BTS already own 2020. The K-pop all stars’ fourth album Map of the Soul: 7 made a mockery of the competition when it topped global charts in late February.
7 cruised to number one on the USA’s Billboard 200 and Rolling Stone albums chart, while also becoming the fastest selling album of the new decade in the UK and BTS’ second straight #1 in Australia.
If you’re a BTS fan, your response to this is likely to be “well duh.” BTS exist in a microcosm where the group’s seven personalities are akin to divine entities. Only, it’s been a long time since anything BTS-related could accurately be described as micro.
BTS’ first ever release came out in June 2013. 2 Cool 4 Skool is nine tracks long, but it wasn’t intended as the band’s debut album. Rather, it’s a collection of songs that gestured towards the sort of band BTS might become. The first single was ‘No More Dream’ followed by ‘We Are Bulletproof Pt. 2’.
Next came a couple of EPs – O!RUL8,2? arrived three months after 2 Cool and Skool Luv Affair showed up in early 2014. The latter is when things started to heat up. ‘Boy in Luv’, the lead single lifted from Skool Luv Affair, reached the top 50 in their native South Korea and made it to number five in Billboard‘s World Digital chart.
Skool Luv Affair and ‘Boy in Luv’ remain sentimental favourites among BTS fans and their success paved the way for BTS’ debut album. Dark & Wild arrived in the second half of 2014, making it to number 3 on Billboard‘s World albums chart and number 2 in the Korean Republic.
Our current vantage point makes these numbers seem a bit quaint. In 2020 BTS can’t do anything other than top charts and smash sales records. Songs like ‘DNA’, ‘Fake Love’, ‘Idol’ and ‘Boy with Luv’ have all achieved Platinum certification in Australia and the USA and the YouTube streaming figures are off the scales. But how well do you remember BTS’ earlier singles?