By Olivia You, Elina Degani and Kimia Degani
K-pop (Korean pop) is a genre of popular music originating in South Korea. While the modern form of K-pop originated in the early nineties, the Korean style itself encompasses music influenced by styles and genres from around the world, such as rock, hip pop, R&B and electronic dance. With the increasing popularity of social media and Korean dramas, the spread of K-pop has not only been seen in Asia, but throughout the Western world, gaining a global audience.
Many people wonder why K-pop is as successful as it is, seeing that it has been streamed more than 41 billion times on Spotify (that’s almost six times the number of people on this planet!) There are a number of different reasons that distinguish this genre from western music. Their choreography, for example, is a unique feature of their performances. Groups not only sing and dance, they perform routines so complicated and challenging, they would usually require truly professional dancers. Unlike young western pop stars who often grow famous in a short period of time, K-pop artists are usually trained from a very young age for years at a time before recording their first song. Idols also appeal to global audiences as they are usually multi-lingual. Since most students in Asian countries are required to learn English, singers frequently mix in English sayings with their lyrics. According to Spotify statistics, the top-streamed K-pop artists are BTS, EXO and TWICE, among others.
BTS (Bangtan Sonyeondan) is a K-pop boy band that contains seven members and the band is under the management of Big Hit Entertainment. The seven members have many different talents such as singing, dancing and rapping. The members are RM (Kim Namjoon), Suga (Min Yoongi), J-HOPE (Jung Hoseok), Jin (Kim Seokjin), Park Jimin, Kim Taehyung and Jeon Jungkook. BTS formed in 2010 in Seoul and released their first debut album in 2013 called 2 Kool for Skool. The first album that was in the 200 billboard entries was The Beautiful Moment in Life, Part 2 (2013), The Beautiful Moment in Life: Young Forever (2016) and Wings (2016) - these songs helped BTS form their current position in the music industry. The album Wings was the first album to sell 1,000,000 copies in South Korea and by 2017 BTS was selling albums worldwide. BTS was the first Korean boy band to receive certification of RIAA for their song ‘Mic Drop.’ Love Yourself: Tear, Love Yourself: Answer and Map of the Soul 7 have hit the top of U.S. charts. BTS has won Top Social Artist three years in a row and Top/Duo Group at the 26th Billboards Awards. Love Yourself is an album about accepting who you are so BTS RM did a speech at UNICEF about anti-violence and loving yourself.
EXO is a kpop boy band under the label SM Entertainment. The band originally had 12 members including: Suho, Xiumin, Lay, Baekhyun, Chen,Chanyeol, D.O, Kai, Sehun, Kris, Luhan and Tao. But the last three members left due to personal reasons and other members such as D.O, Xiumin, Lay and Chen are on a temporary break due to reasons like other promotions, military enlistments and even marriage. EXO debuted in 2012 with their title track ‘MAMA’. Since then, they have been one of the top boy groups in Korea and have won multiple ‘daesangs’. Some song suggestions would be: Sign, Tempo, Lotto, Lucky One and Overdose.
Twice are a 9-member girl group under JYP Entertainment. They were formed by the show: Sixteen. Sixteen was a survival show where they picked 16 trainees to verse each other and the final nine debuted as Twice. The nine finalists and now members are: Jihyo, Nayeon, Jungyeon, Momo, Sana, Mina, Dahyun, Chaeyoung and Tzuyu. The group isn’t actually all Korean. Mina, Sana and Momo actually have Japanese heritage. Twice debuted in 2015 with their title track ‘Like Ooh Ahh’. Now, they are one of the most popular girl groups worldwide, but it wasn’t always like this. When they first debuted, they got tons of hate and backlash. Neitzens compared them to other competing girl groups. But, Twice kept up their spirits and when they released their new title track ‘TT’ in 2016, their support overpowered their hate and gained them many fans across the globe. Some song suggestions would be: Feel Special, Turtle, Fancy, Get Loud, Breakthrough and Dance the Night Away.