The ‘Boy With The Sad Song’ is more than just a nickname for BTS (BTS – or rather, ‘Beyond The Sun’), the South Korean ‘super-group’. Although the quartet is undoubtedly popular, their reputation goes beyond their massive online following.
Often hailed as the ‘K-pop Illuminati’, the seven-piece group are responsible for some serious musical indoctrination. When they debuted in 2016 with their self-titled album, the entire K-pop scene was shook, including the members of BTS themselves.
The group’s influence is evident through every area of popular culture. BTS have used their social media platforms to support numerous charitable and social-good causes. The quartet even have their own podcast, titled ‘BTS Life’, where they discuss everything from music to politics and society.
With the world at their feet, it’s a wonder why the members of BTS would ever need to seek creative expression through betting. But, in 2019, the group decided to give fans a different look into their lives, as they made their professional debut in the betting industry, as an eSports team, representing a football (soccer) club, Aston Villa.
Making Their Mark In The Sportsworld
BTS have carved out a special place in the world of sport. The quartet became the first Korean group to perform at the American Music Awards in November 2019. Their performance was part of an invitation-only ceremony, where they paid tribute to some of the greatest artists in the history of music. During their set, the quartet showcased their vocal range, as they belted out some of the greatest hits, including their viral ‘DNA’ cover which went viral again when used as the theme to John Wick 2.
BTS were also nominated for four awards at the prestigious ceremony, including Album of the Year and Artist of the Year. The quartet’s performance came just days after they made their professional debut in the sports betting industry, as Aston Villa’s brand ambassador and mascot, Big T.
BTS Give Back To The Community
It’s not only about making a name for themselves – or even just about sport. BTS are well-known for their charity work, often using their social media platforms to highlight social issues. The group have been responsible for a string of remarkable deeds, supporting those in need, raising awareness, and giving back to the community.
The most prominent example is their collaboration with the non-profit organization ‘1 Million Voices’, whose members are all accomplished singers. The project, which was announced in September 2018, is designed to unite Korean pop culture’s biggest stars with some of the most vulnerable people in the country’s society, through a series of carefully selected collaborations.
The first single from the project, ‘Eugene’, was released in November 2018 and features a collaboration with the talented jazz singer, Stephanie McKay.
McKay is well known for her performance at the White House in 2018, where she was also the first-ever K-pop artist to perform for the President of the United States. She has also collaborated with the likes of John Legend, Sting, and Sheryl Crow. On ‘Eugene’, she and McKay share lead vocals, with the guitarist, Ben Hill, adding his stringed mastery to the track’s sophisticated arrangements and inventive playing.
The song also samples the famous ‘Nessun Dorma’ aria, as heard in Act II of Puccini’s ‘Madame Butterfly’, a fitting tribute to an incredible piece of art that the song heralds.
The second single, ‘A.M.P.L.E’, was released in February 2019. The group’s founder, RM, lends his trademark rap delivery to the track’s darkly glamorous music video, depicting a dystopian future where people are controlled through propaganda and artificial intelligence. As with ‘Eugene’, the song and the video’s theme are inspired by a real-life issue – the growing influence of populism in contemporary society.
In the video, we see a band of freedom fighters, as they take on the might of Big Brother, symbolized by a deformed and menacing C.I.A. agent. Big T, the group’s mascot, leads a rebellion against the established order, as he makes his way towards a televised speech. The speech, which is reminiscent of Donald Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ rhetoric, encourages people to rise up against their elites, who the public believe are to blame for the country’s ills. The public want “to tear down the pillars of power and break up the establishment,” the band’s members shout in unison.
Since its release, the music video has amassed over 783 million views on YouTube. The track was also featured in the Netflix series, ‘Love,’ produced by Akiva Goldsman (son of David). The show’s penultimate episode, which was released on May 17, 2019, was titled, ‘A Battle Of Wills’. In the episode, the show’s two main characters, Ricky and Claire, get themselves embroiled in a battle of wills when they both want to control the same painting. A fight ensues, which leads to one of the characters being hospitalized. A distraught Claire decides to leave Ricky, as she believes he is not a good fit for her, and takes the painting, named, ‘The Scream’, with her. The episode shows a glimpse of Claire’s tumultuous past, including her turbulent relationship with Ricky’s father, who is played by the legendary Donald Sutherland. The painting that she takes with her is a direct reference to this incident.
The band’s social media following is vast. As of February 2020, BTS have over 500 million followers on their Twitter account @BTS_Twitter. The group also have a dedicated subreddit, where they regularly engage with their fans, as well as a popular podcast, ‘BTS Life’. Although largely inactive as of mid-2019, the band’s Instagram account, @BTS_Instagram, is still filled with content, including some incredible collabs with some of the most famous faces in music. The account has over 700 million followers, as of February 2020, and the group have constantly been hailed as the “next big thing” since their inception in 2015.
Breaking Into Electronic Sports
BTS have always been innovative, constantly coming up with new ways to entertain their fans. Although they are most famous for their music, the group are highly skilled, and often go above and beyond, to keep their audience interested. This is evident in the quartet’s foray into electronic sports (ES), as they became the first Korean act to ‘marry’ electronic music and traditional sport.
BTS are sponsored by Japanese firm, yaeji, which also sponsors Red Bull, thus enabling the group to pursue both their shared passions of music and sport. The sponsorship means that the quartet will appear at several Red Bull music festivals, including the prestigious ‘Red Bull SoCal Festival’, in June 2020.
The group made their ES debut at the prestigious ‘Glastonbury Festival’, in June 2019. They took this opportunity to show the world that they are more than just a band, as they showcased their mad skills as electronic racers, in a real-life take on one of the most popular video games, ‘FIFA’. Playing in a 4-4-2 formation, BTS pitted two cars against each other in a battle for the prize: a golden pig. It was the culmination of months of hard work, as the band looked like absolute professionals, as they navigated complicated tracks, at high speeds.
BTS also participated in the ‘Red Bull Crashed Ice’, an annual winter-time festival, which celebrates downhill sports and provides an opportunity for professional athletes to show off their expertise. In January 2020, the group once again took the stage at a major international music festival, this time performing at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, in California. It was an incredible opportunity for exposure, as the festival’s lineup featured some of the greatest artists and bands in the world.
BTS Keep The Faith
Like many of their generation, today’s young people grew up idolizing and learning from the members of BTS. The quartet represent the antithesis of many of today’s musical trends, as they have always adhered to traditional music, lyrics, and dance moves. However, much like their musical heroes, the Beatles, or Michael Jackson, BTS have been pioneers of their field and, at times, have changed the game entirely. With their unique blend of talent, charisma, and artistry, it is no wonder that their music continues to thrive in this day and age, where fans can access anything online.