BTS has never boxed themselves inside a single genre musically. Through the years, they’ve experimented with just about every one, from pop and hip hop, to R&B and EDM. While they may not prefer one musical style over the other, many still consider them just a K-Pop act. The label has restricted BTS into certain award show categories in the past, which is why some fans prefer not to use it to describe the group. So, is BTS K-Pop? In a May 18 interview with Rolling Stone, RM weighed in on the debate.
BTS spoke to the publication just days before their comeback with “Butter” on May 21. Besides opening up about their dating life, military enlistment, and experiences with xenophobia, the group addressed the highly talked-about debate about whether their music is K-Pop or not. As it turns out, the question was a hard one to answer because K-Pop music is evolving every day. “That’s a very important debate. Because what they call K-pop, that genre is expanding very fast,” RM said during the interview. “For example, some so-called K-pop groups have only foreigners, from Europe, India, China, like, everywhere. There are no Korean members, but they do the K-pop thing, they’re switching the parts, and so on. BTS is expanding very fast as well. And K-pop is now so wide.”
RM added the simple definition people have for K-Pop is it’s a genre “for Koreans who sing a Korean song.” However, the topic gets tough when talking about Korean artists who sing in English. “What about “Dynamite”? We sing the song in English. But we’re all Koreans, so somebody may say it’s a K-pop song. Or they may say it’s just a pop song because it’s in English,” RM said.
In the end, RM said the answer to whether BTS is K-pop or not is more important to others than it is to them. “The important fact is that we’re all Koreans, and we’re singing a pop song. So that’s the reason why we said that our genre is just BTS. That debate is very important for the music industry, but it doesn’t mean very much for us members.”
RM was referencing a February 2020 interview BTS did with Grammy.com, during which the group labeled their genre as BTS due to their music being a mix of everything. At the time, Jungkook, V, and J-Hope said, “That's the genre we want to make and the music that we want. New genre.” Meanwhile, Suga explained it’s because "It's less and less meaningful to divide music into genres now.”
There you have it. BTS isn’t letting labels define who they are, so although people may think they’re just a K-pop act, in reality, they’re just BTS. And that encompasses so much more.