BTS’s worldwide success paved the way for other K-pop groups to follow suit, but also set incredibly high standards.
So-called fourth-generation acts, or acts that debuted after BTS in 2013 or have at least three years of industry experience, like Ateez, The Boyz, and Stray Kids, are making a concerted effort to be successful at abroad.
Ateez, The Boyz and Stray Kids put on powerful performances in Mnet’s “Kingdom: Legendary War” audition program, with the goal of having compelling videos to post online. Such content can help attract new fans from all over the world and generate more album sales.
But this is not the first time that such acts have attracted a global audience. From day one, these groups have been targeting K-pop fans by giving concerts both at home and abroad.
But since the pandemic, fourth-generation acts have had to take other avenues to gain global attention.
While participating in more projects in Korea, they are producing more online content to entertain fans overseas. Considering that the three to four year mark is important for K-pop groups who typically sign a standard seven-year management contract, this marks when they are evaluated by fans or industry experts to determine. if they have the potential to go further. .
Cre.ker Entertainment’s Boyz who debuted in 2017, as well as JYP’s Stray Kids and KQ’s Ateez who debuted the following year, are often mentioned as representative groups of the fourth generation of K- acts. pop. The three also earned the collective nickname of “zzz”, thanks to the z sound in each of their group names. The synergy of the groups increases even more as all three participate in the same TV show, “Kingdom: Legendary War” by Mnet.
The current weekly show began in April after completing the “Road to Kingdom” prequel, the winners of which earned a spot in the “Kingdom: Legendary War” contest. The Boyz, who won “Road to Kingdom”, is competing against many other idol groups who are all trying to find their way onto the world stage.
While Cube Entertainment’s BTOB, which debuted 10 years ago, puts more emphasis on their vocals, YG Entertainment’s iKon, with seven years in the industry, takes a more freestyle approach and SF9 from FNC, who has six years of experience, likes to show off her looks. .
What makes these three groups even more popular is their ability to produce content for fans themselves. A member is appointed with the task of coordinating how others will show their personality and appeal to as many fans as possible with their different characteristics.
Three of the eight members of Stray Kids work as producers to lead the group in certain directions and increase their audience.
Ateez does the same with its frontman Hongjoong, who originally dreamed of becoming a producer. The group caught the attention of industry experts with their thematic performances, including one inspired by the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film series.
The Boyz took inspiration from the American television series “Game of Thrones” and focused some of their performances on the series. Sales of the group’s regular debut album “Reveal”, released in February last year, reached some 80,000 copies, but the number quadrupled to 360,000 copies when their fifth EP “Chase was released. “in September after finishing his run on” Road to Kingdom “.
Ateez has sold 390,000 copies of his sixth EP “Zero: Fever” released in March. It also saw the strongest growth in the number of new members joining its online community in April this year, according to K-Pop Radar, a service that collects data to record the movements of K-pop fans.
According to pop culture critic Kim Young-dae, all three groups focus their performances on demonstrating the powerful movements of their members, telling strong stories and making sure that each performance has a different concept.
“Such a trend is seen in the K-pop industry as artists move to North and South American markets,” Kim said. It is often said that the first and second generation bands worked in Asia and interacted with fans from neighboring countries, while the third generation strove to appeal to fans from more diverse countries around the world and tailor their style to appeal. fans from these countries.
“It may still be too early to make any connections to idol groups under the title of fourth generation and the momentum they see, as the distinction between one generation and another is only evident afterwards. awhile, ”Kim Yoon-ha said. , another critic of pop culture.
“However, it is evident that [these three groups] are the ones that show what’s trending and popular in the scene.
Kim also pointed out that what excites fans all over the world are the videos, as such content gives fans a chance to learn more about emerging groups in Korea.
“From a video of them on stage or [just a video featuring the members] has the greatest power to get the word out about the act, those who debuted more recently have gone to great lengths to make their performances as good as possible, ”Kim said. The reviewer also pointed out that this is why both TV stations and K-pop agencies continue to participate in audition programs, regardless of the actual audience rating. The “Kingdom” has a audience rate of less than one percent.
The so-called inter-generation acts that weren’t very successful due to the quality of the acts that came before them, as well as the continued debut of new bands, are now being re-evaluated on their potential.
“When a band books more concerts in foreign countries, they tend to be less well known to the general public in Korea,” said one of the executives affiliated with an entertainment agency. “But with votes for groups [on some programs] Coming from all over the world, many seem surprised when they learn how big the fan base is around the world. ”
“When you look at the number of Korean responses posted to some posts online, you can see that the number of those comments has increased dramatically,” said another official from another agency. “You can really feel how the fan base has grown not only from what goes viral on social media, but also from the mention of any community the group is affiliated with.”
BY MIN KYUNG-WON [[email protected]]