In 2017, Grammy.com posted an article titled Why is K-pop’s popularity exploding in the United States?. On May 29th, 2018, NPR published an article titled K-pop, Korean Popular Music, Hits No. 1 in the U.S., in response to BTS’s new album hitting #1 on the Billboard 200 chart. A few days later, The Guardian proclaimed English is no longer the default language of American pop. If you go on Twitter, barely a day goes by without a bunch of K-Pop fans getting something trending.
Well, here’s that pesky “perspective” to get in the way. BTS’s big hit “Fake Love” hit #10 on Billboard four weeks ago. Impressive, right? A week later it dropped below #40. Two weeks after that? It’s #71 and dropping like thugs in a hammer fight in the South Korean thriller “Oldboy”.
BTS’ album, Love Yourself: Tear hit #1 four weeks ago. This week it’s #20, being beaten by Ed Sheeran’s Divide, an album that’s been on the charts for 67 weeks. Oh, and what’s #10 on the Hot 100 this week? The 34 week old Bebe Rexha/Florida Georgia Line Pop/Country crossover “Meant to Be”.
For something considered “popular”, these are pretty weak numbers. Consider how well (or really how poorly) something has to perform to make the top 10 on the Billboard Top 200 in this day and age, when album sales are in the toilet and streaming is supreme. We don’t have all the data for the entire chart, but we do have what Billboard’s willing to share, which is the top 10.
This week, we returned to the year 1996 with Dave Matthews Band (YES, Dave Matthews Band) taking the #1 album with just under 300,000 “equivalent albums” moved (this includes streams, they have an algorithm for how many streams equal an album “sale”). #10 was Shawn Mendes’ most recent album, notching 31,000 units. That’s not a typo, just 31,000 measily units.
Again, Ed Sheeran’s year-and-three-month-old album managed to bring in more equivalent albums than a brand new BTS album. I think this tells you all you need to know about how truly popular K-Pop is in the US. Maybe if their fans spent more time actually streaming the albums and less time “stanning” their favorite boys on Twitter, that number would be higher.
Oh, and by the way, if you have a look at both the Hot 100 and Top 200? You might notice a significant lack of K-Pop. Over on the album chart I see:
As I made it to #139 I found another K-Pop album: BTS’s Love Yourself: Her. Two spots up at #137 by the way? AC/DC’s Back in Black. The other BTS album in this chart is being beaten by a classic rock album that came out nearly 40 years ago, and in a week when none of their members even died.
Girl’s Generation, EXO, BTOB, Blackpink, or Twice. So where’s this “Explosion”? Seems more like a small bottle rocket going off during a massive fireworks display of North American pop and hip-hop.
“K-Pop” isn’t #1, a few hardcore, very mouthy fans have made it seem like it is. They’re the ones who are buying it and listening to it week 1, but regular music listeners aren’t picking up the slack the next week or the week after that like they do with all the aforementioned pop and hip-hop songs that stick around the charts for months.
Drake’s “God’s Plan” is STILL in the top 10, and “Nice For What” is back at #1. THAT is popularity, when people are still listening to your music weeks, months after it came out, and it continues to gain a new audience from more casual listeners.
And don’t think for a second Billboard is “bias”. It’s all just numbers. If Kanye can put out an album with very little hype (compared to his last album) and have every song chart on the Hot 100 (likely almost entirely based on streams), it stands to reason that if K-Pop is so popular in the US, more songs would be charting. But they aren’t, and the reason is simple: because more people are listening to the other 100 songs on the chart.
There’s no takeover, the Korean invasion is like the British Invasion if the Beatles showed up, the few hundred girls screaming at the airport were the only people who bought their music, everyone considered those girls weird nerds, and no other British bands ever reached the same level of popularity as American groups. In other words, it’s basically the exact opposite of the British Invasion in every single way.
NOTE: Buckley at least understands that all the things he likes aren’t actually popular, and never will be.
