In 10 Songs is an entry point to tracing musical trends and exploring artist discographies. Today, we look at the unprecedented first decade of BTS.
Ten years ago today, on June 13th, 2013, a scrappy boy band called Bangtan Sonyeondan debuted on South Korean station Mnet’s M! Countdown. The new group in town was formed around a teenager who went by Rap Monster (now known as RM), with a rap line rounded out by aspiring producer SUGA and a street dancer, j-hope; their vocal line included a handsome college student, Jin, contemporary dancer Jimin, deep-voiced but baby-faced V, and a fifteen-year old with vocal abilities already beyond his years called Jungkook.
BTS of 2013 might shocked to hear of the success they’ve experienced in the last decade, overcoming cultural and language barriers to become one of the best-selling and most well-known acts in the entire world. They rewrote the rules of K-pop, transcending the category to become a force to be reckoned with in pop music as a whole, setting themselves apart as a group that always wanted to tell their own stories in the hopes that other young people might feel seen.
To try to narrow down BTS’s enormous discography (which now spans five full-length Korean-language albums, four Japanese releases, eight EPs, and a handful of compilation albums), is a wildly daring undertaking. Their canon is as rich as it is wide; through combinations of solo tracks, subunits, and full group efforts, the band have always kept it interesting.
For this list, which aims to create a timeline of some of the BTS’s most noteworthy moments and sketch out a picture of how they’ve spent the last ten years, the spotlight is exclusively on tracks that include all seven members — although a list of some of the best solo tracks, a rap line roundup, or subunit focus would be a delightful time, too. While this is by no means a complete look into the rich world of BTS’s music, lyrics, and creative identity, consider it a starting point: From 2013 to 2023, these are some jumping-off points that have defined the group’s story so far.
Check out BTS in 10 Songs below, and scroll to the end for a playlist of every track.