The members of BTS finally acknowledge that they’ve ‘made it’
Having rewritten K-pop history, BTS has just one last feat to accomplish — winning a Grammy.
On Tuesday, BTS became the first ever K-pop act to top the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart with its latest digital single “Dynamite” released on Aug. 21, surpassing the previous record held by singer Psy when he climbed to No. 2 of the chart with “Gangnam Style” in 2012.
The band’s historical achievement was applauded by media outlets in and outside of the country, and even President Moon Jae-in.
When they first heard the news, the seven members were incredulous.
“I remember the moment so clearly, just 10 minutes before the news came out,” said Jin at an online press conference held on Wednesday afternoon where BTS shared its thoughts on its new triumph.
“We saw the picture of the chart and we first said, ‘Oh, that’s fake.’ Then we saw the same picture go up on the internet and that’s when we realized that we had really become No. 1. We were just so stunned, and we had to come up with what to say or what to post online, but all I can say at the end of the day is that BTS and ARMY did all of this together.”
Member Jimin posted on Twitter that he was crying a lot. In fact, he stayed up for three hours crying until he fell asleep at 7 a.m. on the couch, exhausted.
“I really don’t know why I cried so much,” he said. “But I heard the news at 4 a.m. and I ended up crying until the morning. I was with Jungkook and we were just so excited and cheering. Then at some point, I just stared at the chart. I looked at it and I even stroked it and tears just fell out of my eyes.
“We talked a lot between the members, and the one thing we said the most was ‘We made it.’ There were things that we had been doing in the past, the things we wanted to do and the things that we are doing right now. It just felt like everything we did was being recognized — like it was being rewarded. It was like being told that we did good in times of such hardship.”
“Dynamite” was released as a surprise gift to people all around the world in hopes of cheering them up with the upbeat disco dance pop track, especially in times of hardship shared all around the world due to Covid-19.
It was the band’s first all-English track, making it more accessible for international listeners. Despite not being able to meet with fans in person or perform in front of a live audience, BTS’s endeavors paid off in ways like never before.
While BTS was able to conquer the Billboard 200 albums chart in the past, the Hot 100 proved harder because it requires more than just fans buying albums — it requires a greater embrace of a song by the general public.
Whereas the Billboard 200 chart takes into account only album sales and the number of times a song has been streamed or downloaded, the Hot 100 chart takes into account the number of times it has been played on the radio and on YouTube.
But when asked what they thought the key was to the success, leader RM answered that he “really doesn’t know.”
“I know that the Hot 100 chart needs more than the fans, but I really don’t know how approachable we have become to the Western public, neither do I know the demarcation between the fans and public. But what I do know is that our past efforts played a role. It might have been our music, our dance, the things we did behind the stage or the things we said.
“Sometimes even when we do things from the bottom of our hearts, they don’t pay off. There are things that just go unnoticed, but the things that we have done are not just ours. But I think everything — the power of our music and performance, the things that we’ve talked about, the staff at the company, the reporters, the fans, the fact that the song was in English and disco pop is just easy for anyone to relate to — it was the combined efforts of all of this,” he said.
BTS’s success is in part a result of years of endeavor of aspiring singers that have come before them.
K-pop acts have been striving to achieve success in overseas music markets since the beginning of the millennium, starting with singer BoA who first succeeded in Japan to the second generation of K-pop groups who expanded the horizon to southeastern Asian countries and knocked on the doors of the Western music market. Psy’s accomplishment was thus met with great fanfare, but years of vacuum followed until BTS appeared.
BTS’s first album to reach a Billboard chart was “The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, Pt. 2” in 2015. It reached No. 171 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. It was a humble beginning, but success started to build. BTS went on to get four No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 albums chart: “Love Yourself: Answer” and “Love Yourself: Tear” (both in 2018),“Map of the Soul: Persona” (2019) and February's “Map of the Soul: 7."
“I remember that moment so clearly,” said J-Hope, reminiscing back to 2015. “I think it felt more [overwhelming] than it does now. We were just so shocked to see our name on a chart that we had grown up seeing other pop songs on. The fact that our name was on the chart was just unbelievable, and we were so thrilled about it.”
Jungkook added, “I think it gave us the motivation to try harder and achieve more.”
BTS performed “Dynamite” for the first time on Aug. 31 at the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards. It was the band’s first performance at the awards ceremony, adding it to the list of other prestigious stages it stormed: the Grammy stage in January and the Billboard Awards last year.
Having ticked off all of its previous goals, BTS now has just one more to go: the Grammys nomination and solo stage.
“I feel so fulfilled to see that the goals I made in the past have come true,” said Suga. “But at the same time, I feel cautious about whether to say what the next goal is. Even for ‘Dynamite,’ as happy as we are that it reached No. 1 on the Hot 100 chart, the song was just meant to cheer people up going through tough times. We are ever so grateful that a lot of people enjoyed the song. I do feel pressured in a way to always be the one announcing our goals, but to name one would be to perform at the Grammy Awards by ourselves. An award would also be great, but that would take a lot more people than just us to make that come true. So we would just like to stand on the Grammys stage and sing our song.”
“We feel lucky to have achieved what we have,” said RM. “I think it is our duty and responsibility to know that and keep doing what we have been doing with a humble heart.”
Big Hit Entertainment, the band’s agency, announced more promotional schedules for BTS. It will appear on NBC’s “Today” show on Sept. 10, “America’s got Talent” on Sept. 16 and the iHeartRadio Music Festival on Sept. 18. A choreography video for “Dynamite” will also be released on Sept. 26.
BY YOON SO-YEON [email@example.com]