Super fans of the K-pop band BTS celebrated earlier this fall when the group finally reached the No. 1 spot on the Hot 100 with their single “Dynamite,” which debuted atop the tally just a week after it was unleashed. A chart-topper was one of the final accomplishments the outfit had yet to add to its resume, and it was gratifying for those who had been following the act for years to see them make it to the top spot.
Amazingly, “Dynamite” would not be BTS’s only leader of 2020, but it’s their latest one which is particularly special, as it helps them manage a feat no other act in history has been able to muster.
This week, BTS are back at No. 1 on the Hot 100 with “Life Goes On,” the latest single from their new album BE. That full-length also opens atop the Billboard 200, though by now that kind of domination is not surprising, as there are few acts who would even have a shot at toppling the South Korean favorites when they have a brand new effort for their fans to snap up.
“Life Goes On” is different from BTS’s two other Hot 100 No. 1 hits as it is performed almost entirely in their first language, Korean. The song is now the first-ever Korean chart-topper in U.S. history, which further underlines both the band’s immense popularity and the fact that Americans are more willing than ever to accept a catchy tune, no matter the tongue it’s sung in.
“Dynamite” was a monumental win for BTS, but it wasn’t a K-pop cut and it didn’t feature any Korean lyrics. That fact likely helped it reach a wide audience and become not just a bestseller but a huge success on streaming platforms and radio in the U.S.
Just weeks after that single opened at No. 1, BTS found themselves back in the driver’s seat on the Hot 100, sharing the spotlight with Jason Derulo and Jawsh 685. The three acts sent a reworked version of the song “Savage Love (Laxed – Siren Beat)” to the peak position, earning BTS their second ruler just a short time after winning the ranking for the first time. Like “Dynamite,” BTS’s second champion was performed in English, not Korean.
The only artist who came close to hitting No. 1 on the Hot 100 with a Korean-language single was Psy, who helped introduce the Western masses to K-pop last decade. He rose all the way to No. 2 with “Gangnam Style,” and then the following year, his next smash “Gentleman” went to No. 10. Both were performed primarily in Korean, but neither one controlled the tally.
Amazingly, Psy first reached the runner-up rung on the Hot 100 in 2012, so it took more than eight years for a Korean cut to lift one spot higher, despite the rise of acts from that part of the world being one of the biggest topics of discussion for quite some time.
Now that there has been one Korean-language Hot 100 No. 1, the doors have been opened, and there could be more coming, likely from BTS.