Coney Bank Final

BTS is a 7 member Korean Pop Group who has found worldwide success within the world and taken over mainstream music in the US. The reason why BTS was able to have success is due to the Korean Wave which is a term used for the wave of Korean Popularity outside of South Korea, and their passionate fanbase called Army. People argue that the successful exportation of Korean pop-music business across Asia reflects the hybrid nature of Korean pop music content and its related music industry. One of the biggest examples of this is the combination of Korean lyrics with western hip-hop rhythms and dancing.[1] Due to using western influence, but also making it local to South Korea, it led to success within Korea and reaching mainstream US music.

The first kpop song that reached the US before was Gangnam style in 2012. To kpop fans, this isn’t really thought of as the same category as kpop songs, but more of a viral comedy song. There was really no fandom or fan base to Psy in the US. But this early exposure of Kpop to the US helped the growth of Kpop as a whole easier to the mainstream public. Other than Psy, before BTS tried to get into the American market, other groups were making English versions of songs and promoting in the US, like Wonder Girls and Girls Generation. In the long history of kpop’s attempts in the American market, it didn’t get the hype that they were expecting. and the artist’s agency decides to shift back their focus to more familiar markets back in Asia.[2] Even though they had support from western producers and artists, it never seemed to go as planned. This makes us wonder, why does it seem as if BTS’s popularity never goes down and why are they continuously so successful? Who are these passionate fans?[3] Kpop fans during this period of Wonder Girls, and Girls Generation before 2013 were usually Asian fans who grew up listening to Korean music through their parents or grandmother and started to like it on their own. Now, Kpop fans are diverse than ever before, and BTS has the biggest kpop fandom out of all.

A quick view of the History of BTS in the US helps to see where and how they grew more fans and who they were, and who they are now. BTS debuted on June 13, 2013 and after a year of promotion in Korea in mid-2014, they headed to Los Angeles to learn about hip hop culture since that was the music genre they were making at that time. This was an opportunity for them to grow as a group, and also grow their US Fanbase. During this time, BTS’ fans were mostly hip hop fans. During their stay in LA, they did a surprise concert and their goal was to find 200 fans to fill the venue. BTS was worried if they would be able to find it, but with their dedicated fans, ‘Army’ which stands for “Adorable Representative M.C. for Youth”, BTS proved that they already had gained a passionate fanbase in within a year of debut with some people even waiting hours to get in the venue. Even though it was a free concert, around 400 fans showed up for the 200 people spot. [4]  They were successfully able to get enough people, but compared to how popular they are now, it’s insane to think only 400 people showed up.  For a small kpop group during that time, it was quite impressive. During this time, BTS’s fans were mostly Hip-Hop fans. Lyrics were usually about being schoolboys, being young, and being rebellious. Previous single “War of Hormone” included lyrics that translate to, “A girl that drives me crazy, provoking me every day / After fighting my hormones again today, I’ll pop my pimple”.

This video is an interview of armys during the 2014 free concert.

One of the key moments of BTS gaining more fans within the US was attending KCON 2014 in August in Los Angeles. BTS was the youngest artist to attend and were considered “rookies”, which is a term used for groups who have been together for less than 2 years. Big Kpop stars with huge followings were there such as G-Dragon, Girls’ Generation, and IU. Each guest performs around 2-4 songs each during the concert. This was a big step for BTS making more fans in the US since different fandoms were there, it was a good opportunity for kpop fans to hear new music and become BTS’ new fan. There are 2 distinctive fan groups in kpop, and many of BTS’ more recent fans consider themselves separate from the typical K-pop crowd. These fans usually devote all their attention and money to just one group, and that group is usually BTS. Within the Kpop community, the don’t have the best reputation due to their obsessiveness to BTS. They are often found everywhere on any platform, from youtube, tik tok, and Instagram, often commenting on posts that does not even have to deal with BTS or Kpop. These kinds of fans were rare to find in around 2014 as fans were much more often to listen to new music. These fans who listen to multiple groups are called ‘Multi-stans’ rather than ‘Single-stans’. During KCON LA, a lot of fans of other groups became BTS’ fan overnight.[5]

It is interesting to see that in 2017, BTS isn’t the most popular Korean in the US yet.

