While some artists struggled to get their music heard in 2020, BTS made it look easy. That’s one reason TIME has named the K-pop superstars its Entertainer of the Year for 2020.
This year saw BTS top the Billboard Hot 100 not once, but three times — with “Dynamite,” the “Savage Love” remix, and “Life Goes On” — and score two number-one albums. They also scored their first-ever Grammy nomination and sold nearly a million tickets to a massive virtual concert.
But TIME’s recognition of BTS is also about the group’s ability to connect with fans worldwide through their vulnerability, their message of kindness and their social activism. That includes a $1 million donation to the Black Lives Matter movement this year.
“I always wanted to become an artist that can provide comfort, relief and positive energy to people,” J-Hope tells TIME. “That intent harmonized with the sincerity of our group and led us to who we are today.”
For BTS themselves, 2020 wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, though. J-Hope tells TIME it was a “roller coaster,” while Jimin adds, “It was a year that we struggled a lot. We might look like we’re doing well on the outside with the numbers, but we do go through a hard time ourselves.”
As RM notes, in 2020, “We’re not sure if we’ve actually earned respect. But one thing for sure is that [people] feel like, ‘O.K., this is not just some kind of a…phenomenon.'”
Or, put another way, says RM, “These little boys from Korea are doing this.”
Tonight at 10 p.m. ET on NBC, TIME will reveal its Person of the Year.
By Andrea Dresdale
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.