2020 has been a difficult year for everyone. But thanks to BTS, BLACKPINK, NCT, SuperM, and more, this year is also considered a turning point in K-pop as the genre enters the mainstream. Keep on reading to learn more about it here.
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In 2020, K-pop saw a drastic and sudden rise in popularity within the American market. Numerous idols were able to successfully expand their reach into the West, with some help from their labels and a lot of help from their powerful fandoms. Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, K-pop was able to transcend beyond South Korea's borders and is now a recognized genre worldwide.
BTS is currently at the forefront, paving a new way for other artists to successfully pursue careers in the States. 2020 may have been a hard year, but it did nothing to slow BTS down. Instead, the boys were able to break numerous records and achieve a plethora of firsts as they expand the possibilities of numerous K-pop groups. Numerous analysts say that the group was able to find a way to break into the industry, which is typically focused on Anglo-American music.
BTS's fourth studio album, "Map of the Soul: 7," proved that BTS is one of (if not THE) biggest groups in the world. The album sold more than four million copies and topped the charts in all give major music markets in the world, including the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, and France. The album, as of Dec. 5, has sold over 4.35 million copies.
When the COVID-19 pandemic shocked the world, BTS had to cancel all the stops in their world tour. However, that did not stop them. BTS soon released their first all-English single, "Dynamite," a song meant to spread hope and joy despite these uncertain times. The song is BTS's most popular song to date and now acts as a stepping stone for other K-pop groups who can now successfully break into the Western market.
"Dynamite" topped the Billboard Hot 10 for three consecutive weeks, making BTS the first K-pop group to have a number-one single in the United States. To this day, the song continues to chart within the Hot 100 and is currently at its 16th consecutive week.
Recently, BTS was nominated for "Best Pop Duo/Group Performance" at the 63rd Grammy Awards, which is highly renewed as the most prestigious music award ceremony in the West. BTS made waves as the first K-pop group to ever be nominated for a Grammy.
In November of this year, BTS released the mini-album, "Be", which shows their feelings and experiences amid the pandemic. The title track, "Life Goes On", became the first pre-dominantly Korean-lyric song to ever top the Billboard Hot 100, once again proving their popularity. Not only that - it proved they did not have to sing in English to make it big in the West. As of Dec. 5, "Be" has sold more than 2.65 million copies.
Most recently, BTS was selected as TIME Magazine's "Entertainer of the Year." The publication even praised BS as the biggest band in the world.
For girl groups, we cannot neglect the accomplishments of BLACKPINK. In the past, the girl group was slammed for their lack of activity, but they proved everyone wrong with their highly successful 2020, securing themselves as the most popular girl group in the world.
Their pre-release singles "How You Like That" and "Ice Cream (feat. Selena Gomez)" both entered the Billboard Hot 100 and were released prior to the drop of their first-ever full-length album "THE ALBUM".
"THE ALBUM" is the group's first studio album and made headlines for being the first K-pp girl group album in history to sell over one million copies. Their album also peaked at number two on the Billboard 200 charts and the United Kingdom charts. As of Dec. 5, "THE ALBUM" has sold more than 1.22 million copies.
BLACKPINK became the first female K-pop group to score themselves a Netflix deal. Their documentary, "BLACKPINK: Light Up The Sky," showcased their careers for the past four years, and is one of the most-watched Netflix documentaries. Additionally, their YouTube channel is now the second most-subscribed musical account, just behind Justin Bieber.
It is not just BLACKPINK and BTS who broke through to the west this year, however. K-pop groups such as NCT, MONSTA X, and SuperM, were also seen charting on the Billboard charts. The groups are known for their massive and passionate fandom, which helped them boom in the charts for numerous factors, such as album sales and digital streams.
Several K-pop groups also became million-sellers this year as well. Notable names include SEVENTEEN, who sold 1.37 million copies of "Heng:garae" and 1.12 million copies of "'[Semicolon]," as well as NCT for "Resonance Pt.1," which sold 1.28 million copies.
This is a huge improvement from last year, where only BTS became million-sellers with "Map of the Soul: Persona" selling 3.71 million copies. According to South Korea's Gaon Chart, the cumulative sales of this year's "Top 400" albums exceed 38.58 million copies, setting a new record for the chart. In 2019, the "Top 400" albums old sold 24,593,928 copies.
WIth 2020's unprecedented growth, people can only speculate what 2021 will be like for K-pop.