BTS in America – The Only Interview that Matters

Kpop-khop () has already done a pretty good job breaking all this US media regarding BTS down. I’d like to just add my two cents using my own words.

I wasn’t too thrilled listening to some of the US interviews so far. In fact, I cringed at some questions. I felt if they did their research, they would have been far more respectful. I know I’m being naive – that’s what media is supposed to be about, right? Pushing the envelope? So perhaps my frustration lies more just with the downward spiral of media in general for awhile now.

It was just a missed opportunity for most, I felt. The BTS-mania has really been crazy while BTS traveled to the states to be guest performers at the American Music Award (and yeah – they slayed it!) Leading up to this monumental event, with all the BTS excitement, they had a great opportunity to ask some questions which would help non-BTS-fans understand and learn more about them. I wasn’t asking for hour long, in depth interviews. But would a couple of insightful questions have hurt?

Below is the only US interview that matters so far. The only one that didn’t ask lame questions – i.e. wanting to know if they would start producing full English albums, who their celebrities crushes are or trying to get a negative spin on some of the crazier fans. The only interviewer who actually did his research, talked about their social message of their music, spoke about how they are breaking barriers and boundaries to non-Korean speaking fans who don’t need English lyrics, the only person to talk about their biggest announcement where they are now close to $1M in donation (combination of their own $500K donation and sales) with their #LoveYourself and #ENDViolence UNICEF campaign which will continue for the next 2 years with direct 3% of their sales of the Love Yourself album and merchandise. I don’t know who Zack Sang is. He’s not ET or Hollywood Access. But he’s obviously very good at his job. Can he be our BTS media-ambassador for whenever they come to America?

As you can tell from the interview, Zach goes against the grain. Rather than inquire if they will start producing more music/albums in English, he is saying music transcends language and in fact is it’s own language. He respects they are able to communicate through their music to so many non-Korean speaking fans. And the reaction BTS continually gave Zach for all his questions and understanding was just so wonderful to watch.

I get what he is saying. I did have a friend ask me if it matters that I can’t understand Korean. I told him that it didn’t. Granted, I do go online and quickly read BTS’ lyrics but I’m not one of those fans who memorizes the lyrics in Korean and learn exactly what each line means in English. Over time I do sing along in Korean just from listening to their tunes so often. My curiosity allows me to get the gist of the meaning but most times, I find, I’m not completely off base of what their song means just by the feel of the music alone. Honestly – BTS’ music is so different in a good way. Why would I allow language barrier to take away my pleasure in listening to their music? That would be ridiculous. And shouldn’t we bring this concept to our every-day-lives? In a community and global sense? Language barrier should NOT be such a great obstacle as to divide us.

In fact, I don’t really know if I want them to produce more in English. I’m fine with the collaboration pieces in English but even with some of the ones that could come to reality in the future (especially after the AMAs), I’m hoping they throw in some Korean language, too. Full albums in English, though? Well – I’m such a huge supporter of theirs that if that truly makes them happy, then I’ll continue listening to them because at the end of the day, they’ve got talent.

But these Americans who are asking for English albums are missing the point – BTS is kpop. They’re asking BTS then to be something they are not. //END RANT

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How I Got into K-Pop Part III

[Part I | Part II | Part III]

So what else could there be about kpop and especially, BTS, that’s just exploded into my world?

The marketing. The hard work. The strive for perfection. Over and over and over again.¬† I mentioned marketing already in my last post. I’d like to expand on how seamless their marketing is for a comeback.

My very first comeback was with BTS. By the time I got into EXO first, they had already gone through their whole Ko Ko Bop comeback. Believe me, I had no idea what to expect. Except that whatever it was, it was going to be huge. Why? Because everything up to now with BTS has been huge. They don’t seem to settle for anything less than 115%. So when they started to show their recent Love Yourself¬† teaser films (3 short films released one after another), I was floored. BTS is famously known for their heavy themes across their work – song to song, music video to music video and album to album. I truly wished I followed their entire Wings album comeback + tour releases and teasers.

