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World’s biggest band launch their new album “Map of the Soul: 7” BTS

Tim Newton

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World’s biggest band launch their new album “Map of the Soul: 7” BTS | The Thaiger
BTS in the launch music clip for Map of the Soul:7
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From the first determined drum stroke in the new BTS music video (below) you get the sense that these guys mean business for their new album. The music video for their first official single ON kicked over more than 70 million views in its first 2 days since launch.

The world’s biggest band BTS – in terms of album sales, stadium tickets sold, and sheer internet presence – has launched their latest studio album, their seventh, Map of the Soul:7. And they’re spending their time launching it in the US, seen as the holy grail of pop for bands around the world.

The seven-member South Korean band has boldly gone where few ‘foreign’ language bands have gone before. Last year they notched up a major milestone becoming only the second band to have three consecutive No. 1 albums in the Billboard Chart in a 12 month period. The last band to do that was a British quartet called The Beatles… you may have heard of them.

But the white-washed world of American pop has been slow to come around to the invasion of the South Korean band that cut its teeth in the ultra-competitive world of K-pop before making headway in the international market. Indeed they’ve done just about everything differently than bands before and, somehow, etched out a brave new world of pop success, on their own terms.

Launching in June 2013, BTS (aka. Bangtan Boys, Bangtan Seoyondan, which translates as Bulletproof Boy Scouts), the seven members have played with hip hop, R&B, power ballads, pure pop and edgy rap styles. Seven years later their music is much more difficult to define as it crosses multiple genres and emerges as something new and distinct.

But BTS is a lot more than its three letter acronym. BTS is RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook.

Much of their success is rooted in a few points-of-difference, all of them taken to new levels of professionalism and art.

• Every BTS music video is almost a piece of art, sometimes filmic and always beautifully crafted.

• BTS write, produce and perform. They act, sing, dance and rap. They are the total pop-package.

• BTS lean heavily on their authentic messages of loving yourself, acknowledging your shadows, accepting your frailties and, well, a lot of other ‘young people’ issues. Apart from the occasionally dark and ‘real’ messages in their music, all seven members appear humble and intelligent, and willing to share their ups and downs with fans (Band leader ‘RM’ has an IQ of 148).

• BTS have weaponised social media in a way never before attempted or achieved. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok… they have accumulated a vast online fandom, called ARMY. It’s easy to say that there has NEVER been such a motivated, dedicated fandom in music history, across borders, across languages.

• They have a well-catalogued rags-to-riches backstory, complete with hundreds of videos following their early days, failures and apprehension. From living together in a tiny dorm and cooking their own meals together, all the way to their world-wide popularity and chartered jets, it’s a fascinating journey that adds to their appeal.

• They are genuinely likeable and have always, ALWAYS, thanked their legion of fans, first and foremost, for their success.

‘7’ has held its position at No. 1 on Amazon’s bestsellers chart for nearly a month, and the upcoming US stadium tour (then to Europe and Asia) has already sold out. Even before its release, Map of the Soul: 7 was the fastest-selling album this year (4 million sales), selling four times the numbers of pre-release sales for Taylor Swift’s Lover.

There’s little doubt BTS will earn their fourth consecutive No. 1 debut on the Billboard 200.

Why ‘7’? The band says it’s a salute to their seven years together as a band and, well, there’s seven of them.

Their launch single (which follows two YouTube teaser music videos of the songs Shadow and Ego, plus a hugely popular performance of Black Swan on James Corden’s Late Late Show – 39 million views), is ON.

The music video released yesterday is an alternative version of the collaboration featuring Sia on the album. ON is a catchy anthem starting out with a stripped back church-like organ breaking into a precision drum-band punching out the rhythms for the track.

As with most of their work, all BTS members get their chance to shine. Just when you think you’re getting into the track (it’s in Korean and English), it changes direction and surprises. Wait until you get to the dance break in the middle!

The new album has 20 tracks including some from the previous Map of the Soul: Persona. But this is certainly taking a darker and edgier turn for the band which, seven years on, has a rich tapestry of styles in their extensive repertoire.

