20130613_seoulbeats_BTS2Bulletproof Boy Scouts, aka BTS, aka Bangtan Boys, has finally debuted after loads and loads of marketing hype. This hip-hop inspired rookie group comes under Big Hit Entertainment, a subsidiary of JYP Entertainment, and has been in the making for a long time. Originally a rap duo, BTS has since been molded into a seven-member hip-hop idol group featuring Rap Monster, V, Suga, Jung Kook, Jin, Jimin, and J-Hope. Jung Kook is the maknae, clocking in at fifteen years old (international age terms). The oldest member, Jin, is twenty years old, and three out of seven members are below the age of eighteen — all together, this makes for a pretty young group.

As BTS’s members were lined up one by one, a blog was also opened to the public, to share the group’s development. Throughout this period, BTS’s members had featured in pre-debut songs, and other K-pop idol’s work. Coming up to their debut, Big Hit Entertainment closed the blog and put up a countdown timer. In terms of drumming up excitement, the company’s extensive marketing tactics have not been in vain. BTS has been the talk of the town recently and now that the official MV for “No More Dream” is out, it’s time to see if the final product lives up to the hype.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pw540DtB5mM&w=600&h=360]

On the one hand, the MV matches the image portrayed in the teasers and fits the group’s advertised hip-hop image. But on the other hand, it doesn’t bring anything special to the table, which was a big disappointment after all the anticipation. For a song about rebellion and dreaming outside of the box, this MV is incredibly produced and contrived. Obviously, this isn’t very surprising, but all its factors combined point to the video being especially try-hard; the problem doesn’t lie with the members per se, but rather, with the concept, MV direction and song lyrics as a whole package.

The song and its lyrics send a mixed message that in consolation (or not), match up with the “thug life” theme of the MV. Although the lyrics talk about the importance of having dreams, the guys portray it in a way that minimizes the importance of responsibility and filial piety — a person doesn’t have to drop out of school to have dreams or be courageous, despite what the lyrics are implying. The other issue is that this rebel image is being associated with gangster-style clothing, skateboarding, break dancing, and trick biking. There are many people that have to defend their clothing style and hobbies every day because they are associated with the negative image of being delinquents and hoodlums, and this MV is glorifying that association.

20130613_seoulbeats_BTSSpeaking of real life experiences, much like the B2ST MV for “Beautiful Night” the members of BTS come across as spectators in this MV instead of being part of the action. Although there are people skateboarding and break dancing all around them, not once is one of the members of BTS actually participating; they seem too busy posturing and waving around their bling. This doesn’t automatically mean that the members of BTS do not possess these skills; the fact that they don’t reveal them in the MV shows that their rebellious, bad boy facades are that much more contrived.

Despite the over-done hip-hop rebel concept of the MV, the members actually pull off the overblown attitude. Their facial expressions are good and they look comfortable in their baggy clothes and ridiculous head gear. There’s nothing worse than a group that looks uncomfortable in their concept and BTS are lucky that they don’t have such issues. This is probably attributed to the fact that the group’s members are genuinely interested in hip-hop, lifestyle and all — or so their company purports. If this really were the case, then the abundance of bling, and clichéd bandanas in the MV were a direct reflection of this. Again, no surprise there as this is almost typical of such concepts.

20130613_seoulbeats_BTS1The choreography certainly has unique moments that would probably make for interesting live performances. The showiest move would be a member running across the backs of four other group members. If this is something they include in their music show stages, it will no doubt be impressive. Another fun choreography bit is when the members stand in line and body wave to the side, each time revealing a different member standing up. Lastly, the excellently timed move wherein one member “shoots” the glasses off the face of another, is executed flawlessly, but may be harder to pull off on stage. All things considered, this dance is pretty typical hip-hop, male group fare. The group’s main stance is staying low to the ground, with widely bent knees that allow for appropriate amounts of hip thrusting.

This article wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the rampant comparisons between BTS and every other hip-hop inspired idol group ever, so let’s take a quick look. First, face masks have been part of contemporary music fashion long before Zelo got a hold of them. J-rock bands have been rocking spiky facial gear for years, so let’s not assume the teenage boys of K-pop came up with it. As for BAP as a whole, their image is more powerful and intense, whereas BTS has a more classic pop/hip-hop feel. Other than the fashion comparisons to Zelo, there isn’t anything common between the groups. The rappers of BTS don’t sound like Zelo or Yongguk, and the group isn’t focusing on strong vocals like BAP does with Daehyun and Youngjae.

20130613_seoulbeats_BTS3Unlike Block B, the members of BTS were clearly picked for their idol looks as well as their supposed musical talent, and although Rap Monstar has been in the scene for a while the rest of the members are awfully young to have solo under-ground rapping careers under their belts, like Zico and Kyung. Where Block B has a quirky, humorous hip-hop feel to their songs and MVs, BTS are taking themselves seriously in this delinquent, school boy theme. Finally, their similarities to Big Bang may be the only ones closest to being true, but to a small extent. It is unlikely that there is a G-Dragon amongst the members of BTS, but Big Bang has done more classic sounding club/pop hip-hop in the past, which matches up to the sound of BTS right now.

Overall rating: 2.8/5. This is a solid debut, despite the well-produced but overdone MV. It may not be the overwhelming success some of us were hoping for, but there will be a fair number of fans for this pretty-boys-turned hip-hop style group. Hopefully, following this attempt, they’ll be able to ease into more natural concepts next time. If they truly enjoy hip-hop music, they should be left to do it while being themselves, not while pretending to be juvenile delinquents.

What do you think of the Bangtan Boys, readers? Did anyone else mishear that first English line about cars, because I sure did!

(Big Hit Entertainment, ibighit YouTube)