I was going to write a piece on BTS, and how their appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone heralded not just the end of Rock and Roll, but also possibly the coming of one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse: a pestilence upon culture that makes covid quake in it’s genetically (possibly) altered boots. When I mentioned this to the young and hipper person in my life, he looked at me horrified, “Ma…Don’t cancel yourself! Their fans are the most toxic fanbase on the internet, no cap dude. They destroy anyone who even dare suggest their their ‘beautiful angels’ are not the most talented and beautiful human beings that ever drew breath! They are like hormonal crazed locusts in fluffy cat ears.” Having a little dig around, I realized that the Boy was not wrong. Youtube is full of BTS army, busy trying to cancel, threaten, and generally destroy anyone who says they do not enjoy the band’s music, or think that their heavily plastic surgeon’d look isn’t the best thing since Joan Collins got sliced and diced by some Hollywood cut and shut merchant. These boys have better make up skillz than Kim Kardashian, and look like middle aged women gone crazy in Macy’s beauty department. There is a knack to male make up in the world of rock and roll. Heavily smudged eyeliner, a la Keef, yes; David Bowie gender bending, sure thing, but the BTS boys are airbrushed to the point of being blank pages for girls to safely imprint their teenage lusts on. I have heard tell of older women lusting after them, but I try not to think about such things. I have enough disturbia material for my nightmares! BTS are about as sexual and threatening as My Little Pony….but we ALL know about the Brony types and what they want to do to Twinkle Star. BTS is on about the same level of concerning….
I don’t care how much money they made they are still crap. The performance and quality of the songs is not even on a level with the Baby Shark Song that made all the fetuses squee with glee a couple of years back. I get the distinct feeling that these boys are just tools to be used by some Svengali meglomanic who managed to tap into some fucked up zeitgeist, and made to dance and be autotuned like cute little pastel puppets. Bang Si-Hyuk, the man behind the boys is worth 3.2 Billion US Dollars and rising by the minute. In comparison, the boys are only worth about 20 million each! These boys are getting screwed one way or another.
It is not just a question of taste or lack of it. Even the Monkees had tracks like Daydream Believer which remain perfect little pop nuggets. The Bay City Rollers, whilst not my cup of tartan wearing trewsers, Jimmy, actually sang, played their instruments and had a modicum of talent. Everything about BTS is plastic and not in a fantastic way. The songs revolve around banal hooks, and whilst the Beatles were not above such dull simple “I wanna hold your hand’, “baby lemme driver yer car” solipsisms, their self obsessed grinding boredom making at least had some style to its lack of substance.
Seriously, these boys, who looked like perfectly lovely boys that any mother would want to squish the cheeks of, are now unrecognizable from their previous incarnations are mere mortals. Everything from their ear lobes to their noses has been changed, add make up applied with a trowel and you get the airbrushed in person look. They all look like middle aged women, which is fine if that is what they were going for. I suppose that is better than this:
Pink Floyd did their thing with the Hammers in a wholly ironic though disturbing aesthetic in The Wall, various punk bands experimented with nazi punk chic and came unstuck along the way, but BTS deploying their Amy with red flags and duster coats has a distinctly uneasy vibe. Nazi iconography is not a good look, especially not nowadays. The Simon Wiesenthal Center asked for a belated apology from the band for their use of Nazi hats and outfits, which they got eventually, even if it was half assed and non authentic. It included an apology for the band wearing tee shirts which depicted the bombing of Nagasak, completely disrespecting their Japanese fans and all codes of decency. Mass nuclear killing of mostly civilians is not fashion. BTS are populist to a fault, and no doubt just easy tools for their management, no more than dress up dolls made to dance and mouth barely comprehensible lyrics that rip off old Michael Jackson songs, but they still are individuals with a amount of personal responsibility. None of this should ever have happened.
The music speaks for itself. There is literally no merit in constant remixes of tracks that were torturously bad to start with, and due to their huge money making ability, everyone from Megan Thee Stallion, who I have immense respect for, remixed a remix of a remix with this bunch of manufactured pop dweebs. I don’t resent a grrrrl making some serious $$$ and widening her market, but it sickens me that she would sell out like that! Even Cardi B was kissing their asses in some backstage meet and greet, and she has some serious gangsta rap credentials. How can she rock those bloody shoes and also fawn over these boys?
Fact is nowadays money and selling to the masses, dumbing down and creating the most widely appealing pap to the lowest common denominator wins out over actual talent, artistic worth, and quality. It is the pile em high and sell em cheap school of creating. Everything gets filtered through the autotune, ran past the marketers and weighed only on how much money can be siphoned off from it. Views, followers, going with the flow, not against the grain. Everything that is the enemy of art is now venerated on the Holy Altar of the Almighty Click n’ Dollar.
