BTS on Graham Norton: When are the K-pop band playing on BBC One?

Idols with devoted army of teenage fans bring Love Yourself live show to Europe after conquering US and Canada

Joe Sommerlad
Tuesday 09 October 2018 14:29 BST
BTS Performs 'idol'

South Korean boy band BTS are currently embarked on a major world tour and are coming to the UK this month.

Arguably the best known exponents of K-pop internationally – the genre itself celebrated for its wild visuals, cutting-edge fashion and intricate choreography – BTS are the first Korean act to crack the US Top 40, hitting number 11 in August with their track “Idol” and have even spoken at the UN.

Here’s a beginner’s guide to the chaps and the K-pop phenomenon ahead of their appearance on the BBC’s The Graham Norton Show.

When are BTS appearing on Graham Norton?

BTS will tape their appearance on the show on Thursday for broadcast on BBC One at 10.35pm on Friday night.

They will perform “Idol”, with Whoopi Goldberg, Jamie Dornan, Rosamund Pike and Harry Connick Jr the other guests on the famous red sofa.

If you miss it, you can always catch up afterwards on the BBC iPlayer.

Where can I see it online?

If you’re not based in the UK, you will be able to catch their performance on the show’s YouTube channel where it regularly post choice clips.

This is recommended rather than scouting around online for illegal streams.

Who are BTS?

The band, also known as Bangtan Boys (short for the Korean expression “Bangtan Sonyeondan” meaning “Bulletproof Boy Scouts”), were formed in Seoul in 2012 and is comprised of RM (formerly Rap Monster), V, J-Hope, Jin, Jimin, Jungkook and Suga.

They were put together by Big Hit Entertainment, key players in an industry that carefully auditions pop hopefuls, chooses the best candidates for particular qualities or personality traits they offer and then ruthlessly coaches them to ensure the band and its image is as disciplined and tightly controlled as possible.

The group, whose sound merges rap and electropop, has released six studio albums to date – three in Korean, three in Japanese – as well as four compilations, five EPs and 22 singles.

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Starting out with the hip-hop influenced 2 Kool 4 Skool, they have since broadened their style, which is credited with the explosion in popularity they have undergone, particularly overseas, since 2015.

BTS perform ‘Idol’ on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon
BTS perform ‘Idol’ on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon (Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/Getty)

In addition to hits like “Blood, Sweat and Tears”, “Spring Day” and “Fire”, BTS are well known for their obsessively devoted fans, the BTS Army, who routinely shower their idols with gifts and with whom you do not want to mess.

BTS are also enormous on Twitter, retweeted or liked over half a billion times in 2017 and given their own emoji.

RM usually serves as the band’s spokesman, fluent in English having taught himself the language by watching syndicated episodes of Friends.

When are BTS’s London shows?

The Love Yourself Tour, following the release of their latest album Love Yourself: Answer, has already taken the group to the US and Canada.

They are playing at the O2 on 9 and 10 October but tickets for both nights have entirely sold out.

After the UK, they will jet out for Amsterdam, Berlin and Paris, before taking a three-week break and then embarking on the Japan leg of the tour in November and January.

What exactly is K-pop?

Broadly speaking, the Western mainstream’s closest encounter with the genre so far remains Psy’s global smash “Gangnam Style” from 2012 – with 3.2bn YouTube views and counting – last heard of being travestied by Ed Balls on Strictly Come Dancing.

While that song contains many of the key ingredients of K-pop – Psy’s fearless sartorial elan and ludicrous moves foremost among them – it barely scratches the surface and was really intended as a satire of South Korean vanity, sending up the very genre it has been assumed to represent.

BTS discuss speaking at the United Nations

K-pop is usually said to have emerged in the 1990s with Seo Taiji and Boys (imagine Cypress Hill dressed for snowboarding) and H.O.T. putting a Korean twist on their American influences and arriving at the right time to ride the “Hallyu Wave”, the rise in interest in Korean culture around the world.

The growth of social media and internet fan culture has helped cultivate the craze since the turn of the millennium but, until Psy, Korean artists failed to translate the huge stadium-packing success they found at home and in Japan to Europe and America, no doubt in part due to the language barrier.

BTS, who recently performed “Idol” on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, appear to have finally kicked down the door and acts like Black Pink, EXO, Seventeen, Red Velvet and Monsta X could all be primed to follow them through it.

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