Why Is Kpop So Appealing 🤔?
Why is Kpop so appealing?
This is definitely a question I’ve asked myself many times during this past month. It all started with buying BTS’s album, You Never Walk Alone. After completely falling in love with BTS’s music, I bought their compilation album, The Most Beautiful Moment in Life: Young Forever.
Between then and now, I’ve basically fallen down a rabbit hole of everything to do with BTS, and strangely, I don’t feel like I’ve been wasting time in trying to understand their music. I actually feel like I know more about expressing art to the world than I did at the beginning of April, which is something I didn’t realize I would learn while wading through BTS’s music.
Yet, despite spending all that time exploring the world of BTS, I haven’t paused to think about why I’ve spent so much time decoding BTS’s music videos and lyrics, and why I even care about their music.
Why, exactly, have I spent all this effort finding out more about a Kpop band when I’m 1) not Korean and 2) don’t speak Korean? Why go through the process of finding videos with English subtitles and looking up the English translations of song lyrics online when it would be so much easier to… well… not do that at all?
BTS has constantly been on my mind these past few weeks — so much to the point where I’m convinced I’ve never been so utterly invested in an artist before. If I’m listening to music, I’m listening to BTS’s music. If I’m on YouTube, I’m watching their music videos or theory videos on their music videos or behind the scenes on the making of their music videos or videos of BTS doing variety shows or interviews of BTS or simply BTS-related videos…
*gasps for breath*
I found blogs dedicated to sharing news about BTS, like BTS Dairy, and blogs dedicated to decoding the lyrics of BTS’s songs, like Muish’s Ramblings.
I learned how fast BTS’s Wings Tour tickets sold out, and how successful they are, both in Korea and internationally. BTS’s global audience is so large and influential that it got them a spot on the Billboard Music Awards for Top Social Artist. BTS’s fans, called ARMYs, have their own Amino app called ARMY Amino which is basically BTS heaven for memes, gifs, fanart, and everything else relating to the group.
The things listed above isn’t what blows my mind, though — it’s their age. BTS is a seven-member boy band, and the oldest member is Jin, who’s 24. But the youngest member, Jungkook, is only 19, and he debuted with BTS at the age of 15, which is insane.
And all of that is just scratching the surface of BTS. During this month of (extensively 😊) exploring BTS’s music and their influence on the world, I’ve realized many things about them, art, and myself.
Let’s begin with clarifying this:
By “Kpop,” I mean BTS.
I do realize that the Kpop industry is huge and that there are many artists within the Kpop industry, but even after watching some music videos for groups like Red Velvet, Sistar, EXO, and Blackpink, BTS still stands out to me as the most unique group with the most meaningful songs and music videos. As a result, I’m going to use them as my main subject and pull evidence from them in answering my question, which was…
Why is Kpop (specifically BTS) so appealing?
This is what we’re here to find out, everyone. Let’s start this. 👏
There’s Never an End to BTS
When I first started exploring how large of an influence BTS has on the internet world, I never realized it would be so… endless.
I’m not just exaggerating, people. It’s actually endless.
For most musical artists, you would think videos with them begin and end with YouTube, but BTS also has channels on this app called vApp, which is basically YouTube but for Kpop groups. On the app, they have several series of videos, random videos of themselves doing activities like competitive games in teams, and also live streaming videos of themselves literally just sitting there and talking (and sometimes eating).
Let’s get back to YouTube. What’s on YouTube? Well, you have BTS’s music videos, of course. Then you also have behind-the-scenes for those music videos, which makes sense — a lot of artists have those videos as well.
But wait — there’s more. You have the official channels for BTS such as BangtanTV, but of course that’s not enough for the international fans who don’t understand Korean so we have other channels like Bangtan Subs and ARMYsZUTTER dedicated to putting English or other-language subs at the bottom of the videos. What are these videos about, you may ask? Well, we have interviews, logs, variety shows, dance practices, photoshoots, concert clips, travel vlogs, random challenges and games they do, and also: BTS reacting to BTS videos. 😆
And those are only the videos with the members of BTS actually in it. We have lyrics videos and other videos containing the audio of songs BTS didn’t release for selling (or maybe it’s just that they’re not available on iTunes?). Then, in the midst of this chaos, you’ll realize that Rap Monster and Suga have their own mixtapes, which leads to you finding their mixtape’s music, then the scramble to find English translations and explanations on what the songs mean about BTS and the individual artist’s themselves…
Then you find the blogs dedicated to BTS and the app made purely for ARMYs, and you finally have to admit that you are utterly lost in the BTS maze.
