Reflections On Having A Late 'Boy Band Phase'
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Reflections On Having A Late 'Boy Band Phase'

In other words, how I fell in love with BTS and K-Pop.

Reflections On Having A Late 'Boy Band Phase'
BTS Diary

I vividly remember my years in elementary, middle and high school when many of my female-identified classmates listened to and enjoyed a variety of American boy bands. Whether it was the Backstreet Boys, or the Jonas Brothers, or more recently One Direction, I always found myself looking down upon others and dismissing their tastes as "not real music."

Yup, I was nothing but one of those petty people who thought hating on boy bands was 'cool' or made me better than others. In hindsight and with a greater understanding that being critical of other folks' music tastes is extremely unwarranted and flat-out worthless and reflective of internalized misogyny, my actions were childish. Nonetheless, I managed to avoid my 'boy band phase' and all that it entails in my pre-college years.

Never was a fan and probably never will be, but folks should be able to enjoy a band without being attacked.

But, it was bound to catch up to me at one point or another. Little did I know that in my second semester of freshman year at college, I would be thrust into this other exciting world filled with charming voices and coordinated dance moves. However, I'm not talking about American boy bands, but rather Korean ones from the K-Pop and K-Hip-Hop scenes. I immediately got hooked onto the group called BTS, otherwise known as Bangtan Boys, which features seven extraordinary members ranging from ages 18 to 23, along with several other amazing groups. Others may be more familiar with hit groups like EXO or SHINee, both of whom are incredibly talented as well.

The very cute members of BTS posing for a Valentine's Day themed Puma photoshoot.

There are definitely some essential differences in presentation, music, and execution outside of language distinction that K-Pop boy bands have with their American counterparts that make them, at least to me, a lot more enjoyable and appealing.

Many groups have incredible versatility in both the range of music they produce as well as their aesthetic presentations. The wavering between the effeminate, often through the form of softer love songs, and the masculine, often through harder hip-hop songs, creates an intriguing spectrum of presentations that captures the attention of viewers/listeners. Plus, the aesthetic trends of piercings, eye makeup, jewelry, large varieties of hair dye and the occasional chokers are such a lovely touch.

Here we have BTS in their hyper-masculine and semi-appropriative outfits for their music video, "No More Dream."

Here we have BTS laying in a soft-core and effeminate field of borderline homoerotic subtext.

Another great quality is the stronger emphasis on dancing (really well-coordinated dancing at that) in music videos and live shows. Groups painstakingly memorize multiple complex dance routines along with a variety of lyrics (more fast paced lyrics for the rappers of the groups) for these performances. I can say with confidence that this dancing is not sub-par, especially for groups like EXO who have a whopping 12 members to coordinate with (although that number has been reduced to nine as of 2016).

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Mild Epilepsy Warning

Additionally, the theatrics in music videos are beautifully over the top. While some music videos tend to solely emphasize dance routines, others involve a sort of cinematic storyline, frequently accompanied with some sort of dancing. The aesthetics and theatrics of these videos are a crucial element in K-Pop and really bring out the magic for these groups. For the group, VIXX, their music video productions are particularly dramatic and finely articulated.

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Mild Body Horror Warning

Here are some more amazing videos: "Chained Up" by VIXX; "Call Me Baby" by EXO; "Run" by BTS; "Love Me Right" by EXO; "No More Dream" by BTS; "Overdose" by EXO.

With all these excellent qualities, alongside band members' likable individual and group presentations in interviews, shows, and other fan-engaging materials, I have truly fallen deep into the pit of my once dormant boy band phase. I truly feel engaged with my music at a more personal and enjoyable level than ever before. After buying all six of BTS's albums off of iTunes -- I know, who does that anymore -- I jumped head first into interviews and the group's fandom on Tumblr, actually caring to learn more about each individual member.

From left to right: Jimin, Rap Monster, J-Hope, Jungkook, Suga, V, Jin

With all the stresses and worries that college brings, it's lovely to have another outlet to de-stress and just find something to enjoy. Life's too short not to indulge and love music because of some pretentious notions of what "good music" is. Although K-Pop boy bands are not perfect and, like other musicians around the globe, have issues with appropriation, heteronormativity, hyper-masculinity, and perpetuation of certain abusive norms in songs, having a critical lens and acknowledging flaws should not prevent me from having fun and enjoying myself.

I may have hit my 'boy band phase' a bit later than most, but my gosh, I'm absolutely loving every moment of it. Give it a go. You may be surprised where it leads you next.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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