All eyes are on BTS as they continue to top global charts and headlines. While it is impossible to pin how the South Koreans captivated the world on just a single reason, one thing is sure — nothing grabbed the attention of new audiences quite like their vocalist Kim Seokjin.
The BTS member, popularly known by the mononym Jin, frequently dominated social media on some of the biggest nights of the music industry. Variations of "Car Door Guy" at the 2015 Melon Music Awards, "Third Guy from the Left" at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards, "The Guy in Glasses" at the 2020 American Music Awards, and "The Guy in Orange Suit," at the 2021 Grammy Awards, were just some of the viral monikers intrigued people outside the fanbase unintentionally gave the Korean after being enthralled by his dreamy appearance.
In an almost hard-to-believe story of chance, Jin was propelled into the world of K-pop after a Big Hit Entertainment representative spotted him alighting a bus and scouted him right off the street.
Unlike the other Bangtan boys who caught the eye of the label for their knack at singing, dancing, or rapping, Jin, then a college student preparing to be an actor, was recruited mainly for his sheer good looks. At the time, he did not possess the skills required for an idol such as a sense of rhythm or a background in music.
But what the oldest BTS member lacked in experience, he made up in determination and diligence. Although it was a mere stroke of luck that opened doors for Jin, every accolade he received over the last eight years was undoubtedly hard-earned.
All the other members have attested at least once their 'hyung' never failed to deliver results as he always went the extra mile to be on par with the team.
Nevertheless, Jin had no choice but to develop his newfound potential under the spotlight. While Suga, RM, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook never accused him of holding them back, he endured numerous criticisms from naysayers who questioned his singing and dancing abilities.
Concert after concert, routine after routine, and note after note, however, it became more evident that Jin's contribution to BTS' meteoric rise to fame was more than just his pretty face.
As Jin turns a year older, we take a look back at his impressive growth as an artist in the last decade or so:
Over the last eight years, Jin's vocals literally soared. The BTS member earned a reputation for immaculately hitting some of the hardest high notes in BTS' songs.
This talent is apparent in the numerous tracks across the group's discography such as "The Truth Untold" from their second mini-album "Love Yourself: Tear"; "Jamais Vu" from sixth mini-album "Map of the Soul: Persona"; "Epilogue: Young Forever" from their first special album "The Most Beautiful Moment in Life: Young Forever"; and most especially in his solo songs, "Awake" from the second full-length album "Wings" and "Epiphany" from the Bangtan boys' repackaged album "Love Yourself: Answer.”
Although Jin has had less than a decade in the industry, he has already become among the most celebrated live performers.
In BTS’ unforgettable cover of “Fix You” for MTV Unplugged early this year, for instance, Jin again sparked a social media frenzy as thousands of people from dozens of countries tweeted about “The Guy with the Pink Mic.”
This time, however, Jin did not steal the show just for his charming appearance but for his flawless vocals.
In the soulful rendition, the idol seamlessly switched from lower harmonies to his signature falsetto without strain.
Due to his adept breath control, his live numbers, and studio recordings, are almost In distinguishable — if not, at times, for his showstopping adlibs.
An iconic example of this is his out-of-this-world adlib during a live number of the group's Japanese song "Crystal Snow," which ARMY fondly refers to as the "Lejindary Triple High Note."
Albeit impressive, it wasn't his signature off-the-chart belts that cemented him as one of the industry's most notable idols, but the distinct artistic ethos he weaves into his performances.
Jin developed a knack at seamlessly manipulating his vocal textures allowing him to make pieces sound very personal. Mixing this ability to fuse emotion into the song with his compelling timbre, Jin has churned out several songs that perfectly encapsulate the feelings songwriters intended for the piece.
KING OF BALLADS
The artist first gave fans a glimpse of this impassioned singing style for the entire duration of a song in 2015, when he posted his version of Ra.D's "Mom" in honor of his folks on Parents' Day.
The hidden gem uploaded on the group's SoundCloud page showed off both his remarkable emotional and vocal range. He would upload several more covers that likewise flexed his burgeoning skills, such as Mate's "I Love You" in the same year, and a folk-rock rendition of Yoon Do-hyun's “In Front of the Post Office in Autumn” in 2018.
Jin's passion-packed voice also stands out in the septet's Japanese-language ballads. ARMYs even crowned the idol the “King of BTS’ Japanese discography" for his striking performances in the “Crystal Snow,” “Let it Go,” and “Film Out,” which likewise exemplifies his emotion-soaked artistic approach.
A common feedback of critics and fans alike is that his vocals are fitting for soundtracks. And true enough, by 2021, Jin was asked to lend his voice to the Korean mystery drama "Jirisan." "Yours" was undoubtedly worthy to be the main theme of the show as it had the uncanny ability to further bring to life the climactic scenes of the series.
"Yours," is also Jin's best vocal performance so far as well as the most compelling argument to date that adjectives invented “passionate” and “heartfelt” were made for him.
Heart-tugging tunes (and the enthralling belts that come with it), however, are not all Jin brings to the table. In fact, some claim Jin is the most versatile singer among the vocal line. From slow ballads, infectious upbeat pop numbers, and pretty much anything in between, he has done them all — and quite impeccably as well.
Like all the other members, Jin has made singular and lasting contributions to BTS' catalog of songs. For instance, his guitar-driven solo "Moon" from "Map of the Soul: 7," landed in the top 5 of music publication maven Rolling Stone's "75 Greatest Boy Band Songs of All Time."
