The Atlantic

I Wasn’t a Fan of BTS. And Then I Was.

The Korean supergroup’s devoted following and chart-topping success have won them comparisons to the Beatles. Why was I surprised to get swept up in their magic?
Source: Ethan Miller / Getty / Thanh Do / The Atlantic

I was already yawning when I sat down to watch Saturday Night Live one evening this past April. The host that night was Emma Stone, and the musical guest was BTS. I knew little about the seven-member South Korean supergroup—even though they had millions of fans worldwide, released multiple Billboard 200 chart-toppers, and recently delivered a speech at the United Nations. On Twitter, I saw plenty of enthusiasm, but also mockery directed at BTS and their followers. While I knew they would be the first K-pop act to perform on SNL, I had never listened to a BTS song before Stone introduced the first musical break.

The oh whoa ooh whoa backing vocals floated in, and a teasing bass line began as the lights went up to reveal seven figures—their backs to the camera—in dark suits and an array of hair colors. They swayed from side to side and spun around. Then the one with the pink hair started singing.

If you want, you can watch the video of BTS performing their breezy pop confection “Boy With Luv” on YouTube, where it has 21 million views, making it by far the most popular musical appearance has uploaded to date. You might love it; it might not be your thing. Or it might not be your thing but something about BTS intrigues you anyway, like their synchronicity, their good looks, or the fact that they dance hard while singing and rapping live. Or

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