With the debut of their album BE and its lead single “Life Goes On” on the Billboard chart, BTS set numerous records all at once. This is significant for BTS themselves as well as for the US music industry as a whole. Let’s take a closer look through their BE and “Life Goes On” wins.

200 Chart
BE debuted at the very top of the Billboard 200 chart. The chart uses album-equivalent units to measure performance, where each unit of sale is equivalent to one album, 10 digital tracks, 3,750 free streams, or 1,250 paid streams. BE racked up 242,000 album-equivalent units. Marketing strategies aimed at maximizing record sales in the US music industry during the first week of sales typically include releasing various versions, sometimes with a random bonus gift, and limited-edition copies on the artist’s website or at select retailers. That BE achieved its sales records through a digital album ($9) and a physical deluxe edition ($50) alone is particularly noteworthy. Diving into the details:

  1. BE is BTS’s fifth number-one album. That’s five chart-topping albums in just two and a half years since 2018’s Love Yourself: Tear. This is the shortest time taken to achieve this feat since the American rapper Future, who took 19 months from DS2 (2015) to HNDRXX (2017). The all-time record is held by the Beatles - 17 months after their 1964 US debut.
  2. Following Map of the Soul: 7 charting this past March 7, BTS attained two number-one albums in 2020. YoungBoy Never Broke Again and BTS are the only artists with two number ones this year.
  3. BE includes the English track “Dynamite” but is classified as a foreign language album because most of the songs are not in English. To date, 11 non-English albums have been number one; five of them, naturally, belong to BTS. Excluding classical crossover albums from Josh Groban and Il Divo, Love Yourself: Tear, released in 2018, was the first such album in 23 years, the previous being Selena’s Dreaming of You in 1995.

  • ⓒ Billboard
Billboard Hot 100 Chart
“Life Goes On” debuted at number one on the Hot 100 chart. The Hot 100 rankings are calculated by combining streaming numbers, physical and digital sales, and radio airtime. The relative weight of each metric is adjusted weekly, but is not made public. “Life Goes On” was fourteenth in streaming, with 14.9 million listens, and first in digital sales at 129,000 downloads.

  1. This is BTS’s third number-one song. Starting with “Dynamite” on September 5 and followed by “Savage Love (Laxed – Siren Beat),” it was exactly three months until they had their third number-one hit. This is the shortest time frame since the Bee Gees took “How Deep Is Your Love,” “Stayin’ Alive” and “Night Fever” to number one in two-months and three-weeks between the end of 1977 and the beginning of 1978. The all-time record, again, belongs to the Beatles, in two months and three days during 1964.
  2. BTS pulled off three number-one hits in 2020 alone. This is the first time since Ariana Grande did the same with “Stuck with U,” “Rain on Me” and “Positions,” and it’s the first time a group has gone to number one three times in a single year since the Bee Gees in 1979.
  3. “Dynamite” and “Life Goes On” both debuted at number one. BTS is the first group to have two songs debut at number one. As many songs have debuted at number one this year this may appear commonplace, but across the whole history of the Hot 100 only 46 songs hold this distinction.
  4. This is the first time a Korean-language song hit number one. It’s also the first time a non-English song debuted in the position, and the first since “Despacito” to reach number one. Before that? 1996’s “Macarena.” And before that? “La Bamba,” in 1987.
  5. “Dynamite” received renewed interest and jumped back up to third place from fourteenth. They are the first to have two songs in the Hot 100 top five since the Black Eyed Peas in 2009.
  6.  All seven of the songs on BE have entered the Hot 100 chart, from “Life Goes On” at the top, down to “Dis-ease” at 72. This means BTS has had a total of 19 songs enter the Hot 100. This is the first time BTS sent more than three songs to the Hot 100. When the number-one album on the Billboard 200 has most of its songs on the Hot 100, they tend to be heavily streamed hip hop songs. When BTS releases new material, it breaks through on the merit of the first week’s heavy streaming levels.

Global 200/Global Excl. US Charts
“Life Goes On” also debuted at number one on the Global 200 and Global-Excluding US charts. The two charts, which Billboard launched in September, are based on a combination of streaming and digital sales in around 200 countries. On the Global 200 chart, “Life Goes On” is recorded as having 150 million streams and 84,000 sales. That’s the highest number of streams since the inception of the chart. On the Global-Excluding US chart, the song boasts 138 million plays and 42,000 sales.

  1. BTS’s three Hot 100 number ones have all topped the Global 200 as well. That means BTS is the first artist to climb to the top of the Global 200 three times. “Dynamite” also returned to take third place.
  2. BTS is also the first to reach number one on the Global-Excluding US chart twice, with “Dynamite” and “Life Goes On.”


General Records

  1. The group has been number one on the Artist 100 chart 13 times. The Artist 100 combines sales and overall performance along with social media response. BTS is currently ranked sixth for most weeks at number one, behind Taylor Swift, Drake, the Weeknd, Ariana Grande, and Post Malone. Immediately after BTS are Justin Bieber and Ed Sheeran.
  2. BTS debuted at the top of both the Billboard 200 and Hot 100 at the same time. This honor is held exclusively by Taylor Swift and BTS. Taylor Swift was the first to hold this historic record in August with the release of her album Folklore and its single “Cardigan.”
  3. BTS has been number one on the Billboard 200, Hot 100, and Artist 100. Among those who have been number one on the Artist 100 chart since it started in 2014, only nine artists have sat atop all three charts: Drake, Taylor Swift, Adele, Ariana Grande, Ed Sheeran, the Weeknd, Camila Cabello, Kendrick Lamar, and BTS.

This record-breaking chart performance prompts a few questions about the future. For example, what effect would this have on votes for the Grammy Awards? Unlike “Dynamite,” which BTS sings in English, what kind of response and reviews will the non-English “Life Goes On” receive moving forward? If there could be a replacement for the likely long-winded responses, it should be this: BTS is the top pop group in the US music industry this year, and it’s hard to imagine a team being more successful in the near future. That’s the truth.
Article. Seongdeok Seo(Music Critic)
Photo Credit. BIGHIT MUSIC
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