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BTS: A Phenomenon of the 21st Century Music Industry

“Maybe I made a mistake yesterday, but yesterday's me is still me. I am who I am today, with all my faults. Tomorrow I might be a tiny bit wiser, and that's me, too. These faults and mistakes are what I am, making up the brightest stars in the constellation of my life.”

- Kim Namjoon, the leader of BTS.

Famous for mentioning - and promoting - the idea of loving yourself in almost every one of their songs, concerts, and performing on various stages such as the United Nations General Assembly to ‘share the stories of future generations’, BTS continues to thrive and give inspirational messages - and hope - to people around the world, especially the youth. Therefore, as they continue to grow in popularity, in part thanks to their inspiration messages, BTS is truly a phenomenal band as their songs express in-depth inspirational messages, as the group made significant contributions towards the music industry, and as they continue to write - and produce - original music with their own hard work and dedication.

First and foremost, unlike many other pop artists whose songs mainly revolve around the similar - and commonplace - theme of love, affair, and breakups, the work of BTS aims to respond and address real-world issues (such as racism, homophobia, climate change, etc.) and have in-depth meaning in each and every one of their songs. For instance, one of their famous songs, ‘Spring Day’, released in 2017, was written as a tribute to the many students who died in the Sewol ferry disaster, on their way to an organized high school trip; that became one of the greatest modern maritime disasters in South Korean history, caused by ignorance and improper inspections. On the other hand, songs such as ‘Dionysus’, released in 2019, in the album ‘Map of the Soul: Persona’, primarily revolves around the ancient Greek god, Dionysus, and aim to address homophobia and promote the 2SLGBTQ+ community. Another example would be their hit songs ‘Run’ and ‘I Need You’, written to address wasted youth, hardships faced in early adulthood, and to encourage adolescents to make responsible decisions during youth, especially in their high school lives. Henceforth, it is for these reasons that make their songs unique, especially in the world of modern pop music, and is perhaps why BTS has gained tremendous popularity in recent years.

Secondly, it will be also important to discuss BTS’ increasingly growing popularity and the contributions the group is making to the modern music industry. As a matter of fact, it has only been a few days since the group had won the Artist of the Year Award - and two other awards - from the American Music Awards, after competing against other various artists such as Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, and Drake, and has only been a few months since their hit song ‘Butter’ topped the Billboard Top 100 Music Charts for an astonishing period of ten consecutive weeks. As the first foreign artists to have won such influence over the music industry in the western world, BTS is not only promoting multiculturalism in the American music industry, abolishing Asian stereotypes, and promoting various East Asian cultures, but they are also shaping a new reform in the western music industry with their significant contributions. Contrary to some theories suggesting that BTS’ popularity in the western music industry is only a ‘temporary phenomenon’ and simply ‘stems from a desire for something new’, but as their popularity continues to prosper in the United States - without declining - for nearly four years since their breakthrough in the western music industry and as they have recently renewed their contract with Hype Entertainment, unlike the vast majority of K-Pop idols, whose contract is rarely renewed, they have demonstrated that their phenomenon is not ‘temporary’ and simply ‘a desire for something new’. In fact, the last time an artist has gained such influence over the global music industry was only decades prior, when the Beatles soared through popularity in the 1960s and the 1970s.

Lastly, contrary to many other artists and idols (a term referring to K-Pop artists and bands), whose songs are manufactured and written by songwriters in the entertainment company - or agency - they belong to and have auditioned for, the majority of BTS’ songs are primarily written by themselves, including the songs’ choreography, though it will be important to mention that the group does receive help and support from professional producers and singer-songwriters. For this reason, one of the reasons BTS is greatly appreciated in the modern era of pop music is thanks to the fact they achieved their success mainly through their own hard work and dedication, not through music that is manufactured by their entertainment companies. As a matter of fact, out of the ten biggest tracks in the U.S. in 2018, none were written by a solo singer-songwriter and according to an analysis made by the BuzzAngle data, the average number of credited songwriters in the U.S. market’s Top 10 streaming hits of 2018, was a staggering 9.1. On the other hand, as for BTS, according to The Korea Music Copyright Association, it attributes over 170 songs to RM as a songwriter, over 120 songs to Suga, and over 100 songs to J-Hope, the three primary songwriters in the band and continues to write their own, original music. Without BTS, a whopping five billion dollars will be erased from the South Korean economy and would result in significant damage to both the economic and cultural growth of the world’s 10th largest economy.

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