Adulation is no reason for K-pop group BTS to become complacent, as they prove at their virtual gig, pulled off with such enthusiasm as though it was their first
A file image of the group
As music consumers who use a song's lyrics as a yardstick to measure its likeability, we must admit that it was an innocuous Benny Dayal performance that triggered a change of heart. Marking his association with British music group Clean Bandit as part of an endorsement, Dayal had serenaded a bunch of media persons and contemporaries with his best Hindi renditions, and even better Tamil ones. Though the Brit trio and many in the audience may not have understood the latter, Dayal enthralled with his melody.
Days ago, I found myself in similar circumstances when I received an invite for a virtual concert of lionised South Korean pop group, BTS. For the uninitiated, this decade-old band may not have abundant followers in India, but their popularity can be gauged by the numerous records that they have shattered across countries, and in the high-profile artistes, including Justin Bieber, Ed Sheeran, Hasley, Joe Jonas, and Camila Cabello, that they count among their fans. It could also be assessed in the fact that they drew a whopping 9,93,000 viewers across 191 regions for this virtual concert, which will inarguably serve as a precedent for similar gigs that are likely to become a norm in a world that's increasingly heading online. The mere presence of any one of this septet — composed of RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook — can trigger such a thunderous applause at any event that proceedings need to be deferred for several minutes. Place a mic in his hand, and have him greet the crowd with an innocuous "Hello", and this chaos could last for several minutes longer.
The band at the virtual concert. Pics/AFP, Big Hit Entertainment
Though not a voracious consumers of their music, I was not stepping into this concert with a blank slate. BTS's No more dream is often on loop on my playlist, with several other renditions, including On, and the celebrated Dynamite also finding a special place in my heart. But did the group leave me as stupefied as they do their devoted fans? The answer would most certainly be, yes, and here's why: Let's circle back to the Benny Dayal concert. Rockabye hitmaker Clean Bandit have an ardent group of admirers, even in India. But, stepping out of the concert that evening, every media person spoke of how the band's performance wasn't a patch on that of Dayal, given that their arguably lackadaisical attempt to entertain became even more pronounced in the wake of the latter's diligence. His musical skills aside, Dayal punched above his weight to ensure that his small group of listeners were witness to an evening that they could remember. Why am I bringing this up? Because BTS too, despite all the acclaim that they've achieved, did not take their fans for granted. It didn't matter that they couldn't feed off the energy of a live audience, or that they could exploit technology to fix the weak points of their act. Brought on stage, the group serenaded a bunch of computer screens with as much enthusiasm as they do during live shows, exploring a bunch of music styles, from the soothing Boy with luv, to the sprightly No more dream. The effort of the VFX team deserves a special mention. Seated at home, they took us underwater, into a boxing ring, to a merry-go-round, and a desert too, all the while, painting our screens from the palest blue to the brightest red.
Another factor that gives this group an edge above the rest is that they can dance. And when I say dance, I don't mean a jig here and a shimmy there — their agile movements and impeccable co-ordination can make even the finest dance troops take notes. Abundant discussion on whether or not singers must be made to dance has taken place in India, with the conversation oscillating between views that are moralistic and artistic. But, while "just a man with a guitar" Ed Sheeran can tug at people's heartstrings, this troupe leaves little scope for debate when proving that a full package can leave a lasting impression as well.
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