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[Newsmaker] Year of BTS? Group makes impact both in and out of Korea

BTS becomes 1st Korean to crack Billboard ‘Top 10 Artist,’ sets new record in Japan’s Oricon charts

For BTS, the year 2017 marked the year it became a global pop icon, smashing records and making milestone achievements locally and internationally. While it has always been among the popular K-pop groups, this year saw BTS solidifying its position as the clear frontrunner in the scene.

The boy band‘s latest feat came on Monday when Billboard ranked BTS as No. 10 in its annual year-end top 10 artists list. The list was led by Ed Sheeran, trailed by Bruno Mars, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd, The Chainsmokers and Justin Bieber.

It marked the first time for a Korean artist to crack the top 10 spot.

Even Psy, bouyed by his 2012 global phenomenon hit “Gangnam Style,” peaked at No.42 in 2013.

BTS performs “DNA” at the American Music Awards held Nov.19 at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. (AP-Yonhap)
BTS performs “DNA” at the American Music Awards held Nov.19 at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. (AP-Yonhap)

BTS was also ranked second in the Billboard’s top artist in duo/group category after The Chainsmokers. Its dominance on the most prominent US music chart came as no surprise after the band’s strong performances on its Hot 100 charts, in which BTS peaked at No. 28 with its latest song “Mic Drop” last week.

BTS’ major breakthrough came in the form of the top social artist award in May, in which BTS outshone mega stars like Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez and Ariana Grande. After that, the momentum never stopped; in November BTS became the first K-pop group to perform at the American Music Awards. The mesmerizing performance apparently left even Jared Leto out of breath, as he said “I need a moment to recover from that performance” before presenting the artist of the year award.

BTS performs “DNA” at the American Music Awards held Nov.19 at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. (AP-Yonhap)
BTS performs “DNA” at the American Music Awards held Nov.19 at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. (AP-Yonhap)


In the Far East, BTS’ latest single “MIC Drop/DNA/Crystal Snow” topped the Japanese Oricon weekly singles chart. It climbed to the top and then some, as it became the first foreign artist to rake over 300,000 points -- criteria set on record sales -- in the charts.

BTS made a formidable impact back home as well. According to local Gaon Charts, the accumulated sales of BTS’ latest EP “Love Yourself Seung Her” was 1.42 million copies as of November. In October, it became the first group since god in 2001 to sell more than the 1.2 million copies of its record.

The group had already earned a spot in the history books by setting the world record as the music group with the most Twitter engagements, according to Guinness World Records in November. 

BTS (Big Hit Entertainment)
BTS (Big Hit Entertainment)


Experts say that BTS’ success could potentially impact the K-pop industry as a whole.

Seoul-based culture critic Ha Jae-keun, said that BTS’ run can be more relevant to the industry than the “Gangnam Style” phenomenon of 2012.

“BTS has the characteristics of Korean idol singers, which means the West can start seeing Korean idols differently through BTS,” he said in an interview with local media. “The popularity of ‘Gangnam Style’ was based solely on that single song, but now it (BTS) is backed by a loyal fan base. This means the sustainability (of the popularity) will be much greater.”


By Yoon Min-sik
(minsikyoon@heraldcorp.com)
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