A year after KCON, BTS came back to the US with their first tour. The four stops in the US included New York, Dallas, Chicago, and Los Angeles in July. BTS was becoming bigger with multiple Billboard 200 entries to their name, and BTS headlined KCON 2016 in New York. When once before BTS was the youngest group attending KCON, they were now headlining the concert. KCON NY reported more than 42,000 attendees this grew their fandom even more in the USA as kpop became more popular. With this success, they also headlined KCON LA, with 76,000 total attendees.[6]

During March-April, 2017 BTS had a successful Album called Wings and it was their biggest selling and highest charting kpop album to that day. They had an American leg of their Wings tour and had 5 concerts in NYC, Chicago, and LA. The band’s agency, Big Hit Entertainment, reported 60,000 tickets sold. This is the start of BTS’s fans becoming mostly single stans. Billboard was at the concert that year, and they noted that “rookie boy band BTS might have been the newest artist on the bill, and the huge crowd reaction could have made you think otherwise.” This is also the year that they started to change the concepts of their songs to focusing big-picture anxieties that would be relatable for everyone. This had shifted the fans from a hip hop fan base to a mainstream “pop” music listeners.

In 2017 they had the Love yourself campaign focused on loving one’s self. BTS even had a self-love speech at the UN in September of 2017. When asked most fans on why they like BTS, people mostly reply by saying that it is because BTS has an important message of reminding us to love ourselves. “I looked around me at hundreds of people in their 20s cheering every word, and I thought, ‘My god. They’re using their influence to teach young people — the ones most inclined to grapple with self-hatred — to start considering what self-love means.’ [7]

From May 2017, an even bigger change of fans and a massive following struck BTS. They attended The 2017 Billboard Music Awards, and got a win for top social artist on the show. Even though people would assume that this was positive, it also made a lot of hate towards BTS due to the fans’ obsessiveness and being too aggressive for their love of BTS. BTS fans were indeed the most passionate on the internet.  In November of that year, BTS was able to perform their song “DNA” at the 2017 American Music Awards. This introduced BTS to many people who weren’t even interested in Kpop beforehand in the US. During this trip, they went to many famous US TV shows including The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Jimmy Kimmel, The Late Late Show and others. Every time the fans were screaming so much that when BTS appeared on Ellen, the members could barely be heard over Armys who didn’t stop yelling “I love yous” and screaming that interrupted their interviews. During this say in the US, they made themselves the most known as possible. This had made BTS to a household and mainstream name.

The demographic of BTS and Hallyu fans has always been diverse. DramaFever is a Twitter account managed by a website with the same name, in which they provide video-streaming services for Korean dramas and music videos serving fans of Asian television dramas to fans in North America. In an interview with a national newspaper in Korea,  the CEO of DramaFever revealed that approximately 72 % of its users were non-Asians, including whites (53 %), blacks (10 %), and Hispanics (6 %). [9]

The Chart below shows at exactly when BTS was being most talked about on the internet, and it is interesting to note the spike at the 2017 BBMAS. This is when most people tweeted due to the more likelihood of winning, and new fans looking them up. This is where BTS gained the most fans in the USA.

Over the period this social data was observed – January 2013 to December 2019 – there were 2,199,192,809 mentions of BTS [10]

America is now the strongest BTS ARMY – at least in social data – with 17% of social traffic coming from here. South Korea is second with their social data, at 13%. [11]
         The biggest reason for k-pop’s and BTS’ sudden global popularity is the emerging importance of social media, such as youtube, though which young fans of kpop are said to have learned about Korean Popular music for the first time.[12]  BTS/Kpop Fans do differently than the rest of the industry. One being fan chants which are words the fans chant during the performances. sometimes it is lyrics, or the group’s name, members or random things in reply to the song. BTS had a huge fan chant during the 2017 AMAs:

Now in 2020, ”Map of the Soul: Persona” is BTS’s third No. 1 in less than a year. BTS also recently became the first K-pop act to land a No. 1 album in the United States. According to Billboard, the Beatles were the last group with three top sellers in such quick succession, with its three ”Anthology” volumes, in 1995 and 1996. [13]

The key difference between fans pre 2017 and now is that now Armys aren’t afraid to show how much they love BTS due to the rising popularity of KPOP. Even though pre-2017 fans have had the same love for BTS, they were often shy and most often didn’t really express their love for kpop as strongly as the fans now. Armys are now passionate then ever and they aren’t afraid to show their love.

