As announced a few days ago, BTS’s upcoming English-language song is called “Dynamite” and there’s been a series of countdowns happening to hype the release. The latest countdown reveal was today: there’s a “Dynamite” Instagram filter. Please. Of course I tried it. Also the light was really good in my living room today.
Now, for BTS fans, there are eleven more days until the next countdown reveal, although that doesn’t mean they won’t somehow pop up in the feed. If you are a BTS fan, you are familiar with how this works: when they’re coming with new sh-t, they end up taking over your life with constant updates and teases and it’s hard to keep up. I’ve had to make the decision that I might miss a few tweets and pictures here and there because I don’t know how it’s possible to have a job and maintain a healthy home situation when the band is out here trying to consume your existence. Because what they excel at is multiple vertical integration.
The song is on its way. And concurrently, they’re also using the momentum to leverage their brand partnerships with Hyundai and Samsung – which totally makes sense because, as has been widely reported, BTS “accounts for $4.65 billion of South Korea’s GDP”, and while of course those major corporations bring in more money, the fact that a band of seven human beings is even part of a GDP conversation for an entire nation is extraordinary, especially when you consider that the members still get excited about free food and the hilarious prize items that they compete with each other over, like rice cookers, LOL. (On their reality show, they often play games where the whole point is who gets to take home a book of stickers or some other knickknack when they could easily buy the goddamn factory the thing is made in.) Back to the point – while promoting “Dynamite”, they’re also doing all kinds of endorsements, including participating in the unveiling of the new range of Samsung products, like the upgraded foldable phone. I’ll admit, this got my attention because of BTS but also because I really do miss a flip-phone. Remember the Motorola Razr? I f-cking loved that phone. I had it in hot pink and it was so much easier to talk on it.
It’s an interesting gamble though on the part of Samsung, especially now. Because the price point for this new phone that BTS unboxed yesterday is steep. And the company saw a decline in flagship phone sales last year. Obviously they’re pushing these new models as part of the bounceback strategy but the fact is, we’re in a pandemic and budgets are tighter with all this economic uncertainty. This is why they’re relying on this BTS partnership as part of their marketing and promotional strategy, knowing that the band’s worldwide fanbase is always ready to sound the alarm and get to work on social media. They certainly got their money’s worth yesterday.
Whether or not that translates into actual sales remains to be seen.
Back to “Dynamite” though and anticipation for the song. BTS’s ARMY is hype and the song is already breaking some advance records…but what about radio? What about the western cultural gatekeepers? Well, supposedly this:
If it happens, great. But as I’ve been saying, I have so many mixed feelings. Because, frankly, BTS songs in no matter what language should have been getting radio play well before this. “Boy With Luv” is a perfect song for radio. Before that “Idol” is a GREAT song for radio. There’s a long list of BTS hits that are totally suitable for top 40 pop radio in the west that were completely ignored. So a part of me worries that playing the English song only reinforces that kind of language preference and whether or not that only services the status quo, preventing real change. Is that a pessimist’s attitude though? Should it be enough that BTS has penetrated the market in spite of so much resistance and could shatter more records as they keep progression? Asking these questions while enjoying their success and anticipating “Dynamite” can happen at the same time, right?
Speaking of “Dynamite”, anytime BTS does anything new, the looks change. During lockdown, they mostly kept their hair dark. A few of the members – RM, Jimin, and V – seem to be wearing hats lately during their appearances, including on Instagram today:
It looks like RM’s gone silver and Jimin is platinum. V remains a mystery. V’s hair, to me, is a precious global resource. He’s presumably saving it for the “Dynamite” unveil. Will it still be long-ish and floppy? It’s been a minute since his hair has been short. I don’t know if I’m ready.
PS. A quick note about my post the other day re: the announcement that BTS will perform at the MTV VMAs and the assumption that they’d be there in person in Brooklyn. According to South Korean media outlets, theirs will be a virtual appearance so it would seem that they will NOT be travelling to the United States. OK then. Stay home. I mean if I lived in South Korea, I wouldn’t want to leave either.