I am sure that the ever-faithful ARMY has been counting the days since Permission to Dance and My Universe were released. So while we are patiently waiting for the next group comeback, here’s a look at the individual activities of the six members.
Let’s start off with the oldest among the seven, the world-renowned “worldwide handsome,” Jin. Known for his falsetto voice nowadays, things didn’t start as rosy as it is with our visual, at least in the vocal department. As the member who would often have the fewest lines in songs recorded by the group, it used to be that Jin was dismissed as the member whose main contribution would only be limited to his looks and not much else in other facets like dance, song production, and vocals. Even his inclusion in the group really started off that way – with so many people having not a lot of confidence with his skills as a singer. After all, as early as his junior high school years, he was already scouted off the street by SM Entertainment, which he declined at that time. Years later, Big Hit Entertainment scouted him again while he was walking down the street, proof that talent scouts really saw star potential in him with just his looks.
However, try to watch even just one video of the group in BTS and you will realize that of all the members, it is Jin who is known for being the most industrious in terms of improving his skills, particularly in singing and dancing. Thus, through the years, you will most likely notice the improvement in his vocal skills. What used to be rather plain and emotionless singing from Jin noticeably became more secure and layered, complete with a wide emotional range you can hear from his performances. Thus, nine years after debuting, while Jin is obviously still primarily known for his undeniable good looks, he has also gotten recognition for his emotional rendition of his portions of BTS songs and even in his solo performances. You know when it’s time for a powerful Jin performance when you see a vein popping on the right side of his neck, which you’re almost 100% will get when he sings his solo track Epiphany from the compilation album Love Yourself: Answer.
Aside from Epiphany, Jin has also released two solo songs in BTS’ albums — Awake in 2016, which was part of their Wings EP, and Moon, which was part of their 2020 EP Map of the Soul: 7. Epiphany is so far his most successful solo song, while Moon is his highest-charting locally. Aside from collaborating with V in It’s definitely You for the Hwarang OST in 2016, Jin has also contributed to the OST of the 2021 drama Jirisan with the single Yours, which topped Billboard’s World Digital Song Charts in late November last year.
Have we mentioned Jin also treated ARMYs with trot song Super Tuna?
BTS Suga aka August D
Now it’s time to talk about the sleepyhead but perhaps the most successful record producer among the seven, Min Yoongi, aka Suga, aka Agust D. The number of his stage names can only be surpassed by the number of roles this multi-hyphenate portrays – rapper, songwriter, record producer, and just overall slayer of life. Just by looking at the seven members, you wouldn’t really point out Suga as the most successful of the bunch, definitely not with his seemingly introverted demeanor and his unexcitable ways. Considering he is a rapper and his fellow rapper in the group are the leader and chatterbox RM and the eternal ray of sunshine Hobi aka J-Hope, the first impression everybody has of Yoongi would be that of a reserved, if not internally intense rapper. But a quick browse through his profile and you’ll know he’s not some shy passive personality who’ll just let his members claim all the fame.
His personality considered, it may be true that Suga will let his members take more of the spotlight, as it’s not really his style to be overly engaging with fans. We can see how benevolent he is in BTS concerts when he lets the entire group perform Daechwita with him instead of keeping it a solo act. However, when Suga (better yet, Agust D) comes out of the shadows of Yoongi, we see a confident performer who spits fire when he raps and owns the stage. When you’re listening to an Agust D track and you’re keeping still without grooving to it, you’re dead inside, I tell you.
As expected of a bonafide artist, Suga writes, composes, arranges, mixes, and masters all of his releases. According to the Korea Music Copyright Association, he has been credited with over 100 registered songs, which most definitely has caused him to be promoted to a full member of the association as early as 2018. He has dropped two mixtapes, Agust D in 2016 and D-2 in 2020, which charter in numerous international charts, including Billboard. He has several songs that have charted both in Gaon and Billboard, with Daechwita peaking at #1 in the Billboard World Digital Songs Chart and Strange (featuring RM) peaking at #2. He scored a number 1 in Gaon’s Digital Chart in 2020 when he was featured in IU’s Eight, a song he also produced. Aside from IU, Suga has also produced songs for D-Town, Suran, Epik High (who also happen to be his idols growing up), Heize, and OMI.
