K-Pop makes a lasting impact in America
How a boy band is changing the game
In the past, Korean pop artists (better known as “K-Pop”) and their corresponding labels have attempted to break through global boundaries, particularly into the American music scene. While some artists, such as popular boy band Big Bang, have toured the United States and faced incredible international success, none have made a particularly long-lasting impact in the American music scene—until now.
In 2012, K-Pop artist Psy released “Gangnam Style.” The song sustained a spot on the Billboard music chart for 122 weeks, claiming the number one spot for six weeks. The music video was the first to reach a billion views on YouTube, and—at the time—it was the most-watched music video on YouTube at three billion views. This song has been largely credited with helping K-Pop break into the American music scene. “Gangnam Style” is still a staple dance party anthem, but the success Psy once had in the American music scene is slowly drifting into the shadow of K-Pop boy band, BTS.
Short for “Bangtan Boys” and “Beyond the Scene,” BTS is currently facing unprecedented success in the United States. The boy band even performed on the iconic Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Years Eve special at the beginning of the year, becoming the first Korean group to perform on the program. However, Psy was the first Korean solo artist to perform on the program in 2013.
Beyond making history in America, BTS had a record-breaking and history-making year in 2017. The band became the first Korean group to perform at the American Music Awards in November 2017. BTS also became the first Korean group to win a Billboard Music Award, winning “Top Social Artist.” After the win, Billboard credited the band with being able to prove that K-Pop can “compete and thrive on a global scale.”
BTS’ latest single “Mic Drop” was remixed by Steve Aoki and features rapper Desiigner. The remix has maintained a spot on the Billboard Top 100 chart for nine weeks, peaking at number 27 and gaining a spot on the Billboard Top 40. BTS was also named one of the “Top Artists of 2017” by Billboard.
According to Bloomberg, the K-Pop industry is worth a whopping $4.7 billion. Needless to say, BTS has certainly added to the already lucrative industry. Both Psy and BTS have made language barriers obsolete with their catchy tunes and iconic dance moves. Together, they have made Korean pop-culture a hot commodity on a global scale. The increasing interest in Korean pop-culture perpetuates the “Korean Wave”—a term that is frequently used to describe the rising worlwide interest in Korean pop culture since the 1990s.
It seems that BTS has possessed all the right qualities to actually break through the American music scene—and have a lasting impact. Maybe it’s just timing, or maybe it’s their perfectly synchronized dance moves and coordinated aesthetics, but it’s clear that BTS has turned the global music scene on its head.