BTS again outshines itself with 3rd No. 1 debut on Billboard Hot 100

June 2, 2021

The seven young men from once an underdog recording label have done it again.

After becoming the first K-pop act to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard’s main singles chart with “Dynamite” and doing it again with the Korean song “Life Goes On,” they landed yet another song in the top spot of one of the industry’s toughest music charts.

The new BTS single “Butter,” released on May 21, ranked No. 1 in its first week, according to the latest version of the Billboard Hot 100, earning the seven-piece act its third top debut in less than 10 months.

Seven-piece act BTS poses during a news conference for its new digital single "Butter" in eastern Seoul on May 21, 2021. (Yonhap)
This image, shared on one of Billboard's Twitter accounts, shows that the new BTS song "Butter" has topped its main singes chart dated June 5, 2021. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)
This photo, provided by Big Hit Music, shows the septet performing its new single "Butter" on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" on May 25, 2021. Billboard announced the same day that the English-language single debuted at No. 26, the highest for the band, on its pop airplay chart. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)
This photo, provided by Big Hit Entertainment, shows the members of BTS posing for photos during an online media day event in Seoul on Sept. 2, 2020. The band's "Dynamite" topped Billboard's main Hot 100 singles chart in the United States on Aug. 31. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Seven-piece act BTS poses during a news conference for its new digital single “Butter” in eastern Seoul on May 21, 2021. (Yonhap)

With the latest record, BTS has become the “first group with a trio of No. 1 entrances” as well as a group with the “fastest run to four initial Hot 100 No. 1s since the Jackson 5 in 1970,” when including its performance on the remix version of “Savage Love (Laxed – Siren Beat” by Jawsh 687 and Jason Derulo, Billboard reported.

Even when pitting the group against all musical acts, its top debut track record just trails behind Ariana Grande with five and Justin Bieber and Drake with four each, tying with pop divas Mariah Carey and Taylor Swift.

Not to mention that the Billboard feat is the latest in the septet’s record-breaking spree since dropping the catchy summer number.

BTS has outdone itself on giant platforms, like YouTube, where it racked up 108.2 million views in its first 24 hours of release and more than 3.9 million peak concurrents, breaking its own records with “Dynamite.”

On Spotify, which is not even the biggest music streaming platform here, BTS scored 20.9 million streams with “Butter,” rewriting the platform’s history with the most streams in a single day.

The recent accolades mark a dramatic journey from the band’s first top debut on the Billboard main singles chart that enthralled the whole country less than a year ago.

In September last year, President Moon Jae-in noted how BTS had written a “new chapter in K-pop history” with its first No. 1 win as a South Korean artist, praising how it is “a splendid feat that further raises pride in K-pop.”

In a news conference marking the No. 1 record, the group’s rapper Suga also remarked how “dazed” he felt.

“We did dream of hopefully achieving (No. 1) someday but that was never our goal. I was dazed and felt like I was dreaming,” he said. “It was overwhelming knowing that we achieved something big. After checking the news, I pinched myself (to check I wasn’t dreaming).”

The rest is history. With “Dynamite,” BTS went on to top the chart for 10 weeks, bag trophies, earn its first Grammy nomination and become the first Korean act to perform at the music awards ceremony.

But what truly highlights the group’s trajectory is how it continues to reinvent itself in an organic way, breaks free from what typically defines K-pop, engages in social movements and does all this in an enjoyable way.

While sticking to its roots of writing autobiographic songs — think the school trilogy — through individual mixtapes and albums, like “BE,” in which members took key behind-the-scene roles, the septet has fun through tracks like “Dynamite” and “Butter.”

From being called a K-pop sensation or phenomenon, the group is increasingly being introduced as a mainstream act, like the “biggest band in the world” by Rolling Stone or the “biggest boy band on the planet” on American sitcom “Friends.”

But instead of relying on or rejecting the K-pop frame that often follows it and taking part in the debate surrounding it, the group serenely declares that it will focus on what it does best.

“There’s a lot of debate and reflection on K-pop or the U.S. market but the concept of K-pop has expanded to more of an industry rather than a genre,” RM said in a May 21 news conference.

“We’re not sure if our music can be explained within the realm of K-pop but I believe that when we do our best as BTS, the media and music critics will have their own conclusions.”

While the group has not shied away from its Grammy ambitions and acknowledged the “honorable title” of having four Billboard No. 1s, it seems to be set on doing what it has been doing for now.

“If (people) could get energy and cheer (themselves) up by listening to ‘Butter,’ there would be no better gift than that,” BTS said through its label following its latest Hot 100 top debut. “We’ll be the BTS that strives to put out hotter, sweeter and cooler music,” referring to the lyrics of the Billboard-topping single.