BTS’s latest comeback has been an unprecedented success on the Billboard charts in its first week. Map of the Soul: 7 became the group’s 4th #1 album on the Billboard 200, making them the fastest group to get 4 albums to the top spot since The Beatles. Plus, “ON” debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at #4—BTS’s highest position yet.
Reflecting on this amazing debut week, 5 Billboard writers have revealed the secrets they think are behind BTS’s success growing more and more with every hit.
1. Unique promotional methods
According to Billboard staff member Tatiana Cirisano, one of the biggest reasons why the ARMY fanbase is growing so huge year on year is BTS’s unique promotional methods. Nowadays, many artists in the U.S. drop a music video, sing the song once or twice on TV, then move onto the next thing. BTS, however, uses a huge range of non-traditional promotional methods that really get all eyes on the group.
With “ON”, for example, the group released multiple music videos and performed the song in a massive Grand Central Station production on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. In return for amazing content, merch, and more, Cirisano says it’s no surprise ARMYs organize streaming efforts, buy albums, and more to repay the members’ efforts.
2. Authenticity to themselves
Eric Frankenberg, another music expert at Billboard, believes that authenticity is a major reason for BTS’s spiraling success. Instead of trying to replicate past successful U.S. boy groups such as the Jonas Brothers, they’re carving out their own path.
Unlike many Western artists, they also don’t turn to the hitmaking producers to make their title tracks. Instead of making shallow music just to please the fans, they opt to create the songs they want without worrying about the success.
3. Experimental music
Typically, boy bands in the U.S. have released singles that sound like they were made for the Top 40 in terms of structure, genre, and overall sound. BTS, on the other hand, always takes a more experimental approach to creating music. In the opinion of Billboard writer Jason Lipshutz, that’s what’s made the group grow so rapidly.
BTS co-write the songs on all their albums. Instead of going with typical pop structures every time, they often incorporate unique rap breakdowns and musical buildups. On the lyrics side, many of their songs push the boat by addressing mental health, even in spite of the stigma around it.
4. Confidence in Korean
When it comes to making it big in the U.S., many K-Pop artists put out English versions of their songs to draw in a crowd. While there’s nothing wrong with this method and it certainly works for many groups, Mia Nazareno says BTS’s confidence in their Korean-only discography has helped make them as big as they are today.
Nazareno pointed out that BTS’s music and choreography transcends cultural and linguistic borders. The confidence it takes to sing in your own language instead of seeking approval from English speakers has certainly drawn listeners in from all around the world.
5. Their own universe
Last but not least, Billboard’s Andrew Unterberger thinks the “self-contained universe” that is BTS is a major part of why the group gets bigger and bigger every year. Even though BTS has had collabs with other artists (such as Halsey and, most recently, Sia), they never get overshadowed by the artists they work with.
Instead, they expand their own universe with each release, carving out their own path. Every decision they make is the right decision because BTS sets their own standard rather than following the typical pop journey.