Yearender 2020: How K-Pop band BTS became the beacon of hope in a distressed year

Written By: Sameeksha Dandriyal WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Dec 22, 2020, 03:37 PM(IST)

BTS high note performance Photograph:( Twitter )

Story highlights

BTS are a K-pop (or Korean pop) group made up of seven members - Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V and Jungkook - who come from all over South Korea. They launched in 2013 and have since rocketed to global stardom. According to Billboard, their album 'Love Yourself: Tear', which is sung in Korean, became "the first primarily foreign-language No 1 album in over 12 years."

2020 has been the year where many lost hope. A year when the world was struck by a pandemic and everything was shut down keeping health in mind. In these dark times, one thing that kept people going was music. While Taylor Swift, Shawn Mendes, Ariana Grande and other western music stars made music that appealed to the masses, it was the group from the east that actually dominated the hearts and charts across the globe. Korean-pop band BTS, was recently named 2020 Entertainer of the Year by Time, and rightly so. 




The group of seven, extremely lovable men, making music and living together, making sure to release content in order to keep their billions of fans (the ARMY) entertained and informed, have risen to fame inexplicably in the west this year. Their first-ever English song 'Dynamite', breaking records within hours of getting released, proving that the BTS ARMY has grown far and wide out of Korea and East-Asian countries. The song also got nominated for Grammy Awards 2021, making them the first-ever Korean band to be nominated for the prestigious awards.

They've been number one on iTunes in over 91 countries and regions with their last album 'Map Of The Soul: 7', have got over 26 million subscribers on YouTube and are the first K-pop band ever to top the US album charts. 




BTS are a K-pop (or Korean pop) group made up of seven members - Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V and Jungkook - who come from all over South Korea. They launched in 2013 and have since rocketed to global stardom. According to Billboard, their album 'Love Yourself: Tear', which is sung in Korean, became "the first primarily foreign-language No 1 album in over 12 years."

So what makes BTS stand out? Well, the journey started with the unique subjects of the song. While many K-pop songs are about relationships and love, BTS cover subjects like bullying, elitism and mental health, subjects with a mass appeal, not just in Korea, but throughout the world. While love is a universal language, nothing brings you closer to music than agony, and BTS tapped onto ragging issues that were personal yet needed mass attention.


Apart from the subject of the song, the art and artistic expression played a huge role in the popularity of the band. With their slick dance routines and extremely impressive music videos, they've attracted a loyal group of fans who have fallen in love with their music even more. The style of the seven members is undeniably chic and there’s a reason why the group's youngest member Jungkook was named People’s most sexist men alive. 


The internet - and in particular social media - has played an enormous part in the success of the group. In a previous interview, Suga told BBC Radio 1: "I think we're so lucky to be born at the right time. Without social media, we wouldn't have been so successful." In 2018, the boys won a Billboard Music Award for Top SocialArtist, beating huge names like Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and Selena Gomez. They were the first K-Pop group to win one. Today, the band enjoys a following earlier experienced by the likes of ‘The Beatles’. 

Also see: From Debut to Breaking Own Records: A Look back at BTS incredible journey

Their followers are not only musically aware but are also socially aware. The ARMY received international attention for their viral digital activism such as matching the K-pop group's $1 million donations to the Black Lives Matter movement. K-pop fans also said they reserved thousands of tickets for President Donald Trump's rally in Oklahoma before not showing up (rows of seats remained empty at the rally though it's unclear if the viral campaign by K-pop fans was the reason why).

In September 2018, BTS made headlines for becoming the first Korean pop music group to address the United Nations (UN). RM, who's the leader of the band, spoke about overcoming insecurities and urged other young people to do the same." I've made many and plenty of mistakes in my life," he said. "I have many faults and I have many more fears, but I'm going to embrace myself as hard as I can. And I'm starting to love myself gradually just little by little." In 2020, when vulnerability was the closest achievement for many, there’s no wonder that the band struck the chord with many, despite having their maximum songs in Korean. The group collectively deals with growth, fallings, fighting and overcoming, within themselves and not just the society. This honesty, through their music and their interviews, oozes out hope, something that 2020 lacked and required the most. 

Another beauty of BTS's music is its authenticity. The music is centred around their identity as Korean artists, which he says was rarely seen in the industry previously. The group incorporates social commentary on issues local to Korea, includes Korean dialects in their music and wears traditional Korean Hanbok clothing. The group has adopted their identity as a responsibility and while they do want to attract western audiences with ‘Dynamite’, they do make sure that the album stays in Korean as that’s where their roots lie.

BTS’ latest album 'BE' topped the charts once again and interestingly, the entire album was created by each and every member collaborating intricately for the first time- from album art to recording and sound engineering, the boys did it all. Talking about the album, RM shared: "We believe all of our albums are important and have played important roles in our career. 'BE' is an album that we created to reflect our current thoughts and emotions and deliver a message of hope to our fans all over the world."




Like the meaning of the title track, 'Life goes on', and BTS comforted a rather distressed population through the message that life will continue even in this difficult moment. And when this difficult moment is over, BTS will continue to dominate the world, not just through screens but with real-time concerts, ruling the western grounds with their charisma and sheer talent. 

2020 proved that the world actually belongs to BTS, and we are all here giving out purple hearts, trying to be a responsible part of the ARMY. 

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