[ JoongAng Current Affairs Magazine = Reporter Kim Min -soo ] Dominating Billboard and YouTube, standing tall as a world-class girl group
We are in the golden age of K-pop. Who would have imagined that K-pop artists would dominate the Billboard charts so much? While Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’ thrilled people around the world, K-pop leaders BTS and Blackpink are taking root in the United States, the world’s largest entertainment market. Forbes Korea selected Blackpink, who is emerging as a ‘global rising star’, as the No. 1 Power Celebrity in 2019, surpassing the record of BTS, which ranked No. 1 among Power Celebrities in 2018.
‘BLACKPINK in your area-.’ As a thick and short sound rang out at the Coachella concert hall in California, bursting cheers and a barrage of cameras followed. This is a signal announcing the stage of K-pop girl group Blackpink. Four girls from Korea stood tall at the Coachella concert hall, one of the world’s three largest music festivals and the largest music festival in the United States. This is the first time a K-pop group has appeared. The Coachella stage was broadcast live in New York’s Times Square, heating up the entire United States. Members Lisa and Rosé expressed their feelings to Forbes Korea, saying, “I was so moved that I got goosebumps when the fans shouted ‘Blackpink in your area!’” and “It left an unforgettable memory and lasting impression in my life.”
BLACKPINK, a complete girl group released by YG for the first time in six years, immediately established itself as a top idol in the domestic music industry as soon as it debuted in 2016. BLACKPINK’s debut songs ‘Whistle’ and ‘Boombayah’, completed over two years by YG’s flagship producer TEDDY, immediately captured the public’s ears with a fresh sound that differentiated them from existing girl groups. With a unique and catchy song, powerful performance, and flawless visuals, Blackpink heated up social media by rising to the top of various rankings as an ‘issue maker’ upon their debut. ‘PLAYING WITH FIRE’ and ‘STAY’, which were released four months later with momentum, once again shook the music industry by maximizing the members’ voices and charm.
JISOO, JENNIE, ROSE, and LISA, who each spent 4 to 6 years as trainees, began to attract attention overseas as soon as they debuted. In particular, Thai member Lisa is gaining strong support from overseas fans as she leads the performance as the main dancer, and Jenny’s performance of ‘SOLO’ further raised Blackpink’s stock price.
The ‘top contributor’ that brought Blackpink, who was riding the tailwind of becoming the first K-pop group to reach 700 million views on YouTube,
to the top is the title song ‘DDU-DU DDU-DU’ from their first mini album released last year. ‘DDU-DU DDU-DU’ entered 55th place on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and became the most-viewed K-pop music video on YouTube in 2018. Recently, the music video for ‘DDU-DU DDU-DU’ surpassed 700 million views on YouTube, and a whopping 94% of the views came from overseas. The record of 700 million views is also the first among K-pop groups. Their influence has become so strong that they are called one of the ‘two major mountains’ of K-pop groups along with BTS.
Chartmetric, a Silicon Valley-based data analysis startup, counted the number of monthly listeners on Spotify, the world’s largest music streaming company, in 2018, and found that the most streamed K-pop group compared to the previous year was Blackpink. BTS has 9.7 million followers, far ahead of Blackpink, which has 5.7 million, but it has largely caught up with BTS’s stronghold during its hiatus. Chartmetric CEO Cho Seong-moon said, “Thanks to BTS and Blackpink’s excellent performance, K-pop’s popularity has increased overseas and has now solidified its position as a complete trend.”
A global stage that feels like home
Thanks to the mega hit of ‘DDU-DU DDU-DU’, the comeback stage became even more spectacular. In October last year, YG signed a contract with Interscope Records, the representative label under Universal Music Group, formalizing Blackpink’s entry into the United States. Interscope Records is the management company of world-renowned artists such as Maroon 5, Eminem, and Lady Gaga. The synergy that arises when a hit song, a major American label, and members who speak English fluently come together is explosive. Except for Jisoo, who was born and raised in Korea, Blackpink members are all accustomed to communicating in English. Rosé, the main vocalist, was born and raised in Australia, and Jenny spent her elementary school days in New Zealand.
