Singing apart, together: BTS beats the odds [GOLDEN 2023]
Nicknamed the “Korean Grammys,” the 38th Golden Disc Awards will take place on Jan. 6 in Jakarta, Indonesia, to honor the passion and talent that shone bright in the world of K-pop during the year of 2023.
Organized by the JoongAng Group, the Golden Disc Awards is considered one of the most prestigious awards in Korea with its unique format where dozens of nominees and multiple winners are chosen for three main categories — music, album and rookie of the year.
In this series, Golden 2023, the Korea JoongAng Daily’s entertainment arm Celeb Confirmed looks at K-pop’s biggest and brightest stars who are potential nominees, and their achievements this year.
Singing apart, together: When K-pop sensation BTS first announced last year that members would each embark on solo music projects, concern spread throughout the industry as to what each bandmate could bring to the market.
Would an individual BTS singer be able to achieve one-seventh of what the whole band was able to, or would they prove that the K-pop system was only successful for a group model? A year has passed since, and the answer is a hard yes — to the former.
In 2023, four BTS members each released their own solo music: Jimin, Suga (who did so under his alter-stage name Agust D), V and Jungkook. Not only did all four members sell over a million copies of their releases within a week, the four are now the best-selling K-pop soloists of the 21st century, based on the first-week album sales figures compiled by Korean market tracker Hanteo Chart.
Three out of the seven members have started their military duties, and the remaining four are set to follow soon, but all members have agreed to renew their contracts with HYBE for the second time, promising a BTS that will “stay together in 2025 and beyond.”
Until then, individual members will be flaunting their talents as solo artists, just as they have already shown they are capable of doing this year.
Jimin’s true “FACE”
Jimin’s first album “FACE” was released on March 24. A week later, he became the first K-pop solo singer to sit at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 albums chart and the first K-pop soloist to top the Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart, with lead track “Like Crazy.”
His first solo album sold over 1.45 million copies in the first week of its release, making it the most-sold album in the first week of release for a solo artist at the time.
But most of all, “FACE” was a chance for Jimin to show his true artistry, as the velvety voice of BTS and a soft dancer whose performance never fails to impress. He has already been nominated for four categories at the upcoming 2023 Billboard Music Awards (BBMAs) and five categories at the 2023 MAMA Awards.
Jimin "FACE" (March 24, 2023)
- First-week album sales of "FACE": 1,454,223
- First-day streaming of lead track "Like Crazy" on Spotify: 7,998,768
- First-week streaming of album songs on Spotify: 96,916,985
- Aggregate album song streams on Spotify: 10 billion
- Music video for “Like Crazy” on YouTube: 109,510,137 (as of Nov. 13)
- Major nominations: 2023 MAMA Awards (Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Male Artist, Best Dance Performance Male Solo), 2023 BBMAs (Top Selling Song, Top Global K-pop Artist, Top K-pop Album, Top Global K-pop song)
- Other: First K-pop soloist to sit on No. 1 of Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart Debut on British Big Top 40 list at No. 3, highest for a K-pop soloist Platinum certification from the RIAA
Suga’s real “D-DAY”
Suga, the talented rapper and producer of BTS, officially made his debut as the hip-hop artist Agust D with his full-length album “D-DAY.”
On the day of the album’s release on April 21, he sold 1,072,000 copies and set a new record for first-day sales for a solo K-pop artist, overthrowing Jimin’s record of 1,021,000 copies set the previous month.
He shot straight up to No. 2 on the Billboard 200 albums chart on the week of May 6, the highest for a K-pop soloist and tieing with Jimin’s “FACE.” Agust D’s lead track “Haegeum” landed at No. 58 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, becoming the fourth track released by Suga to land on the chart.
Since then, he’s kept busy by meeting with over 155,000 fans in the United States in his first-ever solo tour, collaborating with pop star Halsey for a game track and beginning his mandatory military service last September.
