Korean pop, or K-pop, as it’s better known, may seem like an all-consuming pop cultural trend that emerged out of nowhere. In fact, the genre, which has its roots in South Korea, has been around in some form since the 1950s (predating Beatlemania!). Over the last decade, however, K-pop’s omnipresence has reached new heights, seizing headlines and sending fans into frenzies.
The wildly popular K-pop foursome BLACKPINK kicks off its “Born Pink” world tour Tuesday with a sold-out, two-night stand at Dallas’ American Airlines Center. Ahead of that, here are some fast facts about the genre which has captured the zeitgeist like few other 21st century cultural phenomena.
What is K-pop?
The dictionary definition of K-pop is “popular music originating in South Korea and encompassing a variety of styles.” What that means when surfing YouTube or scrolling through Spotify is finding a blend of familiar (read: more Western) sounds like rock or hip-hop mashed up with Korean and English lyrics, and dusted with a smattering of synchronized dance routines not unfamiliar to fans of, say, Backstreet Boys or Pussycat Dolls.
How popular is K-pop?
This statistic from a 2021 Washington Post article sums it up best: “Of the 10 music videos with the most views in their first 24 hours, nine are songs by the K-pop groups BLACKPINK and BTS, as of July 13 . The only non-K-pop songs is Taylor Swift’s ‘ME!’ at No. 8.” (K-pop: Maybe the only thing bigger than Taylor Swift.) The top two videos alone — BTS’s “Butter” and “Dynamite” — had a combined 209 million views. Spotify announced in February that, in the span of a single year, “the monthly average K-pop streams worldwide reached over 7.97 billion per month.”
Who are some of the biggest K-pop names?
Simply typing “most popular K-pop groups” into Google coughs up a variety of lists, indicating not only the fervent nature of K-pop fandom, but the highly subjective nature of it all. Some of the more well-known acts — at least in North America — include BTS (which has made a splash collaborating with A-list pop acts like Nicki Minaj, Coldplay and Charli XCX), SEVENTEEN, BLACKPINK and ENHYPHEN.
BLACKPINK at American Airlines Center, Dallas. 8 p.m. Oct. 25-26. Both nights are sold out.
Preston Jones is a North Texas freelance writer and regular contributor to KXT. Email him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter (@prestonjones). Our work is made possible by our generous, music-loving members. If you like how we lift up local music, consider becoming a KXT sustaining member right here.