|BTS appears on a US television show. They managed to embrace and share emotional warmth to their fans.|
The Rise of K-Pop
Since purchasing tickets for the TV show “Saturday Night Live (SNL)” opened on Monday, April 8, 2019, people start queues around Rockefeller Plaza New York. The queue has been going on since morning. They brought chairs and mattresses, and were willing to leave the work to get a ticket to watch the special NBC (National Broadcasting Company) show live on the April 13 2019 episode, Billboard reports.
For the first time, the TV show invited a boy band from South Korea that was on the rise in the United States, namely BTS or Bangtan Boys—in addition to also presenting Actress Emma Stone and Actor Michael Keaton. This is a rare moment for fans in the US because they can meet their idol in person without having to travel 11,000 km to reach Seoul.
CNN reported that that night BTS managed to shake SNL. The audience's screams and applause adorned the entire 90 minutes of the event. On social media, the hashtag #BTSxSNL has become a trending topic in various countries.
The appearance of BTS on one of the US TV shows indicates the rise of K-pop in Uncle Sam's country. “A revival against the West which has always been considered to dominate cultural globalization,” wrote Lisa M. Longenecker and Jooyoun Lee in “The Korean Wave in America: Assesing the Status of K-pop and K-drama between Global and Local” (PDF)
Big With Fans
BTS is not the first South Korean musician to enter the US music industry. According to US popular culture media Nylon, since the 21st century, many South Korean musicians have been present in the US, including Girl's Generation, BoA, Rain, and Wonder Girls. It wasn't until 2012, that the US public's attention to the K-pop industry began to grow when PSY performed the then-viral song "Gangnam Style".
From here, the US public began to know that South Korea has a fairly lucrative entertainment industry. The presence of BTS became a turning point in the development of K-pop in the US. Especially after the boy band formed in 2013 was awarded the Top Social Artist at the Billboard Music Awards in 2017. For this achievement, BTS's name has become increasingly popular and has managed to become a guest star at prestigious events and won awards in various events. What did BTS do against the dominance of Western music? Contemporary South Korean music actually does not stand alone as a cultural product. In K-Pop: The International Rise of The Korean Music Industry (2015) edited by Jung Bong Choi and Roald Maliangkay, it is stated that South Korean music also adopts and adapts aspects of US culture through a series of cultural exchanges.
This link occurred in the 1950s when the US became involved in South Korean politics after the Korean War. From here, many South Korean musicians became familiar with Western music genres, such as rock and jazz, which then permeated and influenced South Korean music. Although it was repressed during the era of President Park Chung Hee (1961-1979), the influence of the West in South Korean music was strengthened when the civil government opened the democratization movement in the 1980s. South Korean musicians are mushrooming and are free to work by adopting Western culture. This is what lays the foundation for the development of K-pop to the present day.
Quoting Professor Dal Yong Jin of Simon Fraser University at the Washington Post, another factor that makes K-Pop popular lies in the composition of repetitive lyrics and presented with the right tempo and beat. In addition, English lyrics are included, in addition to Korean. In the case of BTS, for example, the band has already released English songs, such as "Butter" and "Dynamite".
This strategy is also in line with BTS' collaboration with Coldplay which produces the single "My Universe" in 2021. Another factor that allows BTS to create a fan base in the United States is the strong interaction with fans. Citing the research of Lisa M. Longenecker and Jooyoun Lee, BTS has succeeded in embracing and providing emotional warmth to its fans called ARMY. They often convey messages of hope and motivation to ARMYs through lyrics and uploads on social media.
Not only that, they also regularly upload behind-the-scenes activities, such as dance practice videos, holiday greetings, and private messages to fans. This great attention made an impression and made ARMY feel cared for. This then prompted the formation of a virtual community on social media which became the engine for gaining popularity for the boyband led by Kim Nam-joon. Because BTS pays more attention, their fans are desperately defending their idols. BTS is also often involved in various social movements. In 2018, BTS collaborated with UNICEF to launch Generation Unlimited, an education and empowerment program for young people. Then in the Black Lives Matters movement, BTS is also not negligent. This participation ignites ARMY's militancy and concern for political, social, and humanitarian issues.