And the thing is, you’re not sure if you even mind being lost in this maze.
I think part of the appeal of BTS is how much information about them is on the internet. If you really wanted to learn more about BTS, all you have to do is go on YouTube and watch compilation videos of them or go on BTS-dedicated blogs and start from there. You can be a detective and piece together the many puzzle pieces there are floating around the web on BTS’s entire career as musicians.
The Appeal of Their Music
I bought two of BTS’s albums knowing that I would be listening to sounds instead of words I understand (excluding the English they occasionally put in their music) because their instrumental, vocals, and overall musical skills were enough to get me to love their music. I think that’s an important indicator of how good BTS’s music is, and why they have such a large international audience. The themes and messages of BTS’s songs are powerful and universal enough to be conveyed through their talented instrumentals, music videos, and translated lyrics.
Despite the fact that I know I’m losing the rhyme and cultural connotations of some words within the lyrics of BTS’s songs when I base my understanding of them off the English translations, I still can understand — and relate to — the concepts and themes BTS are trying to express through their songs and music videos. That alone shows how powerful they are as musical artists.
Now that we’re on the topic of music videos…
The Theories Revolving Around BTS
I actually didn’t find BTS on my own — my friend introduced me to them a while back, and showed me music videos, such as the one for “피 땀 눈물 Blood Sweat & Tears,” while avidly explaining the theories revolving around BTS’s music videos. The most popular theory, she told me, was that Jin was dead and all the other members are trying to come to terms with the fact that Jin is no longer with them.
I had listened to her in a heap of confusion, because at the time, I was still trying to differentiate the seven members from each other, and the fact that they dyed their hair a new color in every new music video was not helping. At all.
But then fast forward to the me now, who can successfully recognize the members (*applause*) and state multiple theories regarding each music video, including some of my own. I’ve come a looooong way from not being able to tell the members apart in the music videos due to their seemingly incessant changing of hair colors
There’s something about BTS’s music videos that draws me into the tohubohu of everyone trying to understand and decipher and decode what they mean. I have to admit that it’s really fun watching and rewatching a BTS’s music videos and find new connections, clues, and details each time.
Previously, when I watched videos on YouTube, I would always feel like I was wasting time. Watching BTS’s music videos and theory videos regarding BTS’s music videos, however, doesn’t bring that feeling to mind. I feel like I’m learning so much more about art and how to convey a theme in a more unique way, and the fact that the “피 땀 눈물 Blood Sweat & Tears” music video was based on a literary classic — Demian by Hermann Hesse — makes me love their music even more.
Teamwork and Cooperation
Another aspect of BTS that I’m always impressed with is their teamwork. I think it’s amazing that all seven of them can live together and work so closely and diligently in creating new music, practicing for their performances, and participating in variety shows, photoshoots, and filming without… well, exploding.
That is true teamwork and cooperation.
Now, I don’t doubt that the members of BTS have had fights and disagreements, something that every single long-term group eventually encounters, but the fact that all seven of them are so friendly with each other and can produce so much music and content reminds me that though I believe any kind of art needs solitude and individual thought to flourish, reaching out to other artists isn’t a bad idea when you’re trying to produce unique art.
Rap Monster and Suga both have their individual mixtapes, which are a product of their own hard work and personal tastes as musicians. However, their ability to both produce their own art and work in a seven-member group displays how great they are at balancing teamwork and cooperation, while spending time developing their own style of music.
On the topic of teamwork, let’s talk about…
The Brilliance of BTS as a Group
We’ve established how the success of BTS is heavily based on their amazing teamwork, right? Well, part of their teamwork comes from how each member contributes to filling in other member’s weaknesses with their own strengths, making BTS a group that seems perfect in strengths and dynamics when put together.
One would assume that a group who works really well together would have similar personalities and mindsets, but I’ve come to realize that there is actually quite the spectrum of personality within BTS. We’ve got members who are introverted, extroverted, or ambiverted; full of energy or lethargic; positive or more pessimistic; narcissistic, insecure, shy, overly-confident, and so on.
