BTS’s “Butter” reigns atop the Billboard Hot 100 for a fifth straight week, extending the Korean pop septet’s longest No.1 streak to date. The fans are delighted with this. The critics are not. Same story, different week.
In its fifth week at No.1, “Butter” sold an additional 128,400 downloads, a 15% increase from last week, largely thanks to an “alternate single cover” version of the track released on the 24th. June. This is the sixth digital variation of “Butter” available for download behind the original, an instrumental and three remixes titled “Hotter”, “Cooler” and “Sweeter”. “Butter” is now the first song to sell over 100,000 copies in each of its first five weeks since Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You,” released in March 2017. The disco-pop anthem is also featured. rose from No. 24 to 18. in the Streaming Songs chart with 12.4 million US streams and 25-22 in the Radio Songs chart with 27.6 million radio impressions.
Those last two points were negligible for YouTuber and critic Mark Grondin, who found himself caught in the sights of BTS ARMY for a “Billboard Breakdown” video he uploaded on Tuesday. In it, Grondin points to the massive digital sales of “Butter” as proof that her chart success is inorganic. “We are really on the verge of building a band’s popularity with the general public. [that] the label convinced the Stans to buy several copies of the exact same song? Asks Grondin. “I don’t know, to me it’s just starting to sound a little sad.”
Grondin developed his argument in a Twitter feed. He called ARMY’s buying strategy “deeply fun because it places great importance on the Hot 100, a deeply broken system that has gaping flaws since its inception, but which is still considered a supreme arbiter of popularity when there are chasms in the history of the graph where it was “broken”.
“It is also a tactic well used in the industry to increase sales throughout the industry,” he said. continued. “You get the flash of the first sales, send the song to mainstream audiences and therefore it MUST be popular, even if it’s just a quick hit. This is the fifth week of BTS.
That last line is hilarious, as it unintentionally reveals the mental gymnastics critics will do to undermine BTS’s success. When last summer’s “Butter” and “Dynamite” debuted at No.1 on the Hot 100, opponents called for the wins to be canceled, arguing that those No.1 spots were illegitimate due to a ” mass buying “or the prediction of a free fall next week. Indeed, many songs debuted at No.1 with the help of bundles of goods and tickets (which Billboard no longer counts for the Hot 100) to drop several dozen places during the second week. (I won’t expand on this point, but you can click here and here to read more about the absurd efforts artists have recently gone to to send their songs and albums to No.1, including Harry Styles, Drake, Travis Scott, Lady Gaga, Kenny Chesney, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and the Weeknd.)
Songs that hit number 1 for a week and quickly tumble down the charts are questionable. Even songs that stay at number 1 for two weeks can be considered a fluke. But it’s downright laughable to present a five-week run to No.1 as anything other than a smash hit. As I’ve said many times before, BTS has spent eight years building their fan base, which is large and enthusiastic enough to send their music to the top of the charts. This is how popularity works. If you need more proof of BTS’s growing popularity, consider that in its first five weeks, “Butter” has already spent two more weeks atop the Hot 100 than “Dynamite” has. done throughout its run.
The most disappointing part of Grondin’s argument is that he was about to make a good point. “What I find weird is the amount of validation that stans want to make their act popular, so much so that they try to play with the system to make it so,” he said. he declares. tweeted. (Again, if you want examples of artists who in fact play the system, click on the links above.) “Now if you want to argue that “this is the only way for BTS to get popularity in the United States, given that the streaming is not counted as much and the radio is not going to broadcast them” … yeah, these are systemic problems much bigger than your favorite bunch. But then again, why does it need popularity for you to care? “
Well, these systemic issues are exactly the reason why BTS fans care about popularity. For years, BTS and other non-Western artists have been shut out of pop radio, featured at awards shows, and ridiculed in print and on the air. (Don’t think for a second that scoring multiple # 1 hits exempts them from this ridiculousness; it always happens with alarming regularity.) Grondin is right: Despite all its flaws, the Hot 100 is still considered the ultimate measure of performance. of a song. popularity in the United States. The success of the charts leads to greater perceived legitimacy and more opportunities as a group. So when heavy pop radio gatekeepers try to keep artists like BTS from climbing the charts in order to maintain their status quo (read: white native English-speaking pop artists), BTS fans take it upon themselves to send the group out. at number 1. Spend your hard earned money on a song – even multiple copies of that song! – seems to be a much more dignified way to increase a song’s ranking in the charts than record companies paying radio stations thousands of dollars to play their artists.
It’s not like there isn’t a precedent for BTS’s Hot 100 domination. The group sells stadiums across the world in minutes and regularly breaks YouTube records. Earlier this month, BTS drew 1.3 million paid fans to “BTS 2021 Muster Sowoozoo,” a two-day online event to celebrate their eighth anniversary. BTS is one of the biggest pop groups on the planet. With metrics like this, it would be much more glaring and inconsistent if “Butter” does not have at the top of the Hot 100.
If there’s one silver lining that emerges from the review of BTS’s latest run to the top of the Hot 100, it’s that “Butter” is forcing more and more people to question their preconceptions about the Hot 100. Billboard graphics. Hopefully, they stop questioning the validity of BTS ‘success and start wondering why it took so long in the first place, why their fans feel the need to employ alternate methods to send them to No.1. and why the notion of a chart-topping South Korean Boy band is so hard to take seriously.
As for the unconverted, you may stay angry next week when the collectible vinyl and cassette singles for “Butter” Ship and BTS continue to rack up oversized sales.