K-Pop is here, and it’s slowly taking over America. Not convinced? All you have to do is check today’s trending Twitter topics, or Billboard charts, or turn on your radio or TV.
With BTS scoring both a number one album and two top 20 singles this year — one featuring Nicki Minaj — K-Pop’s foot is in the door of the American music industry. This K-Pop wave comes at a time when American pop is lacking. When we look at numbers, English pop has been on a decline for years, and hip-hop has taken over the charts and radio as the reigning genre. For the week of November 17th, six of the top 10 songs of the Billboard Hot 100 are rap songs.
The K-Pop industry is huge — amassing $4.7 billion globally — and heavily manufactured. Artists are trained in singing and dancing for years prior to debuting in their groups, similar to American boy bands of the late 90s.
What could this mean for American music as we know it? Could a K-Pop revolution revive pop? Korean artists are planning big things in America, with their sights set on success. Only time will tell, but in the meantime, here are 5 K-Pop artists to keep your eye on.
LOONA - Hi High
LOONA, a newly debuted group with a largely American fanbase, is on the verge of making history. Known for their unprecedented pre-debut project, the girls recently signed a deal with Live Nation, leading to several successful concerts in Korea. An interview with the CEO of LOONA's parent company revealed even bigger news, including a planned video game based on the group's ongoing storyline, shown through their videos, and a four-nation world tour. One of the most ambitious projects in K-Pop, LOONA is ready to take on the world.
Blackpink - DDU-DU DDU-DU / Jennie - Solo
With the release of "Ddu-Du Ddu-Du" this summer, Blackpink became the highest-charting K-Pop girl group ever on the Billboard charts, with the song peaking at #55 on the Hot 100. Last month brought the release of "Kiss and Make Up" by pop star Dua Lipa, featuring the girls. Blackpink member Jennie also became the first of the foursome to release a solo single, rightfully titled "Solo." But the biggest news comes this month, when it was announced that Blackpink had signed with Interscope Records and UMG, the group's first step into an American debut and promotions. We're sure to be hearing more from the girls soon.
Red Velvet - Bad Boy
Red Velvet, one of Korea's biggest girl groups, is ready for America too. Over the summer, the group performed in both Los Angeles and New York at KCON. It was there that they debuted an English version of their song "Bad Boy." Last month, Red Velvet member Wendy collaborated with none other than John Legend on the smooth R&B track "Written in the Stars." The group will feature another English version of the title track of their upcoming mini-album Really Bad Boy, rumored to be following-up the "Bad Boy" sound. Red Velvet's latest move to take over America comes as a five-date tour in early 2019.
NCT 127 - Regular
With the release of a single and album, an appearance at the AMAs, and two performances on Jimmy Kimmel Live! last month, NCT has been working hard to become the latest K-Pop group to debut in America. They’ve also become the first K-Pop group to be featured as artists of the month by Apple Music. The 10-member group is already huge in Korea, so American success could be imminent.
Holland - I'm Not Afraid
The first openly gay star in very conservative Korea, Holland is breaking every barrier in the world of K-Pop. Despite not being signed to a record company like other artists, Holland has been releasing his own songs and videos, visual celebrations of gay love. With twin singles "I’m Not Afraid" and "I’m So Afraid," Holland tells of both sides of the coming-out process, both the freedoms and the fears. A fully independent artist, Holland recently not only reached, but exceeded his crowdfunding goal by over 200%, meaning new music to our ears.