Pop titans BTS clapped back at the chart manipulation allegations highlighted by Billboard on its cover story with a historic return at No. 1 on the music publication's Hot 100 chart.
RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook appeared to only be competing with themselves for the longest No. 1 hit in 2021 after "Butter" clinched its 10th week on top of the list, the first single to reach the milestone this year.
Based on MRC Data, the catchy dance-pop sold around 143,000 downloads, drew 10.7 million US streams, and pulled 12.2 million radio airplay audience impressions during the tracking week.
The title, which is just the 40th single in the ranking's 63-year history to spend at least 10 frames atop, also scored the Hot 100's top Sales Gainer and Streaming Gainer award for the week ending Sept. 2, after reporting a 108 percent and 110 percent increase on their respective tallies.
The momentous return to the top of the chart was fueled by the title's punchy remix featuring Megan Thee Stallion, released last Aug. 27.
Although the sales and streams of the fired-up rework with the American rapper was included in the count, Billboard explained “Butter” is credited solely to BTS on the Hot 100 and Digital Song Sales, where the group also continued to rule at No. 1, since the “total activity for the original and other mixes ('Hotter,' 'Cooler,' and 'Sweeter' versions) solely by the group outpaced the new remix in the overall metrics.”
Megan Thee Stallion, however, is credited on the Streaming Songs chart, as her version, which bagged the biggest debut for any remix on Spotify history, earned the most listens this week.
The win comes after ARMY called out Billboard for trying to profit from the sales of their limited edition BTS magazine box set that featured a cover story suggesting the historic streak of the South Koreans on the Hot 100 is "inorganic" due to its massive sales.
According to the tweets from fan accounts of other artists, which the music publication mainly built the discussion on, the effort of international ARMYs to pool money and buy the group's music in the US en masse "skews" the ranking, preventing the list from showing the popularity of other songs.
When asked about the issue, BTS leader RM countered that the matter should be settled by Billboard themselves.
“It is up to them to change the rules and make streaming weigh more on the ranking,” the rapper told Billboard.
He continued: “Slamming us or our fans for getting to No. 1 with physical sales and downloads, I don’t know if that’s right... It just feels like we’re easy targets because we’re a boy band, a K-pop act, and we have this high fan loyalty."
ARMY likewise reasoned that Billboard would not dare bring up the allegations had the South Koreans, frequent leaders and record-holders across the outlet's various rankings (Artist 100, Global 200, Digital Song Sales, World Album, and World Digital Songs Sales charts), been a Western artist.
Fans further asserted the criticism is merely xenophobia in disguise as No. 1 hits by Western acts pushed by gimmicks initiated by the artists themselves, such as bundling their music with random merchandise, dropping deluxe sets, and trending challenges on TikTok, were never questioned, while the voluntary effort of BTS' international fanbase to pool money and buy their music in bulk in the US, on the other hand, was associated to cheating.
Billboard has not yet responded to RM’s retort regarding the allegation in their story nor have they directly clarified the issue themselves. The music publication is also yet to release a statement after ARMY moved to boycott the limited edition box set and demanded Billboard to apologize to the group.