BTS Credit: courtesy Big Hit Entertainment

On Sunday, May 6, while the world woke up to the peerless video Childish Gambino released for his song “This Is America,” I noticed something briefly trending above it on Twitter: “Singularity,” the minimal R&B song from K-pop juggernauts BTS. Less than two weeks later, the group dropped their third album, Love Yourself: Tear (Big Hit Entertainment), which became the first K-pop album to reach the top of the Billboard 200—a huge benchmark for a global phenomenon that’s slowly been crossing over into American culture. BTS ain’t the first K-pop act to land in the States—Rosemont Theatre has done a bang-up job of booking some of the bigger acts—but they’ll certainly serve as the measuring stick for American audiences as the stateside presence of K-pop increases. The group appears to have achieved a level of crossover success that few American acts can match—on a recent trip to Target I was pleasantly surprised to find Love Yourself: Tear in the store’s minuscule CD section. And BTS scored again at the end of August when they dropped Love Yourself: Answer (Big Hit Entertainment), which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. Answer is a compilation, and as such it’s weighed down by the vulgarities of such a product; in this case that means more than two-dozen songs and an appearance by Steve Aoki. On the plus side, it’s also got big, glistening pop songs to fit any mood. But I’m more keen on the BTS tracks that suggest the best way to listen to them is standing by a window on a rainy day while forlornly gazing outside; “Epiphany” does that pretty well.   v