Full Track List for Map of the Soul: 7

Intro: Persona

작은 것들을 위한 시 Boy With Luv (Feat. Halsey)

Make It Right

Jamais Vu

Dionysus

Interlude : Shadow

Black Swan

Filter 시차

Louder than bombs

ON

욱 UGH!

00:00 (Zero O’Clock)

Inner Child

친구 Moon Respect

We are Bulletproof : the Eternal

Outro : Ego

ON (Feat. Sia)

But there’s stormy weather ahead for the band and ARMY with South Korea’s compulsory military conscripton looming over the seven 20-something members. The oldest member, Jin, reaches 28 years of age in December this year which will force him to enter the mandatory 2 year military service. And that will be followed over the following four years by the other band members – Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V and Jungkook. Although there’s been a strong media and online push to get an exemption for the group, (in 2019 BTS contributed $4.65 billion to the South Korean GDP), the members have all said they look forward to serving their country.

For now BTS are switched ON with their new album and their reshaping of the world pop industry will continue, for at least the rest of 2020.

World's biggest band launch their new albumYou know you’ve made it in the pop music world when you end up on Carpool Karaoke

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Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for nearly 40 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented 3,900 radio news bulletins in Thailand alone, hosted 450 daily TV news programs, produced 1,800 videos, TV commercials and documentaries and is now the General Manager and writer for The Thaiger. He's reported for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue.

World

The BTS Law, South Korean parliament amends conscription law to allow Jin to stay with BTS

Caitlin Ashworth

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The BTS Law, South Korean parliament amends conscription law to allow Jin to stay with BTS | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Kim Seok-jin hits the magic age of 28 today but will be able to serve with BTS for another 2 years, postponing his conscription into the South Korean Army.

Many countries still have compulsory military conscription, where young men, usually, are enlisted to serve under their country’s military services. Thailand has it, so does Singapore, Myanmar and Cambodia in our immediate sphere. So does South Korea. That’s a problem for pop kings BTS.

Of course the 18 – 24 months becomes a disruption to your life and your career, but for men living in the countries with conscription it’s just an expectation. But if you’re part of the biggest and most successful pop band in the world at the moment being conscripted suddenly becomes a big deal.

And so it is for Kim Seok-jin, the oldest member of the South Korean mega pop outfit BTS, or Bangtan Sonyeondan. The oldest BTS member reaches the age of 28 today (by the way happy birthday Jin) and would have been expected to put his day of rehearsals and picking up music awards with the other members of BTS aside and enrol in the South Korean military.

Under the current South Korean laws for military conscription, all males, once they reach the age of 28, have to enlist for 20 – 24 months of service for the South Korean military. Remember, technically, South Korea is still at war with North Korea.

So able-bodied men in South Korea are required to enlist and serve 2 years of compulsory military service from the ages of 18 to 30.

In the past, when asked about the thorny issue of the military service interrupting the rise and rise of the BTS brand, Jin always humbly answered…

“As a Korean, it’s natural. And some day, when duty calls, we’ll be ready to respond and do our best. It’s something all the members often talk about, and all of us plan to accept military service.”

The other members of BTS have always echoed Jin’s comments acknowledging the expectation that they would be, above all, young South Korean men and serve their time with the country’s military.

Read more about BTS HERE.

The BTS Law, South Korean parliament amends conscription law to allow Jin to stay with BTS | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Jin with the rest of BTS – from the left: V, Suga, Jin, Jungkook, RM, Jimin and J-Hope.

But there’s been exemptions in place for decades for sportspeople to dodge the military service but it didn’t cover ‘idols’, the K-Pop superstars, no matter how big they were in Korea or, like BTS, around the world.

So the South Korean parliament has just passed an exemption which will allow Jin, and the other 6 members as they also notch up their birthdays, to defer their enlistment for 2 years. In Jin’s case this means he will have another 2 years to work with BTS who, by all accounts, are still peaking in the world of pop music. Fans, universally, have opined that BTS is 7 members and would not be the same without Jin, or any other member for that matter.

