Bangtan Boys Are Now Superstars
In three years, K-pop boy band BTS have gone from rookies to arena headliners
What a difference three years make.
In June 2013, seven-piece Korean boy band BTS - short for Bangtan Boys and Bulletproof Boy Scouts - were showbiz noobs, having just made their debut with hip-hop anthem No More Dream.
Back then, the septet, decked out in mouth masks, rapper bling and shades, looked like gangster wannabes.
Today, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Rap Monster, Jimin, V and Jungkook, aged between 18 and 23, are still full of swagger, but unlike their rookie days, the confidence is no longer a show of bravado.
The lads are at the top of their game and rank among K-pop's hottest groups.
They released their first compilation album, The Most Beautiful Moment In Life: Young Forever, in May. It includes electrodance hits Dope, Fire and I Need U.
M looks at the achievements BTS have chalked up over the past few months.
THEY SOLD OUT THEIR ASIAN TOUR
Last month, entertainment website Soompi reported that all 144,000 tickets for BTS' 2016 Asian concert tour, which includes stops in Nanjing, Beijing, Osaka, Nagoya, Bangkok, Manila and Tokyo between last month and August, have been snapped up.
The overwhelming success reflects the boys' massive popularity in the region.
In several cities, tickets flew off online ticketing websites like hot cakes - concerts in Taipei and Macau reportedly sold out within five seconds, while in China, Nanjing's 6,000 tickets and Beijing's 9,000 tickets were gone in 10 seconds.
"We think it's the type of genre and musical style we do that makes us relatable and interesting to our foreign fans," said J-Hope in an interview with Billboard.com, on connecting with their overseas fanbase.
"We compose our own music and we're able to illustrate our personal thoughts and sensibilities through our music and videos," said Rap Monster.
"The teamwork and camaraderie we showcase through our work also plays a role."
THEY HAVE BECOME HEADLINERS AT K-POP ENSEMBLE CONCERTS
Kcon is the largest annual fan celebration-cum-convention of Korean entertainment and culture in the US, and there were no other stars who shone brighter than BTS at this year's edition.
At Kcon New York last month, BTS were the headliners, receiving deafening shrieks and cheers from the 18,000-strong crowd at Prudential Center.
Even though their fellow artists at the festival were solid live performers - it's also worth mentioning that Ailee, Dynamic Duo and BTOB are BTS' seniors in the industry - BTS were the ones who sent temperatures skyrocketing.
Expect them to repeat the same feat later this month at Kcon Los Angeles, where they are billed as headliners alongside Shinee and Girls' Generation's sub-unit TaeTiSeo.
"It's difficult to find a country as passionate as the USA," J-Hope told website Koreaboo.
"The fans there know how to have fun and it's always fun for us to be there."
THEY TOPPED TWITTER'S LIST OF MOST RETWEETED ARTISTS
In March, Forbes magazine released statistics on the most popular pop stars on social media platform Twitter, and guess who topped its list of Most Retweeted Artists?
BTS beat international superstars Kanye West (No. 2), Justin Bieber (No. 3) and Zayn Malik (No. 4).
No other K-pop act cracked the Top 10.
A huge part of BTS' charm and appeal lie in their unpretentious, candid demeanour.
During a video interview with allkpop.com, the guys were asked what they loved doing when they're not working.
"Sleep, wash ourselves, wake up," said Jimin with a laugh. "When we don't have schedules, we sleep a lot. And we play video games."
Rap Monster said: "People often think that we'd do stuff that's very grandiose, but really, there's not much we can do in our free time.
"We'd love to do things like skateboarding, but like most artists, when we don't need to work, sleeping is the best."
This week in... 1982
A week without you / Thought I'd forget / Two weeks without you and I / Still haven't gotten over you yet / Vacation / All I ever wanted / Vacation / Had to get away / Vacation / Meant to be spent alone
From their second album of the same name, Vacation was one of the US all-female pop-rock band's highest-charting singles, reaching No. 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
That was then...
In 1983, Vacation - which was issued as perhaps the first cassette single - was nominated for a Grammy for Best Packaging.
But during the album's promotion, the group was forced to go on hiatus when drummer Gina Schock underwent surgery for a congenital heart defect.
This is now...
Singer Belinda Carlisle, 57, guitarist Jane Wiedlin, 58, multi-instrumentalist Charlotte Caffey, 62, and drummer Gina Schock, 56, reunited in May for a special performance of their hit single We Got The Beat at the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas.
The Go-Go's will go on to play 18 gigs across the US next month, to commemorate 38 years in the music industry.
They said of their "farewell tour" in a statement: "After a 38-year run, we are gearing up for one last blast of a summer tour. We feel so lucky and so grateful to have had the incredible support of our fans for so long. We can't wait to get out on the road and give the people what they want: Some loud, fast music and a great party!"