korean-band

Hit Korean boy band BTS is ready to take over Anaheim

Rap Monster, one of the seven guys in the South Korean boy band BTS, says it was only at the end of 2016 that he and the others realized how huge their band had become around the world.

“Somebody in the company sent me a message: ‘You got No. 26 on Billboard OMG congratulations,’” says Mr. Monster, the 22-year-old rapper born Kim Nam-joon, by phone from Chicago where BTS was set to play on Thursday before hitting Honda Center for a pair of sold-out shows on Saturday and Sunday.

“At first I thought, 'Ha ha, your humor isn’t really very good,’” says Rap Monster, the leader of the group and its primary songwriter. “We didn’t believe it.”

But as more messages started to ping onto their phones he says the BTS boys realized it was no joke: Their sophomore album, “Wings,” entered the Billboard 200 chart at No. 26 after its October release, making it the highest chart position for any K-pop act – not to mention one that sings primarily in Korean – and offering a bit of foreshadowing for Billboard naming the record the best K-pop album of the year.

Since then things have only gotten sunnier for Rap Monster, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook. In February, “Wings” was re-released in a new edition as “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” and the combined editions have since sold nearly 1.5 million copies worldwide. Music videos for “Spring Day” and “Not Today” were released a week apart last month as well and exploded on YouTube where they’ve currently racked up 59.2 million and 60.1 million views respectively.

“When we heard that and really got that, I was saying, 'OK, this is going to be a whole other world,’” Rap Monster says of the significance of the Billboard chart success and all that followed. “And I feel like we should do something more, and dream something more.”

This past week they’ve taken a step toward something more, playing their first headlining and sold-out arena dates in the United States, after previously having mostly played on multi-artist billings at KCON conventions held here.

“So many people just to see BTS was really an honor,” Rap Monster says of the opening pair of shows at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. “It feels dreamy these days.”

Not, mind you, that it’s been anything like an overnight success or an easy road for him and the other BTS members.

He grew up a top student in his school who loved American rappers such as Eminem and Nas, performing even as he attended high school and eventually catching the attention of BTS future manager Bang Si-hyuk at BigHit Entertainment in South Korea. And though he says he gave up on music when he was 16, lacking confidence in where he was headed, he says Bang encouraged him to stay strong, believe in himself, and sign on as the first to join BTS, even though at the time he wasn’t sure who or what it would end up incorporating.

“I was not aware of the other members,” Rap Monster says. “But I like the company and I respect them. And he promised to me, 'I will make you do your music and get big someday, so please believe me.’

"So I believed him.”

The other six members soon were selected, each of them bringing different talents on the mic or on stage. Songs were developed by Rap Monster and the other members, with a team of producers working to craft the best music from the raw material, the melodies and beats, that they created.

“Our chemistry is different from other groups,” Rap Monster says. “Everyone has their own points and characteristics. If I’m a bad dancer, a good dancer teaches me. If I’m a good songwriter, I help the others with a good melody.”

We ask the obvious question: Are you a bad dancer?

He laughs and answers: “Yes, I’m a bad dancer.”

Their music is different from a lot of K-pop acts that have made ripples on the American airwaves. They’re not popular because of the novelty aspect of their songs – think “Gangnam Style” by Psy from a few years back. And they’re not quite as bubblegum as a group such as Girls Generation or as eclectic as the synthpop of f(x), the first Korean band to play the South By Southwest festival.

Instead, BTS often aims for that sweet spot where R&B and rap get together, the kind of stuff Justin Bieber might be doing if he sang in Korean and there were six Bieber variations with fashionable hair and eclectic yet unified fashion choices.

“BTS music sounds like it’s from America,” Rap Monster says. “We decide to always watch the trends and watch what’s going on over the world. America’s the No. 1 market in the world so that’s why people in America prefer us.”

As for communicating through the language divide, Rap Monster says that’s partly handled by the group’s wildly enthusiastic social media following: “Fans translate our lyrics and interviews,” he says of a following that has landed them at the top of Billboard’s Social 50 list for a total of 17 weeks since “Wings” dropped in October. “They’re able to say, 'OK, BTS is talking about us and our lives.’”