The impact of BTS has been extraordinary, and has reached far beyond the shores of South Korea to become the biggest South Korean brand in the world… stand aside Samsung, Hyundai and LG. Just this week BTS has the #1 and #3 spot in the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart AND the #1 spot in the Hot 200 Album chart with their latest release ‘Be’, their second album release for a ‘disrupted’ 2020. Their 35-date, 17-venue stadium tour, set to tour the world from April this year, had to be shelved. It had already been sold out, in some cases, in minutes when tickets became available.

(BTS did mount an elaborate online concert which sold 913,000 tickets for the 2-day event in October, called ‘BTS Map of the Soul ON:E’.)

BTS are the hottest ticket in town right now. So were South Korean politicians be responsible for putting and end to the BTS dream? And then there was the value to the South Korean economy of BTS as an economic engine for the country. The Hyundai Research Institute reported that BTS generates an estimated amount of 4 trillion Korean won (US$3.54 billion) as direct economic value to South Korea per year and 1.42 trillion won (US$1.26 billion) as added value per year.

More recently, the success of their first US Billboard Number 1 ‘Dynamite’ has generated US$1.5 billion for the South Korean economy.

The amendment to the South Korean Military Service Act now states that if an artist has made a positive impact on South Korea’s reputation, then they can defer their enlistment by 2 years. This delay, however, can only come on the recommendation of the cultural minister. This means that Jin can now wait until he is 30 to enrol into military service. Same goes for the other members of BTS, by invitation from the country’s cultural minister.

Back in August, BTS released their first full-length English-language song, ‘Dynamite’ which has become the world’s summer bop at a time we all needed an uplifting song. ‘Dynamite1 debuted at Number on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, which made BTS the first South Korean act to top the chart. It also became the fastest rising YouTube video clip ever uploaded, 101.1 million clicks in 24 hours.

‘Dynamite’ is also the band’s first number one single in the US, although the group has already scored 4 Number 1 albums on the Billboard Hot 200 Album Chart, singing almost exclusively in Korean! In 2018/2018 they scored 3 consecutive Number 1 albums in the same 1 month period. The only other band to reach that record? The Beatles.

All this started talks in the South Korean parliament about creating a deferral for military service if the contributions to South Korea’s global reputation was great enough. The amendment passed just in time.

In the BTS universe, Jin, aka. ‘Third Guy From The Left’, ‘Car Door Guy’ and ‘World Wide Handsome’, has also been the group’s emotional glue, in-house cook and the oldest ‘Hyung’. The role of the Hyung, the older brother, or elder person, is considered an important role in South Korean culture. And it’s been a responsibility Jin has taken on seriously as part of the group since they started training in 2011 and then since their debut in June 2013.

BTS, and Jin, are likely relieved to have another 2 years to continue their journey into the annals of pop history, not only in South Korea, and Asia, but the rest of the world as well, including the white-washed US pop industry.

“Shining through the city with a little funk and soul, Light it up like dynamite”

BTS, put together a performance for the James Cordon Late Late Show of their latest hit, even recreating his host set for the shoot… and rented a jet!

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Darth Vader actor David Prowse dies – May the force be with him

The Thaiger

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Darth Vader actor David Prowse dies – May the force be with him | The Thaiger

“…his swish with the black cape and his screen presence in the foreboding, shiny black high-tech exoskeleton won him a legion of fans.”

Darth Vader has died… May the force be with him. The man who played the bad guy in the first Star Wars trilogy, British actor David Prowse, died at the age of 85 after a short illness.

American actor Mark Hamill, who played Darth Vader’s son, Luke Skywalker, alongside with David and the initial cast of the epic saga, sent his condolences in a tweet.

“So sad to hear David Prowse has passed. He was a kind man & much more than Darth Vader.”

“Actor-Husband-Father-Member of the Order of the British Empire-3 time British Weightlifting Champion & Safety Icon the Green Cross Code Man. He loved his fans as much as they loved him. #RIP”

Star Wars co-star, and fellow Brit, Anthony Daniels, who played the gold-plated and effusive C3PO in all but one of the 12 Star Wars instalments, paid tribute to Prowse’s contribution to the saga.

“Dave’s iconic figure dominated the finished film in ’77 and has done so ever since.”

