Like any American president, Barack Obama inspired his fair share of popular culture. However, there probably aren’t too many American presidents who can say that they inspired a K-pop hit. Here’s how a simple gesture from President Obama served as the catalyst for a popular BTS song.
Barack Obama inspired BTS with one small gesture
Obama was known for making jokes during his speeches at White House Correspondents’ Dinners. Obama’s final White House Correspondents’ Dinner was perhaps the most publicized Correspondents Dinner of his presidency. It ended with the president saying “Obama out!” and dropping his microphone, a gesture that was pretty common in old school hip-hop culture.
Many who saw this clip just thought it was so cool. Others took things a little farther. Obama’s gesture served as the inspiration for “Mic Drop” by BTS.
The forces behind BTS’ ‘Mic Drop’
Billboard says BTS were open about the inspirations behind the track. Explaining the concept of a “mic drop” in a behind-the-scenes video, band member RM said “A mic drop is a sort of performance that former President Obama did last year at the end of his [Correspondents’ Dinner speech].”
The song’s lyrics were originally in Korean, but BTS released an English remix. Discussing the remix, RM said “We rewrote the lyrics in English, for the song to be able to be heard by more people. Honestly speaking, this is our first time attempting to do this as well, so I can’t imagine how it will turn out.” RM’s fears were unfounded. Many English-speaking BTS fans liked the new version of the track.
What does Barack Obama think of the song?
What does Obama think about the song? From praising Beyoncé songs to condemning Kanye West’s behavior towards Taylor Swift, Obama has never had any qualms with commenting on popular culture. However, he hasn’t commented on this particular song. However, he may have some interest in K-pop.
Although Obama has not publicly discussed “Mic Drop,” he has some praise for South Korean culture. BTS are part of a new era where South Korean popular culture has a massive international following. According to Vox, this era is known as “Hallyu” in Korea and “the Korean wave” in English-speaking regions.
Barack Obama praises South Korean pop culture
When Obama met with South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye, he had many things to say about South Korea. According to CNN, he noted “Yesterday, President Park visited Arlington Cemetery, a memorial to our Korean War veterans. And tonight, she’s hosting a dinner to pay tribute to the generation of American veterans who have served in the defense of South Korea. And tomorrow, she’ll address a joint session of Congress, an honor that is reserved for our closest of friends.”
Obama added “And in this sense, this visit reflects South Korea’s extraordinary progress over these six decades. From the ashes of war to one of the world’s largest of the economies, from a recipient of foreign aid to a donor that helps other nations develop, and, of course, around the world, people are being swept up by Korean culture, the Korean wave. And as I’ve mentioned to President Park, my daughters have taught me a pretty good Gangnam style.”
Obama might not be aware of “Mic Drop.” However, BTS are a major part of the Korean wave, a cultural moment Obama sees as part of South Korea’s “extraordinary progress.” BTS can certainly take that as a compliment.
Also see: How BTS Dolls Helped Save Barbie’s Manufacturer
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