4/6/2017 Text by Jeff Benjamin. Photo by Jessica Xie
On April 2, BTS played the fifth and final date of a sold-out U.S. arena run, performing to the shrieking fans who helped the group's second full-length album, Wings, become the first K-pop project to crack the top 40 of the Billboard 200 in 2016. Since debuting in 2013, the seven-piece boy band has become a commercial behemoth in its native South Korea while continuing to make inroads within American pop culture. "Change," an English-language hip-hop collaboration between BTS member Rap Monster and U.S. star Wale, was released three days before the kickoff of the stateside run.
"Change" touches on topics like voting rights and online harassment, while some of BTS' biggest hits have addressed mental health. "Worldwide, our young generation shares the same issues socially and politically," says BTS member Suga. Although K-pop music generally steers away from controversy, Rap Monster says that remaining outspoken "is important to us. And the bigger the voice we get, the more powerful our words become."
A new BTS album is already underway and more U.S. dates might be on the way later this year. Bang Si Hyuk, the CEO and Executive Producer of label/management agency BigHit Entertainment who is better known as "Hitman" Bang, hints at "special features" designed for international listeners but thinks BTS will continue playing to its base.
"I'm not a believer in releasing full English songs to the U.S. market, like many K-pop artists have," Bang tells Billboard in his first-ever interview with American press. "We must focus on what we do best as K-pop artists and producers and maybe add some special features to which international or U.S. music fans can feel attached. That is the best way for me to put K-pop into the mainstream U.S. music market and, in that regard, BTS will participate and perform in a way that is not much different from what they have been doing in the last three years. We're adjusting and improving the way we do shows on the tour to meet the international or global level and expectations so that anyone, regardless of their culture and background, can enjoy BTS music and performances."
Bang is sure to add that the group will be "very active and responsive in releasing new songs that would come out of collaborations with international artists, like 'Change.'" And, looking ahead, both the CEO and band see their most recent accomplishments as inspiration to achieve even more in the future.
Head over to Billboard to read the rest of the article and the interview!
Mods, I hope the post is okay like this.
I guess the rumors that they'll be touring the whole year are true then. I hope they find out about Europe while at it.