (June) and Los Angeles (July), to sold out audiences. Young Forever later won Album of the Year at the year-end Melon Music Awards, becoming the group's first major grand prize (daesang).
On September 7, 2016, BTS released their second Japanese studio album Youth, selling over 44,000 copies on its first day of release and ranking number one in Japan. Japanese editions of "I Need U" and "Run" were released as singles. Meanwhile, back in their home country, pre-orders for the group's second Korean studio album, Wings, released that October, accumulated over 500,000 copies within the first week. The lead single "Blood Sweat & Tears" achieved an "all-kill" in South Korea, becoming their first number one hit on the weekly Gaon Digital Chart. Its music video gained over 6 million views within 24 hours, breaking the previous record held on YouTube for the highest number of views of a K-pop group music video within 24 hours. They later won Artist of the Year at the 2016 Mnet Asian Music Awards, becoming the first artist not from a "Big Three" entertainment company (SM, YG and JYP) to do so.
In early 2017, BTS embarked on their Live Trilogy Episode III: The Wings Tour. That February, pre-orders for the repackaged edition of Wings, entitled You Never Walk Alone, reached over 700,000 copies. The lead single "Spring Day" (Korean: 봄날; RR: Bomnal) topped eight of the major South Korean online music charts, as well as Gaon, and crashed Melon's digital chart due to the high influx of user traffic. It also entered the US Billboard's Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart at number 15 with "zero promotions".
Their fifth EP, Love Yourself: Her, was released that September and featured music from The Chainsmokers' Andrew Taggart for the track "Best of Me". The lead single, "DNA", peaked at number two on the weekly Gaon Chart, while its music video reached over 20 million views on YouTube, breaking the record for most viewed K-pop group music video within the first 24 hours. "DNA" also became the group's first entry on the Billboard Hot 100 at number 85, making BTS the first K-pop boy band to do so and the second Korean act with a Korean-language song. When "DNA" rose to number 67, it became the highest-charting song on the Billboard Hot 100 for a K-pop group, beating Wonder Girls' previous record at number 76. A remix for their song, "Mic Drop", by Steve Aoki and featuring Desiigner was released as the second single, peaking at number 23 in South Korea and number 28 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the first top 40 entry for a K-pop group on the chart. "DNA" and "Mic Drop" were later released as a triple-A side single in Japan with the new song "Crystal Snow” which topped the Oricon Chart, becoming the highest-selling single from a K-pop artist within a week, and making BTS the first foreign artist to achieve this.
In November, the group became the first K-pop group to perform at the American Music Awards, raising their profile internationally. They won their second Artist of the Year at the 2017 Mnet Asian Music Awards, becoming the first act to win the award two years in a row. "Spring Day" later won Best Song of the Year at the Melon Music Awards. That December, they performed on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve to welcome the new year, making them the first K-pop group to be part of the show's lineup. They also made their Japanese TV music show debut on TV Asahi's Japan Music Station Super Live on December 22.
January 2018 saw BTS receive their first Double Platinum certification from the RIAJ for their "Mic Drop/DNA/Crystal Snow" single, the only single album by a foreign artist in 2017 to sell over 500,000 copies and receive certification on the Oricon chart for that year. Later that month, they became the first artist outside of the "Big Three" to win both grand prize (Daesang) awards at the Golden Disc Awards and the Seoul Music Awards respectively. In February, their "Mic Drop Remix" and "DNA" singles were both certified Gold by the RIAA, making BTS the first and only Korean artist to receive two certifications. An original, eight-episode long documentary series, entitled Burn the Stage, that offers a behind-the-scenes look at the group's 2017 Wings Tour, premiered March 28 on YouTube Red and ran exclusively on the platform until May 9. On April 4, their third Japanese studio album, Face Yourself, was released. Its debut at number 43 on the Billboard 200 made it the third-highest-charting Japanese album in the history of the chart. Later that same day, the group also released a nine-minute video titled "Euphoria", said to be the theme to Love Yourself: Wonder.
