The Western pop culture realm was severely shaken up when in 2017 BTS was nominated for a Billboard Music Award, and won. They were the first Korean artists to get nominated for a Western Music award, and were met with a mix of both excitement from their fans and confusion from the general populace. Social media was flooded with questions about who BTS was, and why/how they got nominated in the first place.
Two years later, and Kpop has not only exploded in popularity, but is slowly melding its way into Western music. Artists such as Steve Aoki, Nicki Minaj, Jason Derulo, and Dua Lipa have collaborated with some of the most popular Kpop groups, mixing both Korean and English in a way that had only previous been done with Latin music. Just last week Jason Derulo came out with a song and music video featuring LAY and NCT 127, the former being a Kpop singer and the latter being a Kpop group, called “Shut Up, Let’s Dance”.
Kpop is working its way into Western music, though at a much slower rate relative to the explosion in popularity among Western audiences. The rapid growth in fans of Kpop is rather astonishing, as in just a few months the rate of Kpop fans have skyrocketed, and social media interactions with Kpop groups. For both BTS’s and EXO’s twitters, the rate of interaction with the accounts by fans beat expected interactions by a longshot in 2018, beating out top western artists such as Beyonce and Justin Bieber.
Kpop groups have even made their way into Western advertisements, as BTS has both been on the cover of Billboard magazine and modeled for Vogue. The most popular female group at the moment, Blackpink, just appeared on the cover of Billboard magazine as well, having some of the highest amount of streams on Spotify. Their latest song “Ddu Du Ddu Du” also has topped 695 million views on Youtube, making it one of the most listened to Kpop songs globally.
Kpop is pushing its way into Western Music, and, at least for the time being, it’s here to stay. It’ll be interesting to see how Western music awards, particularly awards such as the Grammy’s, will adapt to the rising popularity of Kpop. Will it add a category specifically for Kpop, which they did for Latin music? Or will they simply meld it in to the preexisting categories, as what occurred with BTS this february? It’ll be interesting to see where the next few years takes us.