BTS came out with No More Dream, a song with a vastly different effect on listeners than their most recent single, Permission to Dance. Were their initial releases better than the music they release today or is it just a matter of the opinions of their diverse fan base?
by Lakshana Lakshmanarajan
Bangtan Sonyeondan, more commonly known as BTS, is a 7-member boy band from South Korea in 2013. Since then, BTS has been designated as the best-selling Korean act of all time, having sold over 20 million albums in under 7 years. This makes it no surprise that they have over 90 million fans, dubbed as “ARMY”, around the world. With 19 charted songs on the Hot 100, and their most recent single being the most viewed premiere of a music video on YouTube, BTS has undoubtedly reached a very high tier of success.
However, despite this high level of success they have seemed to reach, especially with their recent single, “Butter”, breaking numerous records in the music industry, there are many BTS fans that prefer their older music from when they were smaller in the worldwide music industry. Their music from older albums such as Dark & Wild, Skool Luv Affair, and Wings were always known to portray deep and complex messages that distinguished them from many other worldwide artists. And although their more recent albums are not completely meaningless, fans have noticed that their messages are more surface-level and easily understandable. Additionally, BTS stans have stated that BTS’s older discographies allowed them to be in touch with their Korean roots. On the other hand, BTS has reached a wider scope of people through their newer music. It has allowed them to gain exposure to western media, having been on multiple talk shows and other western-style entertainment systems. However, their current music also cannot be compared to English pop songs, as they continue to produce kpop style music videos and choreographies.
This is where the trilemma is presented. Are fans who continue to complain about their evolution musically, justified? Or is it something too trivial to be able to even fix?
BTS’s Old Music is Better:
It is understandable that many armies prefer BTS’s older music to their newer music. Due to older fans having joined the fanbase at a time when their music was completely different from that of now, it’s inevitable that many may lose interest. Apart from just the songs, many BTS fans took an interest in analyzing their lyrics and music videos, which often made the group very different from many Western artists.
Additionally, as seen from popular feedback, older fans prefer BTS’s Korean songs as opposed to those influenced by the eccentric, English pop we generally see in Western media. Many individuals became passionate fans of BTS because the group was distinguishable from any other music artist, in terms of their music and the meaning behind them; therefore, bringing back what made them so unique in the past would allow them to retain their originality and prevent the overpowering influence of Western pop music standards.
BTS’s New Music Offers Them Their Well-Deserved Recognition:
BTS has made appearances on The Ellen Show, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and many more in the past few years. They only began to seize these opportunities in America after they altered their music to fit Western standards, using English lyrics and changing their music style.
Many of BTS’s newer fans prefer their newer songs which have received extremely positive feedback including billions of views and multiple awards. They have had numerous songs on the Billboard charts, been nominated for the Grammys, won awards at the American Music Awards 2018-2020, Billboard music awards, iHeartRadio MMVAs and music awards, and more. When their newer, more Western-styled music was what gave them the popularity and recognition that they deserve, there seems to be no reason for them to go back to their older music style. Their newer music also contains encouraging messages while also being catchy and fun to sing along to.
The Neutral Perspective:
Because a majority of BTS fans either prefer their old music or their new music, it’s hard to produce something that falls directly in the middle. It may also be impossible for them to go back to their old style due to their change as artists; they’ve grown as artists, and with growth comes change, which in many cases can be irreversible. However, even if they were able to return to their older music style, the lack of satisfaction from BTS themselves would fail to satisfy older fans; forcing them to return to producing music they no longer enjoy would be harmful. On the other hand, if BTS decides never to produce songs similar to those of their older albums, they may risk losing more and more of their original fans who got them to where they are today.
A solution to this situation may be to mix both English and Korean lyrics, similar to what they did with their song, Boy With Luv featuring Halsey, which got them over a billion views on Youtube. They can continue creating music videos, allowing them to keep in touch with their Korean roots, and have English parts in their songs to prevent losing their stature in the Western music industry. At the end of the day, the type of music BTS decides to produce is entirely up to them, and because of their popularity now, they have the freedom to further explore different genres and styles as well.