The highs and lows of BTS’s 2022
1. BTS takes its marching orders
After much back and forth, and heated debate among local lawmakers and the public alike, BTS members decided to forgo possible exemptions from their mandatory military service. In October, the band’s agency HYBE announced that all seven members will enlist, starting with the eldest, Jin.
“BTS member Jin (Kim Seok-jin) has canceled a request for a deferment [...] and will follow the Military Manpower Administration’s procedures regarding enlistment,” the agency’s statement read.
Under the Military Service Act, prominent figures in the arts and sports such as Olympic and Asian Games medalists and globally recognized, award-winning classical musicians, can complete 34 months of alternative service. However, there are no provisions for pop culture figures.
All able-bodied Korean men must serve a minimum of 18 months in the military. A law revised in 2020, allowing K-pop stars who received medals from the government acknowledging their cultural service to the country, had postponed the members’ service until they turned 30.
Jin was dispatched to a front-line boot camp on Dec. 13 where he is undergoing a five-week training program at a division north of Seoul. He will later be assigned to a local unit. Suga is expected to be the next to enlist and will reportedly serve as a social service agent instead of as a soldier.
2. Stocks tumble after ‘hiatus’ announcement
In June, BTS broke the hearts of many fans, and many investors in its agency, with an announcement posted on the band’s official YouTube channel.
In a video to celebrate its ninth anniversary, the members revealed that they would be pursuing solo ventures while suggesting they would put a pause on group activities.
"The problem with K-pop and the whole idol system is that it doesn't give you the time to mature," RM said in the video.
"You have to keep producing music and keep doing something. But I get up in the morning and get makeup done, and there's no time left for growth. At some points, I didn't know who we were as a team anymore. I had no idea where I or the team were heading."
Confusion and chaos erupted as fans questioned whether the band was going to continue as a group. After local and international media reported that BTS would be taking a “hiatus,” HYBE’s stock prices plummeted to their lowest level in 20 months, losing a whopping 25 percent overnight.
The agency quickly clarified the following day that the announcement was not about the band going on a hiatus because BTS has always released albums as a group and it didn’t want to “worry” or “startle” fans when individual releases start coming out.
Although many were devastated, a significant portion of ARMY expressed their support for the band on its decision.
3. Members make their mark with solo music
BTS’s announcement that it would halt group activities wreaked havoc on HYBE’s stocks and raised concerns about the band’s future, but the members’ solo ventures have proved that there wasn't much to worry about.
In July, J-Hope dropped his first solo full-length album “Jack in the Box,” which earned him impressive rankings on several Billboard charts. The album also reached No. 9 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 100 Best Albums of 2022 in December.
Jungkook featured on the song “Left and Right” with American pop star Charlie Puth, sweeping charts around the globe, Jimin was part of the original soundtrack of the tvN K-drama series “Our Blues,” Jin collaborated with British band Coldplay for the song “The Astronaut” and Suga worked with singer PSY for the summer bop “That That.”
The most recent member to officially begin a solo career was RM with his full-length album “Indigo” that dropped in December. It reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart and was introduced by Time Magazine as one of five best K-pop albums of 2022.
“BTS’s prime may be yet to come,” said Ahn Jin-ah, an analyst at eBest Investment & Securities, using a play on words to compare the group’s outlook to the title of its latest song “Yet To Come” (2022), adding that the band’s solo activities may strengthen the members’ individual intellectual property.
4. Best-seller, Best Fans, Best Global Group
BTS started 2022 by bagging the title of Billboard’s best-selling song of the year, for the second consecutive time. On Jan. 6, Billboard revealed that BTS’s megahit “Butter” was the United States’ No.1 best-selling digital song of 2021.
In February, the band’s music video for its song “Dope” (2015) surpassed 700 million views on YouTube, followed by “Butter” (2021) which racked up 800 million views in August, and “Dynamite,” (2020) which surpassed 1.6 billion in November.
2022 was a great year for the band at awards shows. BTS won Best Music Video for “Butter” and Best Fan Army at the iHeartRadio Music Awards in March. The band took home a record-breaking 10 prizes from the Japan Gold Disc Awards, also in March, won Favorite Music Group for the third year in a row at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards in April, and took home three Billboard Music Awards in May.
