KOREAN boyband phenomenon BTS have become the first K-pop group in history to rise to the top of the US album charts after their latest album sold 135,000 total copies in a week to debut in the number one spot.
The rise of the seven-member group, known for their boyish good looks, floppy haircuts and meticulously choreographed dance moves, is a vivid illustration of the genre’s growing global appeal.
On Sunday, their new album Love Yourself: Tear improved on the charts position and sales of the group’s earlier release, Love Yourself: Her, which opened at number seven in October 2017. Both LPs are the only K-pop releases to make it into the top 10 of Billboard’s 200 album countdown, which ranks albums via sales, downloads and streams.
Love Yourself: Tear, which is performed mostly in Korean, is also the first foreign language album to reach number one since 2006 when classical crossover vocal quartet Il Divo topped the list with Ancora.
The group of South Koreans have been able to achieve such success due to the unwavering support of their dedicated fan base, who launched an intense and well-executed social media promotional campaign. The massive fan community, who call themselves the BTS Army, celebrated Sunday’s news online.
bts: we want first win!
bts: we want daesang!
armys: sure !
bts: we want bbmas, hot100, triple crown, daesang, global artist
armys: let’s get it.
BTS: #1 BB 200
And now :
Yoongi : Grammys
— HITMAN BANG FANBASE : HITMEN (@HITMAN_FANBASE) May 27, 2018
Congrats to @BTS_twt of course, but congrats to us too! We made this happen. I’m so proud of ARMYs esp U.S ARMYs! We did so amazing with nonstop buying, downloading and streaming. Hard work paid off. Thanks to all who was so committed and devoted in making #LYTear1onBB200 🎉🎊🥂
— 눈부신 꾸기💎 (@glitter_jk) May 27, 2018
The group thanked their fans on social media, saying they were “thrilled and amazed” and promised to keep working hard in the future.
빌보드 200 1위.. 일어나자마자 이런 좋은 소식 접하게 해줘서 너무 고마워요 신기하기도하고 되게 얼떨떨하네요ㅠㅠ 저희 노래 들어주신 모든 분들께 감사드립니다! 앞으로도 열심히 할게요! pic.twitter.com/9MvRkqV3a3
— 방탄소년단 (@BTS_twt) May 28, 2018
According to Google Facts, they were the most talked about phenomenon on Twitter in 2017, with nearly double the number of mentions on the social media platform than US President Donald Trump and Canadian badboy heartthrob Justin Bieber combined.
The appeal of K-pop has been growing in America for several years, with the charts now playing catch up.
On top of one-off concerts by some of the big names, there is a demand for major events like festivals, and even the rapidly-expanding KCON, a convention featuring all things related to K-pop, including panels, meet and greets and plenty of musical performances.
What started in 2012 as one staging in Los Angeles has now grown to include New York, as well as several other cities around the world, all of which see tens of thousands of K-pop lovers turn out just to get their K-pop fix.
The band has no plans to change their musical approach to capitalise on this growing international success. When asked by Forbes if they plan to release any songs in English, BTS member Rap Monster said: “To capitalise on this, we have to not lose our minds. That’s how we capitalise on this. Because we don’t want to be so happy for this that we release an English song. Those things are really great, but we have to keep up with what we’re doing.”
Their new album toppled Beerpong and Bentleys by rising hip-hop star Post Malone, whose facial tattoos are the very antithesis of BTS’ wholesome, meticulously manicured image.