Boyband BTS make K-Pop history topping US album charts

South Korean boyband BTS attend the 2018 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 20. BTS became the first K-Pop group to top the Billboard 200 music charts, which ranks albums via sales, downloads and streams. (AFP)
Updated 28 May 2018
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Boyband BTS make K-Pop history topping US album charts

SEOUL: Korean boyband phenomenon BTS have become the first K-Pop group to rise to the top of the US album charts, a vivid illustration of the genre’s growing global appeal.
Known for boyish good looks, floppy haircuts and meticulously choreographed dance moves, the septet has become one of South Korea’s best known and most lucrative musical exports.
On Sunday, they passed a new milestone — becoming the first K-Pop group to top the Billboard 200 music charts which ranks albums via sales, downloads and streams.
“It’s the first No. 1 for the seven-member group, and the first K-pop album to lead the tally,” Billboard wrote in its online report detailing the latest chart ranking.
While plenty of older music listeners in the West might be asking “who?,” it’s hard to underestimate the popularity of BTS and their seven stars Suga, J-Hope, Rap Monster, Jimin, V, Jungkook and Jin.
According to one data analysis, they were they most talked about phenomenon on Twitter in 2017, with nearly double the number of mentions on the social media platform than US President Donald Trump and Canadian badboy heartthrob Justin Bieber combined.
Throw in their similarly massive appeal across the globe — they have huge social media followings in Japan, China, Southeast Asia and parts of Latin America — and you have a truly global supergroup.
Their new album “Love Yourself: Tear” toppled “Beerpong and Bentleys” by rising hip-hop star Post Malone, whose facial tattoos are the very antithesis of BTS’ wholesome, meticulously manicured image.
While BTS sing in Korean, their style successfully fuses the catchy earworms of K-Pop with hip-hop and R’n’B.
Last year, their previous release “Love Yourself: Her” became the first K-Pop album to make it into the top 10 US album charts, rising to number seven, and hit the number one spot on iTunes in more than 70 countries.


Oscars: the show must go on... without a host

Updated 20 January 2019
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Oscars: the show must go on... without a host

LOS ANGELES: Hollywood’s biggest night — the Oscars — is set to take place next month without a host for the first time in 30 years, after comedian Kevin Hart pulled out of the gig and no suitable replacement was found.
Though organizers have yet to confirm the plans, entertainment insiders say the show’s producers are forging ahead with preparations for the 91st Academy Awards on February 24 with no emcee.
If all goes ahead, it would be the first ceremony without a host since the 1989 gala — one widely seen as one of the most embarrassing ever, featuring an infamous duet between actor Rob Lowe and... Snow White.
As gala organizers struggle to overcome a steady decline in viewership, many say the failure to find a host is actually good news.
“It’s a blessing in disguise,” Tim Gray, awards editor at entertainment magazine Variety, told AFP.
“People have been saying for years that the format — the same since 1953 — needs to change and they’re trying to cut down on running time. So personally, I think it’s a great idea not to have a host.”
Hart, who is currently starring opposite Bryan Cranston in “The Upside,” was named to host the Oscars in early December.
But the backlash was swift — homophobic tweets he made several years ago reemerged, prompting an outcry on social media, and he withdrew just a few days later.
“I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year’s Oscar’s (sic)....this is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists,” he tweeted.
“I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past.”
So why can’t the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences find someone else?
The previous two shows have been hosted by late night funnyman Jimmy Kimmel. Comedian Chris Rock emceed in 2005 and 2016 and TV talk show host Ellen DeGeneres hosted in 2007 and 2014.
All have apparently indicated they weren’t interested in the gig this year.
“I think a lot of people, especially when it comes to hosting the Oscars ... think nowadays it’s not worth accepting (to host) because of the scrutiny,” Gray said.
“It’s kind of a thankless job,” he added.
“A lot of hosts have said it’s a difficult job because you walk into that room, there are 3,000 people, and all they want to know is who won in each category.”
In recent years, several hosts were raked over the coals. Actor Neil Patrick Harris got rumbled over his 2015 effort and said he would never do it again. James Franco and Anne Hathaway were a dud in 2011.
The Academy declined several requests by AFP for comment on the hosting situation or the show’s possible format.
But according to several trade magazines, organizers are considering having multiple A-listers — probably actors — introduce various segments and the award presenters.
“The Academy awards regularly had multiple hosts in the 1970s and 1980s and the telecast worked very well,” said Dave Karger, a special correspondent for IMDb (the Internet Movie Database).
“So if this year’s producers are able to book big stars to perform in skits and present the prizes, I don’t think the show will suffer at all.”
Gray said the big challenge will be how to make the show entertaining — both to those attending and for people watching on television — while sticking to the promise of a three-hour telecast.
“I think the hostless situation is going to force them to come up with something imaginative,” he said.
“And the fact that the show is going to be different could keep the energy going.”