BTS: Their Mission, Music, & Philosophy

You can read my first blog post about BTS back in 2016 here.

V, Jimin, Jungkook, and Jin performing ‘The Truth Untold” live at the Chicago United Center October 2, 2018

V, Jimin, Jungkook, and Jin performing ‘The Truth Untold” live at the Chicago United Center October 2, 2018

I’m a new BTS fan and even though I have kids their age, I have never been into K-pop. But suddenly I felt this intense addiction getting stronger with every song, video and performance I’ve seen in the past few months. BTS is like no other artist. Not only is their music exceptional, but the whole concept of their music videos, is mind blowing. The only other artist who truly did this for me was Michael Jackson, enough said.
— G. M via Facebook.
Some people think about ‘LOVE YOURSELF’ like this: now that we are successful, we love ourselves, and suddenly we want our fans to love themselves. But it’s not that way at all. It all stems from your heart after all. The main message of this album and tour is that I don’t know either, so let’s find a way to LOVE YOURSELF together. It’s not like we’re trying to preach how to love yourself under the title of ‘LOVE YOURSELF’,  but we are saying that we also don’t know how, so listen to our songs and enjoy, and let’s try and find a way together, whether we actually succeed or not. It’s about comforting people by talking about these things; it’s about hoping I can be comforted by others and that others can be comforted by me. Meeting with friends does not solve our worries, but just talking to each other gives you some comfort, you know. Listening to someone and saying, ‘it must have been tough, you did a good job’, can cheer that person up. That’s what we want to do – to have a conversation through our performance, person to person.
— RM, Love Yourself Tour Program Interview
BTS in Chicago October 2, 2018 Photo by Alyssa T.

BTS in Chicago October 2, 2018 Photo by Alyssa T.

I had the honor and blessing of attending BTS’ Love Yourself World Tour held at the Chicago United Center, October 2, 2018. The concert, of course, was mind blowing, and the guys have grown so much since their last Wings World Tour I attended in 2017 (read about it here). I could gush in detail about the visuals, music, and my experience (The guys like to make eye contact with their fans, which I got to experience at soundcheck with V and Jungkook), but with the massive blowup of their popularity this past year, I felt it was more important to write a blog about the depth of BTS and why they have slowly risen from the ashes over the last five years. So…


When you start investigating BTS and dig deeper into their music, lyrics, choreography, and album concepts, you come to realize that BTS is not just a “another” boy band manufactured for entertainment purposes, but that they are a group of seven talented young men (Jin, RM, Suga, J-Hope, V, Jimin, and Jungkook)  who love music so much, they use it to communicate their reality, truth, and the social and cultural issues they and their generation are facing right now.

In the world of music, especially K-pop, you have a lot of superficial, shallow, fantasy entertainment. Don’t get me wrong, that music is fun, and sometimes needed, but pop music of any kind usually gets a bad rap because of this. But sometimes their comes an artist that breaks that stereotype and uses the popular sound of Hip-Hop, Pop, R&B, and Rock to communicate a deeper message that reflects our humanity and our everyday reality.

And right now that is BTS.


What makes BTS stand out from the rest of the K-pop idols? They actually have a mission.

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Big Hit Entertainment’s logo has a slogan at the bottom: “Music & Artist for Healing.”

In BTS’ recent Grammy Museum Interview RM talks about this mission:

“We want to be, kind of like, a method of help for the world, and Mr.  Bang really wanted to, like you said, intention, wanted to make his music and his artists like that. We thought it, too. We wanted to try. We wanted to use our abilities and skills and (our some) inside inspirations to help the world. And I think, it, you know, Mr. Bang and us, and it made us into BTS.” ~ RM (Kim Namjoon), Grammy Museum Interview September 19, 2018.

Since their debut back in 2013, BTS hit the ground running with socially conscious and socially critical music. Besides dealing with real, human highs and lows as one grows from a child to an adult and addressing the pressures of current youth, They deal with socially taboo issue such as depression, anxiety, and suicide, the constraining education system within their culture, work ethic in Korea, and even touch on tension between the older generation and youth generation (The song Bapsae is one of my favorite songs by them that does just that) A few examples are below:

Go (Go Go): “BTS’ parody on the hedonistic culture of today’s youth.”

N.O: “touches on how the education system, especially in Korea, has turned kids into ‘studying machines’ as a result of the importance of education being ingrained into students by society.”

Am I Wrong – addresses a few political issues in Korean society. “The metaphor ‘It’s the stork versus crow-tit, battling it out errday,’ refers to the class divide between the haves (the storks) and the have -nots (the crow-tits) while the line, ‘We’re all dogs and pigs/ we become dogs because we’re angry,’ is a reference to a Korean Ministry of Education official who described the average person as ‘dogs and pigs’ and should be treated as such.” (Source: Billboard)

Their music makes you want to dance, and at the same time, make you think.

