WATCH — BTS, Blackpink, EXO and more: What’s the deal with K-pop?

Alexia Sabau
Story by Alexia Sabau and CBC Kids News • 2021-02-12 16:49

Plus, a fun ‘aegyo challenge’ for you to try at home!

It was only a matter of time before CBC Kids News contributor and trend devourer Alexia Sabau sunk her teeth into K-pop.

K-pop is the nickname for a style of South Korean pop music that has become a verifiable global sensation in recent years.

Outside of South Korea, K-pop fans can be found around the world in countries like Canada, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico and the United States.

In recent years, K-pop groups have begun to carve out a place for themselves in the North American music scene, by collaborating with U.S. stars like Selena Gomez, Halsey, Nicki Minaj and Lil Nas X.

Screengrabs of social media posts from Selena Gomez fans and Blackpink fans regarding their collaboration on the song 'IceCream'

The song Ice Cream generated collective fangirling from Selena Gomez’s fans and Blinks, a.k.a. Blackpink fans. It quickly became one of the most used songs on TikTok in the summer of 2020. (Image credit: @skinnysel/Twitter, @daninataylena/Twitter, @delicatebh/Twitter)

In November 2020, the popular group BTS broke a record by becoming the first ever K-pop group to be nominated for a Grammy Award.

The band’s hit song Dynamite is up for an award in the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance category at this year’s Grammys.

BTS fans, also known as ARMY, will have to wait a little longer to find out if the group will beat out other big name nominees, like Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber.

The awards show was supposed to happen in January, but was postponed until March 14 because of COVID-19.

Years in the making

Talented artists in K-pop have been working to break into the North American market for nearly a decade, and their efforts seem to be paying off.

CBC music journalist Melody Lau said good timing and a change in the way music content is consumed today has helped put groups like BTS and Blackpink in the spotlight.

Online streaming has “broken down a lot of barriers,” especially when it comes to language, Lau said.

“We’ve seen Latin music break through a lot … and K-pop is very similar in that sense.”

A picture of the K-pop group BTS

BTS is the first K-pop group to receive a Grammy nomination. (Image credit: @BTS_Official/Twitter)

Something for everyone

Lau said a few different factors help K-pop appeal to many different age groups:

Going forward, she hopes the success of the K-pop industry “makes room” for Asian-Canadian and Asian-American artists to break through as well.

Check out this week’s episode of Hey Alexia, What’s Trending? to learn more about the K-pop trend, including some key terminology you should know if you’re hoping to dive into the genre.


TOP IMAGE CREDIT: Philip Street/CBC, with files from @bts_jhope/Instagram, @lisa.blackpink/Instagram

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About the Contributor

Alexia Sabau
Alexia Sabau
CBC Kids News Contributor
Alexia Sabau is an inquisitive teen who likes to keep up with the trends. The Grade 12 student is a youth ambassador with a passion for community building and motivation to make a positive impact at local, national, and global levels. She worked as a junior reporter for the Calgary International Children’s Festival and Shaw TV Calgary. Alexia is also a devoted Harry Potter fan who is excited to work her magic on CBC Kids News.

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