I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of a genre called K-Pop as it has recently blown up in mainstream media. When you hear that word, your first reaction might be to just roll your eyes and shake your head. Why would you care about some “manufactured” artists from a country of whom you don’t understand the language? That is why my goal for this 5- part K-Pop Deep Dive Series is to make you curious and interested in giving this genre and these artists a chance as there is more than what meets the eyes when it comes to K-Pop. And this week I'm talking about no other than BTS.

The Artist

When you hear the word K-Pop, the name BTS is not far behind. BTS is made up of 7 members and started their careers on June 13, 2013. They were formed by a then small company, Big Hit Entertainment, with no intentions to blow up to the extent they are today. Something that sets BTS apart from other artists in the K-Pop industry is that they are very involved with their work as they have several members with writing and producing credits for many of their songs and albums. They even release free music in forms of mixtapes and covers for fans on Soundcloud. BTS is known to have a special bond with their fans whom they interact directly with via social platforms such as Twitter and Weverse, an app created just so the members of BTS can have faster and more intimate contact with their fans worldwide.

The Music

BTS has a wide variety in genres throughout their entire discography. They started off as a mainly hip-hop group but soon grew curious into exploring more genres and styles in their music. So far they have songs that range from old-school hip hop, R&B, rock, electronic dance music, neo-soul, latin pop, emo rap, afro-pop, nu-disco, funk, trap, pop-rock and pop-rap. They work with many producers and writers around the world, from well-established artists such as Halsey, Sia, Nicki Minaj, Steve Aoki and Lauv to more up and coming producers. If they believe in that artist’s work, they are willing to collaborate and work along with them. One thing they all have in common is a love for music and a desire to spread love to the world through music.

The Message

Besides the occasional fun dance-along songs, BTS also touch on themes to make one reflect on life and oneself. BTS’ albums have recurring themes that fall under the overarching themes of “reflection of youth”. They explore the troubles and anxieties of school-age youth. They tackled subjects that few pop musicians articulate well: mental health and the desire to belong to society. They made a “Love Yourself” series where they illustrated the excitement of love, the pains of farewell, and the enlightenment of self-love. They use their music to reach out to other people in need of hearing the message they are spreading. The messages in their songs are empowering to any who are willing to sit down and listen.

Side Projects

Besides their group work, the members also have individual projects they work on. The group leader, RM, has released two mixtapes so far. In his first mixtape, he used samples of other songs and added his own lyrics and twist to them. He wrote mainly about his own inner thoughts and struggles and conveyed them in a beautiful and emotional way. His second mixtape was even more personal as he had a hand in producing and writing all the songs himself. It had a more personal touch and felt even more intimate than his previous mixtape. Suga, the second rapper in the group, also released a mixtape with self-produced songs and self-written lyrics. In his mixtape, he gave the public a deeper look into his thoughts as he candidly spoke about his struggles with his mental health as well as his experience as an artist. The mixtape is definitely worth a listen as it ranges from very emotional to very empowering music. Finally, we have the third and final rapper of the group, J-Hope, who also released a mixtape which he also self-produced. His mixtape had more of a bubbly feel to it which matches his personality as well as some more serious songs. All the vocalists in the group also released a bunch of covers and solo songs that they wrote throughout the years. All the above-mentioned content is free to listen to on Soundcloud. This shows how BTS doesn’t care about monetizing their music as much as they care about spreading love and support to people around the world.

Hopefully after learning all this new information you are more encouraged to give BTS a listen. As BTS themselves say, music has no language barrier. Just because you don’t speak the language doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy or learn something new from it.