by Sian Wilson
[ABOVE: SUGA, Jungkook, V, Jin, RM, Jimin, and j-hope get groovy for their dynamic disco performance of "Dynamite" for the 2020 MTV VMAs, later taking home four awards including Best Pop and Best Group. Via @bts_bighit on Twitter.]
BTS has achieved the second week of charting their undeniably explosive single “Dynamite” at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 100 - a predictably exclusive Western standard of success all artists strive to meet - not despite being an all-English track by a Korean band, and certainly not because it is an all-English track by a Korean band.
BTS has achieved this indescribable moment in music and world history despite the xenophobia and gatekeeping of the Western music industry, and because of the unparalleled passion, motivation, and commitment they have instilled in their fans through their music.
The success of “Dynamite” has been a monumental testament to how much of an impact an artist can have on their fans’ desire to see them recognised in a world that only seeks to dismiss their genuine artistry and efforts.
BTS has defied the rules of success measured by Western palatability with each body of work since their debut in 2013. As such, BTS has created a standard for artists and fans to aspire to exceed expectations while simultaneously overcoming adversity on the grounds of language, culture, and race. And when you acknowledge the tenacity of a supernova fanbase like the ARMY, you must first acknowledge the remarkable talent and sensational storytelling of the artists who inspired such a dedication.
Whenever BTS releases new music, whether it be an official single, a full-length album, solo mixtapes or a throwback hit-and-run for fun like j-hope’s “Chicken Noodle Soup” featuring Becky G, the ARMY matches the energy and passion of their idols with an unwavering attitude of “let’s do it for them”.
When ARMY sets out to aid BTS in breaking records and claiming historic firsts, the incentive is simple: it’s for them; to show them what they mean to us, and to prove to them that their words are deserving of the whole world to hear. When that effort is met with seven ecstatic people yelling in incoherent joy, ARMY knows they’ve done their best, too.
Yes, ARMY actively and strategically buys and streams their artists’ music because that’s what committed fans do. Their efforts don’t nullify the work BTS does as the artists, but rather solidify and gratify the sincere delivery with which BTS presents its work. Fans exist to buy and stream music, and BTS just so happens to have so many fans that their achievements are never-ending. With a quarter-million first-week sales and the biggest 24-hour YouTube debut, ARMY used "Dynamite" to set a precedent. It seems only fitting, and regrettably long-awaited, that this moment should have been made.
This achievement is great and one the seven members of BTS are obviously thrilled about. While the band may have "crossed the frontier of global pop superstardom" by Western standards, this is not the final frontier by any means for the band. The magical thing about BTS, and the thing that keeps many-a-gatekeeper awake at night, is their unpredictability and invincible bundle-less chart-toppers. Their unmatchable success remains a headscratcher for most, especially when the success of their peers is ensured with tactical merchandising. True evidence of BTS’s quality of work, and even more-so of their confidence in their fans, their lack of bundling has beaten the industry at its own game time and time again.
Discourses surrounding the release of “Dynamite”, an all-English single, consisted mostly of excited fans rearing to prove that BTS has, indeed, been denied the same level of acknowledgement and due respect as their Western counterparts. The success of “Dynamite” is now tangible proof of this.
From this here moment in music history, continuing to deny BTS would only imply an obvious and grossly subjective refusal to accept them as equal competitors on a painstakingly unequal playing field.