Who is the one that made us into studying machines?
They classify us to either
Being number one or dropping out
They trap us in borders, the adults,
There’s no choice but to consent
Even if we think simply,
It’s the survival of the fittest
Who do you think is the one that makes us step on
even our close friends to climb up?
BTS – N.O
The youth of a country that never rests, what do they look like? Are they endowed, from birth, with wings that carry away their nation? Should they learn to run ever faster so as not to be left behind? Can they even refuse this mad race? Can they even sit for a moment, decide that the landscape is pretty, get lost in contemplation, no longer move and catch their breath?
I am astonished to note that I have never asked myself all these questions about the French youth. As if I had integrated that here, we are allowed the right to grow and mature at our own pace. But when I met South Korea, a country that has continuously been trying to catch up with the world and outrun it for the last 60 years, I wondered. Technology, mentalities, I became the stunned spectator of the effervescence that agitated this little country of which I knew nothing until recently. I wondered: had I been born there, would I have succeeded? How do they create these children of a country that never stops running? How do they even bring them into the world? Would I have been able, with eyes hardly open on life, to jump on my feet and race in the wakes of my elders?
Thus, when I finally listened to the popular BTS under the insistent influence of AnaMori, when I heard the reflection of my questions in their music, I found myself upset. It was fast, unexpected. Like a punch to the gut. When I was told about this hip-hop group, the jewel of the current Hallyu, I imagined an umpteenth boys band with shiny abs and charming gazes. Although there were those, above all, I discovered a musical metaphor of this Korean youth I wondered so much about. BTS, incarnated by seven very young members, half-children / half-adults, half-real / half-unreal, is a crystallization of an ideal youth: beautiful, combative, lucid, worried about their fate and alert. A youth that wonder: run, of course, but to where?
At first, I thought their messages were only addressed to Korean children, that they did not affect the little French girl I was. And then, incredibly moved by « Young Forever, » I realized that BTS went beyond the borders of South Korea. Their messages are about worldwide youth, a generation taken hostage and forced to run by the world. No, we have no more opportunities here than elsewhere to grow at our own pace. We must be quick so as not to lose sight of the world, try and build our own place, out of breath, in pain, enraged. But does dreaming of running fast enough really mean growing up? Will we ever be clearly ahead of this world that does not care but to rush and eject us? And if I stumble, tell me, will you wait for me, you who run like me?
The youth of a world that never rests, what do they look like?
« Forever we are young
Under the flower petals raining down,
I run, wandering through this maze
Forever we are young
Even when I fall and hurt myself
I keep running towards my dream
Forever ever ever ever
(dreams, hopes, forward, forward)
For ever ever ever, we are young »
BTS – Young Forever
Come on, dear Reader, come and find out what makes up the so popular band called BTS. If you have been surfing on the Hallyu wave for a while, you must have heard about it. Positively or negatively, it depends. It all depends on which side of the force you are, in fact. What I am offering today is the point of view of a fan. I want to explain why we crush on BTS and how. In the end, you do not have to agree with me, of course, but I will be happy if you read me to the end. I think it is always interesting when someone passionate talks to you about what they like: they show you things through their eyes, you see them differently. So, are you coming with me?
Before diving into the universe of the group, a small basic introduction is necessary.
- Group’s name: BTS / Bangtan Boys / 방탄소년단 (« Bangtansonyeondan » : Bulletproof Boy Scouts)
- Label: Big Hit Entertainment
- Fans’ name: ARMYs (Adorable Representative M.C. of Youth)
- Lightstick: a small white bomb
Above all, a group is about the members that comprise it. As different, unique and independent as they may be, the alchemy that is created between them ends up defining the entity. In BTS, the members are funny, childish, charismatic and talented. It is not always exactly the image that someone expects from Hip-hop artists but it works surprisingly well. I will start by introducing them to you one by one, and let you assemble this puzzle of personalities that spreads out before your eyes.
Let’s start with the leader, Rap Monster (aka Kim Nam Jun). This young man is also the rapper, composer and lyricist of the group. His writing, vivacity and underground career are so that he has already participated in the composition of a hundred songs. Yes, at only 21 years old, he already has a lot of experience in this field. Beware, once on stage, he will not hesitate to make you succumb thanks to a smirk and an insistent stare.