From one rapper to the next, we move from Suga to J-Hope. While Suga is known to be intense and quiet, J-Hope has all the energy and brightness cornered. You simply cannot hold your smiles when you see J-Hope. He’s just a bundle of positive and delightful energy, a source of cheer for both his members and his fans. Of course, J-Hope has his moments of seriousness and formality and his gleeful personality isn’t really on 24/7.
In fact, if you watch interviews of BTS members talking about each other, they are quick to point out that before debuting, Hoseok or Hobi wasn’t particularly overly cheerful and bright as he is now. Members claim that J-Hope used to be clueless as to dealing with stress, as he used to get easily overwhelmed with facing the challenges of his career as an idol trainee. In addition, during the early years of BTS, it seemed like the first ARMY had J-Hope as the weakest of the seven members as he was pretty much a lead and not the “main” in everything – Jimin is the better dancer, Suga is the better rapper, V is the most charismatic, Jin is the most handsome, RM has natural leadership skills, and everybody just loves Jungkook. Good thing, despite his threats of leaving the group as far as their pre-debut days, the rest of the group did not allow him to quit and talked him out of it. RM, knowing his worrier personality that obsesses on things until they become what he wants them to be assigned him the role of being the mood maker of the group. And with that role, it seems that J-Hope has developed a passion for making himself and the people around him always positive, smiling, and looking at the bright side of life.
The upbeat and energetic characteristics he has developed while in the group have bled into his music and style of performing. If you listen closely to his songs in his 2018 mixtape Hope World, you will notice that although his songs may be energetic and upbeat, they also present stories of his challenges as an idol and how he overcomes them. Thus, his music is quite relatable to a lot of people who choose to be positive and optimistic even when faced with difficulties. Talk about artistic genuineness!
His efforts have not gone unnoticed, as Hope World peaked at #1 in the Billboard World Albums Chart in 2018. Daydream, Airplane, and Chicken Noodle Soup have charted in the Billboard World Digital Singles Chart. Chicken Noodle Soup actually got into Billboard’s main Hot 100 Chart, making J-Hope the first and so far only BTS member to have a solo song that charted in the Billboard Hot 100. He has also recorded solo tracks that have been included in BTS EPs and has written a good number of songs for his group and even for 2 AM’s Jo Kwon as early as 2012.
Next to Suga, the next member who can be considered the most successful in their solo careers in music is RM. The group’s leader isn’t just a highly skilled rapper, but just like his two co-rappers, is also a prolific writer and music producer not just for himself and the group, but even for other artists. But then, who can question RM’s skills? Even as a tween, he already posted poems online and was interested in pursuing a career in literature which he decided not to pursue.
Fans would also know that RM is intellectually gifted and didn’t have difficulties getting high scores in the national university entrance exams, so he could have chosen any career path. His parents were even opposed to his choice of pursuing his interest in music, but he prevailed in the end and got his career started by becoming active in the Korean underground hip-hop scene and later auditioning for Big Hit Entertainment.
As the leader of BTS and with his handy proficiency in the English language, RM has taken the role of being the group’s spokesperson. It goes without saying that his intelligence and way with words have an impact on the songs he has written and produced for himself and his group. A certified bookworm, you would know which pieces of literature have had a tremendous impact on RM. A good number of songs that he has written for his group heavily reference books and literary characters.
As part of 2015’s The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, Pt. 2 EP, the song Butterfly alludes to Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami, which is about a teenager who runs away from home and experiences various situations where he asks himself if what’s happening to him is true or just figments of his imagination. Another example is 2016’s Blood, Sweat & Tears from the album Wings, which has a ton of symbolism from Hermann Hesse’s Demian, which narrates the struggles of a man on whether to side with the good and the evil.
A year later, from the You’ll Never Walk Alone comes the title track Spring Day, which from the Omelas signage shown on the music video is an obvious reference to Ursula K. Le Guin’s story The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas, which is about this magical place that has to sacrifice an individual to keep its blissful state. And that’s just three of more than 170 songs the Korean Music Copyright Association has attributed to him. If those literary references don’t convince you of RM’s excellence in writing, then nothing will!