In November, BTS became the first K-pop act to win Artist of the Year, which is considered the grand prize at the American Music Awards and also that month won Worldwide Icon of the Year at the Mnet Asian Music Awards.
The band was named the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry’s Global Recording Artist of the Year Award.
“The news marks a landmark moment for the recording industry as the South Korean group becomes the first act to win the award for two consecutive years,” the IFPI said.
“Butter” was streamed more than 1 billion times on Spotify.
5. Taking to the stage in Seoul, Viva Las Vegas!
In March, BTS held its first Seoul concert and met with its fans since the outbreak of Covid-19. The bands last performance in Seoul was in October 2019. Some 45,000 fans attended the three performances, making the concerts the largest since before the pandemic.
A month later, BTS held a mega-concert in Las Vegas for four nights on April 8, 9, 15 and 16.
The performances took place at the Allegiant Stadium, home of the National Football Leagues’ Las Vegas Raiders. The concert was sold out within minutes and over 620,000 people attended the concerts, including both in-person and online audiences.
The band was the only musical act to play four shows since the Allegiant Stadium first opened in 2020. Korean and international outlets estimated that the group’s Las Vegas concert raked in over $35 million for HYBE.
6. Meeting Biden to speak out on Asian hate
In June, BTS visited the White House and met with President Joe Biden in the Oval Office. It was a closed meeting, but the band posted a photograph with the caption, “Thanks for having us at the White House,” following their visit.
Biden also posted a video clip of their meeting and said he appreciates what the band is doing to raise awareness regarding the rise in anti-Asian crimes and discrimination. Prior to the meeting the members stopped by the James S. Brady Briefing Room, met with American reporters and emphasized how they all “stand with the AANHPI community," referring to the Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community in the United States.
7. Catching Covid, injuries for Jin, Jungkook
2022 was not without its hardships for the band and not even BTS could escape Covid.
J-hope contracted Covid-19 in late March, followed by Jungkook, who tested positive days before the group’s scheduled performance at the Grammys last year. RM, Jin and Suga were also infected with Covid last year.
Jin was also injured during a practice session and had to perform limited choreography due to his injury during the Las Vegas shows.
Jungkook had to deal with a leg injury that he first suffered in 2018 and had to sit down while performing for a local cable network music show during the fall period.
8. Free concert for 50,000 as Busan ambassadors
The boy band entertained a crowd of 50,000 free of charge at the Busan Asiad Main Stadium with a 90-minute set list of its greatest hits during “BTS〈Yet To Come〉 in Busan." The concert was held on Oct. 15. and organized to support Busan in its bid to host the World Expo in 2030.
In July, the members were made official ambassadors of the World Expo 2030 Busan campaign.
The concert was livestreamed on television channels JTBC and Japan’s TBS Channel 1, as well as online platforms Weverse, Zepeto and Naver Now. BTS’s management HYBE estimated that over 10 million people around the globe watched the concert online.
9. Wrapping up nine years with new album
On June 10, BTS dropped its anthology album “Proof,” encompassing nine years of its career. It consists of the band’s greatest hits since its debut in 2013, along with three new songs, including lead track “Yet To Come (The Most Beautiful Moment).”
The highly anticipated album sold over 2.75 million copies in the first week after its release — the second highest record for a K-pop album’s first-week sales, following BTS’s 2020 record set by “Map of the Soul : 7.
The EP and lead track saw relatively less popularity among the general public compared to the band’s previous hits like “Dynamite” or “Butter.”
“Yet To Come” peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100, in contrast to its former chart-toppers, but was praised by fans for encapsulating BTS’s history.
Until the members complete their mandatory military service, “Proof” is expected to be the last album released by BTS as a team of seven.
10. Jungkook makes history at World Cup
Jungkook made history last year by becoming the first K-pop singer to perform at another country’s World Cup Opening Ceremony.
At the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Opening Ceremony on Nov. 20, held at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Jungkook performed his song “Dreamers (from the official soundtrack of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022),” joined by Qatari singer Fahad Al Kubaisi.
“Dreamers” went on to see global popularity, topping YouTube’s Weekly Global Top Songs chart and Billboard's Hot Trending Songs chart. The song continues to rank high on Korea’s domestic music charts.
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