The BTS Journey: From Underdogs to Worldwide Icons

Dubbed as the “biggest boy band on the planet” BTS is undeniably at the zenith of their popularity, cementing their position as icons in pop culture. They’ve taken over live TV; they’re constantly shattering records and setting new ones. Their most recent releasePermission to Dancedethroned their own single Butteron the Billboard Hot 100 charts, the only act ever to do so since Drake in 2018. But this colossal success of BTS was not overnight and their journey from obscurity to world domination is indeed awe-inspiring. 

The formation of BTS began in 2010 when Bang Si Hyuk, the founder of Big Hit Entertainment; which then was a small, newly established struggling agency, was on the lookout to create a fresh group of artists different from the regimented K-pop industry. He recruited RM, from Seoul’s underground rap scene and signed him on the spot. Joined by Jin, Suga, J-hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook, the lineup for its brand-new group Bangtan Sonyeondan (meaning Bulletproof Boys in Korean) or simply BTS was complete.

Making their debut on 13 June 2013 with their hip-hop-oriented single “No More Dream” critiquing the social pressures faced by Korean teens, BTS was received with lukewarm responses and many were skeptical if they would even last long as a band. It wasn’t until 2015 when they first got their major breakthrough with the single “I Need You” from their album “Most Beautiful Moment in Life Pt 1” which secured them their first Music Show win followed by a string of victories for the group including their first “Daesang” Album of the Year at the 2016 Melon Music Awards for Most Beautiful Moment in Life: Young Forever. The album marked their departure from the punk bad boys’ concept to a more youthful and mature aesthetic. Their popularity skyrocketed with the release of the LPWingsfeaturing the insanely popular Blood, Sweat, and Tears” in 2016. From then on BTS has been unstoppable. 

Their historic win at Billboard Music Awards 2017 for Top Social Artist; which they’ve now won for four consecutive years, catapulted them to worldwide fame. Four years after their first BBMA, BTS has become a music phenomenon. A fragment from their vast collections of achievement includes four No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, multiple wins at the AMAs, BBMAs, and Korean Award shows, a Grammy nomination at the 63rd annual Grammys, address at the United Nations 73rd General Assembly, and to top it off, they were named Time magazine’s 2020 “Entertainer of the Year“. World Domination indeed.

  Source: Screenshot

“They brought a boyband from Korea to the Grammys”, RM

And he is correct. Their adoring fanbase of millions, ARMY, has been pivotal in their road to success. From breaking streaming records to getting an astonishing 300 million votes for their first BBMA win, their pouring love for the band and their music has been constant from day one.

From selling free concert tickets to sold-out stadium concerts, BTS has come a long way. Their journey and their music have not only influenced and paved the way for their successors in the K-pop world but have also revolutionized the mainstream music industry. Breaking language barriers, tackling xenophobia, enduring criticism through the years, BTS has achieved a feat that is and will continue to inspire artists and people for years to come.

Written By: Aakriti Bhandari

Editor and Team Lead: Ashutosh Sharma

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About The Author(s)

Chemistry major with self-proclaimed good taste in Books and Music.

Aakriti Bhandari photo
Aakriti Bhandari
Part time literature major and a full time K-pop enthusiast.
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