And it’s partly addressed through lyrical subjects that express the common hopes and dreams and fears and worries of any teenager or young adult in any country.

“Our lyrics are mostly Korean but we always talk about the young people’s lives and their minds,” Rap Monster says. “There’s something similar between every young person in the world, in America or in Korea. We share something together even if we use different languages or live so far.”

American fans are also the savviest music lovers in the world, Rap Monster says, which made heading out on this brief headlining tour a little bit intimidating at first.

“We actually were scared of performing in America as a solo act,” he says. “Their playlists are the best in the world. I was really nervous for them.

"But after we were on stage our fear disappeared. They’re like everybody, they’re like friends. Singing along all of the lyrics even through the raps. They know how to play, the rhythms and the dances.”

An aside here to share our favorite piece of Rap Monster trivia. You might be wondering whether he spoke through a translator. He did not. His excellent English skills were polished in the classroom but also at home through what he refers to as “a Korean mothers syndrome.”

“'Friends’ was really famous for the mothers in Korea for English education,” Rap Monster says of the hit American sitcom from the '90s. “It was kind of like a syndrome. Korean mothers make their kids watch 'Friends’ even when they were eating food or playing.

"I think it really helped. It has like 10 seasons, I think, and I watched it like more than five times through the 10 seasons. They use the gestures and expressions, like, Americans use, right? I think that naturally teaches me how to speak or how to make a gesture when you try to express some emotions.

"Thank you, 'Friends,’” he says, laughing. “God bless 'Friends’!”

Rap Monster recently collaborated with the American rapper Wale on the song “Change,” which like some of BTS’ other songs – and unlike most K-pop – touches on politics and societal issues. He says he’d loved Wale’s music for a few years when the opportunity to do the song came along last year “like a miracle, like a dream come true.

"The song has already come out and we shot a music video together, but still sometimes I lie in my bed and think, 'Did I really do something with him?’” Rap Monster says.

He knows that boy groups from Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync to the Jonas Brothers and One Direction tend to have a finite lifespan before members get restless to move on solo projects, acting gigs and other opportunities. But he thinks the variety of interests and musical genres that individual BTS members have can be handled on the side or even within the group, and BTS itself can carry on.

So while Rap Monster says he’d love to collaborate with Drake or Miguel one day, Suga feels the same way about Kanye West and Flume. Jungkook seems more inclined toward pop R&B – his dream musical partners would include Bieber or Charlie Puth. V is a little bit old school, having mentioned Norah Jones and the Fugees as on his wish list. Rap Monster ticks off the rest of the band: Jimin digs Chris Brown, J-Hope is into the similarly initialed J. Cole, and Jin is a fan of old-school showman Bruno Mars.

“I always tell them that every time we have hits under the name of BTS we shine the best when we are a team,” Rap Monster says. “I know all the seven members, they love music, and I know their No. 1 wish is for us to perform and make music and sing and dance.

"Maybe someday someone will want to be on a television show or be an actor,” he says. “I just hope they know all of the popularity and fame and money is from the name of our team. That’s not one person, everybody contributes to the team.

"Nobody knows the future. I just hope it can last as long as possible.”

Peter Larson @ OCRegister

Things k-pop/k-culture fans should avoid

1. Eat Your Kimchi (Simon and Martina)

2. Chad Future

3. Justifying your idol’s racist, sexist or other discriminatory comments/ actions and labelling them as just ignorance

4. Bashing girls who interact ( breathe the same air)with your ‘oppa’


5. Bashing other groups/ being salty when your faces don’t win

6. Developing a ‘sasaeng complex

7. Babbling random Korean words to people who don’t even understand it or want to hear it.

8. Equating Korean culture as just K-pop

9. Perpetuating the image of international fans as wannabe Asians or Koreaboos

10. Insulting new fans who don’t know about every k-pop scandal, idol, song or back story and telling them they’re ‘not real fans’

EDIT: Alternatively, you can use velcro or snap buttons for this method, if you are not comfortable with using magnets on a headwear. The main idea of this tutorial is to introduce making 2 parts of the wig be detachable and exchangable. I used magnets because it was what I had at home at the time.