I’m posting their short films for both comebacks as one complete film each which they released after all teasers had been revealed:

Wings Full Story:

Live Trilogy Episode III The Wings Tour:

Love Yourself Highlight Reel – Full Story:

And we can’t forget their comeback album soundtracks – like mini songs/music videos that basically just make us wanting more! With Love Yourself, it was Jimin’s beautiful solo voice in Serendipity and with Wings it was J-Hope’s Boy Meets Evil (damn he’s such a good dancer). I’m torn between the video and the live performance so I’ll post both. For the live performance I’m captivated by the insert of Jimin’s solo song and dance, Lie, where his modern dance training comes shining through.

Boy Meets Evil Comeback Trailer:

Boy Meets Evil Part 1 + 2 followed by Blood Sweat and Tears:

Then there’s all the extra’s. The social media they are actively champions in using to communicate with their fans are basically traffic drivers to not just their music videos, comeback teasers/trailers but a various amount of video clips and web-shows they produce such BTS RUN episodes. They add a lot of behind the scene videos as well for comeback performances and music video filming. My favorite are their comeback skits!

On top of that, there are videos from Korean variety and talk host shows which many kpop groups participate in. All this adds to promote them and it seems to be constant with peaks during comeback periods (which, seeing as how they release on average 2 mini-albums a year, feels like quite a bit of work to me).

I’m probably not doing their efforts justice as I’m merely grazing over everything they do for their fan base to keep them happy and on their toes. All I can say is that it’s a crazy amount of work.

So that’s about it! As anyone can easily see, I probably would not be knee deep into kpop if it weren’t for BTS. They are not just my fave kpop band, but I dare to say they have become currently my fave music group across all genres.

Sometimes I’m Full of Awesome Ideas

I messaged my daughter yesterday…

ME: Oh my God! I just thought of something fun we can do!

ME: Next time we go to an electronics store, lets sync my phone to a demo Blu Tooth speaker…

ME: And blast BTS!

She hasn’t replied back. I’m guessing she thinks I’m crazy and I’ll embarrass her… But isn’t that my job?

BTW, I would SO do this to her if I had the chance. Just so I could use, “Hey… remember that time I met BTS and you didn’t?”

How I Got into K-Pop Part II

[Part I | Part II | Part III]

It wasn’t just the music, though. Everything in k-pop is just… more. More extra. Their music videos are produced with such high quality standards. Their performances are of the same caliber. I was, in fact, floored by the choreography alone.

[And all of it just reminds me of how sick and tired I was of main stream music. I look at the music videos being spewed out there days – blah. Like really… how many times have we seen a band just playing/singing in various scenes? How many times have we seen rap/hip hop of extremely scantily clad women gyrating around – barely dancing if you even want to call it that? Sure – there’s been some interesting ‘story lines’ but none of them have held my interest. And to think of how much money goes into these sub-par music videos. It boggles my mind, really. Okay – ending my rant now.]

BTS has some of the most complex and fascinating choreography out in the k-pop scene. While Jimin and J-Hope are two with background in dance, Jungkook’s athleticism and ability to pick-up, well, just about anything thrown at him, both Suga and V also show their dance skills as well. They say Rapmon and Jin are the least talented as far as dance skills but honestly, the choreography is so well put together and they all have trained so hard, most viewers hardly notice as they are usually in the background. And whenever I focus on them, I think they do better than they say they do.

So here’s the thing, it all goes back to marketing, right? And they know how to market themselves. They use social media to the extreme which is part of this ‘extra’ I’m talking about. Consistently keeping The ARMY (their fan group name) on their toes. It’s actually exhausting for me but my teen and her friends can’t get enough of it (insert annoyance from a parent who nags her kid to study and put BTS social media on a hold for a bit – it’s hard when these boys are constantly posting stuff). But I’ll get into the other extra social media they do and focus on how the company Big Hit Entertainment, as a whole, uses social media marketing to their advantage.

Tying back to BTS’ insane dance moves, they officially release for many of their music video, two versions (well, sometimes three if you count the ones they do for their Japanese fan base – yes, almost a new video concept and of course, lyrics sung in Japanese) – The main original music video and the one that’s just focused on choreography.

And then, there’s sometimes one more video they (and many k-pop groups) will post – their dance practice for that specific choreography. I LOVE the dance practices. Unlike my daughter who enjoys more, the ability to see close-up of her biases’ faces and how ‘beautiful’ they look (i.e. make-up and stylish clothing), I want to see the whole picture of the dance. I want to see the footwork, along with their arm movements. For me, I’d rather seem the camera zoom out so I can really take in their dance skills.

