BTS Shares the 'Final Part' That Will Make Their 'Whole American Journey'
By Paige Gawley
Hong Jang Hyun
BTS wants one more thing to seal their success in America. The K-pop band -- made up of Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V, and Jungkook -- covers the winter issue of Esquire, and opens up about how their worldwide fame can reach its peak.
"We would like to be nominated and possibly get an award," RM says of the GRAMMYs, an awards show at which the band has been nominated one time. "I think the GRAMMYs are the last part, like the final part of the whole American journey. So yeah, we’ll see."
While they may not have captured their GRAMMY dreams just yet, the band is still in awe of how far they have come.
"When I dreamed of becoming an artist, I listened to pop and watched all the awards shows in the United States. Being successful and being a hit in the U. S. is, of course, such an honor as an artist," Suga says. "I feel very proud of that."
Their fan base is undeniably massive, but the band is not known or loved by everyone in the U.S., a fact they've come to terms with.
"You can’t always be comfortable, and I think it’s all part of life," Suga says. "Honestly, we are not used to getting a ton of respect from when we first started out. But I think that gradually changes, whether it be in the States or other parts of the world, as we do more and more."
"How can we win everyone’s respect? I think it’s enough to get respect from people who support us," Jin agrees. "It’s similar everywhere else in the world. You can’t like everyone, and I think it’s enough to be respected by people who really love you."
And the people who love BTS, a fan base known as ARMY, really love BTS.
"We and our ARMY are always charging each other’s batteries," RM says. "When we feel exhausted, when we hear the news all over the world, the tutoring programs, and donations, and every good thing, we feel responsible for all of this. We’ve got to be greater; we’ve got to be better. All those behaviors always influence us to be better people, before all this music and artist stuff."
That goal has led BTS to work messages into their music, whether it focuses on mental health or their societal misgivings.
"When we write the songs and lyrics, we study these emotions, we are aware of that situation, and we relate to that emotionally," J-Hope says. "And that’s why when the song is released, we listen to it and get consolation from those songs as well. I think our fans also feel those emotions, maybe even more than us. And I think we are a positive influence on each other."
In light of COVID-19, though, the band has decided to set aside the need for a greater meaning on their upcoming album, Be.
"I don’t think this album will have any songs that criticize social issues," RM says. "Everybody is going through very trying times right now. So I don’t think there will be any songs that will be that aggressive."
Their first English single, "Dynamite," is a good example of what fans can expect from the band on Be.
"'Dynamite' wouldn’t be here if there was no COVID-19," RM says. "For this song, we wanted to go easy and simple and positive. Not some, like, deep vibes or shadows. We just wanted to go easy."
"We were trying to convey the message of healing and comfort to our fans," Jin adds. "World domination wasn’t actually our plan when we were releasing 'Dynamite.'"
Though continued worldwide success is the ultimate goal, BTS is determined to remain who they are at the core, whether or not it lives up to U.S. expectations.
"There is this culture where masculinity is defined by certain emotions, characteristics. I’m not fond of these expressions," Suga says. "What does being masculine mean? People’s conditions vary day by day. Sometimes you’re in a good condition; sometimes you aren’t. Based on that, you get an idea of your physical health. And that same thing applies mentally. Some days you’re in a good state; sometimes you’re not."
"Many pretend to be OK, saying that they’re not 'weak,' as if that would make you a weak person. I don’t think that’s right," he continues. "People won’t say you’re a weak person if your physical condition is not that good. It should be the same for the mental condition as well. Society should be more understanding."
Amid their quest for GRAMMYs, success and acceptance, BTS does not have the time to date.
"We have our fans, and we have our music. So we have a lot of things that we have to be responsible for, to safeguard. I think that’s what an adult is," RM says. "Our love life -- 24 hours, seven days a week -- is with all the ARMYs all over the world."
In addition to their Esquire cover, the band appeared on Good Morning AmericaMonday. While on the morning show, BTS performed their latest single, "Life Goes On," and expressed their eagerness to see their fans in person.