“When you believe rather than doubt and when you carry yourself with confidence but not conceit, you can captivate the eyes and ears of thousands and touch their hearts…”
–BTS (Burn the Stage: The Movie)
Bangtan Sonyeondan popularly known as BTS (Bullet Proof Boy-scouts or Bangtan Boys) is not a band anymore, no longer a brand name of Big Hit Entertainment, rather a phenomenon that has taken the world by a storm that shows no sign of dying down, rather continues to burn like an eternal flame of inspiration, creativity and global human-hood, connecting boys and girls, men and women, across every culture, continent and identity. Now for the most important question of the decade, why BTS, why not One Direction or any other boy group or band with a backing of language base where English is the most sought out language in the world, when English is supposed to dominate every facet of our lingual system, from communication to world-domination? How then, with such a prejudiced system, where the imperial language of a ransacking-country loses out to Korean (Hangeul), when majority of the audience does not even understand without subtitles? The answer is pretty simple. Music and Arts simply do not differentiate or discriminate on the basis of the language of propagation, instead what it does emphasize upon is the content and material that is being delivered out there to the hoi polloi. We no longer identify ourselves strictly adhering to our culture and soil, rather we have become open and liberal, expanding our vision far and beyond the boundaries of country and tradition. This is exactly what BTS, has had done since inception, from debuting in a small, non-influential and unknown company like Big Hit to becoming global titans of the music industry in 2017!
The formation of BTS, is a legacy in its own worth from the struggles and hardships of the members in getting into the company, to becoming trainees, to training like mad hatters to finally debuting in 2013. The group had to undergo hardships in many a way from building, re-building with new members and subsequent exit of those as well while it was only in 2012 from 2010 that the final line-up, consisting of RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, Taehyung and Jungkook was formed. Although, Bang Si-hyuk , CEO of Big Hit and the mastermind behind the group, had plans of BTS being crafted along the similar lines of former popular groups like 1TYM of YG Entertainment, he finally realized before the debut that the same formula would not work for BTS as what the youth needed was “a hero who can lend them a shoulder to lean on, even without speaking a single word”, and incidentally as well fortunately BTS did become the leader figure through their awe-inspiring music to the message they have time and again portrayed through the lyrics. BTS, unlike other boy-groups like GOT7, from JYP or EXO from SM had not been able to capture the mass, as in instant success was not something on their charts as despite the immense hard work they’d put through, from taking a different way of appealing to the audience, not toeing the line like a flock of sheep and producing run of the mill quality music, BTS hardly got what they deserved and was capable of. But this road-block to a magnificent career was only present in those initial years when the Korean media repeatedly hitched upon them like pebbles as they simply did not come from one of the top three companies that reign the Korean entertainment industry, SM, JYP and YG. BTS not only went on to become the biggest and most loved boy-group in the world but also served as a mindful lesson to all those companies including the top three, who could never in their wildest dreams would have ever imagined to look up to BTS that came from a good-for-nothing-nameless company like Big Hit. It was not only a shock but also a tight slap at the face of brand and company-name as BTS had nothing to do with either of those, since they had risen from a drop to an ocean of immense potential, that which continues to flourish without a single strain of audacity, even to this day.
What makes BTS entirely different and set apart from other groups, girl or boy, is that they are not superficial and create works of their own and on their own, instead of vomiting lyrics written by professional song-writers and techniques of vocal coaches. What is the general trend of the music industry does not apply to BTS, as they solely utilize their individual creative juices to bring about outstandingly, marvelous tracks which have no match to account for. RM or Kim Namjoon, the leader of BTS has played a very fundamental part in the creation of the group, from becoming the leader to shouldering responsibilities like a father. Despite only being the fourth oldest in the group of the hyung-line (hyung-older brother from a male’s perspective), Namjoon had since the early days when BTS was merely a fledgling, had like a real leader taken it as a duty of his own in preserving and constructing the group bit by bit. Every single member and not only the leader, is unique and equally important to the group, the sheer dedication as individuals and brotherhood among the members has always garnered attention of the world. BTS, as RM would say is more of a family than an idol group, where each member is intimately bonded like brothers, just as Jungkook the maknae or youngest member would often say, like an extended family of his own, like brothers he had never had. The insane level of understanding the group has, is equally inspiring and is an epitome of their shared past as trainees, when uncertainty regarding their future and debut had ceased their pulse of hope and life to being comforted by unknown faces, who went on to becoming even more familial than real-blooded kins.
Music, Creation and Inspiration
Their life-stories through reality-shows and media coverage gives only a partial glimpse into their life while the majority of it lies beneath, as a hidden ice-berg in the form of their song-lyrics. Their debut song “No More Dream” although forgettable in those former days of initial glitch had a very inspiring message for the youth they have been trying to convey, urging them to not go steering ahead like a rudderless ship rather have a dream of their own that would lead them to their goal, just as Jin would say, “If you can’t figure out you purpose figure out your passion. For your passion would lead you right into your purpose.” Time again, their songs have highlighted upon the liberation of the soul, free from the fetters of the society and our own anxiety; how people wear masks and deceive others which is clearly portrayed in their 2016 massive hit “Blood, Sweat and Tears”. “Blood, Sweat and Tears”(BST) went on to becoming the breakthrough track and Wings became the album which made them reach the global audience ever for the first time, launching BTS in the limelight of the international media; although BTS had been slowly climbing the rungs of the ladder but this music video made sure they never turned their way back to being what they had started off as. From medieval architectural visuals to a superbly crafted story-line BTS delivered their finest piece ever, it wasn’t only BST but every single track had been equally alluring and magical in one way or another. BTS had finally been successful and mastered the art of story-telling through their music, that which could only be expected from American artists and Beatles alike, had found a voice unique of its own, in narration, structure and method. If one ever sits even halfway through any of their music videos (MVs) they’d understand what it is, that is so enthralling about BTS; it’s not simply the visuals or the aesthetics rather the grandeur of the entirety of their work that when taken in whole is bound to make one go all dazed and befuddled with a colossal amphitheater of emotional rapture! Every piece has a back story of meticulous craftmanship delivered with an improved and sharpened sense of understanding, as every album is witness of their real-life events, every single nuance of it. Ever since they’d debuted, they’ve always been on a winning streak, maturing constantly not only as musical artists but also as human beings as they have improvised upon making mistakes during adolescence, to being terrified of adulthood to finally standing strong on their own. Love songs are common and sure as hell overly-wrought and hackneyed a concept, but what isn’t is, writing about real life events like how it was when Min Yoongi aka Suga, didn’t even have a single dime for a meal that he had to go hungry and starving just so as to pay for the bus fees that would take him to Seoul from Daegu, for the audition! How terror-stricken a thirteen-year old Jungkook had been when he had first come from Busan to Seoul, to become part of an industry that solely and cardinally ran on looks more than talent. The sheer uncertainty whether they, as trainees would debut at all or not, from such testing times to finally being catapulted to the forefront at the Billboards and AMAs (American Music Awards) everything seems to be like a ‘magical-mystery ride’, well on the surface it might seem like that while only they know what ordeals and perils they had to undergo.
Their music has always been about reality, refusing to surrender and succumb to the awfully tedious trend of following the herd, by focusing on every aspect and facet be it any emotion, they’ve beautifully brought out the same, always with a twist of its own, sometimes magical, at times positive while at times starkly sinister and mysterious as in “Fake Love” and “Lie”. Their Love Yourself and its many variants, urges the youth to love themselves beyond everything as the self is the only being with which the journey called life begins, in short, if you can’t believe and love yourself who can you even fathom to do the same to?
“Loving yourself is a very important message for people who live in this age of confusion and hardship.”
Taking shortcuts in life is not something BTS preaches as is evinced from their own life as well:
“If you don’t work hard, there won’t be good results.”
-Jung Hoseok aka J-Hope
Becoming human and humane is what counts as is preached by those same men who had to take many a verbal attack and uncomfortable words from people who during their infantile state had greatly undermined their potential only for them to eat their own words for the rise of the gentle-giants from infancy to a Gargantua, was something to behold of even till this day. Their contribution had not only been restricted to their field but had stretched beyond music in the vast acreage of humanitarianism and social work. BTS’s historic speech at the UN General Assembly as part of UNICEF’s “Generation Unlimited” had unleashed some more influence, shattered images of conventional fundamentalism people might have had about them and given them a fresh impetus to build a Methuselah of their own. With military conscriptions and enlistment of the members in the near future, there lies the impending question of the group’s projects, nonetheless even if they are not in a position to continue together with us, we as ARMYs(Adorable Representative MC for Youth), their fandom would continue to support them and be inspired by them through their works, as the immensity of the same is enough to last a life-time, so much so that even if you re-peat their songs in a loop, they’d never get old. “Euphoria” would remind you to cater to every thing small and big, appreciate people and yourself till it lasts while “Epiphany” would make you realize how important it is to look into yourself and seek for the real you amidst the unreal and fake plumage of deception.
The biggest and most famous boy-group in the world is there to help you rise on your feet no matter how low you’ve fallen, just listen, have faith, love the you, and march ahead. Despite every odd you can certainly regain the strength to fight back even though you’re from a humble background, as the saying goes per aspera ad astra, pierce through all such struggles to becoming the power-house that you are.
“The only time you should ever look back, is to see how far you’ve come.” – BTS
By Ananya Roy, Burdwan, West Bengal