BTS fans in 2020:

Armys are constantly flooding Twitter with hashtags to promote the band’s activities, organize to stream new music, and create merch for other fans. BTS’s successes would not be possible without the ARMY, whose enthusiasm rivals that of Beliebers and Swifties. Fans see BTS as original, authentic, and socially conscious public figures who aren’t afraid to talk openly about the struggles and anxieties of their career path. [14]


[1] Ju, Hyejung. “Glocalization of the Korean Popular Culture in East Asia: Theorizing the Korean Wave.” UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA, UMI, 2011.

[2] Dorof, Jakob. “A Deeper Look at Why BTS Has Thrived in America.” Vulture, Vulture, 12 June 2018,

[3] PARK, Gil-Sung. “Manufacturing Creativity: Production, Performance, and Dissemination of K-Pop*.” Korea Journal, , vol. 3, no. 4, 2013.

[4] Dorof, Jakob. “A Deeper Look at Why BTS Has Thrived in America.” Vulture, Vulture, 12 June 2018,

[5] Benjamin, Jeff. “A Full Timeline of BTS in America.” Billboard, 18 May 2018,

[6] Benjamin, Jeff. “A Full Timeline of BTS in America.” Billboard, 18 May 2018,

[7] Romano, Aja. “BTS, the Band That Changed K-Pop, Explained.” Vox, Vox, 13 June 2018,

[8] Nguyen, Terry. “The Big Business of BTS, the K-Pop Band That’s Changed Music.” Vox, Vox, 20 Feb. 2020,

[9] Kim, Minjeong, et al. “Comparative Trends in Global Communication Networks of #Kpop Tweets.” Quality & Quantity, vol. 48, no. 5, 2014, pp. 2687–2702.



[12] Oh, Ingyu, and Gil-Sung Park. “From B2C to B2B: Selling Korean Pop Music in the Age of New Social Media.” Korea Observer, vol. 43, no. 3, 2012, pp. 365–397.

[13] Caulfield, Keith. “BTS Scores Third No. 1 Album on Billboard 200 Chart With ‘Map of the Soul: Persona’.” Billboard, 22 Apr. 2019,

[14] Benjamin, Jeff. “K-pop breakout hits U.S. charts: the seven-member BTS looks to score a ‘Gangnam Style’-size hit by connecting with American fans.” Billboard, vol. 128, no. 27, 29 Oct. 2016, p. 20+. Gale In Context: Biography, Accessed 8 Apr. 2020.


Subculture Project: Hillsong Music

Having grown up attending church, Christian worship music is a large part of my life. And having grown up with Christian music, I have noticed how the sound of the genre has changed. For this project, I’ll be focusing on the Hillsong subculture within Christian music.

Christian pop music doesn’t have the best reputation and I think Christianity, in general, is seen as “uncool.” The genre of music is “often ridiculed, marginalized, or dismissed as unauthentic, uncool, irrelevant, and unhip” (Harju 1). Despite it being “one of the fastest growing genres of music in the U.S.,” Christian pop “often fails to register with the mainstream music culture” (Harju 2).

Hillsong Church is a megachurch from Australia that was founded by Brian Houston in 1983 and now expands over the world with over 25,000 members. Houston says he always wanted to lead a church that created music, and he’s accomplished that with as Hillsong is one of the most popular Christian bands. After listening to many of their songs, it seems like Hillsong’s music has evolved from a traditional sound to a more contemporary and pop sound. “Traditional Christian music usually entails hymns and songs with very Biblical text and technical harmony or chord progressions” while contemporary Christian music has a “looser structure” and “explores different harmonies and creative chord progressions” and is “constantly evolving like secular music” ( Just as secular and mainstream music rapidly changes, it can be argued that Hillsong’s music has evolved in an attempt to step into the mainstream and appeal to the current younger generation.

