The biggest boyband in the world, BTS, aka Bangtan Sonyeondan, has been dominating the charts and breaking all the records. If you don’t know them, you might be living under a rock. 

The seven-membered band comprising of RM (Kim Namjoon), Suga (Min Yoongi), J-Hope (Jung Hoseok), Jin (Kim Seokjin), Jimin (Park Jimin), V (Kim Taehyung), and Jungkook (Jeon Jungkook) did not hold anything back with their latest single, Butter

The group completed eight years recently and had reached a point of success that was beyond their expectations. They swept the western industry and became a real threat to white supremacy in the industry. 

Let’s take a look at how their journey started and how they became the biggest pop stars! 

The Rise Of BTS

BTS members were discovered in 2010 by their management company BigHit Entertainment which is now called Hybe. They then became trainees and started getting vocal and dance lessons. Their company was a small one at that time, and it almost went bankrupt. 

In the initial years of BTS’s career, they were more of a hip-hop group, but they slowly shifted towards the idol model

Bang Shi-hyuk, the CEO of Hybe, wanted those who loved music and wanted to become singers. He once said that you couldn’t teach someone to love music. He said in an interview in 2013 that-

“I think you have to love the stage as well as the music.”

BTS’s work so far certainly displays this value. Their focus has always been on becoming great singers and performers. Everything that they do is about music. Other things in between like, acting, ads, and brand deals, are just a bonus of their work. 

BTS debuted in the year 2013 with their first album, “2 COOL 4 SKOOL“. The album got a fair amount of success. A month after its release, the album peaked at number 10 on Gaon’s monthly album chart. 

But the South Korean audience was not pleased with their debut single ‘No More Dream’ as it debuted at 84 on the Gaon music chart. 

BTS at their debut showcase in Seoul in 2013

Their music frequently carries messages around social issues, and that has become BTS’s identity. Every song had a meaning behind it. They have always addressed different subjects in their songs since their debut. 

The competition was cut-throat at that time. EXO, Big Bang, and SHINee were the groups that were dominating the charts. 

Almost a year after their debut in 2013, fans formed an official fan club called ARMY. BTS started attracting the international audience way early.

In 2014, they were a relatively small group, but they started aiming at the US market. They performed in schoolboy outfits at that year’s KCON, a K-pop convention in Los Angeles.

Their international success started when “Blood Sweat and Tears” broke two records. The record for fastest YouTube video to reach 30 million views and the most number of views for a K-pop video in 24 hours.

They sold out arenas with their Wings Tour and became the first K-pop group to win a Billboard Music Award after taking the trophy for Top Social Artist.

Later in 2019, they became the first K-pop group to present a Grammy Award, and a few months back, BTS got nominated for the Grammys. 

After several big performances and breaking records, well-known Western celebrities started noticing their talent. From brands to shows, everybody now wants BTS. However, being in the spotlight brought them not-so-positive attention.

Why The Western Music Industry Hates BTS

BTS used Dynamite as their trojan horse. It was their first song entirely in English, but the song showed the reality of the western industry. 

Before Dynamite, the lead single of Map of the Soul 7, ON, charted on Billboard at number 4, and that was the highest a BTS song had ever charted on Billboard.

What made Dynamite number 1 was the radio play. Before that, American radio refused to play BTS’s music. The evidence of that is when they even threw out Spring Day’s CDs. 


DJs and radio stations claimed that they do not play Korean music because American audiences do not like non-English music. Funnily enough, their album Map of the Soul: 7 was the best-selling album of 2020 in the US. 

When they played ‘Dynamite’ on the radio, it was clear that just because their previous hit singles were in Korean, they were ignored.

Forbes rightly said that ‘Dynamite’ is not the song BTS had to perform in English to succeed in the US, but it is a song they chose to present in English to demolish the barrier in the Western music industry.

BTS’s artistry lies in the Korean language and even though they conveyed a positive message through Dynamite, most of their epic hits are in Korean. Their songs are much deeper and cleverer on a level that the western audience might not even understand. 

Dynamite proved how the Western music industry refused and resisted the progress of any artist that was not white or did not fit into the white culture. 

Even though BTS did not win a Grammy, they have already proven their talent in numerous ways. They have been recognized for it by their fans, the UN, the South Korean government, and the Asian award shows.

Also Read: BTS Fans Display Anger Over Violent Satirical Artwork Of BTS After Grammys, Trend #RacismIsNotComedy

Racist And Xenophobic Comments

Every win of BTS is discredited with racist and xenophobic comments on social media. When BTS won the Top Social Artist award in 2017 BBMAs, breaking Justin Bieber’s six-year streak in that category, Twitter was filled with comments saying that no one knows who BTS is and one award will not make Americans listen to their music. 

