BTS isn’t the only K-pop group breaking records stateside.
While the phenom boy band was making headlines for performing on “Saturday Night Live” last weekend, Blackpink — a four-member, all-female group also hailing from Korea — was celebrating their career-best week of U.S. successes.
If U.S. listeners aren’t acquainted to Blackpink by now, that’s likely to change. With the group conquering U.S. charts faster than any female K-pop act in history, Blackpink has the potential to become one of the country’s biggest girl groups, period.
Blackpink’s big week included a performance at Coachella Friday, simulcast on a billboard in Times Square. The first K-pop women to play the festival, the group earned coveted second-line billing on the poster that splashed their name higher than Kacey Musgraves, Ella Mai and several other of the day’s names who were likely more familiar to many U.S. listeners.
On Monday, they made Billboard charts history by landing their new EP “Kill This Love” at No. 24 on the Billboard 200 chart with 19,000 album units, and their single of the same name came in at No. 41 on the Hot 100, the highest-charting debut ever by a K-pop girl group.
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Blackpink’s exciting U.S. momentum, in which they burst into the scene in seemingly the blink of an eye — through the group has been around since 2016 — is a fortuitous combination of industry support, changing listening habits and the group’s own special sauce. Blackpink’s four members — 21-year-old Lisa, 22-year-old Rose, 23-year-old Jennie and 24-year-old Jisoo — are breathtaking performers, executing intense choreography while rap-singing largely Korean lyrics for songs that sound made for U.S. radio regardless of the language barrier.
The women’s talents are backed by Interscope, which signed Blackpink in 2018, partnering with the South Korean music company YG Entertainment to manage the group and produce and release their music. Blackpink has netted a string of successes since signing with Interscope, from their charts success to their upcoming arena tour of the States, which kicks off Wednesday in Los Angeles.
Thanks to their streaming successes and established social media fan army, listeners around the world are paying attention. In addition to their streaming-driven charts achievements, the group’s “Kill This Love” video, released April 4, broke a YouTube record previously set by Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next” by racking up 56.7 million views in its first 24 hours. Like BTS’ own influential fan army who flood social media with updates and praise for the boy band’s every move, Blackpink has powerful backing from their own international following of fans, who call themselves “Blinks.”
Blackpink are also similar to BTS in that they’ve landed huge musical achievements in the U.S. while not yet managing to land massive breakthrough singles that in turn would earn them radio play and even more mainstream success. But if the past few years’ proliferation of Spanish-language singles on pop radio and the Hot 100 has shown anything, it’s that U.S. listeners are more open than ever to hits that take cues from different languages and cultures.
Whether Blackpink will land a “Despacito”-level hit before BTS remains to be seen, but if the group’s four women and their global family of fans have anything to do with it, the title of the biggest girl group in America may be theirs for the taking.
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