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.


‘Kaala,’ first Indian film in Saudi cinemas, gimmicky at best

Updated 17 June 2018
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‘Kaala,’ first Indian film in Saudi cinemas, gimmicky at best

  • Rajinikanth remains a man who has to fall back on gimmicks
  • At 167 minutes, the film could have been liberally trimmed as the story has little novelty on offer

CHENNAI: A film with Tamil actor Rajinikanth is a like a carnival, but unlike a conventional one, there is more reverence here than just fun. The superstar, who is respectfully addressed as “thalaivar,” or chief, is not just an icon, but a phenomenon. Last week, Pa Ranjith-helmed, Rajinikanth-starrer “Kaala” became the first Indian film to open in newly re-launched Saudi cinemas — it sees Rajinikanth appear as an underworld don called Karikaalan.

Invariably dressed in a black dhoti and a black shirt, Kaala is not evil personified — as the color is often meant to denote – but goodness glorified. Playing godfather to his tribe of Tamils in Dharavi, the second largest slum in the world after one in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro, he is provoked into a battle when a huge corporate, headed by a gangster-turned-minister Hari Dada (played by Nana Patekar), tries to demolish Dharavi and evict hundreds of its inhabitants.

In the war that ensues between Karikaalan and Hari, the star’s wife, Selvi (played by Eswari Rao) and eldest son, are killed, leaving a heartbroken husband and father, who does not choose a path of revenge, but merely carries on as a good Samaritan.

At 167 minutes, the film could have been liberally trimmed as the story has little novelty on offer. The movie follows a beaten track that is strewn with dead bodies and covered with blood and gore. A confrontation between the protagonist and Hari takes on various hues, but ends up presenting little that can be revelatory or surprising.

Rajinikanth remains a man who has to fall back on gimmicks (earlier it was flicking a cigarette in the air and catching it between his lips, and this time it is playing with his dark glasses) to keep his fans interested.

But, yes, if the film falls rather flat because its lead actor looks tired — he is 67-years-old — and is unable to think of different characters (unlike Bollywood’s Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor, who have given themselves a complete image makeover). Fine pieces of acting by Patekar infuse sparks of excellence into the narrative, however.

Unless Rajinikanth steps away from the gimmicks to take on more substantial roles, his movies may continue to be less than impressive.