Following last year, the aftermath of the novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19) continued this year, but the domestic popular music industry was looking for a way out. Corona 19 could not stop BTS’s ‘Flower in Love’, and they have taken over the US, the home of pop. 4th generation idols also followed BTS’s footsteps and excelled in the global market. K-pop album sales reached an all-time high, and the ‘on-tact’ culture that opened last year has expanded to new businesses such as Metaverse and NFT (non-fungible tokens).
BTS again ‘career high’
This year too, BTS set a new record. Last November, they became the first Asian singers to win the ‘American Music Awards’ (AMA), the top three popular music awards in the United States, in the ‘Artist of the Year’ category, as well as ‘Favorite Pop Duo or Group’ and ‘ He also won three trophies for his Favorite Pop Song. Considering the performances of BTS this year, such a year-end ‘Nangbo’ was predicted early. With their song ‘Butter’ released in May, they took the top spot for 10 weeks on the Billboard Singles Chart ‘Hot 100’, a measure of the popularity of the American pop music market. ‘Permission To Dance’ and ‘My Universe’ in collaboration with the band Coldplay also climbed to the top. The number 1 on the Hot 100 that they achieved this year is 12 weeks in total.
4th generation idols make a big hit
It was also a year of dazzling performances by 4th generation idols. Representatives include SPA, N Hyphen, Tomorrow X Together, Stray Kids, ATEEZ, The Boyz, StayC, and ITZY. At the end of this year, even prominent groups such as Ive and Billy debuted, and the competition for 4th generation idols has become even hotter. They entered the global market established by senior idol groups and achieved results. Espa’s first mini-album ‘Savage’ entered the ‘Billboard 200’ chart at No. 20 for the first time, breaking the record for the first K-pop girl group album. It is recording consecutive chart-ins. In addition, N-Hyphen set a record for the first time to enter the ‘Billboard 200’ at #18 after about half a year since their debut. Tomorrow x Together achieved a feat of charting in the top 5 of the ‘Billboard 200’ with their 2nd full-length album. Itzy’s 1st full-length album ‘CRAZY IN LOVE’ also succeeded in entering #11 on the ‘Billboard 200’.
◆Girl group, running backwards and disbanding
In the first half of the year, the ‘reverse run’ of unknown girl groups stood out. Brave Girls’ ‘Rollin’ succeeded in a reverse run after 4 years of release as a video of her appearance on Defense TV’s ‘Comfort Train’ went viral on YouTube. The song swept the top of various music charts, and the Brave Girls got a wave of love calls from the entertainment and advertising industries, clearing the sorrow of being unknown. LABOUM also drew attention with the reverse run of ‘Imagination Plus’, which was covered by MSG Wannabe in MBC’s ‘What do you do when you play?’ LABOUM, who was on the verge of disbanding after a long period of obscurity, was revived and released a new album in November. On the other hand, there are many girl groups that have reached an end to their activities. Various discussions took place over IZone, which was formed as ‘Produce 48’, such as extending their activities and forming a unit, but in the end, they disbanded as scheduled. The news of GFRIEND’s sudden breakup, heard in May, shocked K-pop fans at home and abroad. Soon after, Lovelyz, who had a hiatus for a year and two months, also disbanded upon the expiration of their exclusive contract, causing disappointment to the fans.
◆Covid-19 retaliatory consumption… record sales record
Thanks to the worldwide popularity of K-pop, album exports also broke new records. Most of the popular K-pop groups set new album sales records, with NCT 127 recording double million sellers, and SEVENTEEN selling over 1 million copies of both albums released this year. According to the import and export trade statistics of the Korea Customs Service, the cumulative record exports from January to November of this year amounted to $24.23 million, exceeding the $200 million mark for the first time in history. Excluding the December performance, it is already a figure far exceeding the annual record export of $136,21,000 last year. Cumulative domestic album sales from January to November of this year (based on the top 400) are about 55 million copies, and it is expected to add up to about 60 million copies by the end of the year. Compared to last year’s annual sales of about 42 million, this is a 42.9% increase. Since last year, most concerts have been canceled due to COVID-19, and it is analyzed that album sales have risen sharply due to consumption in retaliation.
Offline performance resumed after 2 years
K-pop stars who suffered from restrictions in their activities as many countries switched to the quarantine system with ‘With Corona’ quickly conducted face-to-face concerts. BTS also held a face-to-face concert for the first time in two years over four days in late November and early December, gathering a total of 214,000 spectators. NCT127, Twice, Nu’est, The Boyz, WINNER’s Song Minho and Kang Seungyoon, Kim Junsu, ONF, and Epik High also met with fans at the concert hall. However, the culture of the concert hall is very different from before Corona 19. Instead of shouts, slogans, and choruses, the sound of applause and clappers filled the venue, and there was a ‘silent dance’ by waving light sticks, or a true scene of communication by writing messages in a sketchbook prepared by the organizers. However, the overall performance market suffered a downturn this year as well. The situation in the indie industry, which relies on concerts for most of its income, has gotten worse. Relevant groups have raised their voices, saying that government policies related to the restoration of daily life are being applied differentially to the popular music industry.
The music industry, which had been stagnant due to Corona 19, breathed with fans through online performances without spectators, and further moved to the metaverse, where there are no restrictions of time and space. Blackpink and Twice presented their avatars in ‘ZEPETO’ operated by Naver Jet, and fans freely communicated with them while traversing the virtual space. In particular, Espa imprinted the concept of the metaverse to the public by working based on the worldview of meeting one’s other self, the avatar, and experiencing a new world. Large agencies paid attention to NFTs. Since the NFT sound source has a unique identification value through blockchain technology, it has the meaning of ‘the only sound source in the world’. The same day, Seven, and Palo Alto also released new songs using the NFT method, while Brave Girls and Ace released limited edition goods through NFT. Entertainment companies such as Hive, SM, and JYP are also planning to sell NFT-related goods and contents as digital assets, announcing their entry into the NFT market one after another.
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