BTS became the first K-pop group to ever garner a major Grammy nomination, and while they lost to Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande in Sunday’s ceremony, they already made history with their efforts to inspire an anxious generation to feel good about itself.
Eden Smith stands Wednesday, March 10, in her room with some of her memorabilia of the KPop group BTS. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
When you get mentioned in the same breath as The Beatles and Michael Jackson, you know you’re a heavy hitter in the music world. In 2020, Korean band BTS was — without a shadow of a doubt — the absolute heaviest.
The group has shattered countless records and was named Time’s “Entertainers of the Year.” And just days ago, they were named “Global Recording Artists of the Year” by global music organization IFPI. They have enthralled young people all over the planet with great vocals, on point dance moves and unwavering commitment to lifting their fans self-esteem.
Yet walk down any street in America and ask anyone over the age of 30 about BTS, and you might get “B-T, what?”
In 2019, BTS became the first act, since The Beatles to get have three number one albums on the charts in less than a year. From left: V, Jin, Jungkook, RM, Suga, Jimin and J. Hope. Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
On Sunday, March 14, the group that has been together for eight years was up for “Best Pop Duo/Group Performance” for the monster hit “Dynamite,” which had a record breaking 101 million views on YouTube in just 24 hours. At the publication of this story, it’s up past 902 million. Less than 100 million more views and they’ll hit one billion.https://www.youtube.com/embed/gdZLi9oWNZg
‘Where has this been my entire life?’
Seventeen-year-old high school senior Eden Smith of West Fargo was a fan long before “Dynamite.” She says she first discovered the group as a 7th grader.
“The first time I clicked on it (on YouTube), I don’t even remember the song. I just remember being like, ‘where has this been my entire life?’” she said.
And there’s no turning back. Like many BTS fans around the world, Smith is a diehard devotee, but oddly enough, not just for their music, but for the way they live their lives and encourage their young fans to live theirs. She was so inspired, she wrote an essay of appreciation to the group for an advanced English class that teacher Bernard Hauk will never forget.
“I think primarily for the tone that she had. For someone to offer up that kind of appreciation and shine the spotlight on someone else is an incredibly mature thing and intellectual thing to do,” Hauk said.
Read Smith’s essay in full below.
So what exactly is BTS giving to its fans besides good music?
One fan summarized it this way:“They talk about mental health, loving ourselves, running towards our dreams and working hard. In these days of toxicity, they spread love,” Lovkya Sushya said on the website “She the People.”
In fact, in September, the group, led by its most proficient English speaker, Kim Namjoon or “RM”, spoke to the United Nations to promote its “Love Yourself” campaign.
In September, BTS spoke at the United Nations to encourage young people during the pandemic. Member Jungkoo, third from left said, “if our voices can give strength to people,then that’s what we want and that’s what we’ll keep on doing.” Photo courtesy: UNICEF
Smith said some members of the group, which in addition to RM includes, Kim Seokjin (Jin), Min Yoongi (Suga), Jung Hoseok, (J. Hope), Park Jimin (Jimin), Kim Taehyung (V) and Jeon Jungkook (Jungkook), have been open about their own struggles with mental health, which resonates with millions of their young fans from Generation Z — a generation born between 1997 and 2012 — plagued with higher levels of depression and anxiety than previous generations.