The author is a columnist at JoongAng Ilbo.
Admittedly, BTS has set so many spectacular records that most other records are less impressive these days. But Blackpink did. They became the first girl group to top Billboard’s major albums chart. He did it with “Born Pink”, his second full album. Previously, Blackpink topped the UK’s Official Albums Chart, becoming the first Asian female artist to top both at the same time. It also overtook Spotify, the world’s largest music streaming platform. The number one spot on Spotify is a record that even BTS has never reached before.
Until now, the top spot on the Billboard album chart has been exclusively held by K-pop boy groups, including BTS, SuperM and Stray Kids. Blackpink’s triumph is significant in its own way, as there were female idols like BoA, Wonder Girls, and Girls’ Generation, which hit the US market and laid the groundwork for the Korean wave. Music critic Lim Jin-mo said, “With Blackpink joining BTS’s success, the real ‘K-pop invasion’ has begun,” and predicted, “Considering BTS’s military service issue, it will be the era of Blackpink after BTS. ”
In fact, Blackpink’s explosive popularity can already be seen on social media. He has the most subscribers on YouTube, with 81.8 million. Blackpink member Lisa is the most followed K-pop singer on Instagram with 82.47 million, followed by other Blackpink members. Next are the members of BTS.
Blackpink became the first girl group to top Billboard’s main album chart, with their second full-length album “Born Pink.” [YG ENTERTAINMENT]
Blackpink, which has three major elements of K-pop idols — visuals, vocals, and performance — was praised for its confident attitude. They differentiate themselves from other K-pop idols to be treated like global celebrities. All members work as global ambassadors for luxury brands, Jenny for Chanel, Lisa for Céline, Jisoo for Dior and Rosé for Saint Laurent. If BTS has penetrated the diversity-sensitive millennial and Gen Z market, Blackpink has achieved global stardom. Another strength is that the members have lived overseas, including Lisa being Thai, and they speak English, Japanese, and Thai well.
Along with Blackpink’s global success, girl groups are the trend in the domestic market. Eight of the top ten songs on the Melon Music Chart between September 19 and 25 were songs by Blackpink, Girls Generation, Ive and New Jeans. Ive and New Jeans are up-and-comers who have created a stir with easy-listening popular music rather than the powerful overseas-favorite K-pop.
The strong push for girl groups is breaking the old convention that the basic pull for idol fandom is based on fan girl love for male idols. Fans of girl groups moved from the existing “uncles” to “aunts”. On Aladdin, pre-orders for Ive’s After Like album were 69% female customers and 31% male customers. Among women, clients in their 40s made up 25%, followed by teenage girls at 22%. It is evident that women in their forties with purchasing power are actively consuming the music of girl groups. Women love female idols, support them as if raising them, confirm sisterhood and admire them. As Blackpink shows, the essence of admiration is the super-celebrity image achieved with outstanding natural beauty, good family background, global sense and sophisticated mannerisms and luxury goods.
Traditionally, the key to the K-pop fan business is attracting female consumers willing to open their wallets to the stars. Boy groups with more female fans than male fans have always dominated girl groups, mostly with stingy male fans.
But now the world has changed. As female fans opening their wallets for girl groups have emerged, agencies are focusing on girl groups. Girl groups also have strength in risk management. There are members of girl groups who have been involved in school violence, but compared to male idols, there are fewer instances of trouble in private life. They can be active longer because they are not serving in the military. As the world changes, agencies and the industry change. How long will “girl group domination” last? This is the most eye-catching scene in K-pop today.