Release Date: May 18, 2018
Record label: Bighit
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, International, Pop-Rap, Korean Pop, Asian Pop
Just a month after issuing their Japanese-language Face Yourself, K-pop boy band BTS issued their third official full-length, Love Yourself: Tear (Bighit Entertainment). Capturing contemporary pop trends, Tear employed tropical house, sleek synth atmospherics, and smooth R&B-inspired singing that was relatively more subdued -- for BTS -- than their prior output. Even the Steve Aoki collaboration "The Truth Untold" traded that DJ's trademark bombast in favor of a sweeping, piano-driven ballad of sorts, more fit for waving lighters (or mobile phones) in an arena than bringing the house down with big drops.
K-pop has long been poised for a breakthrough in the U.S., and the stars have aligned for the Korean boy band BTS. It doesn't hurt that it is easier now than ever to be a K-pop fan on this side of the world, with the genre being tailor-made for our current algorithm-fed content chain. BTS has seized the opportunity, building a ravenous fanbase, not just at home and stateside but in South America and Europe as well.
Imagine a boyband so popular that their official fan club has a waiting list. So popular, that fans spend millions of won (Korean currency, friends) on merchandise and different editions of the same albums (some labels even hustle different cover art for each member of their biggest groups), and yet the majority of the Western music-listening population has no idea who they are. BTS, K-pop's latest stars that break the barriers of language have released their sixth album titled Love Yourself: Tear.
In 2017, BTS boldly went where no K-Pop group had gone before, cracking the American Top 40 with a remix of their "Mic Drop" single featuring Steve Aoki and Desiigner. Love Yourself: Tear is the first all-new album from the seven-piece ensemble since this breakthrough. (April's Face Yourself was mostly a repackaging of previously released songs for the Japanese market.) But crossing the ocean hasn't altered BTS' DNA.