I could have had some respect for BTS if they put out a brand new catchy little tune for Christmas, but instead all we get, all their devoted fans get, is Butter with some red and green Unicorn reindeer turd sprinkled liberally onto it, with a little sleighbell and festive vibe. It is lazy, it is ugly, and it is taking their fans hard earned cash from them, literally candy from babies, for just the same song with a little bit of seasonal seasoning sprinkled onto the top of it. Even the New Kids On The Block managed to put out an entire christmas album of festive cringeworthy joy. BTS don’t even work for their fans love and hard earned money.
That is the one unforgivable sin of the purveyors of music, style and culture: taking people who buy into it for granted and not putting out thoughtful product. People put blood, sweat, tears and hours on the road into creating music. I don’t doubt that plenty of BTS blood has been shed in the plastic surgeons office, and those spot lights they dance under make even these botoxed babies sweat like whores in church, but I fail to see any devotion to the music, to saying SOMETHING. They say nothing. Their talk is not cheap – it is millions of dollars worth, yet all they can come up with is an unholy mash up between Smooth Criminal by Michael Jackson, some strict choreography, each step mapped out for them, and some Bieber-esque Yummy Yummy. This is not food for the soul, rather cholesterol soaked heart stopping junk food that is an affront to everything that is decent and worthwhile in the world.
Side step, right-left, to my beat
High like the moon, rock with me, baby
Know that I got that heat
Let me show you ’cause talk is cheap
Side step, right-left, to my beat
Get it, let it roll
Smooth like butter, pull you in like no other
Don’t need no Usher to remind me you got it bad
Ain’t no other that can sweep you up like a robber
Straight up, I (got ya)
Making you fall like that (break it down) (Butter)
There is no ‘heat’, no smooth sexy slip and slide, no credentials, just instagram worthy contouring and more pancake foundation than even the most devoted youtube make up artist would consider to be a good idea.
That fact that BTS makes so much money, mostly for their management, says everything we need to know about the way the world has gone. We are all hungry for meaning, for Truth, for art, for words. We all need comfort and to make sense of the word around us, and that is what the artists do: they fathom the mysteries of the universe, they provide a framework for the modern rituals of joy and release and celebration. It is the artists who bond us together as a culture, as a species and as humans who see other humans as humans. A band that wears nazi iconography because it looks cool, that changes their appearance to make themselves a homogenous blank tabula rasa for the rest of the world to write their desires onto, that erases themselves so as to be more acceptable to a larger amount of people, that has nothing to say, and says that nothing in a way that is neither real nor authentic, and who inspires such toxic rabid fangirling, is worthless.
It does not make anything better: not those who listen to it and enjoy it because they do not know better, or because it is what everyone else is doing, nor the world at large. BTS performed at the United Nations after wearing Nagasaki bombing shirts and using Nazi iconography! They should not have been allowed near the UN for precisely those reasons. They are divisive, they are offensive, they say nothing. Mind you that is exactly what our totalitarian leaning overlords want. They don’t want protesting, or free thinking, they don’t want punk rebellion. They want placid, rabid armies defending the right to be just like them. Individuality is not required, in fact it goes against everything Big Government seems to stand for. Make a stand for the individual. Make a stand for the Real Person, (cue the coca cola nothing like the real thing jingle, far better than anything BTS every put out), and listen to some Real Music. Not everyone has to be the same, Sometimes shit is shit and should not be made to smell like Roses, or Jimin’s dirty socks chewed up by the KPop unicorn mill and spat out as just another remix of the same tired old tracks.
I was wondering what the antidote to the BTS poison was, and think I found it in the Nitwitz track, Totalitarian Rock and Roll. Real life rebels who lived and breathed music, did it for the fans and for the music, and put their snotty noses to the grindstone. The honest to goodness visceral reaction that kicks against the pricks and calls the faithful to resist the inexorable drag towards Totally Totalitarian, and the imperative we are all driven towards that smooths over any differences, any vox humana, any blips in the matrix, any art that challenges instead of encourages people to be different, to be themselves and to hold opinions and tastes which whilst they don’t hurt other people, are painted in that way, and consigned to Room 101, as being ‘Unpopular’. It is bands like the glorious Nitwitz that did not give a fuck about being unpopular and screamed out their differences and their punk creedo credentials. They also didn’t make billions of dollars which is a sin in itself.
Resist the BTS totalitarian nightmare….listen to something else. Anything else. I recommend some Detroit influenced speed punk to put a little bitter in the artificially flavored pap the world is being spoonfed right now and that masquerades as popular culture. Long live rock and roll! It’s a totalitarian nightmare out there, baby!