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How GOT7 got the world’s attention: Each step was worth it

  • Published : Oct 2, 2018 - 12:27
  • Updated : Oct 2, 2018 - 12:27


GOT7 is undeniably one of the most prominent global K-pop acts -- the band has performed all over the world, it’s a regular fixture on Billboard’s World Albums chart, and it has a dedicated following of fans known as IGOT7 (aka Ahgase).

But the legendary septet didn’t shoot to global fame because of a single hit, and it wasn’t an instant success from its debut in 2014. To conquer the international music scene, the seven bandmates -- JB, Mark, Jackson, Jinyoung, Youngjae, BamBam and Yugyeom -- carefully and persistently honed their crafts.

Here’s why GOT7 connects with pop audiences everywhere.

1. Diverse genres


Nowadays GOT7 plays all genres, but the band initially gained traction for its hip-hop leanings and the way it incorporated martial arts into its work. Its performances were certainly powerful back then -- as seen in its debut single, “Girl Girl Girl,” with choreography that included tumbling, backflips and handsprings.

But the band’s fierce martial arts spirits started to wane with “A,” the upbeat lead track from its second EP, released in June 2014. Its popularity gained momentum with its first full-length album, “Identity,” which sold over 7,000 copies -- an impressive figure for a rookie band.

It wasn’t until the “Flight Log” series that GOT7 fully spread its wings and discovered its true identity as a band. Its yearlong trilogy, which saw the release of the albums “Departure,” “Turbulence” and “Arrival,” propelled GOT7 to the peak of its fame and to the top of numerous world charts, including Billboard’s World Alum Year-End and Year-End World Albums Artists charts. The singles “Fly,” “Hard Carry” and “Never Ever” were experimental in that they blended a wide range of styles such as tropical house, hip-hop and future bass.


In October last year, the act landed on the softer side with its seventh EP, “7 for 7,” followed by the EP “Eyes On You,” which drew praise for showcasing the most diverse soundscapes ever in the band’s career.

So it’s official -- GOT7 is capable of anything.

2. A multinational lineup


Mark hails from the US, Bam Bam from Thailand and Jackson from Hong Kong. This “AmeriThaiKong line” increased GOT7’s appeal for global fans.


Bam Bam, who as a child was part of the dance crew “We Zaa Cool” with Lisa of Black Pink, once said he’d started pursuing a K-pop career after watching a performance by Rain. At age 13 he was in Korea, training under JYP Entertainment -- the very agency where Rain started. Now we all know that Bam Bam became a representative of K-pop in his own country.



Jackson, formerly an award-winning fencer for Hong Kong, moved to Korea in July 2011 to become a K-pop trainee; while Mark, fluent in English and Korean, left his hometown of Los Angeles in 2010 after being picked as a JYP trainee.

It’s also impressive that the three international members are mainly rappers. Despite language barriers -- but maybe that’s not a problem anymore? -- their pronunciation is just as clear as that of the Korean members. And as fluent English speakers, they enabled the team to interact comfortably with many global fans.

3. Close bonds


What many fans love about GOT7 is the close relationships among bandmates -- they’re like a family. They all hail from different backgrounds and cultures, but the tight-knit group has a bond that holds strong no matter where they are. There’s an undeniable sense of comfort with one another and it shines through both on and off camera.

Yugyeom once said the top lesson the band had learned from JYP’s veteran artists was teamwork.

“2PM showed us that teamwork is the most important thing,” he said. “Of course, being skilled in dancing, singing, things like that, is important. But our teamwork, our friendship and being a family are first and foremost.”

BamBam said in a previous interview that his bandmates were his “soul mates,” saying, “The other six members, they are more than friends, more than family.”

The founder of the act’s label, Park Jin-young, also reportedly stressed the importance of communication as a way to weather any interpersonal conflicts.


As a testament to its members’ brotherhood, GOT7 has been releasing video content called “GOT2day” on YouTube since 2015, with each episode featuring two members in heartwarming conversations, often about music -- but sometimes they even talk out everyday misunderstandings. There’s definite chemistry within each pair, and that’s why fans adore every member of GOT7.

4. Empowering, original music


The 5-year-old multinational act is now synonymous with high-quality music and charismatic performances. But what really sets GOT7 apart is its empowering music and the ability to create its own distinctive sound.

Whether it’s a tender love song or an upbeat dance track, GOT7 always tells its own stories and delivers hopeful messages through music. For example, with “Just Right,” the group comforts a girl struggling with low self-esteem. It deals with the myriad struggles young people face in “You Are.” Jinyoung’s new coming-of-age solo track, “My Youth,” is another song about self-reflection and empowerment where he shares his own struggles. The song has received accolades from fans for its sincerity and its touching message.

The seven men also play major roles in crafting their music and choreographing their performances. Its recent album “Present: You” features solo tracks composed by each member. Its earlier single “Look” was also co-written by JB, while BamBam, Yugyeom, Youngjae and Jinyoung worked on the EP “Eyes on You.”

JB, who goes by the name Defsoul when producing music, previously said in an interview with Forbes, “People should look at (the K-pop model) in a positive light because even if an artist doesn’t make their own songs they’re becoming the vessel for the music that someone else has made, and there’s a lot of effort and time that goes into that, which itself is art.”

He also talked about the disparity between the music he personally prefers and the sound he makes for the group. But this professional musician said he’d learned to get more comfortable exploring those differences.

Many say GOT7 is underrated in Korea considering its international fame, but we’re sure that conquering the local K-pop scene is just a matter of time. Don’t you think so?

By Hong Dam-young (lotus@heraldcorp.com)

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