There's absolutely no denying the colossal impact K-Pop boy-band BTS have made on the music industry (and on our hearts). In 2017 the band won top social artist at the Billboard Music Awards, knocking Justin Bieber out of the spot he'd held for over six years. Just this year, they were nominated for a Grammy for the group performance category and they leave a slew of Billboard and MTV accolades in their wake. Not to mention the announcement in April that BTS were made ambassadors for Louis Vuitton, which is a huge achievement in any world.
In short, they've captured our attention. Tracks like Butter, Dynamite and Permission to Dance, all of which are sung in English, immediately soared to number one on Billboard's charts and proves that BTS have an unprecedented staying power. So when the group disclosed in an interview with Billboard last week that they were reconsidering singing in English going forward, it caused quite the stir. Although, if we're being honest, it's not entirely surprising. After all, BTS stans will know it was never the bands intention to depart from their native tongue.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly in 2019, RM, the bands leader, first broached the topic. "We don’t want to change our identity or our genuineness to get the number one. Like if we sing suddenly in full English, and change all these other things, then that’s not BTS. We’ll do everything, we’ll try. But if we couldn’t get number one or number five, that’s okay," he said.
So why did they revert to English for songs like Butter, Dynamite and Permission to Dance? Well as any fans would already know, BTS had a world tour planned for 2020. As with most tours scheduled for 2020, the pandemic inevitably quashed any possibilities of it occurring and so, BTS had to come up with a new plan revealed Billboard. That's when we saw the unexpected turn to English in the aforementioned singles. RM, along with other band members, weren't particularly keen on the idea initially but they recognised it as the only viable option to keep excitement up during the pandemic. “There was no alternative,” RM said.
RM then emphasised BTS's goal to keep their lyrics mainly in Korean, preferring the band to be seen as an outlier, rather than swept up into U.S music industry. “I don’t think we could ever be part of the mainstream in the U.S., and I don’t want that either. Our ultimate goal is to do a massive stadium tour there. That’s it.”
Meanwhile, Jin addressed the difficulties that arose when making the transition from Korean to English, "The English I learned in class was so different from the English in the song. I had to erase everything in my head first," he explained. Of course, it's this self-assuredness that we've come to love BTS for. Any future decision of theirs to revert to singing in Korean is fully supported, after all this was how we first came into contact with them. It's essential to their DNA.