BTS alum Jimin sets new benchmarks for both the group’s solo efforts and for all South Korean solo pop stars this week, as his new album and new single both launch major debuts on the Billboard charts.
Jimin’s six-track FACE album enters the Billboard 200 this week at No. 2, with 164,000 equivalent album units moved. Meanwhile, the set’s breakout single “Like Crazy” gets all the way to No. 1, powered in large part by sales of 254,000 — helped by multiple remixes and alternate versions of the song being released for purchase — which makes for easily the highest single-week total of the year. That debut makes Jimin the first South Korean solo artist to top the Hot 100 in the chart’s nearly 65-year history.
How did the song and album launch such massive debuts? And how much might “Like Crazy” still grow from here? Billboard writers discuss these questions and more below.
1. Jimin’s FACE debuts at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 this week (behind Morgan Wallen’s ongoing 36-track juggernaut One Thing at a Time) with 164,000 equivalent album units moved — the highest-bowing debut effort since Olivia Rodrigo’s Sour two years ealier — while FACE single “Like Crazy” debuts at No. 1, with 254,000 copies sold. Which to you is the more impressive of the two accomplishments?
Katie Atkinson: I have to go with the Hot 100 No. 1 debut. In recent history, K-pop has dominated the Billboard 200 – with No. 1s for Jimin’s own BTS, plus Blackpink, TOMORROW X TOGETHER, Stray Kids and more — but shooting all the way to the top of the Hot 100 is much rarer. Even PSY only reached No. 2 with his omnipresent “Gangnam Style” back in 2012, and indeed, as the first of his BTS brethren to reach No. 1, Jimin is the first South Korean solo artist to ever top the list. This is a historic chart achievement.
Tetris Kelly: It’s hard to say because both are such important accomplishments — not just for a fandom, but for culture — as Jimin is the first South Korean soloist to make these feats. It’s incredible his debut numbers follow the likes of Olivia Rodrigo. It shows Jimin has expanded beyond the K-pop bubble. But for me I would have to say topping the Hot 100 is more impressive. I say that because of how much of a surprise it was: ARMY as a fan base was so excited about the album and supporting it that the growth of the single almost came completely unexpectedly, with Jimin becoming the first BTS member to pull the feat off.
Jason Lipshutz: The Hot 100 chart-topper, for sure. While the BTS members have impacted the Billboard 200 chart with solo projects in the past — RM’s Indigo debuted at No. 3 in December, for instance — none of them have been able to come close to the top spot of the Hot 100 with solo singles, and really, few K-pop artists in general have been able to, even as they capture the attention of wider audiences in the United States. So “Like Crazy” not only stands as an extraordinary achievement for Jimin, but considering recent history, for any K-pop solo act as well.
Glenn Rowley: Both are obviously monumental, but the full studio set rocketing to No. 2 feels like the more major of the two.
Andrew Unterberger: I’m tempted to say the FACE debut, just because moving that number of units with a six-track album — meaning its streams are automatically not going to be able to compete with a behemoth like One Thing at a Time — means you really sold an exceptionally high number of physical copies, likely at a much higher price point than individual song sales.
2. Though Jimin is not the first BTS member to release a solo album (or a big single from it), none of the solo releases from the group’s members thus far have performed this well. What do you think it is about these Jimin releases, “Like Crazy” in particular, that has allowed them to have such a high level of success?
Katie Atkinson: I feel like FACE sees Jimin making a concerted effort to carve out his own sound apart from BTS, and with the almost Future-sounding, hip-hop-inspired first taste of “Set Me Free Pt. 2” and now the dreamy synth-pop of “Like Crazy,” fans are clearly digging his whole experimental vibe. It’s a tall order for all seven members of BTS to find their own lanes, and this solo success is showing that ARMY are liking the path Jimin has set out on.
Tetris Kelly: Each member of BTS is unique and talented and ARMY is always pushing for their success as a group and individually. I feel like the timing of “Like Crazy” just came at a point when pop music just needed a feel-good moment from a male pop star. The track is smooth (maybe like a familiar condiment) and light in a way that it can attract a causal listener or huge fan. The song was also promoted well. Seeing one performance from Jimin, like when he premiered “Like Crazy” on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, easily shows he’s the type of talent that deserves to top the chart.
Jason Lipshutz: Obviously the coordinated fan effort to rally around Jimin’s album and new single during their first week of release helped their respective chart placements, but regardless of where it debuted on the Hot 100, “Like Crazy” sounds like a fully formed top 40 breakthrough. The song boasts clean, ‘80s-indebted synth-pop production that recalls The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” formula; a memorable hook that accentuates Jimin’s vocal approach; and even a subtle sense of danger imbued in the chord progression. Whereas recent releases by J-Hope and RM succeeded artistically with bolder sonic approaches, “Like Crazy” is pure, multi-faceted pop, and sounds like a real hit.
Glenn Rowley: The first time I heard “Like Crazy,” I was struck by how much its chilly, synth-drenched soundscape hit me like a cross between a BTS single and something cooked up by The Weeknd. Whereas “Set Me Free Pt.2,” the single that came before it on FACE, was bombastic and filled with horns, “Like Crazy” hits a certain sweet spot that feels like it belongs at the top of the Hot 100.
Andrew Unterberger: It’s a combination of the right song at the right time (riding the right level of momentum), and of course the ARMY efforts to make sure their guy is properly represented on the charts. While the latter’s impact can never be discounted, I don’t think it’s insignificant that this is the first BTS solo release to see this level of single-week consumption; it’s very arguably also the best single a BTS member has released outside of the group so far, and one of the finest pop songs of the year so far.