While Jin still best shines in sentimental ballads, his animated, uplifting, and almost dreamy vocals in the rock love song dedicated to ARMY gives a peak of his virtuosity in other genres.
Jin's versatility is even more so apparent in the group's collaborative materials.
Although he does not get the lion's share when it comes to line distribution, his vocals, regardless of length, have helped turn songs like the flirty pop bliss “Dimple” from the fifth mini album “Love Yourself: Her,” and "Fake Love," the edgy grunge rock lead single of their third full length, "Love Yourself: Tear." into global hits.
OCTAVE LEAPING TOUR DE FORCE
His diverse music stylings and tone are just as wide as his range. While more lines from Jin would definitely be welcomed by fans, duration is a poor gauge of talent as his contributions to the septet's record-breaking career are both singular and lasting.
Although the multi-octave possessor may not have lengthy parts, he certainly has a long history of singing the most difficult parts of BTS' songs
"Dionysus" from BTS' sixth mini-album, "Map of the Soul: Persona" is an example. In the piece, which earned him the moniker "Rock Jin," he sang both some of record’s lowest and highest notes -- a challenging feat even for veteran singers.
His piercing siren-like scream towards the end of the tune is also an admirable show of talent worthy of being mentioned.
Jin is the embodiment of the argument "BTS is 7." Although he shared that he had to put in a bit more effort compared to his bandmates, without Jin to perform his equally crucial parts, it would be difficult to imagine BTS as the record-breaking group taking over the world.
Anyone remotely familiar with K-pop would know it takes more than having a phenomenal voice to stand out in South Korea's cut-throat music industry.
For instance, along with their catchy hits, BTS captivated the world with their flawlessly synchronized choreography.
While Jin, who had to find his rhythm at 20-something rarely missed a beat (including their first few years debut), some of the earlier performances gave away Jin's nerves, inexperience, and even insecurities.
On several occasions, the idol admitted he struggled to learn the complex dances and had to put in extra effort, either by starting practice earlier or staying behind to go over the choreography, just to keep up with his teammates.
His hard work did not go unnoticed as Jin visibly grew not only in skill but confidence as well with every comeback. In fact, BTS' long-time performance director Son Sungdeuk, named him as the most improved member.
By "Butter" and "Permission to Dance" era, Jin has been serving his most electrifying and fluid dance performances (on top of his most stable vocals ad charismatic stage presence yet so far) and had pretty much claimed his identity as one of the members of the world's biggest boy band — a persona that was already rightfully his the very moment BTS soared into the global music scene.
OUT OF THE SPOTLIGHT
Jin's artistry goes beyond the stage. The singer has also collected several song credits under his belt such as "Boyz with Fun," "Outro: Love is Not Over" from BTS' 2015 album "The Most Beautiful Moment in Life Pt.1," as well as the full-length version of "Love is Not Over," from the 2016 album "The Most Beautiful Moment in Life: Young Forever," and "Stay" from the band's latest album "BE."
But arguably, the best records he penned are those that prompted conversations surrounding mental health, a topic still considered taboo in many parts of the world.
In the pensive pieces, Jin peels back his humorous front, as he sings about struggling with self-acceptance and self-doubt in "Awake” and loss in "Tonight. "
His most raw title to date, however, is his 2020 synth-pop ballad "Abyss," which Jin said he wrote as a coping mechanism when he started feeling unworthy of the success BTS was achieving after reaching the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for their hit singles "Dynamite," "Savage Love (Laxed— Siren Beat)," and "Life Goes On."
“I don’t want to share my sad feelings with my fans. Because I only want to show them good things. But it’s different if it’s through music,” Jin began the lengthy letter.
“I wondered if it’s really okay for me to receive something like that... There are honestly a lot of people who love music more than me and are better at music than me, so is it okay for me to be feeling this happiness and being congratulated like this," he added.
With the help of BTS leader RM and acclaimed South Korean songwriter and producer BUMZU, Jin translated what was weighing him down into a monumental song that actually, despite its verses, contradicts his self-deprecating thoughts.
"[BUMZU] wanted to help me and told me 'Let’s write about all the anxieties and if it doesn’t end well, we’ll just try again.' With his positive mindset, he helped me become brighter too," Jin confessed.
He continued: "I was able to put my feelings into this track and share what I wanted to say through “Abyss."
At the same time, the lyrically-vulnerable track Jin bravely wrote himself, served as a polished culmination of his range, power, and technical control, as well as his ability to break language barriers and move listeners.
Although his entry into the world of K-pop can be passed of as a mere stroke of chance, his track record in the last near decade asserts he was undeniably born to be a star. While he had to study most of the mentioned skills, the artistic ethos Jin forged cannot be learned and only invented.
Jin has come far and will no doubt only continue to grow both as an individual and as a member of the group. Unfortunately, however, he may have to hit pause on his thriving career.
As Jin turns a year older, his days with RM, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook begin to be numbered. Unless the septet will be granted an exception from military conscription for their exceptional contribution to the rise of the Hallyu wave on the global stage, the "Epiphany" singer will only have about a year left to participate in the band’s activities.
Nevertheless, Jin has proven in the last eight years that in the event he will have to temporarily bid his members farewell in 2022 to serve his country, he will, without a doubt, again catch up when he returns some two years later.