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How Did Blackpink Break into the U.S. Market?

Blackpink debuted in 2016 and it took them just 4 years to become one of the biggest international girl pop groups in the world. Jennie, Jisoo, Rosé and Lisa broke records and forged new grounds. They were the first K-pop girl group to perform at the Coachella.

The quartet were the first to reach 1 billion YouTube views and is the most subscribed music group on the platform. They are also the first girl group from any country to be featured on Forbes Asia’s Under 30 list. Notwithstanding these breakthroughs, Blackpink broke one major record - and that’s their successful foray into the U.S. market. The American music industry is the toughest to break into. So, how did Blackpink manage to make it into the U.S. market?

What is Blackpink’s Appeal to American Fans?

Blackpink’s attitude makes them stand apart from other female musicians. They aren’t meek and definitely not lamenting for lost love. They are also not yearning for any imaginary perfect lover. Their song “Kill This Love” for example, know that romance is toxic and bids it farewell.

The group’s songs are also catchy and the abundant English lyrics peppered throughout their songs allow non-Korean listeners to sing along. Their choruses to songs such as “Kill This Love” and “How You Like That” don’t have many words in them but come with hooks designed to reach global audiences.

The group is also aware of the power of fashion in music. Their natural understanding of style has made them hot property. The girls are now a FROW fixture at Fashion Week. In 2019, Jisoo went to London for Burberry while Rosé wowed fans at Saint Laurent. And Jennie is a brand ambassador for Chanel.

Can Blackpink Ever Win a Grammy?

Despite Blackpink’s success, the quartet has not received any Grammy nomination. Jung Min Jae, a Korean music critic feels the group needs an even bigger hit than “Ice Cream” to get the attention of the Recording Academy, which oversees the Grammy Awards.

“Ice Cream”, which featured pop star Selena Gomez debuted at number thirteen on the Billboard Hot 100 chart but fell to number 49 in the following week. In contrast, BTS’ “Dynamite” topped the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed in that position for three weeks. The performance of “Ice Cream” implied that it isn’t widely appreciated by the American general public.

K-pop's Billboard columnist Jeff Benjamin believes that Blackpink could build their credibility if they can participate more in the songwriting and producing process since the Grammys are about honouring excellence in popular music.

Since 2012, the Grammy Awards have included the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance category. So far, all the winners are American performers, mostly dominated by males. BTS was nominated twice in this category in 2021 and 2022 for their performance of “Dynamite” and “Butter” respectively. To get nominated for the Grammy, Blackpink will most likely be noticed for their performance in the duo/group category.

Whether Blackpink wins the Grammy or not, they have already broken the biggest barrier by breaking into the U.S. market and becoming an international sensation.

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Sep 14, 2022

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