3. While “Like Crazy” debuts at No. 1, it does so with an extremely slow start at radio. Do you see U.S. radio programmers coming around to “Crazy” as a playlist fixture?
Katie Atkinson: If they’re smart! Thinking about how huge BTS’ “Dynamite” and “Butter” both were on radio, wouldn’t you want to please one of the biggest fanbases in the country by playing the song that they’ve clearly put their weight behind? I can see it fitting in on pop radio at the moment too, since it’s giving off a similar vibe to Steve Lacy’s offbeat Hot 100 No. 1 “Bad Habit” from last fall.
Tetris Kelly: Radio play is always a huge part in making a song a hit with the public, but when certain songs mean a lot to huge fandoms it can make a song just as meaningful. I look at “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version)” as an example. I don’t know if radio ever truly played that single heavily, but every single Swiftie can sing each lyric passionately. I think it would be wise for stations to pick up tracks “Like Crazy” — ’cause if not, they are just missing out on being a part of a huge moment in pop culture.
Jason Lipshutz: I do! The No. 1 debut will certainly cause some programmers to take note of “Like Crazy” and give the song a longer look than they (unfortunately) deign for most K-pop singles. And when they press play on “Like Crazy,” they’ll hear a single with a sturdy vocal take, as well as real hooks that could fit next to plenty of other hits in a programming block. The BTS ARMY buoyed the song’s chart debut, but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear “Like Crazy” on pop radio, or see it linger around the top of the Hot 100 in the coming weeks because of that belated adoption.
Glenn Rowley: Radio may be slow on the uptake, but hopefully programmers come around quickly to the fact that “Like Crazy” is what listeners want to hear.
Andrew Unterberger: I hope so. Radio has been historically gunshy to embrace K-pop — even with BTS’ gigantic English-language chart hits, radio play always lagged behind sales and streams. For that reason, the safe bet would probably be that radio mostly ignores “Like Crazy,” too. But… well, it really sounds like a 2023 radio hit, doesn’t it? If top 40 embraced “Like Crazy,” it’d sound right at home between “Players” and “Die for You” in no time at all. And I think the chances are decent, if not overwhelming, that it will.
4. “Like Crazy” is obviously helped by a number of different versions being made available for streaming and purchase, including an all-English version, an instrumental version and both deep house and U.K. garage remixes. Do you find any of the alternate versions particularly interesting or revelatory, or are they mostly for superfans and completists?
Katie Atkinson: When I listen to the alternate versions, I miss the original production. So while I’m always down for house and garage remixes, I think the original can stand alone here.
Tetris Kelly: I love that different versions were provided here. There’s no denying that although songs from BTS like “Life Goes On” and “My Universe” topped the chart while being multilingual, their biggest hits “Dynamite” and “Butter” were fully English tracks. It was not a necessity, but great for Jimin to offer an English version of “Like Crazy.” And as with almost any other remix — who doesn’t love a chance to hear a different take and dance to a song you’ve already fell in love with? I believe the point here is to have something for everybody, not just the completist who will want it all.
Jason Lipshutz: The “deep house” remix of “Like Crazy” shaves off 30 seconds of run time, compresses all of its melodies and adds a club-ready thump into the mix. Pretty fun! The original “Like Crazy” is more accomplished, but if you’re looking to dance your sorrow away as Jimin’s slightly sped-up voice pleads “Can you help me numb the pain?,” look no further than that rework.
Glenn Rowley: They’re mostly a (smart and strategic) grab for completists and ARMY, but I always think an English version can serve as a great entry point for listeners who might be curious but intimidated or not know where to start in their exploration of K-pop.
Andrew Unterberger: I had high hopes for the U.K. garage version, but it never quite achieves the release you hope it will. The deep house version is more satisfying but still not quite essential. The real question is if the English version will help the song make inroads in top 40 and other mainstream U.S. spaces — maybe, maybe not, but certainly couldn’t hurt to have it available regardless.
5. There has been a very rich history of “Crazy” songs on the Hot 100. Do you have a particular favorite aside from this one?
Katie Atkinson: I have to go with “(You Drive Me) Crazy” by Britney Spears, and now I have to go watch the Melissa Joan Hart/Adrian Grenier 1999 masterpiece Drive Me Crazy because I can’t think of Britney’s video without needing to rewatch the teen-movie classic.
Jason Lipshutz: Enormous shout-out to the beginning of 1999, during which Britney Spears released debut …Baby One More Time and its clanging bubblegum anthem “(You Drive Me) Crazy” in January, and then *NSYNC dropped their underrated midtempo ballad “Thinking of You (I Drive Myself Crazy)” the following month. While Britney’s single became a top 10 Hot 100 hit and *NSYNC’s stalled out at No. 67 on the chart, both dominated TRL, and deserved to do so!
Tetris Kelly: “Crazy In Love” immediately comes to mind. Also, a Billboard Hot 100 No. 1, the song established Beyoncé as a certified solo star outside of her massively successful group. I think these two songs have more in common than just the word “crazy.”
Glenn Rowley: Britney’s “(You Drive Me) Crazy,” of course.
Andrew Unterberger: Too many classics to mention — but we’re never gonna survive unless we give a little bit of a shoutout to Seal’s 1991 dance-soul smash.