2018-10-10 / Editorial

ASIAN INVASION

Diana Royal

If The Beatles and Michael Jackson had a love child, the product would be BTS.

And there’d still be traces of Sonny and Cher, Prince and even a bit of Elvis, Eminem and Whitney Houston.

BTS is the most popular boy band in the world right now, and these seven South Korean young men have seriously taken America by storm.

I became witness to this Saturday night as I sat in Citi Field, home of the New York Mets baseball team. But I wasn’t there for baseball. My daughter kept nudging me, “Forty-five more minutes”; “Eleven more minutes,” as I chatted with our new friend – a Canadian teenager who bused nine hours earlier in the day to also be part of this historical concert. BTS, this K-Pop band from Seoul, were performing in their first ever American stadium. Not only are they the first Korean entertainers ever to do so, they sold out Citi Field. In 10 minutes. All 45,000-ish seats.

I’ve been following the boys, who released their debut album in 2013 (when some group members were only 15 and 16 years old!), for several months now as my daughter’s love for them has continued to grow. I know all their names and even have a bias, as the teenagers say, which just means my favorite. His given name is Kim Taehyung (or V when on stage), and he reminds me of an Asian John Lennon in all he does. His mannerisms. The way he dresses. His singing style.

Then there’s Kim Namjoon (RM), Kim Seokjin (Jin), Min Yoongi (Suga), Jung Hoseok (J-Hope), Park Jimin (Jimin) and Makenzy’s bias Jeon Jungkook (Jungkook). They are amazing in every sense of the word, and 93 percent of the time I have absolutely no idea what they’re saying.

The group has rappers, harmonizers and crooners who could break glass with their high notes. Their dancing ability rivals that of the King of Rock and the King of Pop, and their fashion is leveled between Prince and Elton John. Their hair colors change as frequently as their album themes, and they are meticulous (and very serious) when it comes to the message they want to relay. That message resonates in every lyric, every page of the album, every poster and music video.

They have variety shows just like the good ol’ days of Sonny and Cher.

They sing with such conviction that it doesn’t even matter that you don’t know what they’re saying; you can feel it. I felt it. Kenzy felt it. Tens of thousands of our ARMY friends felt it in that stadium Saturday night.

I am old enough to know how important The Beatles were to music and how their crossover into mainstream America affected a generation, yet am too young to have lived it myself. I was always sad about that. Now, through BTS, I have witnessed that level of greatness in person, with my own two eyes. I can think of no other boy band who has managed to take over since that British Invasion. BTS have reached that stardom. Fans camped out for a week before the show with the hope of being close to that stage. Girls fainted. They beat out Taylor Swift’s record for the most views of a YouTube video on its release day and uprooted One Direction’s eight-week record as No. 1 on the Social 50 Chart (BTS topped out at 22 weeks). They’ve performed at the Billboard Music Awards (and won!) and have appeared on Jimmy Fallon, Ellen, Good Morning America and many other talk shows. They were invited to speak to the United Nations.

And they’re still humble. They had a series of snafus on Saturday, but laughed at them all and leaned on one other to get through. The night ended with tears streaming down Jimin’s face as he took it all in.

My point? Be open to other cultures. I have learned so much from these guys, and my daughter has been encouraged by their “ Love Yourself” message. She has taught herself the Korean alphabet and is thriving in all she does. They’ve given her a newfound respect for herself. I love that, and I love them. And you know what? I love myself, too.

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