“You will like BTS music if you listen without prejudice.”

BTS rapper Suga said this in 2018. His words are still relevant in today’s scenario.

People in the industry have commented about their appearance. Interviewers have repeatedly complimented leader and rapper RM’s English even though he gets irritated by it sometimes. English is not a superior language to Korean.

Interviewers did not even try to learn their names and do some research before the interview. They have constantly asked BTS about their collaborations with white artists. Recently, an interviewer asked if their dream is to collaborate with Justin Beiber, to which RM sarcastically replied “no”. 

The constant comparison with white artists, discrediting their talent, making fun of their looks are just some visible signs of xenophobia and racism in the western music industry. 

In February this year, Matthias Matuschik, a radio host for German radio station Bayern 3, compared BTS to “some crappy virus that hopefully there will be vaccine for soon as well” after calling their cover of Coldplay’s Fix You “blasphemy”.

Halsey said, “This is a band that has been taken advantage of, in many ways, by people promising them spins and radio play in exchange for social media power.” 

We live in a world where Justin Bieber’s Yummy can receive a Grammy nomination and get praised for it. Whereas, artists and their masterpieces like Blinding Lights by The Weeknd or Map of the Soul: 7 by BTS were altogether overlooked. These shows have only used them for clout. 

“Since we’re like aliens to the music industry in America, we don’t know if there’s a place for us or not,” said RM in an interview with Reuters. 

Topps released a collection of the 2021 Grammy-themed cards for their Garbage Pail Kids series. A card in the collection featured BTS bruised by a game of Grammy Whac-A-Mole
During a pop-culture show on Australian television station Nine Network, British comedian Jimmy Carr said, “When I first heard something Korean had exploded in America, I got worried.” 

Making Fun Of Their Fans

Saying that their fans, ARMY, are just some thirteen-year-olds or are just some little girls

Men, women, children, and seniors are all fans of the band regardless of anything. BTS is known for its diverse fan base. So it was rightful that ARMYs would not like the constant stereotyping of the whole fandom to be seen as ‘little girls‘.

The fans have frequently been labeled as crazy, intense, and even dangerous by the media. It is an insult to the group and their hard work and the fans who have loved and supported them in every possible way. 

BTS and ARMY have always been close since the start. They relied on ARMY to be their advocates because they did not come from the ‘big 3’ companies. In the last two decades, the K-pop entertainment market was dominated by the “Big 3” K-pop entertainment agencies: SM Entertainment, YG, and JYP Entertainment.  

The lack of acceptance is the reason why ARMYs seek solace online. They keep pointing out people who make racist remarks against BTS. The fans know how much BTS have been taken advantage of, which is why they are so protective of them. 

The K-Pop Category

Fans have always questioned why BTS and other K-pop groups needed to be separated from the main awards like “Best Pop” and “Artist of the Year.”

Fans weren’t happy with the 2019 VMA nominations after MTV introduced a “Best K-Pop” category

Not just BTS, but many other POC artists like black and Latin artists are sidelined to separate but equal categories with labels like urban. In 2017, Despacito dominated Latin award categories. 

No one ever questioned why singers like Shawn Mendes and Justin Bieber, both Canadian, can achieve success in non-English speaking countries. Recently, Olivia Rodrigo charted number 1 on Billboard, and the whole industry was saying that Butter did get a lot of streams but not as much as any of the three popular songs from Olivia’s album. 

Fans have always wondered why there is no separate category for Canadian singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes or Australian group 5 Seconds of Summer. 

At the 2020 VMAs, nominees in major categories included The Weeknd, Justin Bieber, Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, The 1975, Harry Styles, and Dua Lipa, all Canadian or European. Surprisingly, none of them were put in a Euro or British category. 

Even though BTS, Blackpink, and other K-pop groups broke countless records with their songs and albums, they were always put into the K-pop category. This category segregates Korean artists and excludes them from major categories.


In the end, all that a fan can say is that you need to look above the barrier of subtitles and language and appreciate other cultures. 

The narrowmindedness and the stereotypes that some humans made hundreds of years ago need to go. These are the things that deserve to be canceled. 

BTS is here to stay. Any random unnecessary comment or a group of people won’t affect them at all. The support from fans around the world will never stop. From time to time, we have proved our love and appreciation for them.

With BTS, we are not alone.

Image Credits: Google Images

Sources: Forbes, The Concordian, Teen Vogue, The Spill Mag, Insider, +more

Find The Blogger: @PrernaMagan

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