Armed with skills and a brilliant head above his shoulders, it comes as no surprise that RM would succeed in his career as a member of BTS and a solo artist. He has produced two mixtapes for himself, RM in 2015 (which was a critical success but went unnoticed commercially as understandably, BTS was still a bit obscure that time) and Mono in 2018, which was both a critical and commercial success. Aside from being a top contributor in BTS’ releases as a songwriter and producer, he has also collaborated with other artists like Steve Aoki and labelmates TXT to produce songs for them. Not bad at all for an intellectually-gifted student who ditched his academic career for a shot at being a hip-hop artist.
Jimin is one of those people who you would think of as an idol with even just one glance. He just looks the part – he has a unique face, the way he moves confirm an affinity to dance, and his overall aura just reflects the charisma of someone who’s part of the entertainment industry. Alas, his life before BTS reflects this, as even before he became a trainee, Jimin was already studying different dance genres in dance academies in his native Busan. When he passed his auditions in Big Hit Entertainment in 2012, he transferred to Seoul and as they say, the rest is history.
Though Jimin is primarily considered as BTS’ main dancer, which is testament to how his skills in dance are more highly regarding than his skills as a vocalist, this hasn’t stopped Jimin from releasing solo singles every now and then. In 2016, he released Lie as part of the group’s studio album, Wings. This dark and dramatic song was praised for being in line with the album’s overall moody concept. The next year, his solo track Serendipity, which was included on the Love Yourself: Her EP of 2017 was described by Korean music critics as “unraveling the joy, conviction, and curiosity of love.” It took three years before Jimin contributed a new solo track to BTS’ discography with Filter, which was included in the group’s 2020 studio album, Map of the Soul: 7. People described his latest solo song as radio-friendly with a noticeable Latin pop influence. All three songs charted at the top 20 of Gaon’s Digital Charts and reached the top 3 in the Billboard US World Digital Songs Chart.
In 2018, both Serendipity and Lie have surpassed fifty million streams on Spotify. A year later, Serendipity’s full-length version from BTS’ Love Yourself: Answer (2018) compilation album also achieved the same feat. With this, Jimin joined a rather exclusive set of Korean artists — that so far only has Psy to have three solo songs with more than 50 million streams each. Both Serendipity and Lie have also been the only solos by a BTS member to be included in the Official Chart Company’s list of the top 20 most streamed BTS songs in the UK.
Jimin’s winning streak continued in 2019 as he became the first BTS member to have a solo music video achieve 100 million views on YouTube with the MV for Serendipity. He was also the only BTS member with multiple solo songs in the January 2020 update of the Official Chart’s top 40 list. Filter continued its predecessor’s record-breaking tradition as it set a record for the biggest streaming debut among all Korean songs on Spotify with over 2.2 million streams in its first 24 hours of release. It eventually went on to become the fastest Korean solo in the platform’s history to surpass 20–60 million streams. It is also the first and so far only solo BTS b-side track to receive a Song of The Year nomination at the Gaon Chart Music Awards.
Jimin has also released a solo song that hasn’t been included in a BTS release with Promise, which was made available for free on BTS’ SoundCloud page in 2019. SoundCloud then announced the song had surpassed the record set by Drake’s Duppy Freestyle for the biggest 24-hour debut in history. Aside from his solo tracks, Jimin has also co-written some songs for his group, including Christmas Day in 2014, which he performed with Jungkook, Friends in 2020 that was included in the Map of the Soul: 7 album, and Dis-ease, which was a track in the group’s Be album. Considering that it is accepted that he is the group’s most popular member (ranking 1st as the most popular idol in an annual survey conducted by Gallup Korea in 2018 and 2019), we expect nothing less from Jiminie.
Arguably the most popular member of BTS (pending the objection of Jimin-stans, of course), V also happens to have the most diverse career trajectory in the group. He is the first BTS member to have appeared in a television drama via a supporting role in 2016’s Hwarang: the Poet Warrior Youth, a feat that up to now still hasn’t been replicated by other members and even by himself, as he hasn’t acted after Hwarang. V’s versatility (for all we know, his stage name also stands for versatile aside from the commonly accepted ‘victory’) has been noted from the start, even before his debut with BTS. After acing his audition, BigHit Entertainment named… or rather hid V’s identity, announcing him as a member of the company’s soon-to-debut group without revealing his identity. People did wonder why V’s identity wasn’t revealed until it was time for BTS to debut.
