It's another week of historic highs for K-Pop's biggest acts BTS and Blackpink.
The two K-Pop bands have been all over the charts Blackpink became the first girl group and third K-Pop act to hit number one on the Billboard Artist 100 after dropping their album this month. Meanwhile, BTS was at the top of the Billboard's Global 200 Chart again, featuring in Jason Derulo's remix of Savage Love. And to top it off, the boyband won the Top Social Artist Award at the Billboard Music Awards this week, for the fourth consecutive year.
A lot of big achievements in K-Pop, and today we break down what this means for Korean artists going global, whether Korean music can evolve and diversify beyond what it is now on the global stage.
I'm joined by Stephan Lee, Journalist and Author of K-Pop Confidential, and James Lee, musician, singer, and songwriter who shot to fame as part of a Korean rock band the Royal Pirates.
1. Stephan: Let's start with BTS. They won Top Social Artist Award at the Billboard Music Awards this week, for the fourth consecutive year.
Their single Dynamite is still doing incredibly well but Jason Derulo's Savage Love featuring the boyband topped the Global 200. What do you make of these achievements and do you think this goes to show just how powerful K-Pop is becoming? In the past, K-Pop artists, in a way, needed big names. Would you say the tables have turned?
2. Stephan: Blackpink. What a massive week for them. They're topping the Billboard Artist 100 Chart followed by BTS at number two rankings for the Billboard Artist Charts being based on a number of factors such as album sales, radio airtime and social media activity. They've also released a Netflix documentary
How historic is their achievement becoming the first girl group in the world to hit the top spot on the Billboard Artist 100 and what more do you think we can look forward to?
3. James: Have you been loving what K-Pop has been bringing stateside do you have any favorite tunes right now?
4. James: I loved your song Alright which you worked on with Amber Liu. It brings us comfort and hope during this pandemic. And your song Erase also really resonates we've all felt the kind of regrets or fears that consume us. And you released Liar not too long ago. Which song or songs on your album Castle would you say are the most personal for you and what message do you hope your music will convey to people?
5. James: You went through an unimaginably tough time when you suffered a critical hand injury. That must have been such a dark period for you. How were you able to find the strength to move forward and create something just as, if not even more, amazing and inspiring?
6. Stephan: We've seen more and more Koreans with international backgrounds or experience making it big and of course, we know how competitive the industry is. Your book earlier last month is about a Korean-American teenager hoping to make it as a K-Pop idol. What are the unique challenges of being a Korean-American artist in K-Pop, and how did your music evolve throughout the years?
7. Stephan: How did you develop Candace's character? While she might not be the typical bambie-eyed K-Pop idol trainee with perfect dance moves, she is a passionate girl with a lot of inner strength and knows her own mind, and can be a warrior when she wants to be. I'm very curious whether there was a certain artist or artists you were inspired by when you developed Candace's character?
8. James: K-Pop tends to cast a cheery and energetic image, as stars are always diligent, never complaining, so we rarely hear the struggles behind the scenes. What is the journey to making it in Korea's music industry really like and making it big in the mainstream market? What are some struggles Korean musicians face that need to be changed across the whole industry, as Korean music becomes even more global?
9. Stephan: Your book has been released at a very momentous time in K-Pop, and as enjoyable and page-turning as it was as a novel, I think it also gives a message as to how the industry should move forward, if it is to become even bigger than it is now, globally. What kind of changes do you think are needed and do you see a greater diversity of Korean artists becoming more mainstream in the U.S. market?
10. James: Of course, color-coordinated outfits and synchronized dance moves are what the world is loving right now about K-Pop but what more do you think the world is looking forward to from other genres of Korean music? Please tell us more about your future plans, and, also, the online concert you are performing at, over the weekend.
Stephan Lee, Journalist and Author of K-Pop Confidential, and musician, singer and songwriter James Lee, joining us from New York and Shanghai.
Thank you for being on the program today.