So, the music videos are truly stunning – both the original and choreography versions. The dance practices, however, shows their dance skills. They are usually dressed in comfy clothes meant for practice and while I’m sure they are wearing some minimal make-up to keep up their appearance (foundation, at least) they are not wearing gobs of make-up. Some are sporting baseball caps which covers their face anyway. And that’s fine. Because we get to watch how hard they are working – and while the audio is crap, it allows the viewer to hear the footwork.

For me that’s the magic. Hearing how in-sync they are when they jump up and land at the same time. Hearing them out of breath because that’s just how damn hard they are working. I find myself both amazed and envious. I would give anything to be able to move like that!

To tie back to social media marketing – they produce all these different versions of videos to put on their official YouTube page(s) and there you have – just another thing to make viral. All for just one song – and this is before each performance of the song is posted (from Comeback Stage to world tours, from Countdown Stage to music award performances).

Anyway, I already posted the original music video for FIRE in my last post. Here is both the choreography version and dance practice to go with it:

FIRE – Choreography music video:

FIRE – Dance practice:

I’ll also post another equally favorite BTS dance practice of mine – Blood Sweat & Tears. Definitely listen to their footwork in this one:

Finally, DNA‘s dance practice deserves some attention as well:

How I Got into K-Pop Part I

[Part I | Part II | Part III]

I’ve now met a couple of online bloggers who are and have been k-pop fans much longer than I have. In fact, while this industry is still growing globally and most people in my circle (aside from my daughter and her friends and one other adult friend) have never heard of BTS or EXO (other than from myself), I feel like I’m actually behind in the scene!

The only thing I have going for me – I started listening to k-pop BEFORE the big BBMA win for BTS. And while I did mention about how k-pop started taking over our house, I didn’t really talk about how I, personally, discovered k-pop other than just to learn what my teen was into (in order to show interest in her passion).

The thing is, she was way more into EXO at first – BTS was a secondary group with her then favorite BTS hit single, I Need U.

Did I like this song? Yes. Was I crazy about it? Not at the time. I am now. But here’s the catch and this is just me, personally. I’m not into as much ‘slow or mellow’ music. Never try to impress me with a ballad, for example, whenever introducing me to a new music group/artist.

I love mellow music, I really do. To grab my attention, however, fast-pace and energy is what feeds my soul. Still – my teen liked it so, like a good parent, I went to iTunes and made the purchase.

Then, I started to branch out on YouTube. At first, I’m sure I was checking out more EXO songs because that was her passion at the time. I did search also for top k-pop 2017 songs, etc. I mean, damn. You get a lot of info from YouTube alone.

Lo-and-behold… BTS popped up. A lot. So I started to click on one video. Then another. And another. Before I knew it, I was going down that rabbit hole. Before I knew it, it didn’t take me many clicks to realize what they had to offer. Not long after, I was back in my iTunes, purchasing a several more songs (mostly BTS). THAT’s how it all started.

Below were the first five BTS songs I discovered, in the exact order.

1) I Need U:

2) Dope:

3) Boy In Luv: Note – I added the Choreography version rather than the music video (I was uncomfortable with the way they pushed the girl into the locker to get her attention; I think it played into a lot of fan-girl fantasies of having the guy take control but… well, I just wasn’t comfortable with it).

4) FIRE:

5) Blood Sweat & Tears:

I think I was lucky in how I started to listen to BTS’ work. I was introduced to such different songs from their different eras, spanning over the past few years and now, bringing me to their current comeback releases. I also think my discovery from one song to the next was an amazing build up because FIRE & Blood Sweat & Tears are thus far one of my favorites. I can’t really say I like one over the other because they differ too much from one another.

Anyway, that’s how my personal journey started. As much as I enjoy other k-pop groups/songs, I don’t think I would have been into the whole subculture as much if it hadn’t been for BTS holding my interest firmly and rooted into this interesting world I’m now exposed to.

[SIDE NOTE: Man, they look so different from the Boy In Luv and even Dope era to Blood Sweat & Tears. I admit it’s hard for me to watch these really early videos because the maknae line is so… baby-ish! Haha! Talent was still there but you can tell they’re more grown-up now. I mean, Jungkook’s voice has dropped since Boy In Luv. Thank god for that – he sounds so much better now. Jimin has lost his baby fat in his cheeks and V/Taehyung looks better now, too.]