As mentioned yesterday, BTS covers the new issue of Variety, which is the Grammy preview issue – so it’s pretty clear the motivation. It’s not like they’ve been hiding it; for a long time RM, Jin, Suga, j-hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook have been saying for a long time, repeatedly, that they want a Grammy. And they repeat that ambition in this profile.
But this, really, is not a profile for BTS fans, aka ARMY because they know all this already. This, specifically, is for the Grammy voter, members of the western music industry who may have heard about BTS and how ardent their fans are and that they’re from South Korean and they’re very attractive and they may have made assumptions about their music and how they’ve managed their careers. So this feature is a targeted FYI, the basics, highlighting the band’s talent, their involvement in making their music, creating their brand messages, and connecting with their supporters.
What I found most interesting – and what I appreciated most – is WHO their supporters are. Because of course the widespread belief is that BTS fans are just screaming teenage girls. And this piece highlights two BTS fans are definitely not screaming teen girls. Not that there’s anything wrong with having teenage girls as fans. Why should teen girl interests be considered not as valuable as whatever it is “valued” fans are supposed to be?
The point here though is that BTS reaches a wide-ranging demographics. Like Erika Overton one of the co-founders of the Twitter account @OneInAnArmy, which participated in the fan movement to match BTS’s $1 million donation to Black Lives Matter in just over 24 hours. Erika is 40 years old, from Georgia. And they are Black. This is a band that appeals to people across age groups and cultures and backgrounds.
You know who else is a fan? John Cena. Earlier this year, during an appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden, John talked about how much he appreciates BTS and that his faves are RM and j-hope. Last night on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, he once again expressed his admiration for the group and their ARMY.
You can tell that he knows his sh-t too. Because he was specific about the details, referencing their music, the intros, the outros, and the beats.
Artists shouldn’t have to prove that their fans are wide-ranging to Grammy voters. It shouldn’t matter who their fans are; what should only matter is the music and how it hits and how it’s made an impact. But the Recording Academy has historically discounted young pop artists either by ignoring them altogether, or not recognising them in the right category (Beyoncé, Drake, among others). So, unfortunately, this is why they have to have this kind of information served to them as an attempt to dispel whatever stereotypes Grammy voters have.
Those voters have not been able to avoid BTS this year. And especially not the last few weeks with “Dynamite” dominating the sales and streaming charts and now this Variety feature and, of course, their Tonight Show takeover. Last night they performed “Home”, one of my all-time favourites and ... again…look at the production value happening here. They’re shooting on a set that’s built to look like their residence and presented in what’s meant to look like a seamless edit. Another example of how BTS never half-asses anything. And this is only night two of a five night commitment that’s already seen them performing at a historic Korean site. What’s next?