Let’s Talk About BTS!

The South Korean male K-pop group has been receiving a lot of attention here in the U.S. and, as a KPOP fan myself, I couldn’t be more thrilled! One of the many problems us international fans face is not being able to see our idols as often due to the ocean keeping us apart. BTS’s success is being compared to that of PSY’s “Gangnam Style,” though BTS is being noticed because of their collective music. However, all good things usually have a downside. Music is known to be the universal language, so what happens when people want that language to be their own?

While BTS was in the U.S. to perform at the AMA’s, a question that came up quite often was if they intended to make an English album. Despite the constant repetition of RM (the leader of the group) saying that they had no plans to make one, the question just wouldn’t go away. This caused quite a ruckus in the K-pop fan community, because many considered it to be a rude question that, in a way, asked the group to assimilate to American standards. In response, some argued that the group has made Japanese albums before.

The group and its company’s CEO, Bang Shi Hyuk, have come out and stated that as BTS becomes popular worldwide they want to be known as a K-pop group. For them to release English albums would be straying from the overall concept that makes K-pop (Korean pop music)... K-pop.   

Bang Shi Hyuk has expressed his confidence in the ability of the fanbase (ARMY) to support and love BTS without them having to use English. It is worth mentioning that even if BTS doesn’t make an English album, they still frequently perform covers of English songs and collaborate with American artists to make either completely or mostly English songs! The most recent example of this is their remix of “Mic Drop” featuring Steve Aoki and Desiigner. This past Friday, RM was also included on the track “Champion” by Fall Out Boy, and all of his lyrics are in English. This isn’t the first time that he’s collaborated with English-speaking artists; he also worked with Wale on the song “Change” earlier this year.

The topic of BTS and their use of English is very important, because it reveals and reflects the pressures to accommodate certain cultures that many minorities/people of color endure. As Min Yoongi stated in his interview with Ellen Degeneres, “We have created in English and different languages, but I think we can all share the same message. I think that’s why our songs appeal to people who speak Korean and people who don’t speak Korean.” Instead of trying to get others to change, we should accept them as they are and open our hearts to different cultures. No matter the language, the problems we all face are similar in some shape and form, connecting us in spite of language barriers.

As K-pop becomes more popular and other languages and cultures that are starting to become more noticed in the Western world, I hope that it allows us to become more open minded and supportive of all types of people and their backgrounds.

By Alana James

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