Last night I was re-watching “Bill’s Private Party in Geneva!”, an episode of German band Tokio Hotel’s video diary series TokioHotelTV, when it hit me how amazingly similar it all is to BTS’ BangtanTV.
Yes, video quality has improved over time and BangtanTV isn’t quite as cringe-worthy as 2007 or 2008’s episodes of THTV, but the essence of it all is the same: THTV followed Tokio Hotel around in their daily lives, giving a glimpse of their personalities and making us fall in love with them because of how funny, genuine, extra and dorky they were—the same way BangtanTV does today.
In fact, Bill Kaulitz, lead singer of Tokio Hotel, reminds me a bit of BTS’ Jin here:
I’ve thought about it often and I’m sure that if you were (or are) one of Tokio Hotel’s Aliens and part of BTS’ ARMY, you’ve noticed major similarities between the two artists—both were the ‘underdogs’ in their local scene and the international scene, before that very ‘disadvantage’ became their greatest strength and propelled them to the top. They both documented their lives through an intimate video series and let us in on a level not many artists are willing to do. They also both built strong bonds with fans through powerful, original lyricism which eventually pushed them to a global scale of fame.
THTV and BangtanTV have taken us backstage, through rehearsals, behind the scenes of award shows and music videos and even through some of the most special moments in the artists’ lives. The staff of both bands are very much a part of the journey and caption and edit everything so beautifully. I feel lucky to have been given that privilege, to know they trust us that much.
For me, there’s the added advantage of both Tokio Hotel and BTS being so close to my age—the majority of us are in our 20s and therefore have similar thought processes and levels of emotional development. The songwriting often reflects that and therefore acts as a mirror to my realities.
In my teens, I was struggling. I was an outcast in most social situations and Tokio Hotel’s lyricism was a saving grace in assuring me I wasn’t alone (I was that one creepy emo kid in my school in Kerala, so imagine the level of angst.) I was angry at everything, wanted to rebel and tear my hair out most of the time and Tokio Hotel showed me I wasn’t crazy for feeling the way I felt. It’s okay to be different, even if people label you as a freak or refuse to befriend you. You do you and hold your head high.
As I got older and graduated from college, a lot of my friendships there came to an end—similar to what was portrayed in BTS’ “Run.” Our group crumbled in our final year and the emotional toll it took on us all was immense. I knew things would never be the same again and I sank into a depression so intense, I couldn’t bring myself to leave my bed. I finally found the strength to get up in the morning and attend class because I just wanted to graduate and get the hell out of there.
The depression lingered through most of 2015 but BTS took my hand and finally yanked me out of it when I came across them on YouTube later that year. While this time it was a different artist who saved me, I was again reminded of the fact that I wasn’t alone—losing friends is a part of all our lives and remains painful no matter how many times it happens.
It’s a beautiful thing to connect with an artist at these levels. Which is why I personally don’t believe in the idea that someone can only belong to one fandom. I also love the idea that a German band and a South Korean band with totally different styles of music can be so very similar. Although their peaks in popularity came during such different eras of music, the patterns of their success match up and it amazes me that I got to experience the rise of these phenomenal artists in the same lifetime.
Everything has its cycles and as you (and the artists) age, things will change. Some day a younger artist and their fandom will take over and it’ll be their turn to shine and grow. Your favourite becomes a legacy, a point of inspiration, respect and fantastic memories. For me, BTS took over from Tokio Hotel and that’s not a bad thing at all—it gave me more beautiful music and people to fall in love with. As cheesy as it sounds, it kind of felt like one mentor passing the Torch of Inspiration to the next mentor, so they can help me discover a new path. In fact there are many artists who might hold the torch over time depending on where you are in life—G-Dragon, Eminem, Jay Park and Lady Gaga are all personal heroes of mine who were guides when I needed them the most.
It’s important to point out that loving another group will never take away from what Tokio Hotel mean to me—the memories are SO precious and they define me. I have a tattoo of their logo, for goodness sake. Tokio Hotel are the reason I became a music journalist, because I had a dream of interviewing them someday and last year that dream came true.
The same goes for BTS—loving one artist does not invalidate my love for another. Loving Tokio Hotel (or any other musician) does not mean I have less love for BTS. In fact, it just adds to the level of happiness and love in my life. Coincidentally, 2017 became the year I got to speak to BTS’ leader RM as well and it was such a fulfilling thing to talk to the people who have influenced me at such a core level.
Aging also doesn’t have to mean you’re excluded from future narratives. A new artist and fandom can come to mean the world to you. I never expected anything to match my love for Tokio Hotel and the Aliens but BTS and ARMY proved me wrong, making me look forward to artists who will walk into my life and inspire me in the future. Passing the torch really doesn’t mean you lose anything… it just means you’re ready for more.
Have you had any similar experiences? Leave a comment or tell me on Twitter at @thisisridz.
GIFS used are not mine, all credit goes to their creators.