One of his defining points being his style, he pays attention to it in all circumstances and enjoys trying some extravagances. According to the tastes, his looks can be successful or… « original » (small video editing here). The good news is that musically, his creations are always successful, do not worry.
On the other hand, take care when inviting him into your home. He will not miss the opportunity to clumsily drop your favorite vase. In fact, let it be known that his clumsiness is feared from Seoul to Paris. Fortunately, the very serene and gentle sides of his personality will quickly appease your anger and you will forgive him everything.
There is also Suga, 23 years old, chocolate and vanilla all together in one person. Both cold and sensitive, perfectionist and lazy, melancholic and energetic, or charismatic and gentle. I quickly became attached to him through his writing and personality. Min Yoon Gi (his real name) manages to convey incredible emotions in his poignant and sharp texts. He speaks of joy, sorrow, anger, friendship, love but also more precise issues such as failure, prejudice and self-fulfillment. Thereby, each of the feelings he feels arm his raps like arrows ready to go.
He does not hesitate to openly share with his fans his moments of sadness or disappointment. He sometimes expresses a lack of self-confidence which, on stage, disappears as soon as he is carried away by his passion for rap. Each of his parts are, in my opinion, suspended moments (small compilation of his rap lives here).
His distance, his maturity and his outspokenness make him a well-respected member of the band. The other six boys endeavor to give this solitary boy the vital space he needs for his constant introspection. Suga seems to have suffered a lot to earn this notoriety and does his best to be satisfied of himself and make others proud.
« Breathe or dream
Row the oars along with your heartbeat
If you are trapped in the other’s thin judgements
Then the sun will set on your life like a court
What am I doin’ with my life? »
Introduction The Most Beautiful Moment In Life Part.1 – Suga
Then comes the ray of sunshine J-Hope, whose real name is Jeong Ho Seok. I guarantee you that this stage name that oozes hope suits him perfectly. This 22 years old, very sociable little man is smile, joy and good humor incarnate. Moreover, he is often the one who launches the improvised cover of feminine dance (demonstration by here). Thanks to the joy he spreads wherever he goes, he brings comfort to other members who consider him like a second mom. Let’s add that he excels at household tasks and we have six happy roommates. Being very attached to his own family, J-Hope is the best-suited to weave a family bond between all members. He has the reassuring side of a big brother and the endearing side of a silly little brother. I personally think that this joker hides true sensitivity and dedication to work.
He is the main dancer and one of the rappers. He is able to transcend himself on stage, both in dance and rap, and will leave you absolutely blown away by his talent and his charisma. On top of that, he also participates in writing the lyrics of the group.
In BTS, there is a boy who was almost born in 1996 but who, in order not to call Jimin (see below) « hyung », preferred to be born 2 days before the end of 1995. This boy is V (Kim Tae Hyung).
Reader, you cannot miss out on this singer with a deep voice. You know, one of those that give you thrills of emotion and desire everytime you listen to it (listen here). And he will increase this desire when he is live, because you only see him as soon as he comes on stage. He has a smile and an irreplaceable presence, all very sensual.
After the chills and sensuality comes the electric battery. V never stops. He goes as far as doing weird and inexplicable things. Even the other members wonder if he did not come from another dimension. They often treat him like an idiot (reader, know that tough love is what defines BTS. V might be an idiot, but he is an idiot loved by the band). He spends his time teasing his comrades, dancing, singing, eating, laughing. All of that with his contagious smile. But I think behind this shell, V is highly perfectionist, demanding and determined. You must have understood by now, Tae Hyung goes hand in hand with J-Hope!
But also with Jimin! The two friends are inseparable and their friendship moves more than one fan. When these two weirdos + J-Hope are around, it’s impossible to get bored. They demonstrate an overwhelming complicity and dynamism that will make you smile again in all circumstances. Jiminie (sweet nickname chosen by Suga) never ceases to make the clown to amuse the company. He likes to capture attention, especially if it’s positive. He undeniably likes to please, and knows how to do it in all circumstances. An eternal charmer of hardly 20 years, he puts forward like nobody. With confidence in his physique, he juggles between two aspects of himself: the sensual seducer (the KPop side of the internet is dotted with his finely drawn abs, his eyes of embers and languorous pout) and the innocent toddler (youthful face, candid smile and aegyos at all odds). The mixture of the two leaves a strange impression to those who meet him, a little like a sweet / savory dish, a work in light / dark, an angel without a halo.
