2018 was a monumental year for K-Pop, and the trend is on a further rise as the year is slowly coming to an end. Groups such as BTS, EXO, Twice, and Wanna One are expected to make outstanding comebacks by the end of November, just before the annual Korean music awards including MNET Asian Music Awards (MAMA) and Melon Music Awards (MMA) are to be announced.
“It has been an extremely important year for K-Pop because the genre has become very globalized and generally more accepted in terms of its success internationally,” says Joyce Kim (12). “On top of that, the end of the year is always special for K-Pop artists and fans because it’s a time when everyone can reflect on all the artists’ accolades and achievements.”
BTS (also known as Bangtan Sonyeondan or Beyond The Stage), made two big-time comebacks in 2018, in which they released both a full-length album and a repackaged album, Love Yourself: Tear and Love Yourself: Answer, respectively. Although currently there is no news of a third album release, BTS is continuing to consistently release new content. BTS’s leader, RM, released a mix-tape on Oct. 23, titled mono. , and it has charted #1 in 86 countries on iTunes, officially making it the Korean album with the most #1s on iTunes. It also debuted #26 on the Billboard 200, marking the highest ever achieved by a Korean solo artist. In addition, on Nov. 15, BTS is also releasing a movie titled Burn The Stage, which documents their journey during their WINGS world tour in 2017.
“I think one of the factors that makes BTS so successful is their ability to be consistent in releasing new content, whether that be in or out of the standard K-Pop comeback format,” says Hannah Jung (10), a BTS fan. “Since they have been so active throughout the entire year, it has helped them tremendously with staying relevant and gaining new fans at all times.”
The global boy group EXO is also making a comeback to the K-Pop stage with their new album, Don’t Mess Up My Tempo. This will be their first comeback after a year and two months. The album had over 1 million pre-sales, breaking their previous record of 800,000 for EXO’s previous studio album, The War. The album was released on Nov. 2, with the title track, “Tempo.” Over the weekend the record was released, the track was #1 on Melon Music, #3 on Naver Music Charts, and #4 on Genie Charts. They are actively promoting their comeback on music shows such as Inkigayo and Music Bank.
“Personally, Don’t Mess Up My Tempo is my favorite album of EXO thus far. With every comeback, they always experiment with different concepts and themes, and they are able to make each one fit them perfectly,” says Meehee Park (11), a long-time EXO fan. “Compared to their previous work, the title track has much more of a R&B inspired style and they even included acapella parts, which I think is really unique.”
Additionally, the largest international boy groups are not the only ones who are making their mark in K-Pop once again. JYP’s current biggest group, Twice is also releasing their sixth mini album, Yes or Yes on Nov. 5. This will be their second Korean comeback this year, succeeding their fifth mini album What is Love?.
The girl group BLACKPINK also has had an extremely successful year, but one member is about to make a surprise comeback in November. Group member Jennie is expected to make a solo debut on Nov. 12, making this the first solo debut of the group.
One of the biggest boy groups in Korea currently is also making their comeback, and perhaps their last. Wanna One debuted in 2017 from the show Produce 101, but they are expected to disband in December 2018, as they are a project group and the individual members are tied to other entertainment labels. On Nov. 19, the group is making their final comeback.
[Awards Season: Genie Music Awards on November 6, Melon Music Awards on December 1, MAMA on December 10] However, entertainment labels SMTOWN and YG Entertainment have refused to send their artists to attend MAMA this year, as the two labels have had conflicts with Mnet for years. The fans are eager to see how this controversy will affect Mnet’s viewer ratings, and overall quality of the award show.
“MAMA is one of the biggest K-Pop award shows being that it is hosted in both China and Korea, but SM and YG have the majority of the biggest K-Pop groups under their labels, so not having many of these artists attend will be odd,” continues Joyce Kim (12). “Nevertheless, I will still be watching and it will be interesting to see how this will affect MAMA and Mnet in general.”
With all such new releases by K-Pop artists, fans are eager to see their future success. As the Korean music awards are only a few months away, the public’s eye will soon head to see where all the groups will stand.