This Week’s ‘SNL’ Marked First-Ever K-Pop Musical Guest With BTS

Musical group BTS performs onstage during the 2018 Billboard Music Awards.
Ethan Miller / Getty Images

Viewers of Saturday Night Live were treated to the show’s first musical performance by a Korean pop, commonly known as K-pop, group this week, CNN reports. The wildly internationally popular K-pop group BTS took to the stage as the sketch show’s musical guest on Saturday to the delight of fans the world over. In recent years, the K-pop genre has been steadily growing in popularity around the world, but BTS is generally credited with pushing the musical style over the hump from fad to phenomenon.

The band’s name began as an acronym for a Korean expression, “Bangtan Sonyeondan,” which translates literally to “Bulletproof Boy Scouts.” As they made their way in the music industry and began to appeal to more English-speaking audiences, they shifted its meaning to “Beyond the Scene.” The group has been together since 2010, but it has only been in the last couple of years that they have broken through into the ranks of international superstars. As they have grown in popularity, one of their non-musical hallmarks has been their frequent and successful use of social media.

Today, they are known for their energetic and enthusiastic fan base, with many comparing the group to superstars of decades past like Elvis Presley or The Beatles. Like those artists, BTS can easily generate throngs of screaming fans whenever they make an appearance.

As BTS makes the rounds in promotion of their latest album, Map of the Soul: Persona, it is widely expected that it will sell extremely well.

On SNL, the band brought their hallmark high-energy dance performance and crisp vocals to their songs “Boy With Luv” and “Mic Drop,” which each generated wild applause in the studio, plus an immediate wave of international buzz on social media platforms.

Fans of BTS are known collectively as ARMY. In addition to the enthusiastic gushing of the mostly young enthusiasts on Instagram and Twitter, and there was indeed quite a lot of that, some posted in recognition of the cultural impact that the appearance made.

Film actor Paul Bee pointed out that their performance had a personal significance to him.

“I’ve been watching SNL since the late ’70s til I stopped watching in the 90s. Never seeing an Asian face on their staff always stung. But tonight I just saw 7 Korean faces gracing that damn stage and it was the best part of that show so I AM OVER IT. #BTSxSNL,” he tweeted.