This combination of unique personalities is why their variety shows and interviews are so unique and fun to watch because nothing is ever the same for the group. If you take out one member, the entire dynamic of the group changes. When the seven members are separated into teams for competitions in shows like “Run BTS!,” we get to see how their personalities will make or break their team’s success.
For example, we have Rap Monster, who is very smart — his IQ of 148 would make him an actual genius, according to this article — and intellectual. Since he speaks fluent English, he spoke most of the time during their Wings tour in the U.S. However, he’s not the best dancer, and therefore is often in the back of the formation for their dance performances (unless when he’s rapping, of course).
Jimin, J-Hope, and Jungkook are all pretty good dancers within the group, which is probably why they always seem to be in the front for the majority of their performances — V too.
In terms of personality, V and J-Hope are pretty extroverted and energetic, while other members are less… um, crazy the majority of the time. This balance works pretty well for BTS as a group, but of course, there are some moments where all of the members act a little bit insane.
In the end, every single member within BTS compliments each other and therefore contributes to the appeal of the group over all.
Perseverance and Working Hard at What You Love Doing
And lastly, the biggest takeaway I have from discovering BTS is to not stop working hard at what I’m passionate about. The more I delve into BTS’s history and discover tidbits of information on what their life is like, the more I realize how being in the Kpop industry isn’t all glam and fun.
Not only is the industry competitive, like every single art industry out there (the publishing industry, for example), but I’ve learned that BTS didn’t debut with the theatrical and intricate music videos that people love to contemplate about now, like ““피 땀 눈물 (Blood Sweat & Tears)” or “봄날 (Spring Day).” It took time for them to get to the level of international recognition they have today. Rap Monster and Suga have actually been publicly scorned by the hip-hop community for going against the “masculine” image of hip-hop by doing things such as wearing makeup on stage.
In addition, I watched one of BTS’s shows, American Hustle Life, which documented their experience learning about hip-hop and the American culture in Los Angeles. Throughout the show, I realized how tired they all seemed. Their days were packed and they had so little sleep, and if even the camera couldn’t filter away their utter exhaustion, how tired were they when they weren’t being filmed?
Despite their lack of sleep and corresponding exhaustion, all seven members always woke up and tackled the day’s tasks and activities. That attitude towards their career as Kpop idols really inspired me to just get and do the things I’m passionate about, even if you might not be in the mood for it at first.
I’ve found that the hardest thing is sometimes just starting the activity; after a while, once I get in the zone, the particular project or task isn’t something I don’t feel like doing anymore.
If there’s anything I want to take away from all these hours devoted to finding out more about this group other than how to express art, it’s that there’s never a limit to how dedicated one can be to their passion, nor how hard they can work for that passion. I want to take inspiration from BTS’s dedication to their music to work harder and more passionately on this blog, my drawings, and, most importantly, on becoming a better writer. Writing is when I feel my most powerful, and I feel like the stories I have in my head are worth putting down as ink words on paper to share with the world. As a result, despite of the many responsibilities I have as a high school student, I need to remind myself that writing a priority for me.
BTS’s music has such a positive influence on the world and has resonated with so many people, myself included. I want to have my stories resonate with people in the same magnitude. Perhaps that won’t happen this year, or next year, or the year after that… but I do believe if I work hard and passionately at improving my writing, I’ll be able to share my art — my writing — with an audience that will not only be able to appreciate it, but feel like they’ve learned something or have been impacted by the words I’ve pieced together, first in my mind, then down on paper.
… And that is all I have to say (for now) about why BTS is so appealing.
If you haven’t heard of BTS, are you intrigued right now about the group? If you are a BTS fan (hiiiii! *waves* 😆), can you relate to any of the things I listed above? What is appealing about BTS to you?
Thanks for reading, and I will cya next time!
Want to Read More?
If you like this post, then read…
this post on an amazing book by Maurene Goo about K-dramas + Korean culture,
or this post on thoughts about dreams and growing up!
There’s also another post on what languages I speak + want to learn (including Korean!),
and here’s my start of drawing more Asian characters for diversity.
If you want more BTS, then here’s a list of posts for that: