Photo Courtesy of Pitchfork.com
By Angela Hickey
NPR Music has been allowing fans to listen to their favorite artists in intimate concert settings for years. With big names like Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, and more on their setlist, NPR made a big name for themselves with these Tiny Desk concerts. Their most recent show, featuring Korean pop sensation BTS is no different.
Originally beginning this project in 2008, NPR Music was inspired to create a more intimate concert setting after seeing a band perform in a bar and leaving upset because they weren’t able to hear the music. NPR Editor Stephen Thompson joked that talented folk singer, Laura Gibson, could just perform from her desk, and so she did. After recording the concert and posting it online, NPR began to rise in popularity with their one-of-a-kind Tiny Desk concerts.
Usually recorded or streamed from their studio in Washington, D.C., Tiny Desk was able to perform over 800 concerts, gaining over 2 billion views on YouTube alone. Their live shows and streams were popular among music lovers everywhere; however, with the pandemic in full swing and the stay-at-home order in effect, live concerts were no longer a possibility. In turn, NPR came up with a new plan, one that kept people safe and still gave people access to live music; and so Tiny Desk (Home) Concerts were born.
Artists such as Declan McKenna, Phoebe Bridgers, and Bill Callahan all took up the challenge of performing from home, encouraging others to stay home during these trying times. And their most recent concert, featuring BTS is no different.
The Korean pop group has been known to break records, especially in the last few years. Even online, the band broke viewership records in the first 20 minutes of its release. Their concert has amassed over 700,000 views within the first 15 minutes of posting and has accumulated more than 950,000 by 9 am that same day. Within the past week, it has now gained over 13 million views.
Recording their three-song set in the Vinyl & Plastic by Hyundai Card record store in Seoul in their home country of South Korea, they performed their most recent song, “Dynamite,” which was their first-ever single to hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, a fan favorite, “Spring Day”, and their popular 2016 track, “Save Me”. During the performance, the group talked about their music, how they’ve been faring during quarantine, and what it was like writing their very first fully-English song.
“It’s been the roughest summer ever, but we know that spring will come,” said rapper, singer, and group leader, RM, before launching into their performance of “Spring Day.”
The full concert, as well as all the other at-home performances, can be found on NPR Music’s YouTube Channel.