Buckley is a loudmouthed prick who managed to get famous on YouTube somehow. He's most well known for his rants, his annual Worst Songs lists, and his Musical Autopsy series.
So a medium sized article on a semi well-known website is responsible for people claiming that K-pop is dominating the charts…
its kinda funny how your target audience are those “girls screaming at the airport” and yet here you bashing them. nice!
I mean, at some point I believe this but it’s kind of racist and I think you should keep this hate to yourself. BTS are kindhearted people and I’m pretty sure their intention is not to destroy celebrities like Justin Bieber, but to just work hard and and make people happy. So just like stop complaining and GET A LIFE.
This is an add on to my last comment. Also, it’s not just BTS. I’m pretty sure no KPOP idol wants to ruin all Western celebrities. They aren’t doing anything wrong, just working hard and producing music like any other artist. So it’s not any Korean idols fault that KPOP is so big. So don’t blame KPOP and the idols.
You can just tell that this was written by a white american person that probables thinks their “cool” now the reason a lot of people like this bitch hate on kpop is because it’s not in English THEY HAVE TO BREAK A LANGUAGE BARRIER DUM DUM you expect Americans like this bitch here to expect the fact that a FOREIGNER is getting more popular than a their precious little american celebs god forbid another reason people automatically hate them is because the style is too kiddish or feminine people naturally put boy band in the crazy teenage girl category they dont even give it a chance because of it also going back to the feminine part, people HATE them because they wear make up and earrings and dont look like the stereotypically straight guys but ALL AMERICAN CELEBS WEAR MAKE UP AND 90 PERCENT OF THEM HAVE PEIRCINGS THEY JUST ARENT AS PUBLIC ABOUT IT also homophobitic people find this revotling *major eye roll* and shun it automatically Another reason why its so “unpopular” is because kids are starting to make it “cool” now to hate on them *cough cough*like the author of this stupid article*cough cough* also some of you may say that comment is a little too “mean” or “salty” well i dont give a f*ck Im responding with the same amount of respect and integrity as this stupid child
You’re right that a lot of K-pop hate comes from racism, but I don’t think this was hate. This is just stating fact. I am a Korean studying in US right now and I can see that BTS is on a lot of news and charts but it is only because of a specific group of fans, not widespread popularity. People who like Kpop are still seen as weird like otakus, BTS has not changed that so far. Most Americans around me are not BTS fans.
I dont think this author is saying that BTS hasn’t made change in American pop scene because they have. They have gotten way more popular than any other kpop group so far. The author is just saying that BTS is not seen as “cool” or mainstream except among people who are already fans. Like Drake is seen as popular and known by all but BTS is still seen as weird to like. I am saying this as a Korean I don’t think this article is racist. I would like Korean culture to spread and I am Proud of BTS for representing my country but facts are facts and BTS has not gotten as far as people are saying (yet, they still might later).
From what I am seeing here in US, the people who are talking about and awarding BTS are doing it because they realize how loyal ARMY is. Fans of Drake or taylor swift will not always tune in or pay to see them perform but ARMY always will. So I think US media and awards are just using how loyal BTS fans are. It is not because lots of people in US listens to them.
I think for you to claim it must be a white American is incredibly racist; implying that he must be White as he doesn’t like Korean music as ‘all white people are racist’. secondly he is making a genuine point. Kpop isn’t as big as people make it out to be. that it, I personally don’t like music which has been created just for profit purposes and pushes its ‘musicians’ to the edge. with no creative freedom. though you will argue that some do have this freedom.
I think the same and if they aren’t popular than why are comedians and talk shows like Jimmy Fallon and Ellen degeneres practically begging them to be on their shows
I agree about most of your comment but not all Americans dislike BTS. I happen to love them. I don’t know if you were saying that towards all Americans but if you were it’s not true.
Vallaline i agree with everything you said im proud someone stood up for K-pop… In other words preach honey preach