BTS first gained American attention in 2017 with the release of their Love Yourself: Her album and subsequent win at the American Billboard Music Awards as Top Social Artists. One year later, Korean boy group Bangtan Sonyeondan (BTS) has released another album, Love Yourself: Tear, and performed their title track, Fake Love, for the first time at the 2018 BBMAs (where they once again won Top Social Artist).
Nine days after its release, Tear has just debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart. The album cemented them as the first Korean act to ever top the chart. Tear is also the first foreign-language #1 album since 2006 and the first ever #1 World Language album on the Billboard 200.
According to Nielsen Music, Tear earned an equivalent of 135,000 album units in the US (100,000 of which were from traditional album sales), beating the #2 album (Post Malone’s Beerbongs & Bentleys) by 12,000 units. Malone’s album was the previous #1 album for three consecutive weeks.
While their fans are understandably elated following the news, this group’s achievement also marks a crucial step forward toward Asian representation in the American entertainment industry. For a group composed of members all born and raised in East Asia to break these barriers, with an album containing no songs in English, Bangtan might just be the ones to open the doors for Asians in music. Indeed, BTS has the potential to fully break into the US mainstream as time goes on, overcoming xenophobia and racism all the while. Maybe they’ll even be the artists to signal the end of monolingual music in the American industry.
Tear is composed of eleven songs, all widely distinct from each other. From track to track, BTS dabbles in R&B, Latin pop, old school hip-hop, and then some. With the help of well known American artists and producers, DJ Swivel, lophiile, MNEK, and Steve Aoki, the group’s genre-hopping is unified under a common theme of talent and command of the craft. In fact, musical critics, both domestic and overseas, have expressed their praise for the eleven-track album. Maybe the most notable review is from Pitchfork, “The Most Trusted Voice in Music,” where they gave Tear a ranking of 7.1. For the sake of comparison: Ed Sheeran’s Divide was ranked at 2.8, Beerbongs & Bentleys at 5.6, Taylor Swift’s Reputation at 6.5, and Beyonce’s Lemonade at 8.5.
To listen to Love Yourself: Tear:
The individual mixtapes of the three rappers:
Suga/Agust D: https://soundcloud.com/bangtan/sets/agust-d