BTS may not quite be a household name in the United States. At least, not in the same way that, say, Taylor Swift is. But on a global level, BTS’s popularity and brand equity (as the marketers would say) is simply staggering. Google “BTS, Biggest Band in the World,” and you’ll find a long list of music critics making exactly that argument.
The band’s success in America, however, has been slightly more muted. They’re big, but not yet “Beatles big.” But that might be changing.
That’s because the group’s most recent hit, “Dynamite,” is also the first these seven guys have recorded in English. Since the single dropped in late August, it’s gone supernova—here and everywhere else. It not only topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart the moment it debuted, but hit No. 1 in a diverse group of other countries, including Mexico, Israel, Hungary, Lithuania, Singapore, Malaysia and Scotland.
“Dynamite” embraces a retro-disco vibe that brings to mind the Jonas Brothers and One Direction, sonically speaking. High-energy lyrics celebrate dancing, bright lights and having fun: “Shoes on, get up in the morn’/Cup of milk, let’s rock and roll,” the first verse narrates. “King Kong, kick the drum, rolling on like a Rolling Stone/Sing song when I’m walking home.”
Like the lyrics from so many boy bands before them, BTS’s reflections on the good life here are fairly innocuous, even inane. The chorus, for instance, adds, “Shining through the city with a little funk and soul/So I’ma light it up like dynamite, whoa oh oh.” There are plenty more lines like those, but nothing that ever moves into risky or risqué territory.
The song’s video—which has been viewed more than 715 million times—features stereotypical boyband choreography and emphasizes the group’s androgynous image. And that may be the primary issue that parents should be aware of: BTS seems a perfect visual and stylistic fit for a global, secular culture that has embraced gender and identity fluidity.
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.