SHOTcast: Are BTS the new kings of K-pop?

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Editor’s note: This story is part of a week-long series The One Shots is doing on BTS. Each day, we’ll bring you a new feature focused on, what some would call, the DOPEst group in K-pop.

Oy! It’s BTS week bitches! And in this podcast, two of the One Shots squad explain to a clueless One Shots member everything there is to know about BTS. Why are they so huge these days? Where do they fit in K-pop history? Whose abs are the fleekest? We discuss where BTS came from, how they compare to their contemporary competitors like GOT7 and EXO, if they’ve surpassed Big Bang, and why everything could come crashing down.

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Listen toΒ all that and more, in this week’s podcast.

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DOWNLOAD THE PODCAST HERE and tell us what you think below!

Want more BTS Week? Check out our Thirsty Fan’s Guide to BTS, 35 Signs You’re a BTS Stan, and A Newcomer’s Take on BTS’ “I Need U”.

  • Sarah Lacy

    I think I have a lot of thoughts but idk so I’m just gonna go on a rant and some poor soul can read it if they want.
    I personally think that the international fan base is more prevalent than the domestic one. We’re sitting here talking about whether or not they’re the best, yet EXO is still considered to be the top selling artist by many. They definitely pander to the international audience, especially the US because all I see /literally/ everywhere on the internet is young, newbie, American BTS fans. (I literally can’t escape them anywhere I go on the internet, but that’s an entirely different rant) And it’s these fans that are the ones insisting that BTS is on top of everyone. But you have to consider Korea as well. I don’t believe that they are the most popular group in Korea, or Asia. I think EXO can take that title right now. And it’s nothing to get defensive about, it just is what it is, because SM is also a marketing juggernaut. Korean culture also plays a unique role in kpop that we don’t have in western pop. My roommate’s sister recently got into kpop, and is set on the fact that “SHINee is bland in comparison to BTS” and shit I almost blew a fuse because you can’t just call SHINee bland to my face. (but again, another story for another day) And I think the reason I was so salty about it is because SHINee has more than double the industry experience than BTS does. I don’t care if you have a personal preference for BTS, but pitting them against each other like that is unfair because BTS themselves would never say something like that. Bigbang is literally /their/ idols. They themselves would never claim to be better or more successful than them because they look up to them as a senior group. Seniority plays a part bigger in kpop than I think we’d like to admit. You guys often talk these days about how SuJu is losing their touch (or has lost is or whatever) but you can’t say that they aren’t still highly revered in the industry, because of their seniority, because of their impact on hallyu. BTS is my youngest bias group, all of my other top favorite groups debuted before BTS, but I’m already growing a little stale of them because they’re burning so fast. I Need U was the peak for me. Someone said it in the podcast, they had something good, and then they turned it into a trilogy and made a prequel and it’s been excessive to me as of late. I can’t even be bothered to like Fire that much because I’m just sick of seeing their beautiful and talented faces, if you can believe it. I’d like to see something raw, something different, something that weeds out the “real” fans because I’m tired of the pandering. They don’t have to be the top group to still be one of my favorite groups. Hell, I was this close to stanning C-Clown before they disbanded, you think I give a shit about popularity?
    Ok this really has taken a turn for the ranty, I’m going to stop here.

    • meowchow

      I agree with the majority of what you are saying. I was into BTS before my bubble burst and I was surrounded by immature fans. In their history all they’ve achieved is rookie awards & bonsangs, as well as a few awards for their dance/performances. No group can be considered ‘kings of kpop’ without having won a daesang. Being #1 on an app doesn’t compare.

      The only groups to consider being kings right now is Big Bang or EXO. Making any connection to BTS only humiliates the group. The reason why people put BTS down is because of people continuously giving them titles they don’t deserve.

      I know that if the group’s fans weren’t so toxic & immature, I would still be listening to BTS now but since I Need U I’ve gone completely off the group. I can only feel sorry for the guys πŸ™

      • Mi λ―Έλž€λ‹€

        What about now? πŸ™‚
        EXO is too manufactured, BTS exerts passion and love for music.
        They have probably the best three rappers in K-Pop with the insane composer and tortured soul rapper Suga/Agust D, Rap Mon (the speed wow) and the original sounding J-Hope. That helps a lot.
        They compose and produce their own music. They’re not in one of the big three Entertainment companies.
        They keep proving haters wrong.
        I def believe they’ll become the K-Pops if they’re not already :p

    • Brianna

      I also agree with a lot of this! As I said in my own post, I feel a very stark difference between the more thoughtful BTS fans (like in the conversation on this podcast) and the swarms of young, shallow fans that sometimes seem to take over the entirety of Twitter, Youtube, and Tumblr. It’s a bit frustrating that they say inflammatory stuff without understanding anything about the history of K-pop or really, anything that doesn’t involve BTS. BTS has a huge international fanbase, but I don’t think they’re the kings, no matter how many fans loudly insist otherwise.

      And I’m starting to feel burnt out on BTS too! There’s something to be said for taking time between promotions to allow fans to start missing you before you come back. That doesn’t mean 3 years, though… side-eyeing Big Bang.

  • mundyyys

    Nowadays, a lot of groups are involved in their production/music so it’s not that. You guys were right, it’s their passion, personality and star power that sets BTS apart from some other groups. As someone who wasn’t a big fan of Fire, the one that grabbed me this era was Young Forever. Young Forever is classic BTS – deeply personal and with a melancholy but hopeful message. BTS is great at connecting with their fans through their music. I think you guys are wrong about their brand, though. That’s where other groups have faltered – most recently BAP and VIXX – with int’l audiences. A huge shift in their sound would not really be in line with their brand and they haven’t done it. And another thing I thought you were wrong about was following trends. As far as the aesthetic trend, BTS started that last year. So they aren’t following trends – they’re making them now. But I agree about Dark & Wild (except there was some pandering on that album as well) and RM’s mixtape.

    At this point, their growth in S Korea (not all of Asia, tho) is stunted by their lack of connections and it may always be that way. But I don’t think that should downplay their relevancy and importance to Kpop music currently. I don’t think any other group is as much of a gateway group as BTS is right now. When I got into Kpop in 2013, it was Big Bang and more specifically, GD. In twoish years (I would argue since the release of Dope last year) BTS went from nugus to the forefront of Kpop’s current era.

    A mainstream hit in S Korea will probably make them kings, but a hit like that may never happen for them. Does that mean they’re not successful and influential? No. I can’t see them being anything less than huge in the int’l Kpop scene for at least a couple more years.

  • tooswayed

    I felt that this podcast was alright. It wasn’t as in depth as I would have wanted (but that’s just me). I feel that stronger arguments could have been made in favor of BTS, but good points were brought up.

    In this podcast it seems you guys, for the most part focused on their promoted tracks. Even though you guys may have not been fond of “Fire” and thought that it was ‘generic’ there was a motivation message behind it. It may not mean something to you, but it means something to someone else.

    I think you guys failed to mention that a part of BTS’ strength is their B-Side tracks that can’t not be played during broadcast for various reasons. Baepsae for example, on the surface just seems like a turn up track that some might deem as “try hard”, is actually a social commentary about the somewhat unattainable expectations that the older generations have for the newer generation. With BTS, you have to dig into their discography to get a better picture off who they are as a group.

    In terms of their appeal, I think what makes them relatable is more than just them being super normal, it is their willingness to show their vulnerable side (I feel Iike other groups only talk about it on interviews or broadcasts). When they are having difficulties or worries, they share that with their fans through their fancafe or SNS. I also think their bond with each other (the members) seems genuine, despite being a group that was put together.

    Production wise, I think using the same producers for all their albums has been to their benefit. I think that their in-house producers have found a way to mix genres without losing that “BTS sound’ or making it sound awkward and out of place, at least to the “American” ear. Even their more fluffy songs have an edge that keeps it from sounding totally corny.

    BTS posts some big numbers when it comes to physical album sales. BTS (as a group not their company) out sold all of YG and JYP in 2015. Now that is saying something. With that being said, I think EXO is the King of Kpop for this generation. The are selling machines and the Korean public knows who they are (which is what BTS is lacking). And if a Daesang is what is holding BTS back from going to the next level, it is going to be hard if EXO decides to promote every year along with BTS because digital and physical album sales are a huge factor when calculating who gets it.

    I honestly think that in a couple of years people will see BTS as more than just an idol group. I think people will see them more as artists and they will be respect, as long as they continue to put out quality music and keep their passion for music alive.

    (I have so much more I want to say, but it would be even longer than this)

    • achrisville

      I think one of their great strengths is their connection with the people who they feel really loves them for what they do as well as for their sincerity and intentions for them making the kind of music they make. The bond that they create with their fans and with each other is no joke.
      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=323-9tjkQ38
      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5p6d3i0LrfE

      • tooswayed

        I totally agree with you. I feel that is a part of the reason why the ARMY fandom is so passionate, even though their methods are sometimes frowned upon.

