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BTS season has arrived. After weeks of hinting at their forthcoming new album, Map of the Soul: Persona, the astonishingly prolific K-pop stars have finally announced their first music release of the year: the video and single “Boy With Luv,” featuring Halsey, which will debut April 12 at 6 p.m. in Korea, 5 a.m. EST. The full seven-track EP will be available the same day, with “Boy With Luv” as the lead single.
“Showtime baby,” Halsey wrote in a tweet revealing the track’s teaser video. In the 45-second-long clip, Halsey, her hair done in vivid red and orange ombré (matching the bright hues of the Bangtan Boys’ looks themselves), clocks out of her dead-end day job selling tickets at a movie theater. While sucking on a lollipop and wearing a baby pink matching shorts and crop top set, she strides away, pausing for a moment to take in the seven-member band arranged just so, in coordinating hot-pink looks, on a couch outside the theater. (Showtime, for real.) What sounds like the chorus of the song comes in briefly at the close.
The day after the release, BTS will appear on Saturday Night Live—the first K-pop band to do so—alongside Emma Stone (which prompted renewed Aloha jokes, the same thing that prompted her to apologize to Sandra Oh very audibly from the crowd at the 2019 Golden Globe awards). (Emma Stone, by the way, is a big K-pop fan, and loves 2NE1 and Girls’ Generation.) The following month, they’ll set off on a tour of the United States, Europe, and Japan, dates which were sold out within mere hours of their release.
American and British artists have recently started turning to Korean acts for creative partnerships—Blackpink appeared on Dua Lipa’s “Kiss and Make Up”; Key from Shinee recorded a remix of Years & Years’s “If You’re Over Me”; G-Dragon and CL appeared on a Skrillex song in 2014; and Charli XCX tapped Jay Park, the Korean-American artist who grew up in Washington before spending four years as a trainee for JYP Entertainment, for Pop 2. There’s the reverse, too: Last year, John Legend collaborated with Wendy, of Red Velvet, for “Written in the Stars,” a song released by SM Entertainment’s experimental Station X 0 project, and Nicki Minaj recorded a verse for a remix of BTS’s “Idol.” As K-pop attains ever more international recognition, these collaborations are becoming increasingly common—and BTS has continued to forge ahead, working with peers as varied as the Chainsmokers, Desiigner, and Honne.
BTS is the only Korean band to debut in the top spot of the Billboard 200, for their 2018 album Love Yourself: Tear. Their crossover success has helped increase the visibility of K-pop internationally; like fellow breakout acts Blackpink and, before them, Red Velvet, they’ve sold out venues stateside as well as back home. Though the rising girl group Blackpink recently bested BTS’s record for 10 million YouTube plays, for their videos “Kill This Love” and “Idol,” respectively, it looks like the seven members of BTS may be coming back for their crown.