BTS Makes History On American Music Charts

Amber Luo, Staff Writer

On November 30, BTS’s most recent title track, “Life Goes On,” the lead single from their album “Be,” scored No. 1 on America’s Billboard Hot 100. This success follows two consecutive No. 1 releases in 2020: an English disco-pop release titled “Dynamite” and a remix of Jason Derulo’s “Savage Love.”
With the success of “Life Goes On,” a pop song that delivers a much-needed message of hope and comfort to fans, BTS proved themselves as the leading music group in the industry, becoming the first act after the Beatles to debut three No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 in 3 months. Furthermore, BTS simultaneously scored a No. 1 album and song with “Be” and “Life Goes On,” respectively, becoming the first artist after Taylor Swift.
Unlike most successful K-pop groups, BTS, or Bangtan Sonyeondan, came from an unknown company, with little to no funding or public attention at debut. The seven boys were initially barred from music shows due to their unknown status and slept, 7 to one room, in a cramped house. Their meteoric rise to success began with the hit single “I Need U,” an expressive dance track featured on Billboard’s “The 100 Greatest K-Pop Songs of the 2010s: Staff List”. Within months, BTS became widely known in Korea and achieved vast international recognition, receiving invitations to KCONs (K-pop music festivals) in the US and Europe. The subsequent 2016 releases of the single “Run” and the wildly successful album “Wings,” with its lead single “Blood Sweat & Tears,” established BTS as the bestselling boy group in Korea. Moving forward, BTS quickly became a household name, toting record-breaking titles including “DNA” and “Spring Day.”
The members of BTS attribute their international and domestic success to the universal language of their music. “We have different languages. But I think we can all share in the same message,” said Suga, the group’s rapper and lyricist. This message is especially impactful given the recent success of “Life Goes On,” which was the first non-English song to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in over 62 years. This follows accusations from several K-pop fandoms of BTS playing dirty to reach No. 1 on the Billboard charts. According to these fandoms, the success of “Savage Love” on the charts could be largely attributed to their collaboration with Jason Derulo, a high-profile Western artist. Furthermore, the success of “Dynamite” was attributed to the full-English nature of the lyrics and the release of four remixes – ‘Slow Jam’, ‘Midnight’, ‘Retro’, and ‘Bedroom’ to boost its standing on the charts.
While these claims are plausible and likely did contribute to the success of “Dynamite” and “Savage Love” on Billboard’s Hot 100, the success of the primarily Korean “Life Goes On” demonstrates BTS’s undeniable influence in the music field, with or without remixes and English lyrics. Furthermore, “Life Goes On” lacks the dance-influenced beat of “Savage Love” and the catchy lyrical hooks of “Dynamite,” instead soaring to No. 1 due to the depth of its lyrics and its emotional value to fans.
BTS’s success goes beyond music charts. Recently, BTS was named Times’ Entertainer of the Year and was nominated in the “Best Pop Duo/Group Performance” category for the 2021 Grammys, becoming the first K-pop nomination in the history of the Grammys. “Ohmmmmmmyyyyyyyyggghghhhhhhhgggggggggdhdhsjsixudbslsogbdsisgshdbxidjdbdidhdifjfiri,” tweeted BTS in response to their nomination. In addition to their tweet, the BTS members also recorded a video thanking fans, “ARMY,” for supporting them and Recording Academy for the “great honor.” BTS’s impact in Korea is also reflected in their military policy. Recently, due to the pushback regarding BTS’s impending military service, South Korea’s parliament passed a bill allowing the biggest K-pop stars to delay their compulsory military service until the age of 30. Given the astronomical success of the seven members of BTS, this policy change is more than justifiable and will allow BTS and their fans to continue to mold the music industry together.