Industry Reps Discuss What Sets BTS Apart
With many wondering about the secret to BTS’s remarkable success worldwide, several Korean music industry insiders have shared their thoughts on working with the group and what makes them unique.
In a new feature by media outlet Herald Business, various industry sources revealed their own individual perspectives on BTS. Singer-songwriter Yoon Guitar, who co-composed the lyrics for BTS’s song “Love Maze” (featured on their latest album “Love Yourself: Tear“), said that he was also fascinated by the group’s skyrocketing popularity.
Describing his experience working on “Love Maze,” Yoon Guitar recalled, “I paid careful attention to fans’ responses. I even searched online to see which BTS lyrics fans liked. I was happy to see that their fans were actively discussing music. Of course the group’s visual elements and the members’ vocal abilities, dance skills, and looks are important, but I was impressed most of all by how the fans engaged with their music—they analyzed the members’ songs and music videos, and they even listened to songs [by other artists] that the members recommended.”
He went on, “I think the fans’ attitude [towards BTS’s music] was made possible by the members’ participation. The BTS members tell their fans through Naver V Live broadcasts which of their lyrics they like, and they communicate with them to tell them which parts they wrote. They especially share information like this on Twitter. BTS also posts cover videos [of other artists’ songs] and recommends music they like, and they express their personal circumstances through music released in a variety of ways, such as SoundCloud or mixtapes.”
Yoon Guitar added, “I don’t think the members do these kinds of things because their agency tells them to. And this kind of behavior is more typical of indie musicians. Watching all of this, I thought, ‘Wow, BTS communicates so much with their fans even though they’re famous,’ and I was forced to self-reflect.”
June, an artist under Planetarium Records who co-composed several of BTS’s songs, including “Not Today,” “Awake,” and “Lost,” reported being impressed by the group’s dedication to music. “When I was working with BTS, I was extremely surprised by the fact that all of the members made working on music their top priority,” he said. “While watching them, I saw that they had so many things to do within a given amount of time, and they put those things aside in order to pour their all into making music. They would somehow manage to find the time to make it to the studio, and right after working on music, they would rush off to the next gig on their schedule.”
He continued, “I was impressed by the fact that they wanted to tell more of their own stories through mixtapes, as well as the fact that they wrote so many of their own lyrics themselves. I felt that they were a group that is truly passionate about music and art. Watching them constantly approach their work with a positive attitude made it possible for me to work with optimism and passion as well.”
Korean music critic Lee Dae Hwa spoke about BTS from a different viewpoint, attributing the group’s many achievements abroad to the passion of their fans. “I think that ARMY [BTS’s fan club name] played the biggest role in BTS’s success,” he remarked. “Of course, the reason that ARMY is such a passionate fandom is because BTS is such a charming group. I think their devoted fans and their formidable influence on social media made it possible for BTS to get where they are today.”
An anonymous choreography expert also specifically praised the members’ dance skills, explaining, “There are many other groups that dance in perfect synchronization, and there are many other artists that have collaborated with foreign choreographers. There are also many groups that have performed extremely difficult, high-level choreography. However, BTS paid close attention to even the smallest details, and their members managed to pull off their choreography perfectly.”
The industry insider continued, “The reason that BTS’s synchronized dancing receives particular praise is because they’ve built up a strong image of being skilled performers since their debut. Through countless hours of practice, the members are able to make their trendy, high-level choreography their own.”
“Each part of BTS’s songs features elements that can maximize the dance skills of the talented members,” said the expert. “The members also use their facial expressions to convey the meanings of any lyrics that are not expressed through their choreography. Additionally, BTS often shares video footage [of their performances] that shows the parts of their choreography that aren’t captured by the cameras on music programs.”
Another anonymous industry insider with experience forming several idol groups spoke admiringly of the BTS members’ hard work. The insider commented, “The [BTS] members’ unchanging efforts became one of their strengths. There are times when idols who have gained years of experience and a high level of popularity begin to take it easy in terms of their performances. However, BTS isn’t like that. In fact, as their experience and popularity grows, they’ve been showing improved performances instead.”
The insider added, “Hard work is something that looks good to people all over the world.”