I know this blog post is technically a few days late. However, I needed a little time to decompress before addressing Billboard’s ongoing self-serving hypocrisy as directed at BTS and ARMY. I also wanted to take some time away from social media to get my head right and focus on my personal life.
Now that I have done as much, let’s take another look at Billboard’s amateurishly ham-fisted attempt to take down BTS and throw mud on their recent dominance of the Hot 100.
If you’re new, this is actually Billboard’s SECOND magazine cover feature with BTS as part of a box set with multiple covers. The first series was released back in February 2018. The interview by E. Alex Jung was excellent. Jung’s knowledge, professionalism, and attention to detail showed throughout the piece, which was very much about BTS as artists and so laser-focused on them.
With Billboard’s (then) blessing, Jung conveyed that BTS are very much the leaders of their generation. ARMY’s genuine connection to the group and their music was respectfully acknowledged.
In other words, this is not Billboard’s first go-around interviewing BTS. This company does not get the benefit of the doubt for this glorified hit piece. Billboard dressed their smear campaign up in pretty pictures but I can’t imagine it expected ARMY to fund their attempt to scrub the music industry of this group’s accolades and any organic credit for their success.
It is an absolutely ugly piece of writing that does not flatter Billboard in the slightest. The article certainly wasn’t aimed at anyone who genuinely loves and appreciates BTS as hardworking artists at the top of their field.
A level of bad faith permeates this second feature story to such a degree that it’s outright toxic. I mean, imagine hiring a writer who was already on record making shady comments about BTS ARMY, someone who clearly has an ax to grind, and expecting me to believe this story was going to be an exercise in anything other than emotional harm.
For fuck’s sake, BTS gets referred to as “it” throughout the article!
But none of that matters I suppose if the fundamental point was putting BTS on blast for being too successful while also not being Western, white, and astroturfed by the American music industry in the latest round of “fake it until they probably don’t make it.” I guess the money Billboard lost on the box sets was worth it if it meant getting to directly put those upstarts from the East in their place, amirite?!
But as “Lainey” Lui notes over at Lainey’s Gossip, we’re entering Grammy season. So, odds are Billboard dropped this turd in the hopes of doing as much damage as possible to their chances by implying to voters that everything BTS has is manipulated and HYBE is pulling ARMYs’ strings.
Yes, three years out from insisting that BTS were organic, world-changing, generational leaders, Billboard used its platform to scream the opposite in a cynical bid to try to forcibly halt the septet’s dominance in the American music industry. The timing is interesting, and not just as a desperate bid to throw dirt on BTS’s Grammy aspirations.
The organization’s antics came just a day after we all got wind thatMeg Thee Stallion’s label didn’t want a feature for her on “Butter” because they
wanted to extort everyone for cash didn’t think it would be good for her career. But not only that, the label head said, and I quote:
“BTS operates differently than we do here in the US.”
BTS operates differently by (a) going to the artist directly (b) trying to make sure they get paid and (c) not helping their labels screw them over. Good to know. This is one of those quiet parts that you say out loud when you can’t believe the red tape isn’t working. Billboard hasn’t quite screamed the quiet parts (yet), but their increasingly hostile reaction to BTS’s success certainly speaks volumes.
Long before Billboard directly attacked BTS in this cover story, the company was already getting called out left and right for how it reacted to BTS’s #1s versus other artists. Everything literally tagging everyone else but them to writing (and then deleting) snide little observations about “Dynamite” doing so well. With such ugliness bubbling under the surface, a hit piece was inevitable.
Billboard must be pretty pissed if it could no longer stick to microaggressive behaviors. And yet the level of emotional sabotage aimed at BTS and ARMY is bizarre when you consider all the ways Billboard bent backward to water down the validity of their own charts as the CD era came to a close and album sales took a notable nosedive in the age of streaming platforms.
We Remember The Bundles Era
The age of bundling T-shirts, baby bottles, and condoms are barely in Billboard’s rearview mirror and somehow ARMY is to blame for ruining its charts’ integrity. I cannot believe Billboard took time out of BTS’s busy schedule to ask them, to their face, about accusations against ARMY by angry BTS antis. (Top-notch writing, really). They really did this to a group that was previously falsely maligned with similar accusations.
I’m grateful that Namjoon was able to call this bullshit out directly:
Billboard is trying it because, as Namjoon said, we’re easy targets. I mean, did Billboard REALLY feel like a respectable and reliable source of music rankings when it was forced to count bubble gum, hats, and keychains for its chart? Just where was all this nerve in the face of labels bundling merch and buying spots on Spotify playlists as a means of gaming the system?
You know what? I’ll go a step further:
- Why did Billboard devalue YouTube streams when at the time, more people were consuming music that way than through every other method of music streaming combined?
- Why does Billboard continue to include radio as a metric even though it no longer place a role in music purchase decisions for many Americans (which was the entire reason radio was used by Billboard in the first place?)
- Why did Billboard yank Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” from its country music charts for being “not country enough” according to the establishment and not its own better judgement as, you know, the alleged “Bible” of the music industry?*
And by the way, that last one had a DIRECT impact on their Hot 100 chart for a faaar longer period than “Butter.” Now “Old Town Road,” which featured a plethora of remixes that Billboard managed to NOT write shady tweets explaining away, stayed at #1 for 17 weeks. It did so on the back of Billboard causing a massive outpouring of outrage that led to a lot of people supporting the song. And as remix after remix came out, people continue to show support.
Funny how Billboard can directly impact its own charts, blocking who knows how many artists from the top of the Hot 100 in the name of upholding racist and rigid music industry politics, but I’m supposed to believe that ARMY buying as much music as possible is the bridge too far?
In any case, Billboard can remain mad from now until the end of eternity. Its social media personnel can keep tweeting and deleting passive-aggressive digs at BTS’s success. I doubt the brand be afforded the opportunity to breathe in BTS’s direction ever again, and that honestly gives me comfort.
And if anyone at Billboard is wondering, no, ARMY doesn’t give a damn what you think of us or BTS. We’re used to having the music industry and its various lackeys be angry at us for one reason or another. At the end of the day, Billboard, you’re basically the inferior movie version of the novel that came before. And so we already know how the story ends, and it won’t be you getting your way. 🙂
Billboard might be somebody’s bible, but in the end, their opinion matters to us about as much as whatever a T-shirt mattered when deciding which album was going to be #1 back when the company absolutely sold its soul, and with little or no help needed from anyone associated with HYBE, BTS, or ARMY.