Artistically, he isn’t left behind. His body is light and aerial when he dances, just as his song can go from one note to another with disconcerting ease, all, of course, with wonderful emotion (here). So be ready, reader, to be overwhelmed with charm and talent. Jimin will please you, he won’t leave you in peace.
At BTS, there is a « golden maknae: » Jung Kook, who was so nicknamed by the whole Korean music scene because he is a little & rare treasure for his band. Why a treasure? Because he can do anything, and do it well. At 18 years of age, he exudes a captivating aura, powerful and assertive. Although he is the youngest, Jung Kook is the pillar upon which the band is based. The audience’s darling vocalist, he doesn’t allow himself to be intimidated by his hyung. Moreover, he has the reputation of being a bit cheeky with them, sometimes momentarily forgetting his place and taking himself for a hyung. Yet, none of the other 6 members hold it against him, instead seeming to nourish a boundless affection for the youngest who, in his way, makes it up to them. One might wonder if he really is the maknae (break down here).
Jung Kook sings, raps and dances divinely well, with power and exaltation. He knows how to be teasing, laughing but also serious when he has to. He’s also very good at sports, drawing and photography. Your challenge Reader: find his flaws!
Finally, the oldest of the group, Jin. According to him, people like to laugh at his elderly people jokes, which he and his roommate (Suga), as the oldest, seem to possess the prerogative of. They both have a reputation for looking tired and grumpy. As a result, some say there is a gap between Jin and the other members. Should we believe that he’s not actually 23 years old? But no worries, this doesn’t mean that he doesn’t get along with his bandmates, on the contrary, as they’re all very attached to his calm, serene and mature personality.
Jin is the visual and one of the singers of the band. After experiencing some criticism regarding his usefulness in the group, he gradually found his place thanks to his beautiful voice (and handsome face). Or maybe the food helped? Because Jin is also the cook and one of the biggest eaters of the group. He even created a web series named Eat Jin where you can see him taste and discover various dishes (go, just for you 10 minutes of food here).
But when did these seven individuals become a band? Here’s a quick summary of BTS’ journey…
- 2013, the beginnings :
The members of Bangtan Boys officially debuted on June 12, 2013 with « 2 Cool 4 Skool. » The title songs of the mini album were two hip hop tracks : No More Dream and We Are Bulletproof pt.2.
This was followed by a digital single entitled Born Singer the lyrics of which, written by Rap Monster, J-Hope and Suga, tell the story of the band and its members. On August 28 and September 4, an introductory video by Rap Monster: Comeback Trailer, as well as another dance: Concept Trailer were released, in which they demonstrated the group’s many talents and announced their upcoming comeback.
It was on September 11 that they finally released N.O. Still in a very hip-hop concept, this committed song was from their mini-album « O! RUL8,2? (Yes, it’s an interesting name, and in detail it means: « Oh, Are You L8te, to2? »).
- 2014, the first album :
On February 12, BTS returned with a second mini-album « Skool Luv Affair » and the song titles Boy In Luv and Just One Day, in which they further anchored their high school concept and their interpretation of Korean student life.
Then came the very successful release of their first album! « DARK & WILD » was unveiled on August 20, 2014, with 14 tracks (the title songs being Danger and War of Hormone).
- 2015 & 2016, success :
2015 marked the start of a trilogy hit The Most Beautiful Moment in Life (also translated as Mood For Love). The first part was released in April with I NEED U (Version 1 and Version 2) and Dope.
The second part was released on November 30, with the title song RUN.
Finally, Young Forever completed the triptych on May 2, 2016. This is a special two-CD album with The Most Beautiful Moment in Life remixed, as well as three unreleased songs (each with her own MV): « Young Forever« , « Fire » and « Save Me. »
Thanks to this trilogy, the group stands out significantly. So far shunned by the Korean public, The Most Beautiful Moment in Life finally turned the spotlight on BTS. In addition, the group is increasing its international success. But the real masterpiece of this trilogy lies in the continuation of highly polished MVs, full of hidden meanings, emotions and suspense that the ARMYs never cease to question.
