Culture

The Unexpected Journey to ARMY

How a simple camera test turned into a BTS deep-dive.

It all came about as a bit of a surprise to DJ and MCA, the father/son-in-law duo behind the GetSideways YouTube channel. Despite posting videos regularly since their channel’s inception 18 months ago, it was only when they posted their reaction to BTS’ Ugh! that they started gaining traction. That video, however, was unplanned, and its success was wholly unexpected…

With the launch of their main GetSideways channel postponed due to the COVID restrictions of 2020, MCA came up with the idea of the ‘react’ channel where he would share his favourite music (that DJ had never heard) with his son-in-law. Needing something to test out a new camera with without potentially ruining their schedule, they needed a song — and artist — that neither had heard. Enter BTS. Aware of their mega-stardom, but not knowing any of their discography, the group was perfect for their need. So, they typed ‘BTS’ into Spotify and randomly chose Ugh! to test the new camera with. What ensued was sheer confusion:

… “BTS is rap?” …

… “There are only three members?” …

… And so the journey down the rabbit hole began.

Having watched their channel “since Ugh!” myself, I sometimes wonder whether their journey would have looked differently if they had picked a more ‘typical’ K-pop song as their first, and whether it was the shock of hearing the rap line that led to their subsequent deep dive. BTS definitely does defy expectations though, making great bops on superficial listening with deep underlying meanings. ARMY also fell in love with the duo’s genuine reaction videos, swelling their subscribers from a few thousand to over thirty thousand at the time of writing, and gently (but excitedly) offering suggestions for their further BTS-ucation.

Then, shortly after watching Daechwita, the pair made an announcement: at 100k subscribers, they will release a cover of Daechwita. DJ has been set the task of learning the Korean rap lyrics by diligently listening to the song every day on his commute to work, and MCA’s task is to tackle the music side of the track. They’ve even planned a music video. It’s a big promise that will be tough to pull off — especially for DJ who arguably has the hardest part. However, it will undoubtedly be worth the wait, and the effort.

With the love and interest that they have received from ARMY, the Columbus-based duo have held LIVEs both on Youtube and Instagram, as they are keen to show thanks for the support they have been given and invite their supporters to get to know them better. So, who is this pair?

Viewers are often confused about their relationship. DJ is MCA’s son-in-law, marrying MCA’s eldest daughter two and a half years ago. DJ (26) now has a 7-month-old daughter, making MCA (52) a grandfather.

Another question they're often asked is about their names. DJ is easy: short for Dwayne Junior, it’s what he’s always been called by friends and family. MCA’s name came about through work. Actually called Michael, MCA works as a software engineer programming iPhone apps (such as for Wendy’s). He explains that his work does a process called ‘agile development’, where a developer takes a card with a task on it to program into an app. To let the other developers know it's already being worked on, the initials of the developer is written on the card. MCA, however, didn’t want to share his middle name with his work colleagues and therefore chose his first initial followed by the first two letters of his last name. He reports, however, that it has been so long now that everyone at work calls him MCA and that some colleagues may not know his actual name.

MCA has not shied away from telling family and friends that he is listening to BTS. Whilst his friends “look at him like he's crazy” he says that he doesn't feel ashamed because BTS are so good. He reports that he hadn’t listened to modern music for a long time, because he’d never found anything that he liked, preferring to stick to his usual music tastes of hard rock and metal. BTS changed that, however, because they are “deep and different”. The group has now become regular listening, with MCA playing RM’s ‘Joke’ for 90 minutes on repeat. Despite really liking V, MCA maintains that he’s ‘OT7’ because everyone is so good. DJ also says that he is ‘OT7’ at this point. They both say that it’s the breadth and talent of BTS that has impressed them the most.

“Suga is amazing. He’s an amazing rapper, an amazing producer, songwriter; his style is so good.“ — MCA

Baepsae Reaction | Youtube
Ddaeng Reaction | Youtube

Their favourite BTS tracks (so far) include Baepsae and Ddaeng. The only song that MCA hasn’t liked (to a degree) has been their collaboration with Coldplay, but concedes that the chorus was good. They have also loved watching the dance practices.

Their admiration for BTS has also spread into their other channel too, with a “BTS Style Challenge” where the duo tries to recreate their favourite look from the music videos they've seen to date. MCA killed the likeness with his V outfit, and they are planning a ‘formal’ outfit challenge soon.

The pair do react to other K-pop. However, due to the extensive nature of BTS’ work it may be a while before they have the time to cover any other K-pop artists. Not only are there BTS’ group songs, but also their personal releases, as well as the dance practices, RunBTS, BonVoyage and In The Soop — there’s plenty to keep DJ and MCA busy for a long time yet. At the request of ARMY, full album reviews are possibly also on the cards.

MCA acknowledges that their main difficulty with the channel is ensuring that their reactions don’t get blocked — or even worse — a strike. ARMY is, as always, supportive. Whilst there have been some mean comments, DJ and MCA have been overwhelmed by the response and welcome given by ARMY, screengrabbing recommendations for future ‘reacts’. This means that there is much more to come… hold on for the ride!

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Rosalind is an Australia-based doctor and Fellow of the RACGP. She is currently studying for her Masters in Islamic Studies and Classical Arabic.

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Rosalind Noor

Rosalind Noor

Rosalind is an Australia-based doctor and Fellow of the RACGP. She is currently studying for her Masters in Islamic Studies and Classical Arabic.

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