David wore the ominous black suit and helmet to play the Star Wars villain Darth Vader although it was the American actor James Earl Jones who provided the character’s voice in post-production. George Lucas felt that David’s West Country English accent was “unsuitable for the part”. The decision to replace David’s voice caused a long-term rift between actor and director that eventually saw David cut out of official Star Wars publicity events. But his swish with the black cape and his screen presence in the foreboding shiny black high-tech exoskeleton won him a legion of fans.

Darth Vader actor David Prowse dies - May the force be with him | News by The Thaiger

David’s career as an actor spanned 50 years, but it was his role as the Sith Lord in Star Wars that brought him international fame and attention.

But it was his role as the “Green Cross Code Man” from a British road safety campaign that Prowse said he was most proud of. David was awarded an MBE, Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, in 2000 for that role.

David Prowse was born into a working class family and grew up in a council estate in Southmead, in southwestern England. He gained a scholarship to attend Bristol Grammar School. He had a passion for bodybuilding and was crowned British Weightlifting Champion several times in the 1960s. He became lifelong friends with actors Arnold Schwarzenegger in his weightlifting years.

His towering figure helped land him roles as monsters and villains in TV shows and films. He played the monster in “The Horror of Frankenstein” in 1970 and a bearded torturer in “Carry on Henry” in 1971. That same year he made an appearance as a bodyguard in Stanley Kubrick’s dystopian film “A Clockwork Orange” in 1971. He went on to play Darth Vader in all three of the original “Star Wars” films, in 1977, 1980 and 1983.

With the success of Star Wars, Prowse became a regular on the fan circuit and attended conventions around the world for almost 40 years, but he was rumoured to have later fallen out with director Lucas and was banned from official events in 2010.

He published an autobiography, “Straight from the Force’s Mouth,” in 2011.

SOURCES: Reuters | CNN | BBC

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Chiang Rai

Ron Howard to direct cave rescue feature film ‘Thirteen Lives’ in Australia

The Thaiger

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Ron Howard to direct cave rescue feature film ‘Thirteen Lives’ in Australia | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The entrance to the real Tham Luang cave near the Myanmar border in far north Thailand

The Australian Government is putting up A$13 million to Imagine Entertainment and film giant MGM to shoot a live-action feature film called Thirteen Lives, based on the Chiang Rai Tham Luang cave rescue story. The film will be shot in Queensland, Australia in the hinterland areas behind the Gold Coast.

The film will be directed by Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, The Da Vince Code, Cocoon, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Splash, Frost/Nixon), and start filming in March 2021. The state’s Gold Coast hinterland will double for Thailand with a similar hot, humid climate.

The Australian Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Paul Fletcher MP, says the production should inject more than A$96 million into the Australian economy, “directly creating around 435 jobs for cast and crew”.

Thirteen Lives will tell the remarkable story of the effort by many volunteers, including Australians, to undertake an incredibly complex rescue. And I am proud to say that this story will be told here in Australia.”

“I understand this project will also undertake a significant amount of cutting-edge visual effects work here, a great opportunity for our local post, digital and visual effects companies.”

Thirteen Lives follows the true story of the 2018 Tham Laung cave rescue of the Mu Pa (Wild Boar) football team, trapped in a cave by heavy rain and flooding in Chiang Rai, far north Thailand. After the team was stuck for days with no supplies and falling oxygen levels, a group of diving and rescue experts from all over the world were called up to work together with their Thai counterparts to save the 13 young men. Among those experts were a group of divers from the United Kingdom and Australia.

The first major feature film about the rescue operation was The Cave, released in October 2019. The film was quite critical of the Thai red-tape which hampered much of the early rescue efforts.

Ron Howard has worked with plenty of Australians in the past.

“From Thirteen Lives to the animated projected I am directing with Animal Logic in Australia, I am excited about the opportunity to film and work in Australia and dramatically expand on that list of collaborators whose sensibilities and work ethic I have long admired and respected.”

Imagine Entertainment and MGM’s Thirteen Lives will be distributed by Universal Pictures International.

Watch a message from director Ron Howard HERE.

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