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‘Time’ hails BTS, LeBron James, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris as 2020’s most important influencers

By JUSTINE PUNZALAN Published Dec 11, 2020 6:42 am Updated Dec 12, 2020 3:39 am

K-pop megastars BTS have been taking the world by storm since their launch in 2013. This year, the phenomenal Korean boy band continues to reign supreme, as they were recently named Time’s Entertainer of the Year.

Time hailed BTS and its members RM, Jin, Suga, J-hope, Jimin, V, and Jung Kook with the recognition on Thursday, December 10, prior to announcing its annual Person of the Year Award.

The magazine described BTS as not just “the biggest K-pop act on the charts. They have become the biggest band in the world—full stop.”

“Between releasing multiple albums, breaking every type of record and appearing in these extemporaneous live streams in 2020, BTS ascended to the zenith of pop stardom. And they did it in a year defined by setbacks, one in which the world hit pause and everyone struggled to maintain their connections,” Raisa Bruner wrote for Time.

BTS’ first all-English song “Dynamite”—launched on August 21 this year—was nominated in the 2020 Grammy Awards for the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance category, alongside stars like Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift.

YouTube’s music-trends manager Kevin Meenan told Time that BTS’ “Dynamite” video racked up 101 million views in 24 hours, a first for the platform. “They’ve beaten all their own records,” he says. Meanwhile, their management’s YouTube account, Big Hit Labels, “is one of the top 10 most subscribed music accounts with over 13 billion views by this year,” says Time.

In a span of one year, the talented septet held two groundbreaking virtual two-night concerts—the Bang Bang Con:Live on June 14 and Map of the Soul O:NE on October 10. These are “perhaps the biggest virtual ticketed show of all time” selling nearly a million tickets each to their ARMY, their indisputable worldwide fandom.

BTS Map of the Soul O:NE virtual concert. Photo: Big Hit.

On October 15, Big Hit Entertainment went public in Korea. The expansion turned BTS mastermind Bang Si Hyuk into a billionaire and “each of the members into millionaires, a rarity in an industry where the spoils often go to the distributors, not the creators.”

Prior to the group’s remarkable achievements this year, their upbeat music paired with crisp choreography and psychedelic music videos has won them multiple awards globally—seven from the American Music Awards and four from the Billboard Music Awards. 

The band is so influential that South Korean lawmakers passed the "BTS Law" on December 1 this year, allowing globally accomplished Korean artists to postpone their mandatory military enlistment on the year they turn 30.

Despite achieving great feats in their career, the Bangtan boys continue to live true to their message “of kindness, connection, and self-acceptance.”

Time elaborated, “In June, BTS became a symbol of youth activism worldwide after they donated $1 million to the Black Lives Matter movement amid major protests in the U.S. (They have a long track record of supporting initiatives like UNICEF and school programs.) BTS says now it was simply in support of human rights. ‘That was not politics. It was related to racism,’ Jin says. ‘We believe everyone deserves to be respected. That’s why we made that decision.’”

And the group wouldn’t have reached this far if not for their unchanging down-to-earth mindset. “There are times when I’m still taken aback by all the unimaginable things that are happening,” Suga tells Time. “But I ask myself, Who’s going to do this, if not us?”

Athlete of the Year: LeBron James

Photo: @kingjames on Instagram

In addition to Entertainer of the Year, Time also named NBA star LeBron James as its Athlete of the Year.

“After nearly two decades in the NBA, James has fully embraced that his talent on the court is a means to achieving something greater off it. And this year, more than in any before it, he showed why he is unrivaled in both,” Sean Gregory wrote for Time.

The Lakers star has been rallying fellow athletes to a peaceful protest for social justice since the controversial death of Staten Island man Eric Garner in 2014. According to CBS Sports, Garner died as a result of a chokehold from a NYPD officer in July that year. James and some of his teammates wore “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts during warm-ups following the incident. He did the same on the court this year in memory of African-American George Floyd who was killed by a white police officer who handcuffed and knelt on his neck.

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A post shared by LeBron James (@kingjames)

James also urged his fellow citizens to vote in the US presidential elections this year by launching the nonprofit campaign More Than a Vote on June 23. “The group pushed for sports arenas to be used as polling places on the grounds that they could allow for social distancing while accommodating large numbers of voters,” Time says.

“At every step, James supported the work by recruiting fellow athletes to the cause, promoting More Than a Vote to his more than 48 million followers on Twitter and turning himself into a billboard by wearing a Vote or Die! shirt to a practice.”

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A staunch supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, James has publicly spoken about the killing of Breonna Taylor. Taylor is a 26-year-old African-American woman who was fatally shot on March 13 by two white police officers who forcibly entered her apartment.

"I have a daughter of mine at home, and a wife, and my mom, and so many Black women in my life to think about. If they weren't here the next day or if they were gunned down, it would be something I would never be able to forgive myself, or forgive who did it," James told TNT's Allie LaForce.

James’ recognition as Time’s Athlete of 2020 is a stark reflection not only of his greatness as a basketball player, but more importantly, as a leader for the Black citizens of America. “That was my initial call to action,” James tells Time in late November, “to let people know what my mission was, what my passion was, and how we were going to deliver.”

Persons of the Year: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris

Photo: Camila Falquez for TIME

US President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are Time's 2020 Persons of the Year, the publication announced earlier today, December 11.

They were selected over three other finalists: Dr. Anthony Fauci and frontline health care workers, the racial justice movement, and incumbent US President Donald Trump.

Biden and Harris were elected to office against Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in one of the nation's most controversial elections on Nov. 3.

Biden is the 46th President of the United States, while Harris is the first woman—and that of South Asian-American origin—to become vice president.

In their electoral campaign earlier this year, the Democratic duo vowed to prioritize healthcare, undo Trump's unjust immigrant policies, create policies centering on immigrants and the LGBTQ+ community, provide affordable education to the youth, and address climate change.

"Biden had the vision, set the tone and topped the ticket,” Charlotte Alter wrote for Time. “But he also recognized what he could not offer on his own, what a 78-year-old white man could never provide: generational change, a fresh perspective, and an embodiment of America's diversity.”

"For that, he needed Kamala Harris: California Senator, former district attorney and state attorney general, a biracial child of immigrants whose charisma and tough questioning of Trump Administration officials electrified millions of Democrats,” she adds.

“The Vice President has never before been a woman, or Black, or Asian American. 'I will be the first, but I will not be the last,' Harris says in a separate interview. 'That's about legacy, that’s about creating a pathway, that's about leaving the door more open than it was when you walked in.’”

Time Magazine’s annual Persons of the Year list recognizes the “men, women, group, or concept that had the most influence on the world during the previous 12 months.” It began when Charles Lindbergh was proclaimed 1927 Man of the Year in Time’s Jan. 2, 1928 issue.

Other people that made this year’s list are the following:

  • Guardian of the Year: U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci
  • Guardians of the Year: COVID-19 frontline health workers, Assa Traoré, Porche Bennett-Bey and their partner racial-justice organizers
  • Businessperson of the Year: Zoom founder and CEO Eric Yuan
  • Kid of the Year: 15-year-old scientist and inventor Gitanjali Rao
  • Pets of the Year: Rescued animals during the pandemic

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