The student news site of Edwardsville High School

Tiger Times

The student news site of Edwardsville High School

Tiger Times

The student news site of Edwardsville High School

Tiger Times

BTS Has Accomplished Incredible Things, But It’s Time For Someone Else To Have The Spotlight

When I tell people that I listen to K-pop, the first question I get asked is: “You mean like BTS?” 

Having won more than 400 awards, including multiple Mnet Asian Music Awards and Billboard Music Awards, it’s easy to understand why BTS is the group that comes to mind when people think about K-pop.  

They’ve sold over 100 million albums, making them the third best-selling music artists over the last 30 years.  

The globalization of K-pop and the rapid acceleration of its popularity is almost entirely attributed to BTS. That is to say that without BTS, K-pop wouldn’t have the fanbase that it does now.  

And that’s not to say that this credit isn’t due. Almost any K-pop stan will tell you that they started listening to K-pop because of BTS. I myself was introduced to K-pop through BTS when I first started listening to it five years ago.  

But I also think that attributing all of the K-pop industry’s success to BTS alone fails to recognize the overall growth that the industry has had and fails to acknowledge some of the other artists who paved the way for that success. 

When we put all of this attention on BTS, we create this image of them being the first K-pop artists to achieve success in the music industry in the U.S. But doing so undermines the achievements of artists like Psy, who’s music reached popularity in the U.S. before BTS was even formed.  

I know it’s hard to remember that far back, but there was a point in time when we all knew “Gangnam Style.” To act like that wasn’t a major steppingstone for the K-pop industry is profoundly narrow-sighted. 

And it isn’t just the OG’s who get shorted by BTS’s popularity.  

New groups coming into the K-pop industry are having to compete with supergroups like BTS. 

Something that people often neglect to mention about K-pop is how absolutely brutal the industry is. Artists, or “idols,” are forced to undergo extreme diets, perform and practice for long hours, and dye their hair until they’re nearly bald. Some companies assign idols personalities to display to fans. Others don’t allow their them to date or swear. A single scandal can potentially end an idols career. Many have to undergo a “trainee period” before they debut, which isn’t cheap and causes most idols start their careers in debt. 

Being a K-pop idol is no joke, you have to work ridiculously hard just to debut. And even after debut, there’s no guarantee that your group will take off.  

K-pop groups need fans and support to succeed, and if your group isn’t doing well, your company might put you on hiatus or disband the group.  

Which is why it’s frustrating for me, as a K-pop stan, to watch all of these new groups debut with new and interesting concepts and then watch BTS continue to win all of the awards.  

And it would be one thing if BTS’s music was just that much better, but it isn’t. And don’t get me wrong because there are some BTS songs that I personally really like. “Pied Piper” and “House of Cards” are two songs on my Spotify that I will never skip. 

But I haven’t felt like any of their recent songs have been all that great. Once COVID hit, their music dropped in quality and yet, inversely, their fanbase exploded. And I think a lot of that expansion is at least in part because of the pandemic.  

It’s frustrating to watch a community that you love focus solely on mediocre songs like “Butter” and “Dynamite” when there are much cooler things happening right now in K-pop. 

We’re starting to see idols with darker complexions, like Jessi, a soloist and Fatou from Blackswan, which is a huge deal because colorism and skin whitening have been a huge issue in Korea. We’re seeing idols like Hwasa from Mamamoo break the stick-skinny idol beauty standard. 

Why would I choose to listen to subpar BTS songs when I could choose to be supporting these idols instead? 

This isn’t meant to hate on BTS, they’ve more than earned their success and they’ve changed the K-pop community in ways that are unparalleled. But they’ve made billions and have stopped making good music. It’s time to give someone else the spotlight.  

About the Contributor
Colleen Moore
Colleen Moore, Staff Writer
Colleen is a senior and first year journalism student. She is a design editor for the EHS Tiger yearbook and a member of Creative Writing Club. Outside of school, Colleen enjoys listening to music of all genres, constructing elaborate and silly PowerPoints, and playing sand volleyball. She’s planning to further her education outside of high school in Ohio to be closer to her grandma.