They started off their debut, age range of 15-20 years, addressing their high school highs and lows, which eventually morphed into coming of age through WINGS, and as they have grown into men, their music continues to reflect their current life changes and challenges. It is amazing that in their 20s, they have learned the importance of loving oneself before loving others. And to make it the message of their current tour and last three albums is profound.


Their music is stellar, top-notch, amazing, out of this world, and has already, in my opinion, joined the ranks of the classics.

BTS and the Big Hit Entertainment team are really, really talented writers and lyricists. Each song stands on its own. They are gifted in writing music and producing, they are gifted in knowing how to sample other people’s music (It’s a Hip Hop thing), and they are gifted in working with other musicians. BTS experiments with a variety of genres and styles of music and remixes it all to make it their own. BTS is beyond the K-pop sound. They are their own style of music.  I’m really picky when it comes to music, and when you like about 98% of their catalog…ya, I love you. Want to get more in depth with their lyrics? Check out blog.

Unlike many artists in other major Korean entertainment companies, BTS has FULL creative freedom to express themselves through their music and lyrics.

And because of this…


BTS connects with their fans on a personal level. When they are expressing themselves through music and lyrics they composed, this obviously makes them approachable. But since their debut, they have used social media to connect with fans and share their lives. They show their real, human, dorky selves, just like the rest of us. There are so many hidden jokes between BTS and their fans (ARMY). And Jin’s dad jokes are the best.


What really solidified my fan status were BTS’ concept albums. A narrative and theme is woven through not just a single album, but multiple albums. They present hidden story lines, which emerged during the album The Most Beautiful Moment in Life: Young Forever to the WINGS album, and even to the Love Yourself series. The message or theme of their albums and songs are not just in their music and lyrics, but their videos and sometimes their choreography (Fake Love, I’m Fine). I have enjoyed reading fan theories and discovering their hidden messages.


BTS references literature that inspires their albums and songs. Such as, Demian by Herman Hess, which is a philosophical novel that is the foundation of their WINGS album; The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula K. LeGuin influencing The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, Part 2/Wings/ You Never Walk Alone; and the song The Truth Untold, which is based on the story, 'La Città di smeraldo.'

So, if you haven’t read in awhile, now would be a good time. You never know where inspiration may come from.


What a lot of people may not be aware of is that since BTS’ debut they have received some serious hate and slander from anti-fans and Korean society in general. It got so bad that Big Hit had gathered enough evidence to sue. They almost broke up but persevered through it all. Not Today, Mic Drop, IDOL…These songs are personal and not just full of hot air. When you’ve been through what they have been through, and made it this big, those songs are genuine and real.


They are talented, genuine, humble, and hardworking. They know when to be silly and know when to be serious. What you see is what you get. All seven of them are unique and stand out on their own, but together their unique chemistry as a group cannot be recreated. They have learned and grown from their mistakes humbly in the past five years and that has only made them better and stronger. I know they will continue to pursue their passion and continue to write great music. I am proud to be an ARMY.

BTS spoke at the United Nations in New York on September 24, 2018. Photo: Mark Garten

BTS spoke at the United Nations in New York on September 24, 2018. Photo: Mark Garten

Yo-Yo Ma & J. S. Bach


It rained earlier that day, cleansing the earth, or should I say, preparing the earth for our evening activities. It was my first time at the Blossom Music Center in Ohio, and the first time to, finally, see Yo-Yo Ma in concert. J. S. Bach was there too, through the music, as Yo-Yo Ma performed all six Bach Cello Suites for two and a half hours. The stage was huge for one man and his musical companion, but Yo-Yo Ma took charge and owned it. He walked out on stage to rapturous applause. Even before the crowed settled in, Bach’s famous Prelude in G Major echoed throughout the pavilion and out to the grassy lawn to over 5,000 listening ears in the pavilion and probably over 5,000 more in the lawn area behind us (Blossom can fit up to 20,000 people).  About 15 minutes into the first suite, a bird began to compete with Yo-Yo and Bach for attention. He must have realized his song did not fit with the virtuoso work of Yo-Yo and Bach together and soon settled in to listen along with us.  As the night progressed and the sun went down, the crickets came out to add their own soothing commentary.

Yo-Yo Ma knows all six suites by heart and these cello suites have brought him through troubled times, giving him, “sustenance, comfort, and joy during times of stress, celebration, and loss.” Yo- Yo Ma felt the music and mirrored the music’s expression through his facial gestures and movement. It was a delight to watch him up close on the screens provided. 