Since BigHit did not offer any explanation up to now as to why they made V a hidden member prior to the groups’ debut, people eventually presented their own theories. Perhaps the most popular conspiracy theory on this issue was that at that time, the company wanted to avoid bigger companies from pirating V from them after his successful audition. As V was (and still is) an all-around ace with a unique husky voice, passable dancing skills, and arresting good looks, BigHit didn’t want to alarm the bigger companies and give them the opportunity to strategize and lure this diamond in the rough. Thus, the company made an effort to hide their gem until it was time for BTS to actually debut. Smart, eh?
Since his debut, V has figured in a good number of solo projects. His first solo track Stigma, which was included in the group’s 2016 album Wings, went on to top the Billboard World Digital Songs Sales Chart. Two of his solo songs appeared in 2018 and 2020 in the group’s next two full-length albums, Love Yourself: Tear and Map of the Soul: 7, respectively. Singularity and Inner Child also topped the Billboard World Digital Songs Sales Chart during their release.
In 2019, V released Winter Bear—an MV he also directed and starred in.
Aside from his solo tracks, V has also contributed to a number of OSTs, his first being It’s Definitely You with Jin, included on the Hwarang OST, a show which he was also part of. He also recorded Sweet Night, which was part of the Itaewon Class OST in 2020, and Christmas Tree, which was part of the Our Beloved Summer OST months ago.
V has also flexed his songwriting muscle several times, contributing to the group’s catalog su0ch as Hold Me Tight in The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, Part 1 EP, the group’s breakout hit Run, which was part of the EP The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, Part 2, and Blue & Grey from the group’s Be album, to name a few.
As of the moment, V’s Christmas Tree has posted another record for landing at No. 1 on iTunes in over 80 countries including the eight largest music markets in the world: the United States, Japan, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Canada, Australia, and the Netherlands. His OST for the K-drama Our Beloved Summer is his second song to claim the top spot in those countries following his Itaewon Class contribution Sweet Night.
So, what does the future hold for BTS’ resident Good Boy? Only time can tell, but ARMY is assured that only good things are in store for V, with his boundless charms and talent.
Last but not the least, it’s time to talk about the Golden Maknae, Jungkook! We know that all members of BTS are all-rounders, being skilled in singing, rapping, and dancing, but everybody would agree that Jungkook just takes everything to the next level as even those who don’t have him as their bias would have him as a bias wrecker. That’s because he’s just so good in all facets of being an idol.
He is the main vocalist of the group, with his voice fitting each BTS song to a tee and remaining stable even with the most intense choreographies, and we know BTS has a lot of that. He has also rapped on various occasions and his skills are commendable as well, especially for someone who has already established a reputation in the vocal department. His dancing skills, although not as flashy as Jimin’s, are more precise and very controlled, which makes him a perfect sight at the center. Finally, there’s his magnetic stage presence which for some reason compels everyone to look at his direction despite being on stage with six other people who, depending on who you’re asking, can perform better than him.
In terms of likeability and being the total package, Jungkook is among the top idols in the industry, which makes him a popular pick to be a guest in TV shows. With his music career, he has released three solo tracks in BTS releases — Begin in 2016’s Wings, Euphoria in 2018’s Love Yourself_ Answer, and My Time in 2020’s Map of the Soul: 7. All three songs have topped the Billboard World Digital Sales Charts upon their release and charted in Korea’s Gaon Singles Chart as well.
His latest solo effort is an OST for the group’s webtoon 7FATES: CHAKHO entitled Stay Alive, which, as expected, has been breaking music chart records left and right. It has been reported that the song has hit No. 1 on iTunes in 105 territories.
This track, produced by Suga, achieved that feat in only ten days. Obviously, it is expected to make a killing on the World Digital Song Sales Chart.
Kookie is also a skilled songwriter, having been credited with the writing of several songs in the group’s discography, including familiar hits such as No More Dream, Run, Your Eyes Tell, and Stay, among others.
With the sheer volume of solo activities the hardworking BTS members have, fans are assured of so much music to last them until the next group comeback, which hopefully will be really soon!
Featured image: 7FATES: CHAKHO with BTS (방탄소년단) | Official Story Film (Full ver.). Photo: 7FATES: CHAKHO by HYBE 7FATES: CHAKHO by HYBE/YouTube