Okay, everyone, it’s time to get real. When I first applied to be a columnist for The Tufts Daily Arts section way back in the fall of 2021, I had three big ideas: musicals, books and (obviously) K-pop. When asked to choose one of the three, I immediately knew my decision would be K-pop. I love musicals, but I’ve never been to Broadway. I love books, but I was worried about fitting all my love for even a single book into 500 words.
I’ve never been to a K-pop concert (thanks to COVID-19), my Map of the Soul concert was CANCELED), but I could talk about K-pop all day. And the reason for this? BTS.
BTS, standing for Bangtan Sonyeondan (방탄소년단), is not only my favorite K-pop act but also my favorite musical act in general. I first began listening to the seven-member boy group in 2015 when they dropped their song and music video “Dope.” From there, I fell increasingly further down the ARMY rabbit hole (I swear I just wanted to know their names and now my walls are covered with their posters). I can still pretty vividly recall every new album drop and live-streamed concert in the past several years. I remember almost crying when my mom was able to secure concert tickets for BTS’ May 2020 show in Atlanta, and then full-on crying on Aug. 19, 2021, reflecting on how the entire tour had been canceled due to the pandemic.
When I really think about it, the group has been with me since seventh grade. This year will mark seven years since I first played their tracks. Through the ridiculously terrible year of eighth grade, with class bullies and mean principals, the always-stressful high school environment of tests and mock trials and now, entering college in a new state away from all my friends and family, I have to say that BTS has been a large comfort to me during my lowest times. Even as I write this column, “Mikrokosmos” (2019) plays in my headphones, reminding me why I love them.
One of the group’s strongest qualities is their lyricism, something that most people may overlook if they don’t speak the Korean language. The members of BTS write many of their own songs. Chances are, if you chose a song at random from their discography, it was written by one of the members, and most likely one of the credited writers is either RM, SUGA or J-Hope, the rappers of the group. They take inspiration from the world around them when it comes to writing their songs — falling leaves in a park or a late-night bus ride home. They use powerful wordplay and clever rhymes to pass on messages about self-love, finding a home in a sea of loneliness or even just full-on bragging about their successes and hard work.
Honestly, if you’re not listening to BTS in the year 2022, you’re missing out. They are a once-in-a-lifetime sensation that everyone should lend an ear to at least once.