On April 17, BTS were again nominated for Top Social Artist at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards, which they later won on May 20, making them the only Korean artist to be nominated for and win the award two years in a row. They made their debut as performers at the show, premiering their new single, "Fake Love", from their third Korean-language LP, Love Yourself: Tear, released on May 18. The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 with 135,000 album-equivalent units (including 100,000 pure album sales), becoming BTS' highest-charting and first number one album in the US, the first K-pop album to top the US albums chart, and the highest-charting album by an Asian act. "Fake Love" peaked at number ten on the Billboard Hot 100 that same week, becoming the band's highest reaching song on the chart as well as their first in the top ten. Overall, "Fake Love" is the seventeenth non-English song to reach the top ten, and the first for a K-Pop group. The single also debuted at number seven on Billboard’s Streaming Songs chart with 27.4 million streams earned in the week ending May 24, giving BTS its first top ten on the chart and making “Fake Love” the first K-pop song to land on top ten since Psy’s “Hangover” feat. Snoop Dogg in 2014. Love Yourself: Tear also reached number eight on the UK Albums Chart, marking the group's first top ten album in the country.
Their 2018 world tour, titled "BTS World Tour: Love Yourself", is set to begin on August 25 in Seoul.
BTS co-writes and produces much of their output, which some media outlets have attributed for their success. The group's early musical style and image was influenced by hip hop, as seen in "N.O." and "No More Dream". They later branched out into R&B and rock music with "Danger" and "Boy in Luv". The members' solo songs in Wings incorporated a diverse range of genres, with neo soul for V's "Stigma", gospel for J-Hope's "Mama" and piano-rap for Suga's "First Love".
BTS has been complimented for "speak honestly about topics they deem important, even in a conservative society" by Jeff Benjamin from Fuse magazine. Tamar Herman from Billboard magazine noted that the septet often have recurring themes in their materials. Their "school trilogy" series - 2 Cool 4 Skool (2013), O!RUL8,2? (2013), and Skool Luv Affair (2014) – explored "the troubles and anxieties of school-age youth." "Not Today" from You Never Walk Alone has an anti-establishment anthem, with messages advocating for minority groups while Wings (2016) touched upon mental health and female empowerment. Love Yourself: Her, in which themes were identified as "love, friendship, loss, death" is the first of four EPs of the "Love Yourself" series. The second EP in the "Love Yourself" series, Love Yourself: Tear, was praised for its themes of "dealing with the cycle of grief that lingers through a separation."
Grace Jeong, editor-in-chief of Soompi, praised the group by stating that, “BTS has something to say, and has a great marketing strategy that doesn’t alienate non-Korean-speaking fans.” While they have received praise for their lyrics, in 2016 the group faced criticisms of misogyny regarding the lyrics of "War of Hormone", "Converse High", and RM's solo song "Joke", as well as a Twitter comment made by Suga. The group's label later issued an apology.
South Korean president Moon Jae-in, in a congratulatory letter he wrote to BTS, recognized their sincerity and inclusion of diversity as the group's key to success. Moon stated that "Each of the seven members sings in a way that is true to himself and the life he wants to live. Their melody and lyrics transcend regional borders, language, culture, and institutions."
BTS has a large presence on social media, subsequently winning the Top Social Artist Award at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards after receiving over 300 million votes to become the first Korean group to win a BBMA. BTS also won the Top Social Artist Award at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards. They were the most tweeted about celebrity in 2017, being "liked or retweeted over half a billion times (502 million)" worldwide. The group charted for the first time in the 2016 edition of the Billboard Year-End charts specifically on the World Albums Artist and World Digital Song Artists. They placed again on the 2017 edition ranking 10th on the Top Artists, second on the Top Artists - Duo/Group, and first on the Social 50 Artists and World Albums Artists.
In 2015, BTS became brand ambassadors for Puma. In 2016, Nexon released character avatars based on the members for their RPG game Elsword. That year, they topped the 'Boy Group Brand Power Ranking' published by the Korean Corporate Reputation Research Institute for 9 out of 12 months, and were the boy group with the highest brand reputation.
In 2017, BTS were chosen as the honorary tourism ambassadors for Seoul as part of the 'I Seoul U' programme. The group filmed an advertisement produced by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, which was subsequently aired in over 100 countries. A collaboration between BTS and VT Cosmetics, "VT x BTS" was launched on October 10. On December 6, the promotional song, "With Seoul" was released online for 'I Seoul U' programme with the music video released on December 13. They were also chosen as the new brand models for Lotte Duty Free Shop. On December 7, Mediheal announced a collaboration with BTS, that dropped on December 19 and got sold out in three days. BTS collaborated with popular Korean communication app Line, creating new Line 'characters' based on the group, called BT21, that serve as emojis, stickers and more.