You will love them. YOU MUST.
Now let’s move on to the most important part: Why love them?
I hope you will understand why there are more and more ARMYs in the world, and if not, perhaps you will feel somewhat taken by the group. It comprises:
—Personalities: As mentioned earlier, these boys have many qualities, such as charisma and talent combined with an unpredictable humor. This mischievousness, the bond that binds them and their radiant smiles are an integral part of their lives. Take, for example, Fun Boys the madness and good music of which perfectly illustrate this combo.
They all have a different personality, but they get along and come together perfectly. When they are together, it shakes! Whether on video, in photos or on stage, even in the lyrics of their songs, BTS evokes an intense alchemy. The BigHit has brought together a real family. Does that speak to you? Yes? So welcome to us. BTS and their army welcome you with open arms. We bathe in an overflowing fantasy and sail on a sea of Kookies. Be warned, the family is great and we love to pamper the little rookies.
—Breathtaking choreography: How could I talk about Bangtan Boys without mentioning their dancing. It should be said that their choreographies get a little more powerful with every comeback. With perfect synchronization and original movements, the band are every bit as good as some dance crews. It is clear that the members spend hours and hours training. The routines support the purpose of the songs thanks to the movements created to be the physical expression of what they evoke (example with Butterfly).
Now, come on, here’s a gift: a short video of an impressive performance. If you needed proof of my allegations (and no, the boy with the cap is not Suga in this video, the poor boy was down with appendicitis at the time), here it comes :
– The rap in the middle of the songs : Sorry in advance, I admire the singers a lot, but the rappers… It used to be quite rare to see several rappers in K-Pop bands. Yet, BTS has 3 and a half (Rap Monster, Suga, J-Hope, and Jung Kook for the half). I find that it makes a very powerful and remarkable effect in the songs, especially since they’re not amateur rappers, but are talented and in love with their field. They succeed in impregnating their songs with their messages, their emotions, their strengths. All with an irreproachable sense of rhythm.
– Lyrics, lyrics and more lyrics: And no, that’s not all. In addition to that, BTS don’t mince their words. Their lyrics (written by a very large majority of the members themselves), are polished, deep, and sometimes even take a stand. N.O, for example, evokes the distress that plagues Korean youths: the pressure of a society that keeps moving forward without giving young people time to catch their breath, the overbearing and controlling relationship of parents with their children; the hard life of an artist, the idealization of success and the way young people are programmed to strive for it since birth… They depict a youth that is far from being as ideal as one might think, a youth who must learn, according to them, to say « no. »
They do still have some romantic songs, which is the basics of KPop, but hey, it also has its charm, doesn’t it?
– Polished concepts: I will mainly mention here their famous trilogy The Most Beautiful Moment in Life which perfectly reflects this idea. It seems obvious to me that the group and the Big Hit are fine-tuning their concepts. From history, to MV and trailer, to photos teasers, nothing is left to chance. Each time, the object in question is a small work of art. We follow the story as we would watch a movie, free to draw our own conclusions, and I think it’s great. We’re really in action and, for that, we just can’t wait for their comeback. Every time, without fail. Even album covers have their own special touch. For example, if we compare the physical mini-albums, the pictures from parts 1 and 2 are actually pieces of a bigger one. You also have to be very careful with the details, the members give clues for each comeback. For example during a live a few weeks before the release of this title, Jung Kook was Waring a fake « Young Forever » tattoo on his neck. All those details are the testimony of how much thought is put into every project. Fans have the feeling that BTS plays a long film, with suspense, action, sadness, love, emotion, and especially: friendship. How far will they go? What will be the end?
– Opinions and hypotheses on the transmission of the stories brought by BTS’ discography: By dint of being attentive to words, concepts and discussing with Neogu, we have succeeded in making a hypothesis about the stories told by our dear BTS through their discography. They seem to simply tell us the story of a life—theirs, that unfolds before our eyes. At their very beginnings, they focused on the feelings of invulnerability, pride and the need for affirmation (We are Bulletproof ) that accompany adolescence. Then comes the urge to scream, to revolt, to do what you want, without really knowing how to go about it (No More Dream, N.O ). Finally comes first love, with Boy In Luv or Just One Day. All these feelings are quite typical of adolescence and youth (it is also very representative in MVs, in terms of sets, outfits, shooting locations, and so on…). But since The Most Beautiful Moment in Life trilogy, BTS has slowly been digging into adulthood and its complexities. The feeling of having to go through heavy tests, to navigate the maze of life, are most prominent in these albums. But above all, the desire to stay young remains (see: Young Forever).
