It was exactly five weeks ago tonight that BTS was featured on James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke. That’s how some people in North America first met the band. It was a turning point for others who’d knew of them, but who didn’t care all that much. There are several of those in my life, including Sasha and a colleague called Blair, both of whom finally came around the next day at work (remember when we used to GO to work?!) all like, yeah, I get it now about BTS, their personalities are amazing. Any fan of BTS will tell you, though, that what you saw on Carpool Karaoke – the playfulness, the silliness, the fun – is maybe 10%, 15% tops, of what they’ve been doing now for over seven years since they debuted in South Korea.
BTS returned to James Corden’s show last night alongside other artists, performing from their homes (or in BTS’s case their dance studio in Seoul), to raise money for COVID-19 relief. The band sang and danced to “Boy With Luv”, a pure pop track so perfect for radio, it should have been played a lot more than it was in the west. As usual, BTS related hashtags started trending in the top spots immediately on Twitter. With the announcement a few weeks ago that they’ve had to call off their Map of the Soul tour kickoff shows in Seoul and the subsequent confirmation that their North American shows have been postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis, the BTS Army is thirstier than usual for any hit of Bangtan.
So of course ARMYs loved it, but how about those who aren’t as familiar with BTS? With every album, BTS has been expanding their global reach and the Map of the Soul tour would have only added to that, especially in America, the home territory of their most coveted trophy: the Grammy. BTS has made it very clear that they want at the very least a nomination and that their goal is an eventual win; 2020 was supposed to be the year for them to take real aim at that target.
Of course, nobody f-cking cares about awards now – and I’m not saying that they should. But we talk here about the business of entertainment, studying the work and the strategy that goes into success. We have also covered the delays in the film and television industry and the impact that has had on crews, production staff, the people off-camera whose livelihoods depend on movies and TV shows. Films have been delayed, television series are on pause and all of that has a domino effect. In music, now that all tours have been cancelled, this could permanently change the concert business and jeopardise independent promoters, leaving only two juggernaut promoters to dominate the field. On top of that, album releases have been pushed back – Lady Gaga for example will not be releasing Chromatica in April as originally planned. Marketing for that, then, will have to be revisited when the time is right.
For BTS, there would have been months and months of planning put into BTS’s hopes for a 2020 takeover; this is a band that is organised and deliberate with their content, their video drops, their reality show episodes, as we saw in the lead-up to their album, Map of the Soul: 7. The rest of the year, with the tour, would have been carefully scheduled too. And, again, their ambition has been to get to that next level in the west, to go beyond what they’re already achieved in breaking through the market. That momentum has come to a full-stop, the rest is now a big question mark – how do you make plans when no one has a timeline? It’s the question everyone in every industry is probably asking.
In BTS’s case though, given that they have such an extensive online library (travel shows, reality shows, tour films, the archive is overwhelming and could be its own mini-Netflix), and that people right now, during isolation, are plowing through content libraries, I’m curious as to whether or not their strategy team has been thinking about how to push that content to audiences who are still getting to know them. Like homework: here, watch all our videos and the supporting content we have for our albums (again, there is SO MUCH of it) and by the time you consume it all, quarantine will be lifted and they will have expanded their fanbase. That’s what I would be working on – and if they do have this in mind, last night’s performance on James Corden Homefest would have supported that goal, a tease for what BTS is all about. Which is really great pop, best-in-the-business choreography…and LOOKS. Or, if you prefer, LEWKS.
Jungkook’s outfit went viral last night – and so it should have. I want all of this, the hoodie, the jeans, the combat boots. At least that’s my fixation, and the fact that he seems to be growing his hair out again (I’m not ready). Other people couldn’t get past his legs:
I’m gonna day what we’re all thinking. JUNGKOOKS LEGS IN THIS MF OUTFIT. pic.twitter.com/lUp7NJMf1q— KEISH☻! (@JHSMlCDROP) March 31, 2020
While JK decided to turn the dance studio into a runway though, and he’s usually (from what I’ve seen) the most casual of them all in terms of fashion, the biggest flex came from V who paired his wide-leg pants with… slippers. And kept up with the choreo. Your fave could never.
But again, all of this doesn’t come close to the crazy levels of BTS excellence out there, available for your discovery. Or is it that you’re waiting for me to tell you where to start?
Yours in gossip,