Wig Hacks Wednesday #2 !
Have 10 upcoming cosplays and all of them have undercut hairstyle? Fear not! You can make the most out of your undercut wig, and re-use them for all your undercut husbando’s with this simple method. (Info about wigs in pic listed below)
- Get heavy-duty small magnets. I got mine from Home Depot for about $6 for this 40-piece pack. You only need 10 magnets to complete one wig project at first, but getting a bigger pack will save you money in the long run
- Using a short base wig, flip it inside out and put it on a foam head. You should pad the foam head prior with papers so that the size is closest to your head size since foam head tends to run small. This is very important to get the right fit for the undercut
- Snip the wig lace around the head curve, leaving the undercut high enough to keep its shape on its own
- Trim the short base wig as short as you can without wefts showing through, spray and blow dry the hair down. At this point, use hot glue to attach the magnets around the wig near the top (2 magnets on the sides by the ears, 1 at the center back, and 2 inbetween)
- Grab 5 more magnets and stick each one to your magnets on the wig from previous step (no glue for this step)
- Place your half top wig on top of the foam head. Position it on all sides to make sure it can reach and cover all the magnets. If needed, use a small piece of fabric to fill in spaces so you have a flat surface for gluing rather than just wefts
- Put hot glue on the second set of magnets, and press the top wig down onto it. Do this one by one, start from the magnets on the sides by the ears, and work your way to the back
- Adjust the top wig hair and blend it with the undercut wig, using your fingers and hair spray
Now you’re ready to join a Korean boy band, ice skate to your own song, and hunt down some titans with this hairdo!
Tips:
- make sure to press and hold until hot glue completely dry or magnets might fall off, low-temp works better if you have dual setting on your hot glue gun
- you can’t shampoo the undercut wig with the magnets so make sure to wear wig caps ALWAYS to pretect your wig from excess oil and sweat from your natural hair/head (nylon or stocking style of wig caps are great for this, plus it keeps your hair flat)

Wigs used in this tutorial: Rufio in Natural Black (CL-077), Jaguar in Sandy Brown (CL-071), and Caine in Black (CL-078) from Arda Wigs

BBMAS

Okay, let’s talk about the BBMAS not because of all these artists here and I’m praying for Shawn Mendes to get an award or something. No, I’m stating the fact that for once millions of Asian kids will be represented today by a Korean boy band. I don’t give a damn that it’s a kpop group and all these white girls are so excited because omg it’s kpop. No, if anyone should be excited more than them, it’s the Asians that never get represented, kids that feel like it’s weird to be Asian because no one’s represents them or talk about them,the kids that feel like they have to go into the Asian stereotype of being geniuses and fear failure. I get it that for everyone BTS is a kpop group and omg your bias is here and being on American TV, but what I don’t get is why people aren’t talking about Asians are getting represented on TV. Much less Koreans, everyone talks about the Japanese and Chinese if they talk about Eastern Asians,but they never mention Koreans which to me as a Korean felt weird because I existed, why didn’t people talk about Korea or the people there. And I found a place where they did, but it was only for the pretty Koreans that could sing and dance and act, it was the true Korean side of engineering or technology or traditions. It was people fetishing my race in a way. But back to the fact for once Asians are going to be actually represented and yes there has been Asian actors and actresses in the past but, it does not make up for the fact most of the time Asian roles are white washed more than given. It’s a big thing in the Asian culture, we are being represented, even if it’s by a boy band, it still makes up for the fact people are noticing Korea. People never forget China, Japan or Vietnam. But they forget Korea and ask “which Korea are you from the good one or the bad one”.

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Korean-Pop Boy Band BTS Hit the 2017 Billboard Music Awards | E! Live from the Red Carpet

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wetter’s first mini album “Romance in a Weird World” 

Title song is “A Strange Country’s Romance”