I am the mother of a pop music loving 10-year-old. There’re two ways to go about raising a small person who loves all the latest teeny-bopper hits: buy large earmuffs or embrace it. Right now, I’m choosing to embrace it. This has resulted in today's review of Burn the Stage: The Rise of BTS and Korean Boy Bands by Marc Shapiro with Riverdale Avenue Books.
If it brings my kiddo joy to blast the latest JoJo Siwa or BTS song in the car, I might as well find something to like about it. That way, music is something that brings us closer, not drives us apart. Plus, I always said I’d be one of those cool moms who were up on the latest pop culture phenoms. Although I have not yet lived up to this promise to my younger self, there is still time, and apparently I can fake my way through if I read enough books.
When I saw a biography about BTS up for review on Net Galley, I had to read it. At 45 years old, I am quite sure I’m not the target audience, but I wanted to see what they were all about and I’m much more into reading than listening.
Marc Shapiro’s biography places the band neatly in history, giving an introductory chapter on the history of trot music and the evolution of K-Pop. He details the creation of the band, their songs, and their tours. Shapiro manages to impart a level of affection and admiration for the band that’s contagious. We see them not as plastic celebrities, but as sweet guys who enjoy their downtime yet are completely devoted to the band. They come across as a tight-knit family, even when off doing solo projects.
"What was evident in their performance was the humble and totally appreciative feelings they had towards their fans. Real rather than calculation, the gratitude the band expressed that night, and on all future nights, was totally heartfelt and endearing."
Whether you enjoy K-pop or not, the relevance of this band—the first K-Pop band to ever be nominated for a Grammy—is unquestionable. I learned enough things to hold my own in a conversation with fifth graders. For example, I didn’t even know that “BTS” stood for Burn The Stage A.K.A. the Bangtan Boys. I learned that it’s a take-off of “Bulletproof Boy Scouts” meaning that they were going to break the norms and be their own people. I was suprised to learn that the members, RM, J-Hope, Suga, Jin, Jimin, V and Jungkook are in their early 20s, in spite of looking a decade younger. They come off as sincere, sweet, and dedicated.
Parental Warnings: none. No drugs, groupies, or descent into debachery. This is not an exposé or tell-all.
Shapiro’s book gives a thorough run-down that is informative, well-researched, and astonishingly up-to-the-minute. It would make the perfect gift for BTS fans everywhere. Get a copy at your local bookstore, Amazon, or suggest it to your library.
Copyright © 2023 Lara Lillibridge
Public domain imagery courtesy of Snappygoat.com