Why Some Fans Are Glad BTS Does Not Have Mainstream Popularity

BTS has been taking the world by storm these past few years. The K-pop group started achieving significant international fame in 2017, and has allowed continuously climbed up the American charts. Their latest single, “On,” even ended up peaking at number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100.

However, despite BTS’s immense success, the group still lacks mainstream popularity compared to other popular artists. This is a widely discussed topic among BTS fans, but some people think it is actually good for BTS to not be mainstream.

BTS
BTS | Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

BTS has been struggling to achieve mainstream popularity in America

For many artists, a big factor in mainstream success in the American music industry is radio play. That is, the more an artist’s songs are played on the radio, the more recognizable they become.

BTS can sell out stadiums in the U.S. and even outperform other artists, such as the Jonas Brothers, Billie Eilish, and Ariana Grande. However, when it comes to streaming and album sales, they still lack the radio play that many stars get. This seems to mostly be due to BTS’s choice to sing in Korean instead of English. Foreign language songs do not tend to do well with the American public, so many radio stations continue to be hesitant to play BTS.

As a result, BTS does not have the mainstream popularity that makes their music and individual members more recognizable to the general public.

Why some fans think it is actually a good thing for BTS to not be mainstream

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The problem of mainstream popularity continues to plague BTS fans, but some are actually okay with the group not achieving such feat.

On Reddit, a fan noted that, if BTS gets more popular than they are now, they would face even worse treatment from the public and the media.

“Could you imagine if they were actually mainstream? It would be the Justin Bieber hate bandwagon all over again except 10x worse with the added layer of xenophobia/racism,” the fan said. “I think BTS are actually in a sweet spot popular enough that the younger population knows of them and they have the fandom to chart and tour and are invited to talk-shows and awards shows.”

Another user agreed, pointing out that fans might not be able to deal with all the negatives that come with BTS being more famous. The person wrote, “ARMY won’t be able to handle BTS being TREATED like other mainstream artist. I remember when a music critic criticized BTS’s music respectfully and ARMY started a Twitter witch hunt for the poor guy. I think that BTS is doing great right now. They have hit their peak of popularity and they are living comfortable lives. They don’t need Americans to think that they are the greatest boy band alive.”

Some people think BTS is already mainstream

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Of course, it is important to note that the definition of “mainstream” could be different for some people. While some might consider radio play an important factor in what is considered mainstream, some fans believe that, as long as a lot of the general public is aware of an artist, they can be considered mainstream.

One fan said, “BTS is definitely not known by their individual faces and even music by the general public since it doesn’t get played on the radio. However were you to show a picture of a group with 7 Asian looking boys I am sure a big part of a focus group would recognize them as ‘the South Korean boy group BTS.’ For that reason I’d say they are seen as somewhat normal in the US and can be concluded as mainstream.”

At the end of the day, one thing most people can agree on is that BTS has achieved many extraordinary feats. There is no doubt the group is paving the way for more K-pop artists to be recognized on the international stage in the future.