Editor’s note: This post was written by guest contributor Jeff Benjamin who is the K-Pop columnist for Billboard.com.
— BTS_official (@bts_bighit) May 8, 2017
In just a few years, BTS has gone from underrated K-pop boy band to the Korean act making one of the biggest impacts on America since PSY. Ahead of their U.S. red carpet debut at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards, here’s a breakdown of their chart history so you can boast about knowing the seven guys getting fans screaming at the May 21 show.
BTS—which is an acronym for the Korean term “Bangtan Sonyeondan,” or “bulletproof boy scouts” in English—debuted onto the K-pop scene in June 2013 with the single “No More Dream.” Quickly, the seven members of Rap Monster, Jimin, J-Hope, Suga, Jin, V and Jungkook stood out for being heavily involved in writing their music, a quality that can be rare for K-pop artists, and also for the topics they touched on including candid, at-times-aggressive takes on bullying and adolescent struggles. Early singles like “Boy in Luv,” “Danger” and “War of Hormone” along with a heavy emphasis on overseas touring and social media usage showed their promise and helped them gain a passionate fanbase before they’d eventually start impacting the Billboard charts with their most personal works to date.
The group’s breakout moment came in 2015. BTS’ The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, Part 1 EP and lead single “I Need U” that saw the band embracing more forward-thinking pop production while keeping their signature, fiery rap and vocal delivery, leading to their first major chart hit in Korea. The Part 2 follow-up became their first entry to break into the Billboard 200 album chart when it debuted at No. 171. The following year, a compilation album that combined the two EPs with a few new tracks titled The Most Beautiful Moment In Life: Young Forever furthered their chart domination when it hit No. 107 on the Billboard 200 and the high-energy lead single “Fire” scored them their first No. 1 on Billboard’s World Digital Song Sales chart.
The guys’ most recent era with their Wings album is when things really started going into overdrive. The LP charted at No. 26 on the Billboard 200 in October 2016, scoring not only the highest-charting K-pop album ever in America but also the best selling when it moved 16,000 copies in its first week. Meanwhile, the moombatan-influenced single “Blood Sweat & Tears” also went to No. 1 on World Digital Song Sales. Ahead of their most recent U.S. tour—which included sold-out arena dates in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago—BTS released a special deluxe version of Wings titled You Never Walk Alone with the empowering, rock-leaning “Spring Day” and confident anthem “Not Today” as singles. The album became their fourth entry on the Billboard 200 and the singles scored them two more chart-toppers on World Digital Song Sales.
Throughout all of this, BTS’ social numbers have continued to grow at a rapid pace. At press time, the group boasts more than 5.6 million followers on Twitter, 4.3 million Facebook likes, 3.8 million subscribers to their YouTube channel and 3.5 million Instagram followers. Their activity on these platforms—which includes everything from sharing playlists to hilarious selfies—has helped the guys spend, so far, 30 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard‘s Social 50 chart that ranks the most active artists on the world’s top social sites, leading them score a nomination for Top Social Artist at this year’s show. To put in perspective how passionately active BTS’ fan base is, take into account that the only artists to spend more weeks at No. 1 on the Social 50 chart are Taylor Swift (with 28 weeks) and Justin Bieber (with a whopping 161 weeks) have more—and you know how intense Swifties and Beliebers are.
BTS doesn’t currently have plans to release music in English, but instead are focused on sharpening their crafts and collaborating with artists around the world. With a new album already confirmed to be in the works and a major appearance at the 2017 BBMAs, it’s highly unlikely the BTS takeover is ending anytime soon.
Check out the full list of 2017 winners here.