As a result, he will appear on American national programs such as [Good Morning America], [Strahan and Sarah], [The Late Show with Stephen Colbert], and [The Late Late Show with James Corden], leaving a strong impression with smooth interviews and live performances. I was able to. ‘Kill This Love’, released earlier this month, ranked first on iTunes charts around the world, including the United States. Major American media outlets analyzed that it was the first time a girl group topped the U.S. iTunes chart in 15 years since Destiny’s Child, of which Beyoncé was the leader. Blackpink has begun its first US and European tour since debut, starting with the Coachella stage.
The following is an email interview with Blackpink, who was selected as the No. 1 Forbes Korea Power Celebrity in 2019.
Four years after their debut, they went beyond Korea and began full-fledged global activities. I’m curious about what’s most different from your Korean activities.
Rosé: I think the most meaningful thing is being able to meet fans from all over the world and share music and show performances even with people who don’t know Blackpink.
Jenny: As I begin my global activities in earnest, I am grateful to be able to see with my own eyes and personally experience that interest in K-pop is currently hot around the world.
What did you pay most attention to, what was difficult, and what did you enjoy while preparing this album?
Rosé: Because each song has a clear concept, we put a lot of effort into image training. Among the songs included in the album, the song ‘I hope not’ was actually recorded before debut. So, I am very attached to it and I am glad that it ended better than I expected.
Lisa: We focused on group dance practice to show a more powerful performance. At a glance, we tried to show a performance that made the four members feel as if they were one.
What prompted you to collaborate with Dua Lipa? Are there any overseas artists you are planning to collaborate with in the future?
Jenny: I have been a fan of Dua Lipa for a long time and have enjoyed listening to her songs. I was very thankful that I got the opportunity at Dua Lipa’s request and had a great time working on it.
Lisa: It was the first time that all Blackpink members participated in another artist’s album, and it was even more meaningful to work with a world-class pop star. If I get the chance, I want to work with other artists.
They became the first K-pop group to perform on the Coachella stage. How do you feel?
Rosé: It left unforgettable memories and lingering memories in my life. I can still vividly hear the audience’s cheers, and the view of Palm Springs from the stage was so beautiful. It was very windy during the performance, but it felt great to feel the warm breeze.
Jenny: Ever since I was young, Coachella was one of the festivals I really wanted to go to. I still can’t believe that I went up on that stage with the members in person. I was surprised that the scale was bigger than I expected, and it was an honor to be able to stand on the same stage as many world-famous artists.
Lisa: There were so many moments that gave me goosebumps. I was especially moved when fans simultaneously shouted “Blackpink in your area!” to the Blackpink song. I tried surfing in the middle of the stage, and I was really happy that the fans responded well.
Do you like the nickname ‘Human Chanel’?
Jenny: ‘Chanel’ is a brand I have admired for a long time, so the nickname ‘Human Chanel’ was a little burdensome at first. I thought it would be nice to be able to work with the brand ‘Chanel’ just once, but now it has become a reality and many people say that I match well with ‘Chanel’, so I am now grateful and happy.
There are many fans who are looking forward to a solo career following Jennie. What genre or style of music do you want to try?
Rosé: I covered Halsey’s song ‘Eyes Closed’ and released it on YouTube, Instagram, and SoundCloud, and the response from fans was enthusiastic. If I ever pursue a solo career, I want to sing songs full of soul where I can show off my vocals.
I’m curious why you became a singer in Korea and at YG, and whether you plan to work as a singer in Thailand in the future.
Lisa: I have been interested in K-pop since I was young, and when I was part of a dance crew, I used to practice to songs by YG artists. Since my debut, I have always wanted to hold a concert in my hometown, Thailand, and my dream has become a reality as I started my world tour in Thailand. It was a meaningful and unforgettable experience for me as the fans welcomed me warmly.
You appeared in [The Producers] before your debut. Are you also interested in acting?
Jisoo: If I get the chance, I would like to try acting, but right now I want to focus more on Blackpink’s activities.
May 3, 2019