BTS Just Released Their First All-English Song 'Dynamite'. Here's Why It's a Big Deal.

Experts told us that the new summer bop is helping the K-pop superband reach a wider audience during COVID-19.
Junhyup Kwon
Seoul, South Korea
August 21, 2020, 9:38am
BTS k-pop
BTS. Photo courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment

BTS, currently one of the most influential pop music groups in the world, released their first all-English song titled "Dynamite" on Friday, August 21.

The seven-member South Korean boy band has continued to break records and create a bigger pathway for Asian representation in mass media.

The digital single release "Dynamite" is a prelude to an as-of-yet untitled upcoming album, which will likely be released later this year. BTS released their latest Japanese album Map of the Soul: 7—The Journey on July 15, 2020.

On Twitter, the hashtags #DynamiteToday and #BTS_Dynamite quickly started trending. Their song ranked #1 on Spotify's "Today's Top Hits" playlist as soon as it dropped.

The band also had the biggest YouTube music video premiere in the site's history, attracting upwards of three million concurrent viewers, according to Forbes. The previous YouTube music video premiere record, held by K-pop girl group Blackpink, was 1.65 million concurrent viewers, according to the BBC.

BTS fans on Twitter, known as the ARMY, praised the retro-vibe single.

In a press conference on August 21, Suga, the rapper-producer-songwriter of the group, said the band's new disco-pop themed song has a message of confidence and happiness for all. "We enjoyed working on the song. It gave us a lot of strength, and we hope the song will give you strength too.”

"The release of 'Dynamite' wasn't planned at all," RM, the leader of the group, told the media. "Since the beginning of this year, we were working on our album and 'Dynamite' was one of the songs we made in that process. It was a light, fun song," he said.

V, the singer of the group, explained how this song was a great way to connect during the coronavirus pandemic while people around the world remain physically distanced.

"It's a hard time for all of us," he said. "But there's always light at the end of the tunnel."

In closing remarks, J-Hope, the rapper and dancer of the group, said "Stay safe, wear your mask, don't get sick and please be happy" while smiling.

K-pop music experts agreed that the new song holds significant meaning during the pandemic.

"BTS's new approach [in releasing an English song] is a strategy to get them to a better place on [the Billboard] charts," Kim Zak-ka, a pop music critic from South Korea, told VICE News.

"The group has dominated the Billboard 200 chart that ranks the most popular albums in the U.S. whenever it releases new songs, but it hasn't hit the Billboard Hot 100 chart that ranks the best performing songs in the U.S. as much as the group has done for the Billboard 200 chart."

The K-pop expert explained that American radio shows rarely feature non-English songs, which contributes to the Hot 100 chart.

"American shows make a huge part in yielding the Billboard ranking, but the shows are conservative on non-English songs in terms of their selections," Kim said.

Fellow K-pop music critic Seo Jeong Min-gaph told VICE News that the band's new English track reflects their continued dominance over the global mainstream.

"The world-class band is trying to strengthen universality [through their new English song]," Seo Jeong said.

"BTS has built their identity through Korean-language songs. Now BTS might feel that it's time for a change as a world star."

The coronavirus pandemic has created new challenges for the band, who alone brought $4.65 billion of gross domestic product to South Korea in 2019 through the sale of albums and concert tickets, according to Forbes.

But experts say BTS' newest English-language single shows that they are continuing to adapt to the situation.

"In the midst of the pandemic, it's a strategy to access the general public beyond their fandom," Kim said.

"The group is facing restrictions in holding offline concerts due to the pandemic. For online activities with global fans, this approach can help them access a global audience easily, especially English speaking fans."

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