'Competition in the group' drives K-pop band BTS

Musical group BTS attend the 2018 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, on May 20, 2018.
Musical group BTS attend the 2018 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, on May 20, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL (The Korea Herald/ANN) - This week BTS became the first K-pop group to perform at the Billboard Music Awards, took home the Top Social Artist for the second year in a row and the lead track of its new album racked up the third-largest 24-hour rating on YouTube since the video-streaming channel started keeping records.

What's the secret to the South Korean boyband's global success?

"Competition," said BTS member Suga during a press conference in Seoul on Thursday (May 24). "There's an invisible competition among us.

"If there is a member who does great, I think, 'I should also pull my socks up.' If one member comes up with a song that has a new style, I also think 'Maybe I should do something different too.' All of us have ambitions for better music."

The versatile seven-piece boy band released its third full-length album last Friday and Love Yourself: Tear comes only eight months after its Love Yourself: Her album.

According to Forbes and Billboard, the album hit No. 1 across all South Korean real-time charts and reached No. 1 on the US iTunes chart hours after its release. All 11 songs entered the US iTunes Top 20.

The new album's lead track Fake Love, which dropped on May 18 and was performed by BTS during the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, clocked 35.9 million views in a single day on YouTube. Fake Love's 24-hour viewership is only outdone by Psy's Gentleman (36 million views in April 2013) and Taylor Swift's Look What You Made Me Do ( 43.2 million YouTube views).

BTS' next-most popular track is DNA, which was released on Sept 18 last year and had 22.3 million views in 24 hours.

So what's next for BTS?

Band-leader RM said that its unofficial goal before the album's release had been topping the Billboard 200 chart and entering the top 10 of the Hot 100 chart. But he added: "We'll just try to enjoy the ride, live in the moment."

Suga is aiming for the Grammys, going on a stadium tour and becoming one of the most influential musicians in the world.

"It will be hard to achieve all of these, the reason why it's hard to say it in words. But now I've said it, I will do my best," he said.

Band-leader RM added that the has group evolved as musicians.

"At first, our goal was simple, which was just to participate in making music and showing what we've got," he said. "Now all of us have our own goals with detailed thoughts that are beyond being good at rapping and singing."

BTS also credited fans for taking the group to the next level. The boyband made headlines for skipping the after-parties at the Billboard Music Awards, instead interacting with fans through live broadcast. Member J-Hope said the band prioritised communication with its dedicated fan-base ARMY above everything.

"There were lots of things we had to do after the show, like doing a live broadcast. We thought sharing this moment with our fans was better than parties," he said.

"And I think we just preferred intimate moments just by ourselves with champagne. Oh, we were also very tired at that time," he added, laughing.