The year 2017 is the year of BTS. The seven-member K-pop group has been dominating the music scene in South Korea and making waves overseas. A lot of other K-pop groups have attempted to break into the Western music scene, but none has been more successful than BTS.
To a certain degree, K-pop can be formulaic. Everyone sings and everyone dances. There's a resident rapper, a fan-favorite visual and a leader. To someone who's new to K-pop, it can be hard to differentiate groups from one another. And then there's BTS. Short for Bangtan Sonyeondan, BTS is comprised of members Jungkook, Jimin, V, Suga, Jin, J-Hope and Rap Monster, and they are arguably one of the most recognizable K-pop groups of all time.
In an interview with Time, BTS member Rap Monster revealed that if there's anything that sets them apart from other groups, it's this: working hard.
Rap Monster said although he can't speak for other K-pop groups, BTS has always valued working hard and constantly improving regarding dancing and writing songs.
Songwriting is one of BTS' strongest assets. They aren't just known for their sharp dance routines and catchy songs. While some K-pop bands shy away from controversial issues, BTS brings these issues to the surface through lyrics. They are one of the few K-pop groups that sing about real social issues such as depression, self-esteem, and bullying.
BTS' latest work, a collaboration with American rapper Wale titled "Change," touches on political topics such as voting rights and online harassment. While they can prefer to sing about partying and girls all the time and still get recognition worldwide, Suga told Billboard that being outspoken and talking about socially relevant issues such as mental health is important to the group.
"I think it's way more important to make music with those issues because I think it's important to encourage people to fight for those issues and, through the music, have a resolution for those issues."Most importantly, they're doing it for the fans.
"It's very much an honor that we get power and attention from our fans them when we use our voices more. It's important to us and the bigger the voice that we get, the more powerful that our words become."However, the music charts aren't the only place where BTS' presence is most felt, and their influence isn't limited to the songs on their albums. The group's social media presence and massive following have become an outlet for the members to interact with their fans and raise awareness on various issues.
Their online activity has given them recognition as top social media influencers. In May, BTS won the Top Social Artist Award at the Billboard Music Awards 2017. The K-pop boy band edged out heavy hitters such as Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez.
The award was special for them as it made them the first Korean group to receive a nomination from the BMAs and the event became their first ever red carpet appearance in the United States.
Before their Billboard Music Awards win, they also snagged a Shorty Award in the music category, besting Ariana Grande and Drake. Most recently, the group landed a spot on Time's 25 Most Influential People on the Internet list.
BTS still has a long journey ahead of them. PSY, singer of the viral K-pop song "Gangnam Style," gave props to the group, saying they will continue to go far:
"They are worthy of close attention, and I think they will continue to be."
Indeed, BTS aims to soar higher than any K-pop group has ever done before. And the whole world is eagerly watching.
[Featured Image by David Becker/Getty Images]