When Namjoon said that he’s curious to know our ARMY story, I found myself in front of my laptop penning my outline for my ARMY story in time for BTS’s 8th Anniversary. It’s their 8th in the biz, but my first-anniversary event as a fan. So how did I get here?
The life before BTS
I am that KDRAMA fan who’s never immersed in KPOP. I know BTS, for sure. But I was not interested. In my head, I even questioned my mutual friends who are fans of KPOP. I mean, do you even understand what they’re singing? I often asked. The best stretch that could lead me to KPOP is listening to KDRAMA OST. I remember that phase when our country was so obsessed with Goblin’s Beautiful.
The day BTS got my attention
In late 2019, I got fascinated with an artist from a KPOP girl group. That was when I started following a stan account dedicated to that group.
Late 2020: When The Grammys announced their 2021 nominations, there were conversations on why this KPOP act didn’t land any but BTS landed one. For me, The Grammy nomination alone was huge for an Asian act. So it got me thinking, man… who are these people and why are they making history.
The person who introduced me to BTS
The Grammy nomination placed BTS under my radar. But I would give proper credit to the person who really introduced me (officially but not literally) to BTS. It was Korean actor Park Seo Joon. I told you, I am a KDRAMA fan first. So Park Seo Joon had a heavy hand on my Army Journey.
Around December 2020, I was planning to write a round-up blog for PSJ in time for his birthday on December 16. The plan was to rank PSJ’s drama from the day of his debut. At that time, Hwarang was the only PSJ drama left that I had to watch so I could write an objective review. I jumped to Netflix and there I immediately saw BTS V — Kim Taehyung on the cast placeholder. Hmmm. Interesting. But at the moment, I felt like BTS is following me. Right? Talk about calling. Lol.
The day I went into the BTS rabbit hole
I watched Hwarang for Park Seo Joon but I ended up fangirling over Taehyung then eventually BTS. (I still love Seo Joon, don’t get me wrong). After I finished the drama (which is part of my Top KDRAMAs), I started indulging in BTS music videos, interviews, TV guesting, behind the scenes, practice videos, and all. I had a lot of euphoric moments after watching their MVs. The passion is just so insanely evident. I watched their Carpool Karaoke with James Corden and that was the first time I got a peek at their different personalities. How adorable and charismatic they are. How natural they are which makes them so inviting to watch.The next thing I knew I already bought their album, followed by their merch that turned my room into a BTS museum (work in progress, will flex in Home Buddies once done). Reaching a merch-level of fan intensity seals the deal for me. Okay, this is legit.
The songs that marked my BTS ascension
It was life-changing to listen to their music. I once asked my mutual friends why they appreciate BTS despite the language barrier. But going inside their universe, I realized that the global success of BTS exemplifies why music is a universal language. There’s something about their musicality that speaks to your soul. I watched Halsey’s interview when she applauded BTS’s rich lyricism (she made an effort to check translation). I second that. BTS presents different types of genres — rap, pop, EDM, soul, dance, etc., — and their online and offline concepts scream a high level of creativity and originality.
I first watched Dynamite which coincidentally has a video stamp (approval for release) dated on my birthday. Destiny, right? But the songs that won me over were the kinetic manifesto film “On” — their titular track for Map Of The Soul:7, and their song “Life Goes On” which gives me so much hope amid my state of melancholy.
Fans scream because their music communicates a deep sense of relatability, inspiration, and energy. The legendary presence that their stage power holds is parallel with the immense talent that each member has. Not to mention their hits, their music catalog brings you from one cloud to another. My heart melts while listening to Euphoria and Lights. I laud Taehyung’s vocal supremacy in Stigma. It’s so nostalgic whenever I listen to Forever Young. It feels like a rainy day when Butterfly and Let Go are on repeat. I feel so close to them when I listen to Magic Shop and Mikrokosmos. I feel comforted when I listen to Love Myself. The vision of summer plays in my head when I listen to Telepathy and Hope World. To fuel my work energy, I just play Not Today.
The list goes on. There’s a lot to mention, really. But the bottom line is there’s depth in their music. Contrary to the assumption of naysayers, their songs surpass their visuals. All roads still lead to the main product.
Why is BTS dominating the Billboard charts?
It’s their music. Their music touched millions of fans. And because a lot of fans believe in their music and a lot of us feel that this deserves a global ear, we rally the charts. That’s it.
The hype that the ARMY creates builds curiosity; that curiosity leads to fan recruitment. You see, that was how I was recruited.
The stories and experiences that turned me into an ARMY
One reason why fans have a great affinity for them is their underdog backstory. My heart cried when I listened to their humble beginnings. Like how reporters or even fans were ice cold when they debuted. It’s because they didn’t come from a high-profile agency. They even gave out fliers so people would watch their concert. People would ridicule them saying how ambitious they are to even carve a space side by side with other KPOP giants. If you watched their past videos, you’ll be happy to witness their evolution. And that’s why everyone roots for them.
Another factor that really guarantees BTS’s longevity is their relationship with their fans. The bond is one of a kind, I tell you. Hashtag relationship goals. They’re very loving and generous when it comes to their ARMY. Generous in the sense that they’re spoiling us with a lot of content that keeps us connected. They are aware that their presence alone is very comforting.
For one, I really love watching RUN BTS — their weekly variety show on VLIVE — because it’s my chance to see the other side of BTS. Like what Jimmy Fallon said, aside from their musicality, fans love them because they are natural comedians. They’re not afraid to be embarrassed, to “dress down” or show their “human side” in front of the camera. Their rawness makes them loveable and relatable. I guess people are just tired of the glamour. We yearn for someone relatable and crazy, just like us.
ARMY speaks so highly of BTS as much as BTS speaks so highly of ARMY. When you love someone, you always talk about them. That’s what the fans feel in BTS interviews. I feel the love especially when I feel like we are their priority in every single execution that they have. As a new fan, one gesture that I liked was during The Grammys. When they lost the POP DUO Award to Ariana and Lady Gaga, their top of mind was not about their defeat but how their ARMY felt. So the first thing that they did was to go live on VLive just to comfort us. Now isn’t that romantic?
ARMYs feel so inspired to move; we feel that our efforts are not wasted because of the undying mentions and heartfelt appreciation of BTS. We can weather any type of controversy because it’s clear that we got each other’s back. Needless to say, BTS and ARMY are just redefining the artist-fan relationship. All artists must take note.
This is just one story. Imagine the stories of the fans around the world from 2013 to the present. And imagine more stories to come in the future because I know BTS and ARMYs have a long way to go. They will continue to win a lot of hearts. And I can’t wait to write more, especially when the day comes when I’ll be able to log my concert experience. I’ll be waiting.
This is my ARMY story.
Happy 8th Anniversary, BTS.
P.S. Stream Butter!