BTS kicked off the first day of their takeover of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon with a debut television performance of their brand new song “Permission to Dance” as well as an interview with the host himself. For big BTS fans like myself, I’m sure you will know what I mean when I mention the cringe worthy aspects of certain interviews that are done with the band. A lot of the US interviews can be painful to watch, with the interviewers not really having a grasp on the Korean culture (such as certain subjects- like dating- not being as openly discussed as they are in the west) which can lead to a lot of awkward and uncomfortable moments. However, there are some interviewers that do a great job every time they interview the boys, both big names (like James Corden) and smaller ones (such as Zach Sang). Jimmy Fallon falls into this category and he definitely proved it with this interview. Thankfully, awkward moments are few and far between (except V who seems kind of unwilling to partake but I think that might be the language barrier). Let’s take a look at the first day of Jimmy Fallon’s two day BTS takeover.
In the first interview, Fallon discusses the “Dynamite” nomination with the group and RM discusses the importance of this achievement for them as Koreans breaking the western music industry. I am glad that their loss at the Grammys didn’t make them forget about how huge of an achievement that was. Fallon notes that the group will likely win a Grammy soon enough- which is probably true- but I don’t think that they need it to be honest. They are breaking the glass ceiling of the music industry bit by bit but I feel that their treatment at the Grammys this year shows that whilst progress has been made in terms of representing other cultures in western music, there is still a long way to go. They were treated in a way that suggests they were used to attract their fan base and bring in views, placing them towards the end of the ceremony yet teasing their appearance almost every ad break. There was also that controversy with the Grammy themed Garbage Pail Kids cards (I’ll link my article on the matter as it is too much to go into here) which suggested a blatant view of the group as “other” to the western artists. Fallon follows this up with praise for their single “Butter”, which has just spent its seventh week at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song is a catchy summer tune and so I hope that this popularity will lead to some more widespread recognition. There is also some discussion of their newest song “Permission to Dance” which RM reveals was a gift from Ed Sheeran who co-wrote the song despite never meeting the seven of them in person. I find it so odd how these huge collaborations can come about in the music industry without anyone actually having to meet. As a super shy introvert, I approve of this whole heartedly. After discussing when they will finally be able to tour again following the pandemic (there is no answer to that question yet obviously), Jimmy shared a photo of the group from back in 2013 not long after they debuted. I’ve seen their debut photos before but they never get any less cute. RM then notes that the change since then and now is that they got handsome. I would like to formally disagree with that statement as anyone with eyes can see that they have always been attractive young men. It feels a little weird to say that though since Jungkook would have been around 16 at the time. Let’s say that the youngest ones were cute and anyone over 18 in this picture was definitely handsome. Yeah, we will go with that. Less creepy. Jimin clearly isn’t a fan of his old appearance as he refuses to look at it, turning to face away from the camera. It is a funny and adorable moment but it also makes me wonder how much of that is genuine. Anyone alive can see that Jimin is a natural beauty but there are such high and unfair standards when it comes to the entertainment industry. This is even more so in the Korean music industry, with looks and weight being judged even more so than in the US. It makes me wonder if he really does consider his younger self to not be up to standard. In fact, RM’s comment kind of suggests that they all might think that to some degree which is insane. Just look at these cuties! If the crazy and unrealistic standards of beauty, attractiveness or handsomeness in the entertainment industry around the world is enough to make any of these seven men think they are unattractive than what hope do we mere mortals have? Jimmy agrees that the boys have always had that handsomeness too and I have to say that I am a big fan of guys who can admit if they think another man is handsome. Yes Jimmy, we all think it too. You are only human.
Next, Jimmy questions the boys on some BTS related rumours and as big a fan as I am, I actually learnt some new trivia about them here. Rather than calling their fans “ARMY”, they were originally going to call them “Bell” as the Korean word for bell starts with “bang” in the same way that the Korean word “bangtan” does. “Bangtan” means bulletproof in Korean and BTS translates to “bangtan sonyeondan” which in English means Bulletproof Boy Scouts. The more you know. The group liked this wordy connection and considered it as the official fan name. The band also liked the idea of their fans using bells to ring out their support during concerts. That sounds like a cool idea but let’s be honest, that would get real old, real fast. I also didn’t know that Jimin almost chose Baby J or Baby G as a stage name. He acknowledges how weird that would have sounded if he had stuck with it. Cute but definitely not something you could keep up in your mid 20’s. I kind of like Jimmy’s suggestion that Jimin go with the name “Jimin Fallon” but in fairness, James Corden has already claimed Jimin as his adoptive son by calling himself the “Papa Mochi” to Jimin’s “Baby Mochi”. Maybe they could adopt him together and Jimin could go by both names? Make this happen, Internet. V’s trivia is one that I did actually know in that he didn’t intend to audition for BTS’s agency BigHit Entertainment. He had been accompanying a friend to his audition and caught the eye of the producers who asked him to audition. V was the only person from Daegu to get through the auditions that day so you can guess what happened to his friend. V puts it a little more bluntly when Jimmy asks him about it, saying “He failed.” I mean…you’re not wrong I guess? Do you think they are still friends? I don’t know if you could still be friends after something like that unless you were like the best of friends or something. It’s all a bit awkward. SUGA’s trivia made me laugh as Jimmy questions him on the rumour that the first album he bought was an Eminem one. SUGA confirms this is the case and that despite the rather explicit lyrics and majorly mature content of the music, his parents didn’t actually mind as English to Korean translations were hard to come by back in the 90’s and so neither he nor they could understand the English lyrics. I don’t even have that excuse for my mother, who knew very well that I listened to Eminem at a young age and not only didn’t mind but actively encouraged it as she liked his music too. We are an unusual family. I also knew the fact about Jin being an amazing cook, though he brushes it off by saying that they all have the same level of cooking skill (anyone who has watched their Bangtan Bomb videos, their RUN BTS series or any of their other videos will know for a fact that this a straight up lie as RM can’t even slice an onion properly without hurting himself.) That’s my beautiful and humble bias Jin for you. He offers to cook Jimmy some kimchi if he is ever in Korea and I am in no way jealous of this so let’s move on. j-hope gets asked if it’s true that he considers himself the most fashionable member of the group with which he replies “absolutely”. Enough said, my friends. I’m only just realising now as I write that Jungkook and RM didn’t get asked any personal trivia or fact questions and now I’m sad. But we did learn that V sleeps with his eyes open. Take your victories where you can.
On to the performance of “Permission to Dance”, the first television performance for the song that the group released last week. Some of the members seem to be going for a school boy look here- particularly Jungkook, RM and j-hope (j-hope looks like such a Hufflepuff with that yellow stripy sweater) which is super cute but it makes me forget that these are grown men in their early, mid and late 20’s (Jin joins me in the “we are almost 30 and very much depressed about it” club). I mentioned in my review of this song that the complexity of the English lyrics in comparison to “Dynamite” and “Butter” clearly makes it quite difficult for the group to perform “Permission to Dance” live. They absolutely kill it here but I stand by my argument that the clarity in the singing isn’t all there with the live performances. That’s not saying it isn’t great. It is a sweet, fun song with a much needed message of positivity and so this is kind of a moot point but I can’t wait to hear the group sing in their native Korean again. I have to give props to j-hope, Jin and Jungkook who are the clearest with their English singing and diction (RM too obviously as he is the only fluent member) but SUGA, V and Jimin do great too. They manage to sing in a language that is not their own whilst dancing at the same time. No matter what your opinion is on the band, you have to appreciate how hard that must be. All in all, it’s a fun performance full of positivity, purple balloons (balloons aren’t environmentally friendly right? Might want to switch to CG ones next time) and pure and simple joy. It’s what the world needs right now.
Check out for my coverage of day two of BTS’s takeover of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon at the link here.