BTS’s “Tonight Show” Takeover Was A Guide To Why They’re So Beloved

Dressed, like the vast majority of us these days, in pajamas, bathrobes, and comfy (if designer) jumpers, the group’s seven members danced and played around in a highly elaborate set built to look like a cozy apartment, complete with a food fight in the kitchen and a rotating bedroom that, I assume, has left Christopher Nolan quaking. Where “Idol” highlighted BTS’s always impressive choreography, “Home” showcased the members’ familial bond, their fun spirits, and, let’s face it, their exceptional attention to detail when it comes to performing.

And then came Wednesday’s performance of their single “Black Swan,” originally released in January this year as a precursor to their chart-topping album Map of the Soul: 7. The single’s drop was accompanied by what was presented to the world as an “Art Film” — a stirring and intense modern dance piece performed by the MN Dance Company over an orchestral version of the track — and so it only made sense that this time, the focus was on the group’s identity as artists.

Dressed in all black and performing a hypnotic rendition of the contemporary choreography of “Black Swan” before a backdrop of a crumbling church, the members sang and rapped about their attempts to come to terms with the artist’s fear of losing passion for their craft. “The heart no longer races when hearing the music play,” Suga raps in the first verse. “Seems like time has stopped / That would be my first death I was always afraid of.”

Of course, most viewers probably couldn’t understand the words they were hearing — I didn’t when I first heard it either — but looking up the various fan translations of lyrics is part of the beauty of being an ARMY. To do so encourages a level of attention and analysis that only creates an even deeper personal connection to the music that yes, many of us don’t actually understand the words to. (Following Wednesday’s episode, the official Tonight Show Twitter account announced it was working on adding English subtitles to every BTS Week performance on YouTube.)

It’s that deep personal connection between BTS, their music, and their ARMY that was celebrated during Thursday night’s performance: “Mikrokosmos,” the song that closed out every stop of last year’s Love Yourself: Speak Yourself World Tour. It’s a song written for and dedicated to their fans, honoring the mutual love and respect between BTS and ARMY that truly set the group apart from any other artist.

“You got me / Seeing you, I dream / I got you / In the pitch-black nights,” Jin, Jimin, V, and Jungkook harmonize over the song’s chorus. The Tonight Show performance — filmed at Gyeonghoeru, the royal pavilion at Gyeongbok Palace — ended with a re-creation of the drone show that lit up the sky at the band’s last in-person concert in Seoul in October last year, flying over the pavilion to create, of course, the logos of BTS and ARMY. I won’t lie: I was at that last concert. And yes, I cried. Both then and now.

Of course, this is The Tonight Show, and so the week wouldn’t be complete without a couple of silly but undeniably amusing sketches and a charismatic interview. RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook spoke about their contributions to charity, what they were like as kids at school, their upcoming album Be, and, of course, their desire for a Grammy nomination, which, the members believe, is the next step in their success story. Thanks to their extraordinary growth in the last year alone, it’s looking likelier than ever.

“The Grammys is definitely the most honorable music award that evaluates the prominence and the musical odyssey of an artist,” RM explained. “Winning a Grammy in such difficult times could give greater hope and dreams to a lot of people.”

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