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K-Pop Band BTS Hits US #1

Seoul, South Korea —(Map)

Last week the Korean “boy band” BTS became the first Korean musical group to have the most popular album in the US. The group’s “Love Yourself: Tear” started at the top of the list.

Every week, Billboard Magazine collects information about which songs and albums have sold the most in the US. It creates lists of hit “singles” (songs), and albums (collections of songs). These lists are often called “the charts”.

BTS at the Billboard Music Awards in 2017
BTS is the first K-pop group to have a number one album in the US.
This is BTS at the Billboard Music Awards in 2017.
(Source TenAsia, via Wikimedia Commons.)

Korean popular music, called K-pop, has become more and more popular in the US in recent years. But no K-pop album has ever made it to the top of the charts before. The closest was last year when the same group, BTS, got to number seven with their album, “Love Yourself: Her”.

This is also the first time since 2006 that an album with songs in a language other than English has made it to number one. The songs on “Love Yourself: Tear” are mainly in Korean.

BTS stands for Bangtan Sonyeondan, the group’s name in Korean. When the name is written in Korean, it looks like this: 방탄소년단. In English, the group’s name means “Bulletproof Boy Scouts”.

BTS performing "Fire" in Mexico.
BTS is famous for their dance moves.
Here they are performing “Fire” in Mexico.
(Source: Bonnielou2013, from Wikimedia Commons.)

BTS is a band of seven young men. RM (RapMonster) leads the group and raps. The other rappers are Suga and J-Hope. The group has four singers: Jin, Jimin, V, and Jungkook, All of the group members dance. The group is famous for their dance moves. Many of the band members also helped to write the group’s songs.

In K-pop it is very common for bands like BTS to be created by music companies. The companies have many young people, called “idols”, who work with the company, hoping that they will be stars one day. The companies train the idols to sing, dance, rap, and speak foreign languages. Young people may train with the company for years without getting a chance in a band.

RM (RapMonster) is the leader of BTS.
RM (RapMonster) is the leader of BTS.
(Source: Too Much, via Wikimedia Commons.)

When the company makes a band, they usually choose one person to lead the group. In BTS, this is RM. Other young people are chosen to bring different skills to the group.

The music companies like to control the way their groups look. They can tell the performers what to wear, how to cut their hair, and even how to act. In some cases they may have very strong rules about what the band members can or can’t do. The companies do this because they want people to think of the band in a certain way.

BTS in Los Angeles, 2017.
K-pop music companies often control the way their groups look.
BTS in Los Angeles, 2017
(Source KOREA Dispatch, via Wikimedia Commons.)

BTS and their company have worked hard to make BTS popular. They have used social media   such as Twitter and YouTube to connect with their fans (people who like BTS). Their fans even have a special name – they call themselves the BTS “Army”.

The Army has helped the group set more than just musical records. Last year, BTS set a Guinness World Record for the most Twitter activity for a music group. The posts that BTS has put on Twitter have been liked or shared more than a half a billion times!


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