BTS have left one of their truths untold until now.
The K-pop super group recently revealed that if it weren’t for COVID-19, they would’ve stuck (at least mostly) to their native tongue.
In an interview for a new Billboard cover story, members of the fanatically beloved boy band opened up about their discomfort with singing songs fully in English.
“There was no alternative,” 28-year-old Jin told Billboard of releasing the group’s first English language song “Dynamite” — which became the group’s first Billboard No. 1 hit — in summer 2020, and then following it with two more English songs (“Butter” and “Permission to Dance” which both also hit the No. 1 slot) this year.
While the charts and their fans ate up the tracks, the seven-member boy band were not unanimously pleased: Singing in English felt unnatural, Jin said. “The English I learned in class was so different from the English in the song,” he said. “I had to erase everything in my head first.”
With the group’s 2020 world tour plans scuttled due to COVID-19 and live performances still suspended in Korea, pivoting from Korean with some sprinklings of English instead of singing full English tracks felt like a necessary move.
In 2019, the group’s only fluent English speaker and “de facto leader” RM told Entertainment Weekly that BTS had consciously prioritized sticking to Korean over singing in English, despite English offering easier access to a number of accolades they aspired to. That was, of course, before the pandemic.
“I don’t want to compare, but I think it’s even harder as an Asian group. A Hot 100 and a Grammy nomination, these are our goals,” RM told EW at the time. “But they’re just goals — we don’t want to change our identity or our genuineness to get the No. 1. Like, if we sing suddenly in full English, and change all these other things, then that’s not BTS. We’ll do everything, we’ll try. But if we couldn’t get No. 1 or No. 5, that’s OK.”