BTS: Making Waves for the New Generation
If the names Jungkook, Jimin, and J-Hope don’t sound familiar….well just know that they do for millions of loyal and loving fans who call themselves the “A.R.M.Y”. They are part of the KPOP sensation from South Korea who sing, write their own music, dance and have produced mega hits like D.N.A..
They are also the number 1 KPOP band, and have even been named as one of the most influential people in the world by TIME magazine. Not bad eh?
I was a little late in hearing the news but I got word that the Boy Band recently made a historical appearance (the first POP band to perform at the AMAs) by performing on the American Music Awards. I then saw the video. Between the adoration and screaming by their fans, the boys held their own against pop’s heavy weights and gave an absolutely flawless performance that delighted their fans and probably gained new ones. They incorporated complex choreography while their voices were well-developed and harmonious. Plus, if you haven’t noticed, they with their long legs, fashionable style and adorable baby faces, are super cute.
If it sounds like I am a fan, even at middle-aged, well you are right. Seeing the boys up there made me a little teary eyed. Was it because I was moved by their song, well in part. But the main reason is that finally, an all Asian band was on stage. As an Asian-American, I didn’t think I would ever see that day would happen.
Despite having a strong presence in the classical music world, Asians in the entertainment industry especially the music industry in America are far and few between. Looking around in Hollywood…it is hard if not impossible to see a leading male who is Asian except for action actors like Jet Li or Jackie Chan, a lead singer of a band who performs regularly on these types music shows, or even Asians on the cover of fashion magazines.
Growing up, I never saw one. Thinking back at school, I remember how people viewed Asians. That they were nerds and often they were portrayed in movies in racist stereotypical roles. Think Sixteen Candles (Long Duk Dong) and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. (Loved the movie but hated the Mickey Rooney character)….
I’ll be honest, as a kid. I thought I was white and did not want to be Asian-American. All my friends were Caucasian and Cheryl Tiegs look-a-likes, and I remember looking at a mirror one day and seeing that I had dark hair and almond shaped eyes. Plus, I also said I wasn’t Asian as I was embarrassed and sometimes wore sunglasses so people wouldn’t see my eyes. There were no Asians around. There were three and I mean 3 families who were Asian in my community when I was growing up…That is why I loved my summers in Hawaii cause I fit right in.
So to think that it took a band from South Korea to prove how marketable Asians could be and talented (they stole the show )…was amazing….Though some have criticized KPOP as being bubble gum fluff and manufactured idols…they are missing out on some important things. First, KPOP has done what the car industry did like Toyota. They took an American/European model and added their own style and touch.
Yes there are some songs that are just fluff but bands like BTS are an accumulation of charm, talent (they often write about social issues) and lots and lots of hard work. Their performances are absolutely flawless and the choreography is highly intricate. Their voices are often well trained and in fact, many of KPOP are classically trained in music and further, they are smart by having their members speak several languages. A lot of them are taught Chinese, English and Japanese and can speak fluently so they can compete in other markets.
What I like also is that they seem to work as an unit and are like a big family…Band over here often have a lot of drama and then the big egos where band members go solo after a they hit it big. Instead, Kpop members are almost like a brother or sisterhood. They also seem to not get into trouble as it would embarrass not only themselves, the other members, but their families. That Asian respect (you often see them bow and say thank you) to others especially elders helps keep them nice and grounded…and grateful for their success.
These groups begin when they are very young and their schedules are grueling. The competition is indeed fierce as new bands (KPOP members are not always Korean, but also from Canada, China, and the US) are always popping up and the emphasis is on youth who can sing, and dance and are good looking. In fact, Super Junior, one of my favorites, is called an older band even though most of their members are in their late twenties. So how they will transition to middle age will be interesting. (A lot of KPOP singers go into KDRAMAs and acting.)
So in all, it’s just so cool. My kids saw this performance. They liked it but didn’t really get why their mom was so excited. They are used to seeing more diversity on t.v. and at school and this band is just like any other.
We however, who are older and know the lack of Asians in the business, can surely appreciate their performance as this one performance may have single handedly just open the doors for many others…and we should all be singing praises for that.
Love and Light,
She currently is the director of social media for several acclaimed artists. She began the E-zine, Internationally Known in memory of her sister, who despite her many years battling severe mental illness was a composer, and pianist.
She has lived in Europe and throughout the US, and now calls California her home. If not working, learning languages or taking naps, she is a self- proclaimed hermit and has 2 pets, (a beagle and guinea pig) and a loving family.