Bangtan Boys’ Potential for Greatness and What Could Stop It
Most Kpop boybands and girlgroups are mere products of brilliant marketing but has no artistic talent except for stage performance. However, everyone knows that the minimum requirement to be considered a real artist is to create your own material. That’s why Kpop is frowned upon by many critics. It is so full of celebrities shaped by marketing. They are products that are packaged and thrown an image that fulfill the fantasies of young people… like old Disney fairytales and Nicholas Sparks novels.
Once in a while, however, someone emerges from the rubble and it gives me some hope that people will finally realize that Korea isn’t just about artificially colored hair, grinding hips, barely there outfits and illusions of virginity and purity.
Bangtan Boys is one such emergence. When I first saw their We Are Bulletproof dance practice, I saw some things I didn’t see in other idol groups and as I watch them more, I realize that they do have real potential to become great idols and great artists.
They Create Their Own Materials and More
- It’s not just about them writing and producing their own materials. There are a number of idols that create their own materials. There’s Big Bang, JYJ, Jay Park and several more. What sets Bangtang Boys apart is the quality of their sound. They do write pop but there is some semblance of hiphop in there and IF they evolve the right way,
- They write DIFFERENT materials. Their songs actually sound distinct from each other. Other boybands, although they create their own materials, are so similar that you can actually take the lyrics of one of their songs and put it one of their other melodies and it will still work.
- Not everything is about love. There is nothing wrong with writing about love but when 90 percent of the materials a boyband creates is about love, it gets a little jarring. Bangtang Boys, with little life experience they have, has enough maturity to draw out reflections on their life experiences. It may sound juvenile to some but relevant to their age group.
No More Dream is a favorite of the group because it is based on Rap Monster’s personal experience. Having no idea what he wanted to become when he was young, he reflects on just how close he got to failure now that he is pursuing a path he knows he wants.
The musicality, dimension of the beat and lyrics are very catchy but it does have that street sentiment that are very uncommon to idols.
Multi Instrumentalists, Multi Linguists, Multi Talented
All of them understand English and half can speak it. English is starting to play a part in a boyband's success as management's companies start setting their sights on other countries including the US.
- Rap Monster taught himself english and studied in New Zealand for three years
- JHope and Jungkook speak broken English (but still better than most Idols)
- Jin can talk a little bit of Chinese
- V speaks fluent Japanese
All of them have talents outside of performing. They create the concepts of their Music Videos and photoshoots. Yes, it’s far from being perfect or great but with most of them only in their late teens or just got into their 20s, it’s an amazing feat for a Kpop idol. They come up with concepts with actual logic and meaning behind it other than fan service.
They play musical instruments and are exposed to different genre. It gives them more mileage when they write their materials as they have a deeper level of sensitivity to sound.
- Suga's first genre is classical, we're talking Mozart here
- V plays the saxophone
- Jungkook plays the guitar and other instruments
Artistic Talents. As mentioned, they create the concepts for their music videos and photoshoots. They still need a team to put their vision into execution and will most likely continue to need them in the futures but having a vision is a solid foundation.
Each member can also do different musical and artistic functions:
- Jungkook, draws, sings (the voice is really good), raps and dances
- Rap Monster, Suga and JHope pens lyrics and produces
- All of them have penned and participated in the production of at least one song
Street credential is very important in hiphop because hiphop was actually born in the streets. Click here if you want to learn about the origins of hiphop. That is its essence. Most idols went directly to the studios and never had any experience going to streets, hanging out with street legit hiphop artists and battle it out. Bangtan Boys have several members who have gained and continue to gain street cred.
- Rap Monster and Suga were both underground rapper before joining Big Hit Entertainment
- J Hope does street dance battles to this day
- Jungkook travelled to LA specifically to learn from established hiphop teachers and choreographers
- RAP MONSTER has 39 Copyrighted Songs
- SUGA has 33 Copyrighted Songs
- J-HOPE has 31 Copyrighted Songs
- JIMIN, Jin, Jungkook and V has 1 Copyrighted Song each
What Could Hinder Their Greatness
The only thing that can hinder their artistic greatness is themselves.
The minute they start evolving or stop creating, they are doomed. They have complete control over that. Only they can decide when they will stop pursuing their passion. If they keep on pushing themselves beyond what they think they can do artistically, it is almost guaranteed they are headed towards greatness.
However, whether or not their greatness will be recognized is a whole new different story.
Despite what elitists believe, even the most creative and talented artists need marketing to be recognized and acknowledged. Vincent Van Gogh had to have his personal life uncovered and exposed by his sister in law Johanna van Gogh-Bonger for people to take notice of his art. The Beatles had to wear matching costumes and matching hairstyles for them to be given the stage. Banksy has to keep himself in hiding for people to continue being interested in his next graffiti.
Everything we consume is in front of us because of marketing. Those rebels who choose to wear black ripped jeans, worn out shirts and old chucks subscribe to the image of rebel molded by the media. Even those who rebel against fashion by wearing the basics are subscribing to what stylists who carefully chose the pantone of khaki with .01 less brown and designers who painstakingly shaped a tee so that it becomes flexible enough to look good, byt their standards, on any shirt. Pop music is dubbed popular because marketers called them so and alternative is considered alternative only until they are picked up by marketers to be thrown into airwaves.
Marketing is what makes people recognize art and marketing is what can make or break Bangtan Boys' recognition as legitimate artists.
I don't know if Bangtan Boys will ever have the creative and marketing freedom Shinhwa had when they left SM but if they don't get that, Big Hit MUST be able to create a platform for them to showcase their talents and get media exposure.
Unfortunately, majority of Kpop fans do not see the demarcation line between an idol's personal lives and their work. As such, Big Hit needs to learn how to give Bangtan Boys the platform to get noticed for all the fun and interesting people that they are without having their work overshadowed.
That is a tricky thing but not impossible.
Shinhwa managed to shake off all "idols are angelic" expectations, keep their fans and show off their creative growth. They admit to relationships. They show themselves smoking, drinking and getting into trouble. Yet, they continue to create the kind of music they like and get people to listen and watch it. You may dislike their music but you cannot argue their control over their work.
Mad Clown spent almost ten years in the underground hiphop scene before signing with a major label who is now pairing him with idols and people are starting to brand him an idol. He may not like it or it may not be true but it doesn't change the fact that it is how most people see him now. However, all of them recognize that Mad C has a solid hiphop background before his mainstream success.
To a certain degree, G Dragon is slowly creating a persona that makes people recognize the "artist in him". Again, you may argue the quality of what he creates but it doesn't change the fact that he creates and people acknowledge that.
What Can the Fans Do
The fans, as everyone knows, play a big part in the failure or success of an idol's career. A.R.M.Y., the name of Bangtan's fans, have a bigger role than the fans of other idols. They need to behave and show their support in a way that will highlight BTS' work and not their personal lives.
A.R.M.Y. needs to be mature in their support which means not paying attention to the image and just support the music.
A.R.M.Y. needs to support aspects of their work that are good and shun the ones that are not good in order to inspire the boys to move towards the right direction.
J-Hope, Jungkook, Suga, Rap Monster, Jimin, V, and Jin have all the right raw materials to become an artist. In fact, they already are but they are also idols. Whether they become bigger idols than bigger artists is something I would like to witness. The boys, unfortunately, cannot do it alone. They may have control over their art but they don't have a lot of control over what people will support of their work.
Are you an A.R.M.Y.? Do you know Bangtan? Do you agree that they can be the legit artists while becoming successful celebrities? Share your thoughts.