May 23, 2017


Future Asian & Pacific History Month: Why BTS Has Global Appeal

Big Hit Entertainment
Big Hit Entertainment

Fuse is celebrating Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month by looking at a variety of rising forces who are creating Future Asian and Pacific History before our eyes. On Sunday, May 21, BTS created a major moment at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards when they won Top Social Artist, becoming the first K-pop group to win an award at the annual show. 

The seven-member boy band won the award over Justin BieberSelena GomezShawn Mendes and Ariana Grande thanks to a heavy commitment to their social accounts (which include more than 26 million followers across Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and their V app) and their dedicated fans voting for them, but there's a deeper reason to why there's so much excitement over the septet.

While they aren't the first, BTS are the latest K-pop act focusing their music on social, mental and political issues to connect with an international audience. Songs like "Blood Sweat & Tears" or "I Need U" talk about being dangerously in love, but other tracks like "Whalien 52" heartbreakingly detail loneliness while "Spring Day" acts an inspiration anthem. It's been a focus on more personal and relatable topics that have helped BTS fans—affectionately known as Army—connect on an even deeper level with the pop act which has parlayed into an overwhelming amount of support that saw the group earn K-pop's biggest sales week in America and ultimately help them win their BBMA.

During Sunday's ceremony, the T-Mobile Arena erupted into cheers when BTS won the Top Social Artist award, broadcast on national U.S. television. The dashingly dressed gents got screen time to accept their statue and thank their fans in both English and Korean with a humbling acceptance speech that was natural and comfortable. The win proved that even a majority non-English-speaking act can gracefully stand on some of the biggest and most public stages in the world. 

BTS' history-making win may have made an even larger statement for underrepresented voices in general. Having an Asian boy band at the BBMAs started a conversation about Asian representation in mainstream media (as documented by BuzzFeed) and how those who are unaware shouldn't put down the deserving, talented artists from countries outside those that do well in America.

The K-pop scene has been making inroads in America for years, and BTS are taking the next big step to continue the journey begun by the artists before them. By finding a deep connection with listeners to incite an excitement and passion for the group, BTS are not only making major moves in the mainstream industry but doing so in a way that could mean larger representation for future Asian and international acts.

Tune in to Fuse and come back to every day for profiles, videos, galleries and more on the individuals around the world who are creating Future Asian and Pacific History. Join the conversation with FutureHistory and find Fuse in your area with our Channel Finder. Next, listen to a classic episode of Fuse's K-pop podcast K-Stop where we review BTS' "Spring Day" and more: