BTS, a South Korean kpop group, beat out the likes of Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez, and Shawn Mendez to win the Top Social Artist award on Sunday night’s Billboard Music Awards. They are the first kpop group to win at the BBMAs (or any award show in America). The only other Korean artist who was able to win a BBMA was PSY back when Gangnam Style was sweeping the world.
This is a monumental moment for kpop. These boys were not only nominated, but won by a large percent, were invited to the show, and were able to go onstage to receive an award that in previous years had not been televised. That means Billboard made SURE to get BTS onstage and in front of the cameras. For that I am grateful. It goes to show how powerful social media can be when used correctly and efficiently. BTS are in constant contact with their fans through photos, messages, and videos. It’s a rare day that passes when one of them hasn’t posted something. This keeps fans actively engaged and interested in a musical world where it can be very easy to be forgotten. I am confident other kpop groups will be studying what they have been doing to try to replicate even a small percent of their success. Be active. Be engaged. Embrace the social media that is helping to connect the genre to the world.
However it is not simply the constant communication that make BTS so beloved. It’s also, and more importantly, their music. Music which they help write and produce themselves. Their songs speak of growing up, loneliness, female empowerment, temptation, being in the wrong, and more. They are singing/rapping about topics that anyone in the world can relate to, language barrier be damned. For this reason, BTS made more history when they released their second studio album Wings which debuted at #26 on the Billboard 200 charts. This is the highest debut for a kpop artist. In addition their latest single “Spring Day” landed at #15 on the Billboard Bubbling Hot Under 100 Singles Chart. In addition they recently completed 5 sold out shows in America in Newark, Chicago, and LA for their 2017 BTS Live Trilogy Episode III: The Wings Tour. Originally they were only meant to have 3 shows, but added 2 more when tickets sold out within minutes. Whew! We have social media to thank for that. Sometimes it truly is a tool for good and I have a feeling that this is just the beginning of BTS’s success in America and worldwide.
Finally! Hallelujah! It’s happened! HAIM, after releasing a studio performance video of “Right Now”, has returned and they brought their single off their forthcoming album with them! “Want You Back” was written and produced by sisters Danielle, Este, and Alana along with Ariel Rechtshaid and BloodPop. The girls had not released a song from a personal album since 2014 and have not released an album since 2013. So, yes. It’s fantastic to have them back! “Want You Back” sounds perfectly suited for the summer. Subtle build up, harmonious back up vocals, and Danielle steady in the lead. Though admittedly my favorite part is when Alana takes over in the let’s-clap-it-out breakdown. I’ve seen some criticize the track for being too repetitive, too overproduced, but it never once bothered me. Their quality is clear and intact. Maybe it’s because I’m simply so happy to have them back. Maybe because it’s a solid track. Maybe I feel refreshed to hear a song with instruments. It’s all of these things. I can’t wait to hear more when their album Something To Tell You comes out on July 7th.
Also! HAIM recently performed “Want You Back” on the May 13th episode of SNL.
This week Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” reached 1 billion views. It’s his second video, after “Thinking Out Loud”, to reach this milestone. It is also the second video released in 2017 to reach 1 billion views, the first being “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi ft Daddy Yankee. Congrats to Ed! His title as a streaming monster continues!
DAY6, a South Korean five piece rock band under JYP Entertainment, has an ongoing project in 2017. The project is called Every Day6. Every month, since January, they are releasing a new song and music video until the end of the year. April’s contribution to this project is entitled “I’m Serious” a song, like the ones that came before it, that DAY6 wrote lyrics for and helped write music for. The moment the song starts playing you get that feeling of finally being able to open your windows after a long winter. Warmer weather has arrived! It’s time to go outside! This is a fitting shift for them whose previous Every Day6 releases have been heavier, sadder, and filmed in dark studios. This time around the boys are running around on a beach, cruising in a jeep, and singing an infectious bit of a capella in front of a summery looking hut. The music video is simplistic and fits the song perfectly. No frills. No thrills. Just laidback fun. It’s feel good. It’s joyous. It belongs on many variations of summer playlists. Truly an instant mood changer. Go here to check out the previous Every Day6 music videos!
Conflicting feelings are alive and well with Lady Gaga’s latest release “The Cure.” On the one hand there’s excitement. Gaga has returned with a pure pop song! Finally! On the other hand there’s disappointment. Gaga’s pop music of the past was so distinct, so catchy, so Gaga. “The Cure” sounds like it could have come from any top 40 act on current radio. Yes it is catchy, but there is something incredibly sad about a pop great being like everyone else. Is it because of her waning commercial success that she feels she has to do this? I am all for Gaga returning to pop music full time. It is what she does best. If that’s the case for her, I hope she can deliver more than “The Cure” did.