Below is a video of one of their performances for their song, “Shout to the Lord,” from 1994. The song itself is very structured with a very easy-to-follow melody. The setting and atmosphere appear to be very simple. It’s a well-lit room with no flashing lights or fancy smoke machines – which are features that we’ll see in future Hillsong performances.

I lead worship at my church and I’d describe our worship style to be very traditional. Below is a snippet of my team practicing Hillsong’s “The Stand.” We keep it very simple, with acoustic guitars, keyboard, bass, and a drummer.

Seen below, Hillsong’s performance of the song is much different than my team’s. It’s actually also very different from “Shout to the Lord.” This performance is a lot darker, with different colored lights and smoke. It reminds me of secular music pop or rock concerts.

Perhaps the way Hillsong has transformed their worship music is why they are so popular now. The atmosphere that they create with their instruments, the lighting, and the smoke machines make people feel good, which may end up allowing people to “connect with God.” Many of the worship leaders in documentary Hillsong: Let Hope Rise stated that their goal was to connect people to God with their music.

Worship music in the NYC Hillsong church is very similar. I was planning to go visit the church for this project but the current pandemic changed those plans. This video of someone visiting Hillsong NYC for the first time gives a glimpse of what the worship is like, with the music portion starting at 07:25

The experience is very similar to the performances by the main band, with a dark atmosphere, different colored lights, and upbeat music. The person visiting shares how he enjoyed the experience a lot, which is similar to many other reviews. People in the documentary say how they feel a different feeling when they step into Hillsong Church, and the music that the atmosphere creates may be why. When I attended a national Christian conference for college students two years ago, the atmosphere of the worship was very similar to Hillsong’s. I can say that the feeling was very thrilling and it did produce a different type of feeling than the worship that I experience at my home church.

It’s not just their live performances, but their songs have also evolved, with more creative lyrics, different melodies and harmonies, and a more intense musical experience. By more intense musical experience, I’m describing how the song would start off light, build up during the bridge and end powerfully. An example could be found here, with one of their most popular songs, “What a Beautiful Name.” The bridge starts at about 2:55, builds up, repeats the chorus, and then builds up even more by repeating the bridge a second time.

This kind of musical build-up combined with the atmosphere they create can contribute to intense feelings that the audience may enjoy.  The lyrics are also poetic-like, unlike the straightfowardness of “Shout to the Lord.”

Aodhan King, one of Hillsong’s worship leaders, said in their documentary:

“We listen to people outside in the secular world creating unbelievable music – I think  that’s pressure for us – we want to create the same thing with our sound.”

This quote alone shows the influence that secular mainstream music has on Hillsong. From their recent releases, it appears as if they are trying to keep up with the secular world to remain relevant in an evolving world of music.

This piece isn’t meant to place any judgment on Hillsong – I sing their songs all the time, and I do think they make great music. It’s just been interesting to analyze how their music has changed and to try to understand why their music has evolved from their 90s sound. As much as Christians say to not give in to the ways of this world, I think an argument can be made that secular music has impacted how Hillsong decides to write and perform their songs in order to remain relevant with their audiences.


Works Cited

Bock, Jonathon, et al. Hillsong – Let Hope Rise. Pure Flix Entertainment, 2016.

Harju, Bärbel. “Making Christianity Cool: Christian Pop Music’s Quest for Popularity.” Unpopular Culture, edited by Martin Lüthe and Sascha Pöhlmann, Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam, 2016, pp. 169–186. JSTOR,

“How to Blend Traditional and Contemporary Music in the Church.” Musicnotes Now, 23 Aug. 2018,

Sounds Like the Mall of America: Programmed Music and the Architectonics of Commercial

This article builds up the idea of ‘sound condition’ as another method of guessing the connection between music, crowds and regular day to day existence. The article draws on discoveries from an exact contextual investigation led with youngsters between the ages of 21 and 32. In concentrating on this age run, we consider ‘unremarkable’ music utilization rehearses as opposed to the more ‘awesome’ types of youth social music utilization frequently recorded in scholastic work. During a time portrayed by the expanding inescapability of music, youngsters hear or tune in to music in different designs, for instance, by preparing a specific music innovation and substance or hearing music while shopping in a retail chain, visiting a companion at home, or going in a lift. Drawing on the idea of the ‘sound condition’, this article takes a gander at factors of room, time and body to clarify the contextualization of music in regular day to day existence.

