On August 26, 2021, a new Billboard Magazine cover featuring BTS was unveiled on the internet.
The members’ fresh visuals on the cover photo obviously sent ARMY on a frenzy and raised excitement to see more content and to read the exclusive interview.
After all, the main cover line says “BTS Inc. The business behind the world’s hottest group,” so the anticipation for new quotes and stories from and about BTS was on a high.
But that soon died down after people finished reading the cover story article written by Jeyup S. Kwaak.
The hashtag #BillboardApologizeToBTS quickly gained traction on Twitter with most of the tweets expressing distaste for the article.
Accusing BTS and ARMY of chart manipulation
ARMY took offense to the article’s accusations that they have been manipulating BTS’ Billboard chart success through organized mass buying efforts.
They also took note of the sheer undermining of BTS’ hard work and ARMY’s sincere and genuine support for them throughout the years.
“Did anyone ask Dua Lipa why 4k of her sales were removed costing her several chart positions? Did anyone ask artists in the height of bundles how their free-falls felt after the first week’s front-loaded sales dropped?” asked @Agent_Snark, who found it unfair for Billboard to directly question BTS about why they are reigning on the Hot 100 charts when they seem to be tolerant of other artists’ offenses.
“Everything’s an issue when it comes to BTS but they turn a blind eye to other artists’ doing,” adds @crystaljiniee.
“Did anyone ask these ‘gp favs’ why couldn’t they sell the seats and sell out stadiums ??” echoed @mygk1tten, who reminded of the fact that BTS has always been successful even outside the Billboard charts, selling out stadiums across the globe and virtual concert tickets in a flash.
Missing the beat
CJ Farley, the executive editor at Amazon Inc.’s Audible, also chimed in with a series of tweets.
Understanding what’s wrong with the Billboard Magazine cover story, he said: “Part of the issue is that some journalists are viewing @bts_bighit’s #Army like it’s a cheat code, instead of seeing it for what it is: the essence of what the love of music is about.”
Farley goes on to imply that by calling ARMY’s well-organized buying cheating practically negates the Billboard chart’s own mechanics and criteria for what counts for digital and physical single or album sales.
“Fandom powered Motown, Beatlemania, rap, alternative rock. It’s weird, and self-defeating, for the music industry to act like devoted fans are cheating the charts. Charts should reflect the passion people feel about music. If anything the charts are cheating @bts_bighit and #Army,” Farley adds.
#PearlARMY anjdeecee also shared the sentiment of other ARMY who felt that the cover feature was a failed opportunity to showcase the REAL “business behind the world’s hottest group,” which was their music and artistry.
“I hope that [Billboard] explore[s] more of the boys’ talent and artistry instead of the album chart data. BTS is more than just numbers. They are people who are really humble, hardworking, and great performers,” she said.
Bundling for mass buying?
Adding salt to the wound, Billboard announced that this current issue of the magazine would be available in a limited edition print set featuring eight different covers (an OT7 cover and individual covers of the members).
“If fans are using their own money, how can that be a form of cheating? What about airplay manipulation? Aren’t they gonna question the ways other artists and record labels manipulate the charts? And speaking of sales, the manner by which Billboard advertised this ‘limited/special edition’ magazine to garner sales …. WOW !!!” said Pearl ARMY Angelique Venal, who was just completely appalled.
After harping on the “cheating tactic” of mass buying singles and albums to give BTS a good standing on the charts, Billboard now seems to be anchoring on ARMY’s support to gain sales for their product.
@Roseleen_Havana on Twitter called them out for this: “Ironic how @billboard published an article accusing BTS of chart manipulation, mentioning a standard Kpop practice of multiple album versions, then decided to use that very tactic to sell a bundle of 8 magazines with different members on the cover #BillboardApologizeToBTS”
Another case of racism and xenophobia?
Baffled as to why Billboard, an organization that has recognized BTS as the Top Social Artist for five straight years in its own awards show, still struggles to explain how the group has become the globally massive artists they are, ARMYs couldn’t help but point this latest article to another case of racism and xenophobia.
@jeon_jgguk on Twitter wrote: “The article was so disrespectful towards our artists. Billboard is supposed to be an organization that supports music artists but what i saw in that article was xenophobia and racism. They literally accused them of chart manipulation. I’m so disappointed.”
@RafranzDavis, who was quoted in the article and already requested Billboard to have her name and quote removed as she was clearly taken “completely out of context, also deduced: “Doesn’t really matter which records we break or how we do it. They’ll always act as if our guys don’t belong. It’s the moving of the goalposts every single time for me.”
BTS and ARMY protecting each other forever
In the end, it will always be ARMY protecting BTS from people and entities who are trying to exploit and undermine them.
And in the end, it will also be BTS protecting ARMY from those who try to look down on their genuine love and dedication for the band.
“[RM] had the last say in that article,” said Pearl ARMY Zarah Gagatiga, referring to this quote by RM:
“It’s a fair question, but if there is a conversation inside Billboard about what being No. 1 should represent, then it’s up to them to change the rules and make streaming weigh more on the ranking. Slamming us or our fans for getting to No. 1 with physical sales and downloads, I don’t know if that’s right … It just feels like we’re easy targets because we’re a boy band, a K-pop act, and we have this high fan loyalty.”
“He gave it to Billboard, that’s what it is. Bangtan is bulletproof through and through. Let the world remember that!” Zarah said.