  • Caribes

    I love big bang and despite agreeing with Widney that big bang are kings, made was their worst album for me. But I believe they can make that crappy music and still be on top cuz they’re always anticipated.

    As for BTS and Bfree little controversy I thought it was silly because despite selling out most rappers actually want that? Many who are considered “authentic” cuz they write their own raps actually want to get out of their poor conditions. So hitting mainstream and being able to live the life you rap about is kind of the goal? I mean Idk about rapmon or any other rappers in the group struggling with poverty or some type of systematic struggle but if they’re good they’re good? I mean I wouldn’t hold it against them if they had talent and didn’t suffer some things listed in this “authenticity” check off list to have a right to be a rapper. I mean if you write your own raps cool and if you don’t just don’t suck. If the supposed rappers of exo could get ppl to write better raps I wouldn’t complain.

  • Brianna

    I’ve been around on the K-pop scene since 2007, so I guess that makes me an old-school fan. It has been crazy to watch K-pop blow up, especially in the past 3 or so years. A ton of people were introduced to K-pop through BTS and that’s not something to downplay. I think that when it comes to status, EXO has way better brand recognition in Korea (and China), while BTS is the biggest name elsewhere. I kind of hesitate to call any one group the “king” because there are just so many groups, so much competition, and so much overlap between fandoms that there isn’t one dominant monolith like in the past with DBSK and Big Bang. When I first got into K-pop, like 90% of English-speaking fans were ONLY talking about DBSK. And then Big Bang replaced DBSK from 2009-2012/3, at which point the genre grew too much to allow one group to dominate. But I am consistently surprised by how many ARMYs there are on the internet and even in real life. I think they have the largest, or at least most passionate and vocal, English-speaking fanbase right now.

    Personally, I like BTS and I respect what they bring to K-pop, but I have trouble connecting with them like I did with Big Bang. This is partially because I think their music is trending towards sounding overly Westernized (to the point that songs like Save Me and Blood, Sweat and Tears sound exactly the same as the Top 40 songs I hear on the radio, just in Korean) and partially because their personalities do not strongly appeal to me. There’s definitely stuff to like in there, but I can’t help but get that manufactured feeling sometimes. Their goofiness sometimes feels forced and inauthentic. And of course, all idols are manufactured, but it tends to bother me more with BTS because it’s like they’re masking that side of it and pretending it’s all real. I think as the years pass and you learn more about the industry, everything starts to feel frustratingly fake. But I totally get how someone who doesn’t get that same feeling would love them.

    Just one more quick note- I often feel like there are two very different groups of people that become ARMYs. Some, like Deidra and many other people on this site, really appreciate BTS’s artistry, the messages in their songs, their contributions to song production, and the overall deeper meaning behind the music. But then there are so many young fans that mostly just see what’s on the surface and love shipping and probably have never even read the lyrics for most BTS songs. They’re just as valid as fans, but it’s a more shallow and idolizing approach to the group. I just wonder what percentage fall in which group, because I don’t quite understand why a lot of those in the latter group end up ARMYs and not EXO-Ls or IGOT7s.

  • Anny

    The new kings Γ² kpop , puffffff nobody believe that shit only the stupid fandom armys. Maybe the day when bts win 3 album of the years ,4 daesang, triple million seller, 102 awards, triple crown πŸ‘‘, most the 100 millions views in mv no only one , when appear in all list no only in korea, when has 4’000000 millions of fandom, and more talk armys because now exo is the only legends of kpop and big bang kingd , bts only Γ­ the copy cheap the exo and big bang . wujajajajajajaja funny bts kings 😁😁😁😁😁 that is stupid

  • Anny

    EXO is legends forever and ever the kings Γ² kpop nobody with then exo slayyyyyyyyyyy bts and all groups in korea forever special that fucking bts because exo is original and bts is the copy , bts never win daesang / album Γ² the year/ ỏ better sales 3 millions of album , exo is the only group of kpop with tittle TRIPLE MILLION SELLER πŸ‘‘πŸ‘‘πŸ‘‘and the only group in korea with the tittle 4th DAESANG, no bts , because bts never neverrrrrrrrrrrrrr will be kings of kpop and lest exooooooooooooooooo because they are the best , please armys dont say shit nobody believe that πŸ’©πŸ’©πŸ’©πŸ’©πŸ’©πŸ’© ahjhj phatetic armys πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

    • 012301

      this is hilarious lol
      ..so childish