K-pop group BTS is driving a global wave of popularity to new heights. The seven members – Jungkook (real name: Jeon Jung-kook), V (Kim Tae-hyung), Jimin (Park Ji-min), J-Hope (Jung Ho-seok), RM (Kim Nam-joon), Suga (My Yoon-gi) and Jin (Kim Seok-jin) – have taken the world by storm and drawn comparisons to The Beatles.
The boys certainly drove high on Monday: their first entirely English-language single “Dynamite” had just returned for a third week at No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100 songs, making them the first group to lead the Hot 100, Global 200 and Global 200 Excl. USA at the same time. They also both became multimillionaires after their company Big Hit Entertainment landed the largest IPO in three years in their home South Korea. (Each band member now has $ 7.9 million worth of shares at the issue price.)
Variety sat down with the members of the BTS the day after they dropped “Dynamite”
A look at the band, its unique connection to its fans and its powerful message of inclusion will begin Variety‘s Grammy edition hitting stands Wednesday. Before the full track drops, here’s a preview of what the band felt we were up to:
About singing in English on “Dynamite”:
RM: When we first listened to the “Dynamite” demo, I actually tried different titles or lyrics in Korean. I tried to write some rap on that track, but nothing worked really well. So ok, yeah, why not keep it that way? Let’s give it a shot! It’s 2020, why not do some crazy things?
Jungkook: It was an unknown experience to record and sing this song in English. We had to practice the pronunciation a lot to try to make sure that the feel and emotions of the lyrics were really reflected when we sang it. We translated the texts into Korean and read them very carefully. We thought about what they meant in Korean when we recorded them in English.
J-Hope: Pop music in English is really what we grew up listening to. English songs are not something unknown to us – we are used to them. But the emotions that go into writing songs in English are very different from what goes into writing them in Korean, so this was still something new. It required a lot of work, especially with the pronunciation, and a lot of practice.
About whether there will be English songs on their next album:
Suck: “Dynamite” was a special case. You can not predict what will happen and the things we do. We cannot say with certainty what we will do in the future. Things change, circumstances change. If we see that there is a good enough reason to do something – record in English or something else – then we move on with that decision.
Jin: We just made music that we liked and that people liked in Korea, and then people outside of Korea started to like it – in the same way that we hear pop songs from countries outside of Korea and also enjoy them. We never made a conscious effort to spread globally. I think it happened organically; this connection happened alone. Can other groups or people enjoy the same kind of success? I’m sure it’s possible.
By growing as artists and writing their own music:
Jimin: I really love our songs and the style of BTS songs. I’ve tried to work on my personal music, but have not really posted anything yet. What I’m trying to do now is learn from the other members and try new things that are in the style of BTS that I really love. I want to release and create my own music.
V: When I was much younger, I listened to many top hits and songs that the other members recommended me. I often felt that it would have been great if I had written these songs myself. I try very hard so that one day I can write one of the good songs and feel that feeling of pride.
The Variety BTS cover story will be published online on September 30, 2020 at 6:00 PST.