Response to The Audio-Visual iPod

This reading felt extremely relatable because everywhere you look in New York City, people have headphones in. I’ve sometimes wondered what people are listening to on morning commutes on the subway or when they’re studying in the library. I think you can learn a lot about a person just based on what they decide to listen to. Bull specifically refers to the iPod, but I think in today’s time this can translate to our smartphones, tablets – any mobile device that allows us to listen to some kind of audio.

I enjoyed reading Jason’s story about how the iPod impacted his life. He discusses how he enjoys being able to listen to a fiction book while being a public place and imagining people he sees as the characters he’s listening about. This idea of still having your own private experience while being out in public struck me. I’m sure many of us have felt like Jason, where we’re able to experience something separate from what’s happening in front us because of what we’re listening to through our headphones.

Many of the people that Bull interviewed also mention how they feel like they’re in a movie where “the user takes a central role” and that they’ll match their music to their mood or the setting they’re in. The idea of “aesthetic enhancement” is something interesting that Bell mentions because I think we do view the world differently when we have music in our ears. We know that sound can create a certain type of presence or atmosphere, and listening to music through an iPod can help enhance our emotions and how we view the world. I think an article like this just shows how impactful sound or music can be. Headphones allow us to have a private experience and iPods and smart devices allow us to carry a new world of imagination with us everywhere. From meditative background noise to our favorite music to a growing number of podcasts, we have so many options to affect how we view the world with just something as simple as sound.

Response to Manufacturing Creativity: Production, Performance, and Dissemination of K-pop

Growing up, K-pop has always been popular among my peers. I remember how many of my classmates were fans of 2PM and Girls Generation back when I was in middle school. But I don’t remember it being really popular or mainstream throughout the entire United States, like how the K-pop group BTS is now. I’m not a huge follower of K-pop, and I was thrilled to see Koreans break out into the American music industry, but sometimes I would wonder what exactly happened for BTS to become so popular? This article was interesting in explaining how it was mainly because of the North American and European music industry that K-pop became increasingly popular. I think in a way, it’s smart that K-pop producers focus on North American/European industries because I feel those industries are more global. Many American artists are well-known around the world.

Out of the three points that are mentioned in the article, the third one stood out to me the most. This point refers to how “the global dissemination of K-pop contents would not be possible without global social network service (SNS).” These services, like Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms have played a huge role in K-pop’s popularity in the States. This article highlights that it’s from the help of Western countries that this popularity is possible, because these social media services are not “owned or operated by Asians.” If we think about it, I think  BTS’ popularity in America has a lot to do with their interactions with the American media. They’re very active on social media like Twitter and Instagram. Moreover, they have been guests on many American television shows, like late-night comedy shows or daytime shows. Even though not music-related, we see a similar situation with the film Parasite, when it received many positive reviews over social media and eventually ended up winning multiple Oscars.



Response to Sterne’s “Sounds Like the Mall of America”

I really enjoyed reading Sounds Like the Mall of America: Programmed Music and the Architectonics of Commercial Space by Jonathan Sterne, because I feel like it’s something that we don’t often think about but encounter every time we visit a mall. I like how Sterne explains how music becomes a form of architecture and discusses his ideas through the music within the Mall of America. I never thought of music as a form of architecture since it’s only audio and not something we can physically see. But I agree with Sterne’s point about sound bringing about a certain “presence” and this presence is an “essential part of a building’s infrastructure.” Sound sets the tone of the atmosphere and finding the appropriate one helps build the mall’s and individual stores’ characters.

