“Butter” became the fastest video ever on YouTube to hit 10 million views, passing the mark in just 13 minutes to break a record that BTS set last summer with “Dynamite.” Just an hour after its release, the video had racked up 19 million YouTube views, and nearly doubled that to 32.6 million within three. In just two hours, the group’s fans, collectively known as ARMY, helped the song shoot to No. 1 on U.S. iTunes.
More from Variety
Although the group has tackled heavy topics like depression and bullying, BTS explained that their new track is purposefully lighter fare at a press conference Friday in Seoul, held against a backdrop of a bright, butter-yellow digital display.
“If you hear the title ‘Butter,’ you know immediately that we tried to prepare a song that’s easy listening, instead of [something with] a really heavy or profound message,” said band member Jimin. “This is a little embarrassing, but it’s something smooth like butter, that really melts into and grabs hold of you. It’s a very cute song, sort of a confession.”
Asked what message the band hoped to send listeners with the new single, Jungkook spelled it out in more straightforward terms.
“ ‘Butter’ is very simple,” he said. “It’s getting warmer and will get hotter, and we hope that you can spend a fun summer with BTS.”
While BTS hopes the song will delight fans, the group also has its fingers crossed that the summer jam will help them make further in-roads with the industry decision-makers who hold the keys to one of their long-standing goals: Grammy gold.
“Of course we want and continue to want to receive a Grammy Award,” said Suga, without sugar-coating. “ ‘Butter’ will be another try at the Grammy Award. I hope we will have good results.”
They’ve gotten increasingly close to the prize. The Academy nominated BTS this year in the best pop duo/group performance for their first fully English-language single “Dynamite,” but they ultimately lost to Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande’s “Rain On Me.” In 2019, their album “Love Yourself: Tear” was nominated for best recording package.
“Butter” could now be their ticket.
Rapper RM explained that the number was selected as their comeback single out of “many, many songs,” and came to them “already pretty complete.”
“We wanted to participate in the [making of the] song, but it was already pretty good. But we felt some of the parts like the rap were not fully compatible with our style, and we thought that this was then something we could work on.”
Although RM is fluent in English and grew up listening to American pop music, he admits that there still remain “some gaps” when he approaches English-language material. Yet since there aren’t that many rap sections in “Butter” anyway, “it came together really quickly,” he said. He assesses that in the end, he changed or added to about half of the song’s original rap sections.
Rapper Suga, too, tried his hand at writing rap lyrics for the song, admitting that “there’s always a competition amongst us” when it comes to contributions. But the language barrier posed a problem for him.
“I actually have been studying English in the past year, but my suggestions were immediately dropped. No questions, no consideration — just immediately binned,” he said good-naturedly.
In addition to RM, the song’s writing credits include names familiar in the U.S. industry — Alex Bilowitz, Sebastian Garcia, Rob Grimaldi, Stephen Kirk, Jenna Andrews (who also had a vocal production credit on “Dynamite”), and, unusually, Columbia Records chairman Ron Perry. Perry, also credited as a producer, has worked closely with BTS since stepping into his role in 2018.
‘We’re Always Ready’
Beyond the lyrics and the music itself, BTS’ performances help them truly stand out.
J-Hope explained that the video’s “energetic” choreography tried to reflect the upbeat, flirtatious vibe of the song. “We tried to put in a lot of those emotions — kissing your hands, [giving] a mischievous look, or brushing our hair back… [are] highlight [moves].”
For V, a key moment in the video comes when the different band members break out their own moves in an elevator set.
“They’re freestyle dances that we came up with on set. We ad-libbed them. We chose what we could express ourselves best and really immersed ourselves.”
His favorite thing about the video, though, was his own contribution. “If I had to pick a favorite part, I think [it’s] my part. My part stands out, compared to all the other parts,” he said.
At one point in the video, the band members spell out the word ARMY as a shout-out to their devoted fans.
Jin explained that he and Jungkook had to put their own spin on the choreography to get their letter “A” just right. “It didn’t look like a real A, so we really thought about it and changed it around. We actually worked on it really hard — we put our heads together literally and that’s how we came up with that perfect A.”
Before the song dropped, fans had speculated based on a 24 second teaser trailer that the track was somehow an homage to or collaboration with the British rock band Queen, given the group’s throwback outfits and the song’s driving beat, which harkens back to the 1980 hit “Another One Bites the Dust.”
Suspicions gathered steam after Queen retweeted — and then deleted — a post earlier this week sharing the “Butter” teaser trailer with the message “Another One Bites The Dust x #BTS_Butter.”
But the band clarified Friday that the new single is not a sampling, collaboration or homage to Queen in any way.
“There are no plans for that, but of course, if there’s an opportunity, they can call us!” said Jin. “Please, Queen, call us – we’re always ready.”
Best of Variety