All these stories are interwoven with different events, different feelings: love and friendship, sadness, hatred, departures… And then, probably—this is my hypothesis—the arrival of bad encounters since the Fire MV.
From youth to adult life, BTS is slowly moving along the path of life as we all do. It is, I think, for this reason that it’s easy to identify with the group. Don’t they tell the story of everyone? It remains to be known what the members have in store for us in the future.
Top 5 :
Here are my top 5 must-watch/listen MVs/songs, ordered in chronological order of release (and, believe me, it was hard to reduce the list to 5) :
- [14/10/21]: War of Hormone: The apology of the woman? It’s over here. Well that’s not very fine, but I must say that I find this song and this MV brilliant! The rhythm is enthralling, full of joy of life, and will get stuck in your head. The colors of the MV are particular and give a unique relief to the pictures. As for the members, they’re perfect in their role. The audience can almost feel how much fun they’re having in this song, how strong their bond is, and even their outfits are awesome. The choreography is very good too, half-sexy, half-funny. I guarantee you’ll smile from ear to ear from start to end, and even after. It really feels like a group of high school friends.
- [15/04/29]: Move: To change styles, this song is soft, rhythmic and powerful. The lyrics talk about moving and the trainee life, good and bad alike. For some the separation from family, for others, the laughter and the tears of the common life, but for all, the desire to pursue a dream. Move really gives off a feeling of nostalgia (translation here). But what I like the most about this song is that BTS members communicate together, address each other, bringing back to light the bonds that unite them.
- [15/05/10]: I Need U (original ver.) (I wanted to put the other main titles of the trilogy, but that one will be enough to make you want to watch the following): this song is, in my opinion, the one that changed the situation of the group. Obviously, members have done great things before, but for me it’s THE moment when everything happens. The lyrics are very beautiful, very well-written, and the MV is worthy of and Oscars nominations (no, I’m not exaggerating at all). It leaves us subjugated by sadness, a melancholy love, but also by a friendship so strong it can take over the rest. One is in suspense about the sequence of events and about the explanation of their actions. And, the live is so strong! Even the choreography expresses both sadness, sensuality, and power drawn from friendship.
- [15/04/29 and 15/11/17]: Intro The Most Beautiful Moment in Life ; Intro Never Mind: perfect demonstrations of Suga’s rap and lyrics. The former speaks of the unending moments of doubt, sadness, and questioning that must be surpassed in order to progress. The latter deals with the moment when, having defeated our demons and chosen our own way, we must continue to fight by running forward. These two songs both give me chills, it’s at the same time words of suffering and hope.
- [15/11/30]: Butterfly: Description of a love that is both fragile, unreal and beautiful as a butterfly. This song is sublime. « Will you stay by my side? Will you promise me? If I let go your hand, you will fly away and break. »
If you have come this far, it’s because I have succeeded in transmitting to you some of my ARMY soul.
You (finally?) got to the end of this article.
So here, I hope with all my heart that I managed to give you a nice little peek into the ever so special world of BTS. If you haven’t had the chance to see them on June 2, don’t worry: they’re so successful internationally that they’ll most certainly come back for a world tour, and you’ll see these seven united, talented, charismatic, and funny young people. They will fly to success and bring to the world a new facet of the more committed K-Pop.
BTS Network Links :
- Official site : bts.ibighit.com
- Blog : bangtan.tistory.com
- Big Hit’s youtube : ibighit
- BTS’s youtube : BANGTANTV
- Facebook : 방탄소년단
- Twitter of members : @BTS_twt
- Twitter of Big Hit on BTS : @bts_bighit
- Instagram of Big Hit on BTS : @bts.bighitofficial
Network links Bangtan’s Fanbases :
Original article by K.Owls: « [Zoom sur] BTS, voix de la jeunesse »