I was never very fond of K-pop, and even though I liked a few female artists, I just didn’t dare to jump into the male category. I don’t know why, maybe I was blinded by the prejudices my country has. But, this summer, after a series of events, I ended up watching the Korean TV drama Goblin, and the Goblin’s nephew captured my attention. I did some research and discovered he was actually a part of an “idol” group: BTOB, a group that had debuted in 2012.
I became a fan immediately after listening to the song “I’ll Be Your Man” and found out they, undoubtedly, had all the qualities to be as famous as other groups in their own industry, or even globally… but that wasn’t the case. Their music videos didn’t have an exorbitant number of views, and, while it only took 6 days for Winner to get a music show win (and 695 to global sensation BTS) it took BTOB 1480 days. I wondered why a group as talented was that underrated…
BTOB has many qualities, as mentioned before, so don’t let any sort of stereotype blind your judgment — instead, discover the secret gem that this K-pop group has to offer.
1) They’re amazing vocalists
The group, formed by members Seo Eunkwang, Lee Minhyuk, Lee Changsub, Im Hyunsik, Peniel Shin, Jung Ilhoon and Yook Sungjae (the Goblin’s nephew), is part of the company Cube Entertainment. The four vocalists, Eunkwang, Changsub, Hyunsik and Sungjae (also known as BTOB Blue), are called, by many, the best vocal unit in K-pop. They possess soothing yet strong vocals and an unreal ability to harmonize. The three remaining members are rappers.
2) They write and produce their own music
“I’ll Be Your Man” was written, composed and arranged by member Hyunsik among many other tracks in their discography, including their new title track from their brand new album, Missing You. Their hit song “Movie,” released early this year, was also written, composed and arranged by the main rapper Ilhoon. In an industry as manufactured as the Korean one, it’s appreciated when artists try to take full control of their music. Their lyrics are usually very well written and have an encouraging message. BTOB pretty much seem to have a well-defined sound as known balladists, but they can also play with it and release good upbeat songs.
3) The rappers are woke
Usually, Korean rappers tend to appropriate black culture, exaggerating the stereotypical idea of how a rapper should “look” like, but BTOB’s rappers Ilhoon, Minhyuk and Peniel stay away from that erroneous vision.
As skin color is quite a topic in South Korea — even K-pop idols make constant colorist comments — Ilhoon reassured fellow member Minhyuk telling him his skin color was okay and has also used his platform to stand against racism, while Minhyuk once dropped this remarkable quote on their V Live channel:
Peniel has talked about how demanding the industry can get and how he started to experience hair loss and eventually had to shave his head off. His solo song “That Girl” might really be your style.
Here is a performance by Ilhoon and Minhyuk:
4) Their funny moments are worth watching
The relationship they have with each other is very genuine, so — considering everyone gets along well — they have many moments that can make you laugh in seconds if you’re having a bad day (yes, that guy in the thumbnail is a walking meme. Changsub, everyone).
BTOB is back with their new full length album Brother Act and their title track “Missing You,” which recently topped South Korean’s Charts and received a favorable Billboard review. It shows the group’s growth, and with every day they’re becoming more international thanks to their undeniable talent.
Make sure to support their new song “Missing You”: