“A Hot 100 and a Grammy nomination, these are our goals,” he continued. “But they’re just goals—we don’t want to change our identity or our genuineness to get the number one. Like if we suddenly sing in full English, and change all these other things, then that’s not BTS. We’ll do everything, we’ll try. But if we couldn’t get number one or number five, that’s OK.”

OK? Maybe. Unlikely? Definitely. 

“We have to consider ourselves not just better [than other K-pop acts], but the best,” RM told The Hollywood Reporter when the band graced the cover in October 2019. “When we’re out there on that stage, we’re there to conquer. We think we’re the ones.”

With K-pop’s popularity only further surging Stateside—girl group BLACKPINK achieved a first of their own with a Coachella set in 2019—and album Map of the Soul: 7 earning more than 3 million preorders within the first week it was announced in January 2020, the sky seemed to be the limit for the group at the forefront of this recent leg of Hallyu, or the Korean Wave.

So a Hot 100 No. 1? It was only a matter of time.

And when the group dropped “Dynamite”—a standalone single preceding their most recent album, Be, and their first sung entirely in English—in August, they got their wish. The track debuted at No. 1 on the Hot 100 where it stayed for a total of three weeks, making them the first South Korean to top the chart. 

By the time Be dropped in November, debuting as their fifth No. 1 album and delivering them another No. 1 hit single (“Life Goes On”), BTS crossed another achievement off their list when “Dynamite” was nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the 2021 Grammys. The nod made them the first Korean pop act to be recognized by the Recording Academy.

As RM said in an interview with Esquire released a day before the nominations were announced, “I think the Grammys are the last part, like the final part of the whole American journey.”

With all eyes on the March 14 ceremony to see if they come out victorious, there’s no denying that they’re already winners many times over. As for where they go next, well, we can’t wait to find out.

(This story was originally published on April 12, 2019 at 3 a.m. PT.)


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