Agust D "D-DAY" (April 21, 2023)
- First-week album sales of "D-DAY": 1,277,218
- First-day streaming of lead track "Haegeum" on Spotify: 3,937,000
- First-week streaming of album songs on Spotify: 90,300,000
- Aggregate album song streams on Spotify: 500 million
- Music video for “Haegeum” on YouTube: 62,143,045 (as of Nov. 13)
- Major nominations: 2023 MAMA Awards (Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Rap & Hip-hop), 2023 BBMAs (Top K-pop Touring Artist), 2023 Pop Golden Awards (Korean Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, Rap Performance)
- Other: Lands on No. 2 on the Billboard 200 albums chart with album and No. 58 on the Hot 100 singles chart Stays on the Apple Music Worldwide Album Chart for 92 days.
The “Layover” of V
Though fans were excited for all of the BTS members’ music, V’s first EP “Layover” was especially exciting because director and CEO Min Hee-jin of ADOR, the agency that produced K-pop’s hottest new girl group NewJeans, announced that she had contributed her creative genius for the singer’s official solo debut.
And fans were right to be excited, as the singer once again broke the record for the highest first-day album sales for a K-pop soloist, with 1.67 million copies sold on the first day on Sept. 8. V sold 2.1 million copies within the first week, breaking another record in the K-pop history books.
“Layover” also landed on No. 2 on the Billboard 200, joining his bandmates Jimin and Suga for the monumental feat, while the lead track “Slow Dancing” peaked at No. 51 on the Hot 100 singles chart.
V has been nominated for five categories at the 2023 MAMA Awards and for two categories at the 2023 Pop Golden Awards.
V "Layover" (Sept. 8, 2023)
- First-week album sales of "Layover": 1,672,138
- First-day streaming of pre-release track "Love Me Again" on Spotify: 3,773,666
- First-week streaming of album songs on Spotify: 101,448,727
- Aggregate album song streams on Spotify: 650 million
- Music video for “Slow Dancing” on YouTube: 36,782,314 (as of Nov. 13)
- Major nominations: 2023 MAMA Awards (Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Male Artist, Best Vocal Performance Solo), 2023 Pop Golden Awards (Korean Artist of the Year, Korean Record of the Year)
- Other: Lands at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 albums chart with album and No. 51 on the Hot 100 singles chart Tops the Tidal UK Top Video Chart and the Apple Music U.K. Video Chart for the first time for a K-pop artist
Jungkook’s “Golden” year
Jungkook, the maknae — as the youngest member is referred to in Korean — of BTS, certainly had a golden year this year.
Starting with his two singles “Seven” and “3D” earlier this summer, Jungkook dropped his first full-length album “Golden” on Nov. 3 and — once again — broke the record for the highest-selling K-pop solo album in just a day.
"Golden" was released at 1 p.m. on Nov. 3 and sold over 1 million copies in three hours. It quickly became a double million-seller, just five hours after its release, marking the first time for a K-pop soloist to sell more than 2 million albums in one day. Within a week, Jungkook sold 2,438,483 copies of “Golden.”
When “Seven” was released for the first time last July, Jungkook topped the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart with the song, becoming the second BTS member to do so. He won two MTV Europe Music Awards earlier this month — for Best K-pop category and Best Song — and was named as Platinum Player by the Hollywood Reporter in September.
Jungkook "Golden" (Nov. 3, 2023)
- First-week album sales of "Golden": 2,438,483
- First-day streaming of lead track "Standing Next to You" on Spotify: 6,472,019
- First-week streaming of album songs on Spotify: 195,371,171
- Aggregate album song streams on Spotify: 2.5 billion
- Music video for “Standing Next to You” on YouTube: 33,639,772 (as of Nov. 13)
- Major nominations: 2023 MAMA Awards (Best Dance Performance Male Solo, Best Collaboration, Best Male Artist), 2023 BBMAs (Top Global K-pop Song)
- Other: Tops the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart with "Seven" Tops the Billboard Global 200 chart with "Seven" and "3D" Lands nine of his songs from album "Golden" on the worldwide iTunes chart, first for an Asian artist