BTS fever is back.
Bangtan Boys, stylized in the West as BTS (after their Korean name, Bangtan Sonyeondan), is a tour de force of the Korean music industry. Unlike the country’s girl group lineup—which is currently seeing many different artists jockey for the “top” designator—the boy group situation has no parallels, and everyone agrees: BTS is in the lead, by a near-insurmountable margin.
Why? For one, this song has racked up 90 million views on YouTube since its release four days ago, and its first 24 hours on that platform broke the record for the largest YouTube music video debut of all time.
Also, while most K-Pop releases mainly promote in and around South Korea (stands to reason), BTS will only be spending one measly week promoting IDOL on Korean television networks before heading off to where the real money is: Ellen. (I joke, but that might actually be happening.) Their big October performance at Queens’ Citi Field, the grand finale of their upcoming US tour, sold out in minutes.
With all of that surrounding BTS—and IDOL’s success assured—it feels almost perfunctory to discuss the song in question. But it’s a good song! The opening brass sets the stage for an energetic, slightly hypnotic chorus that almost feels like a chant, or maybe a sea shanty. Quick, someone overlay this song over Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag.
Plus, I love that the (incredibly high-quality) music video incorporates Korean imagery, given BTS’ new and growing role as an ambassador for the country’s culture beyond K-Pop. I’ve always said that K-Pop should always be a gateway toward exploring other aspects of Korean popular culture, even beyond music, and things like this—a casual, stylized example of architecture here, a brief flash of lion dancing there—go a long way.