In the program Yo-Yo Ma states, “I share this music, which has helped shape the evolution of my life, with the hope that it might spark a conversation about how culture can be a source of the solutions we need. It is one more experiment, this time in search for answers to the question: What can we do together, that we cannot do alone? I invite you to join me on this adventure, to listen and be inspired by helpers in your own life.”

Throughout the evening I felt alert and at the same time, such peace. A night I will never forget.

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You can listen to the Bach Suites by Yo-Yo Ma on Spotify. His new recording of the Bach: Cello Suites comes out this Friday, August 17.

New Date & Location for Summer Concert!

Due to a two week cold, I had to reschedule my concert June 10th. Below is the new date and location. I hope you can make it! 

An die Musik: A Concert by Joannah Lodico

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Creative 360 presents Mezzo-soprano, Joannah Lodico, as she returns to offer her third concert. Enjoy this summer afternoon concert at Midland Reformed Church, as she sings some of her favorite art songs and operatic arias and pays homage to music. Repertoire will feature songs by J. S. Bach, Franz Liszt, George Frideric Handel, and more. With special guest Kelley Gray. Accompanist: Sara Taylor

Sunday, July 15 / 2:30 – 3:30 pm / $12 pre-paid, $15 at the door Tickets can be purchased at

New Location! - Midland Reformed Church 1100 N Saginaw Rd, Midland, MI 48640


Hello, My name is Joannah Lodico...

Hello, my name is Joannah Lodico, and I believe that music and the performing arts transform people’s lives. And because of this belief, I have pursued the arts, as a singer and art administrator. My mission is to not only express myself through music, but work behind-the-scenes to bring music and the arts to all people for the opportunity for transformation. Everything I have pursued, educationally and professionally, has led to this mission.


I have had a love of music and the arts since a young age. In high school my own life was transformed through the power of music which got me through difficult times. Because of this passion and experience, I pursued my undergraduate degree in music, focused on vocal performance, and minored in history.

I became fascinated with the intricate details of composer’s lives; what influenced their music personally and culturally. Over time I came to realize that I not only enjoyed studying the history of all genres and styles of music, but also the history of all forms of artistic expression, especially in cultures.

I believe God is the ultimate artist. We are His art and an expression of His image. We are creative and artistic like our creator. We are relational beings. Through the arts we communicate to God and to each other. The arts are venues where we come face to face with ourselves, express our souls, and can experience transformation.


After graduating from college, I realized that I wanted to work in an artistic environment where I could help further the arts and bring about opportunity for transformation. I pursued my master of arts in art administration from the University of Michigan – Flint. I completed two internships, one with International Arts Movement (IAM) in New York City, founded by the contemporary artist, Makoto Fujimura; and the other with the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Department of Performing Arts that presents classical and world music, dance, and other contemporary performances.

I believe an art administrator’s mission is to fully understand and execute the business and administrative side of the arts so as to create an environment of open and nurtured conversation and authentic artistic expression which creates opportunity for personal transformation through the arts. I have continued to gain knowledge and experience through various educational and professional pursuits. I started my own publishing company after I wrote and recorded a song for a friend’s indie film. I produced two of my own vocal concerts, a local Shakespeare company’s first production, and have booked various musical artists to perform in my home and at the art organization I currently work at as an office manager. Two of the artists I booked I met through the Arts Midwest Conference. I recently completed the Certified Performing Arts Executive Program for Presenters, Agents, and Artists' Managers provided through NAPAMA (which I am a member) and the University of New Orleans.

I am someone who constantly wants to learn, reflect, and creatively implement what I take in and process personally and professionally. When I am moved and excited about something, I make it happen. I enjoy discovering music and performers, both timeless and new, and sharing what I find with those around me. This is why I want to be a music/performing arts presenter and singer. I am excited for what the future holds and am ready for new and creative ventures where I can create opportunity for transformation.

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Oedipus The King Opens February 16th!

I can't believe we open this Friday! You do not want to miss Oedipus The King at the Midland Center for the Arts! This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a masterpiece Greek tragedy by the great Sophocles, in the round, with masks, and RARELY performed on stage. 
I have been blessed to act in many plays in my life, but this one has a special place in my heart. The cast and crew - we are phenomenal - I am so honored to be a part of this experience. The translation by Nicholas Rudall is rich! We spent a month delving into the text. Certain lines or words would reveal themselves to us and blow us away every time we read through the script. We also worked in rasaboxes to strengthen communicating different emotions with our bodies. Oedipus is a tragedy, yes, but it also has a deeper message of seeking the truth, no matter what the outcome. 
Check out the videos below. I, along with other cast mates and our amazing director Annette Thornton, talk about the show:

I hope you can join us this weekend or next! You can purchase your tickets at Midland Center for the Arts website. See you there!

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