Korean pop music spreads globally


In the past two years, Korean pop music’s popularity went global and spread through the United States like a wildfire. Groups like BTS and BLACKPINK now compete with America’s favorite pop stars for the top slots on the charts and are given the chance to perform at music festivals and award shows.
K-pop fandoms, specifically the BTS Army, make Beatles Mania and Bieber Fever seem small in comparison.
The group’s YouTube channel, BANGTANTV, has 23 million subscribers and has broken many music video records. One of the most notable being when the “Fake Love” music video was viewed 10 million times within five hours of being uploaded.
Ashlee Descant, a junior psychology major, discovered BTS through two of her best friends . At first, she wasn’t interested in the genre but over time she found herself humming the songs.
“After a few weeks, some of the songs were getting stuck in my head, and then it all went downhill from there,” Descant said.
Descant said social media and the group’s marketing agents are the keys to k-pop’s success in other countries.
“Social media has been able to make things all over the world go viral in hours,” Descant said. “I would also say that whatever marketing agents k-pop companies have are like genuine super heroes. They know how to sell a group so well it’s unbelievable.”
Most k-pop groups consist of a large number of members. The “idols” are rigorously trained in singing, dancing and often rapping as well before their “debut.”
K-pop groups are always changing as each album comes with different concepts. They have outfits and music videos themed around the concepts. This change in content is what Mary Jane Spillers, a former ULM student and k-pop fanatic, said she believes this is what sets k-pop apart from other musical groups.
“There is new content non-stop,” Spillers said. “They’re always coming out with new albums every few months and when they do, they promote it by performing on multiple variety shows.”
One thing many people wonder is how k-pop fans enjoy music when it is performed in Korean with the exception of a few English phrases or words. Descant and Spillers never saw the language barrier as something that could hinder their love for the music or the groups. It is easy to find accurate translations of the songs as well as interviews with subtitles.
“You can always read the lyrics like I do,” Spillers said. “I read the lyrics whenver a song stands out to me.”