I liked his discussion on the environment and foreground music. I always thought the music that played in the mall or stores were considered to be background music, but his descriptions of each help explain the purpose for both in a mall. Environmental music doesn’t include vocals or “abrasive instruments.” This is the kind of music we would find in the hallways of the mall; music that is there but doesn’t call attention to itself. Foreground music is “music programming that consists of songs in their original form.” The music that is played here involves the lyrics and Sterne compares it to the radio. Songs are selected based on certain characteristics to help with smooth transitions. This kind of programming that stores plan out with their songs help create an identity for the stores. Sterne provides Victoria’s Secret as an example. The music helps with the store’s “high-class status and refinement” identity. This got me thinking of other stores, like Hollister, which songs create a summer/beach vibe in the atmosphere. I thought the observation about the shift between the environment and foreground music when you enter from the hallway into the store was interesting too. I wonder if the leisurely, calm music in the hallways is what help keep circulating people within the mall to eventually be drawn into stores?

I also thought the idea that “music programs correspond to the demography of the Mall’s desired, rather than actual, visitors” (43) was interesting. If you think about it, Sterne does have a point because mall staff is choosing this music in hopes that certain people will appreciate the music and stay longer. The Mall of America “desires an affluent (and usually white) adult middle-class population” but there are still visitors of all age ranges and ethnicities. Teens are seen as less than adults, and I thought it was interesting how these music programs can tie into politics.

One thought I had was in regard to the holiday season. Malls and stores completely transform for holiday shopping, with non-stop holiday music in the hallways and stores. I wonder if that would be considered environment or foreground music? Because it creates a holiday spirit-filled atmosphere, but can you also argue that it calls attention to itself? Does holiday music impact customer buying habits? Perhaps the cheerfulness of the music compels people to spend more.

The Audio-Visual iPod

Michael Bull’s “The Audio-Visual iPod” profoundly impacted me. I think that its interesting that the book was composed exclusively on iPod clients and how the utilization of their iPods significantly impacts the manner by which they explore the urban areas where they live. Bull noticed that city occupants regularly overlook their environmental factors and move about, rarely taking in their surroundings. Bull expresses that “the utilization of an iPod empowers clients to make a wonderful reality for themselves as they travel through day by day life”. And various tunes can bring about various shades of significance or discernment to a solitary scene. For the normal city staying individual, that scene is life in urban space.

The Stage Hip-Hop Feminism Built: A New Directions Essay

This article follows the latest direction in the field of hip-bounce woman’s rights. Keeping that in mind, we map the present landscape of hip-jump women’s activist examinations, first by recognizing difficulties and strains, at that point by checking on current writing and its commitment with these issues, lastly by distinguishing new and new regions for additional improvement of the field. We contend that hip-bounce woman’s rights has successfully made space for itself in the more extensive fields of dark and ladies of-shading feminisms and remains profoundly put resources into the intersectional approaches created by before dark women’s activists. We additionally demand that ladies and young ladies of shading stay vital to our investigations, especially considering the multiplication of basic manliness concentrates inside the more extensive field of hip-jump examines. Moreover, our conversation of hip-jump women’s liberation fights that inside hip-bounce women’s activist investigations, hip-jump and woman’s rights go about as discrete however constitutive classes that share a dialogic relationship. Instead of regarding women’s liberation just as it loans a specific scholarly gravity to hip-jump, we consider how imaginative, scholarly hip-bounce women’s activist work welcomes new inquiries concerning portrayal, gives extra understanding about exemplified understanding, and offers elective models for basic commitment.

Tricia Rose characterizes rap music, a subset of hip-bounce, as “a type of rhymed narrating joined by exceptionally cadenced, electronically based music.” Rap, alongside breakdancing and spray painting, establish the hip-jump subculture. Dark and Brown individuals in the Bronx, disregarded and underserved, created hip-bounce out of disappointment with this minimization of their networks. Hip-bounce in its source was an extremely male-ruled field, with misanthrope, misogynist, and homophobic verses. Because of the mind-boggling measure of men in the class and the negative perspectives toward ladies, female rappers regularly thought that it was difficult to account for themselves in the game.