On Monday morning American time, BTS performed a live NPR Tiny Desk Concert for the pandemic era, taped at a record store in Seoul. Within 25 minutes, BTS had shattered the previous viewership record for the series — set by Billie Eilish, who drew 782,000 views on the first day her session debuted. By 9 AM Eastern time, the K-pop juggernauts’ Tiny Desk had racked up more than 950,000 views. A day later, the video is approaching seven million.
Due to coronavirus, NPR is taping all its Tiny Desk installments remotely. NPR's Stephen Thompson, co-creator of the popular online concert series, told All Things Considered that the pandemic offered a unique opportunity: “Once we started doing Tiny Desk Concerts at home where we had artists recording themselves, it was an opportunity to reach out to BTS and see if they could do something on their end,” Thompson said.
The band’s global fan base, the BTS Army, was obviously responsible for their record-smashing Tiny Desk showing. But Thompson also noted the stans were incredibly gracious: “You sort of get set upon by just, like, thousands and thousands of BTS fans who are like, thank you so much for including them. This is a big deal for them. And it's like, it's a big deal for them? They're the biggest band in the world,” he marveled.
BTS on Tiny Desk was notable for a few other reasons, too: it marked the first time they’d performed their No. 1 hit, “Dynamite,” with a live band. The NPR appearance was also a rite of passage, of sorts, for a group that’s been insanely popular overseas for some time but only recently cracked the American music industry. One thing is for sure: with “Dynamite” dominating the charts for weeks now, BTS are a certified phenomenon.