How Benny Blanco led the BTS ARMY on the musical goose chase of their dreams

·5 min read
Benny Blanco and BTS
Benny Blanco and BTS

Benny Blanco pulled all the stops marketing “Bad Decisions,” his latest collaboration with global superstars BTS and Snoop Dogg. After the producer saw the dedication and loyalty of BTS’ die-hard fan ARMY at several of their U.S. concerts, Blanco gave fans an opportunity to find the song before anyone else in the world.

Two days before the song’s release, Blanco posted a video on social media telling fans he hid a USB with the song in a random spot in the woods outside Los Angeles, set up a camera at the hidden location, and streamed it for 24 hours on Twitch in hopes that ARMY would find it. Despite their best attempts, ARMY were not able to locate it. However, instead of retrieving the drive himself, Blanco and his team decided at the last minute to post the location of the USB on Twitter, revealing that he’d be there that evening to celebrate the release of the song with whomever showed up.

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Several ARMY arrived that evening at a park in the canyons of La Cãnada Flintridge where Blanco and his team were waiting with the prized USB. Blanco was surprised at the turnout of thirty or so ARMY–with some driving over an hour to be a part of this moment.

“I can’t believe you’re here,” said a stunned Blanco as he saw more and more ARMY arrive with ARMY bombs (BTS lightsticks) in tow. Fans were just as shocked; “We can’t believe you’re here!,” an ARMY responded at the sight of the famed producer.

While at first glance the endeavor may seem like a spontaneous social media stunt, the collaboration actually over a year in the making. After Blanco saw BTS in concert last year, he knew he had the perfect song for them.

“First off, I’ve worked with every single person you could ever work with,” Blanco tells The A.V. Club. “I’ve never seen someone say, ‘OK, so now we’re gonna sing like this’ and then they’re like ‘okay,’ and it’s just perfect the first time. Obviously, and honestly, I wanted to see a [BTS] show. I was very interested in working with them. I knew [producer] Bang PD and [manager] Scooter Braun and went to a show. I was just blown away. It was insane. It was the best live performance I’ve ever seen in my entire life. And then I just kept going to all the shows, and I couldn’t stop going to all of them.”

Blanco then learned that BTS would sing “Love Yourself,” a collaboration between Blanco, Justin Bieber, and Ed Sheeran, before going on stage. It was then that BTS suggested doing a song with the award-winning producer. “They were just like ‘Oh my God, yeah! We’ll do a song’,” Blanco recalls. “I almost didn’t believe it. It was crazy.”

Blanco had been working on “Bad Decisions” for over a year. The vocal line–Jin, Jimin, V, and Jungkook–recorded their part in Korea back in March over Zoom. As for Snoop Dogg, BTS themselves requested for the legendary rapper to be on the song. Coincidentally, Blanco had worked with Snoop Dogg on Katy Perry’s “California Girls,” and simply called him up. Snoop, who confirmed the collaboration back in March, agreed.

Promoting the song, Blanco has received nothing but love from BTS fans. “The BTS ARMY are the best fans in the world,” he says. “They know more than anything. They study more than anyone. And they’re the most loyal fans in the world.”

After realizing how adept ARMY were at finding every little detail when it came to BTS, Blanco decided a scavenger hunt would be fun, finding the most obscure location for the coveted USB.

“I think if we left it up for six hours longer, you guys would have found it,” says Blanco. “It was getting close. I’m happy you guys didn’t find it and [now] we’ll be able to hear it [together].”

During the meet-up, Blanco was patient with fans, taking time for selfies and personal video messages to ARMY who couldn’t make it, and answering many questions. As the lights from the ARMY bombs lit up the dark woods, he was open about working with BTS and how much he enjoyed the experience. Blanco admitted that he hoped for more opportunities with them, but when asked if there would be more collaborations, Blanco was coy: “Now that I won’t answer.”

As more fans gathered and the time for the song release neared, Blanco decided to give the USB to one lucky fan. He thanked the crowd for coming and for all their support, but he had to leave for a livestream prior to the song release, leaving ARMY to celebrate together. Unfortunately, the moment was interrupted when the police appeared to break up the large crowd, but fans were elated at the opportunity to celebrate their favorite group’s song release with the very producer who made it happen. For them, this was anything but a bad decision.

“Bad Decisions” is out now on all streaming platforms and in stores.