Expanding their endorsements overseas, BTS worked with Japanese department store 109 to promote their eighth Japanese single, "Mic Drop/DNA/Crystal Snow", through a Christmas campaign, announced in October 2017, that used "Crystal Snow" as the image song for the collaboration. Pop-up shops selling various original and limited edition BTS merchandise were opened at four different locations: the flagship Shibuya 109 store, and then at the Osaka, Kagoshima, and Fukuoka branches. On December 17th, Yahoo! Japan announced BTS as the promotional models for Yahoo WiFi, with a special sign-up campaign that launched on January 29, 2018.
An advertisement for the LG G7 ThinQ featuring BTS, located in Yongsan Station.
On February 27, 2018, BTS were announced as global brand ambassadors for Puma, with Puma launching the remix of their 'Turin' line on March 2 in Korea and worldwide in July in celebration of this. The group will also feature in global campaigns for Puma's Sportstyle line as well. In March, they were announced as the new brand spokespersons for KB Kookmin Bank, one of the top four largest banks in South Korea. On April 3, LG Electronics announced that BTS would "promote its smartphones in the global market" for the tech company, including an upcoming flagship model tentatively scheduled for unveiling by June 2018. On April 29, news media revealed that Coca-Cola Korea, have signed BTS on as their new campaign models, with promotional activities set to commence in June in time for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
BTS have involved themselves in a variety of charitable events. In 2015, they donated seven tons (7,187 kg) of rice to charity at the K-Star Road opening ceremony held in Apgujeong-dong. The following year they participated in ALLETS's "Let's Share the Heart" collaboration charity campaign with Naver to raise donations for LISA, a charity "which carries forward a preparation business to fight blindess including research on degenerative retina disease treatment and an activity to improve social awareness on the visually impaired.
In January 2017, news media reported that BTS and Big Hit Entertainment had donated KR₩100,000,000 (US$85,000) to the 4/16 Sewol Families for Truth and A Safer Society, an organization connected to the families of the 2014 Sewol Ferry Disaster. Each member donated KR₩10,000,000 and Big Hit Entertainment donated an additional KR₩30,000,000. The donation was intended to have been made in secret. Later that year, BTS officially launched their Love Myself campaign, an initiative dedicated to helping "protect and support child and teen victims of domestic and school violence as well as sexual assault around the world...", in partnership with the Korean Committee for UNICEF. BTS plans to donate 500 million won ($448,000) from the members, 3% of all upcoming Love Yourself: Her album sales and 100% of all sales of official goods for the Love Myself campaign over the next two years, as well as include donation desks installed by UNICEF, towards several social programs benefiting violence prevention against children and teens and support programs for victims of violence. Within two months of its launch the campaign raised an additional KR₩106,000,000, taking the worldwide funds total to KR₩606,000,000.
In April 2018, BTS participated in Stevie Wonder's "Dream Still Lives" tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. alongside other celebrities, sharing their dreams and hopes for the world. It was revealed that Stevie Wonder himself had asked BTS to participate in the campaign.
Members of the group have also engaged in individual philanthropic endeavours. Jimin supported graduates of Busan Hoedong Elementary School, his alma mater, by covering uniform expenses from 2016 until its closure in 2018. After news of the school's closing was released, he donated summer and winter middle school uniforms to the final graduates and gifted autographed albums to the entire student body. For his 25th birthday, Suga donated ten kilograms of Korean beef to 39 orphanages in Korea under the name of "ARMY", BTS's fan club.
• Jin (진), born Kim Seok-jin (김석진) – vocalist
• Suga (슈가), born Min Yoon-gi (민윤기) – rapper
• J-Hope (제이홉), born Jung Ho-seok (정호석) – rapper
• RM, born Kim Nam-joon (김남준) – leader, rapper
• Jimin (지민), born Park Ji-min (박지민) – vocalist
• V (뷔), born Kim Tae-hyung (김태형) – vocalist
• Jungkook (정국), born Jeon Jung-kook (전정국) – vocalist
• Dark & Wild (2014)
• Wings (2016)
• Love Yourself: Tear (2018)
Sources: Last.fm, Wikipedia
BTS in the news
|Songs by BTS|