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NPR Arts & Life

K-Pop, Korean Popular Music, Hits No. 1 In The U.S.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

K-pop is having a moment - a big one. Korean popular music has been creeping up American charts for the past decade and now has reached a new milestone. Billboard Magazine has announced that K-pop boy band BTS will have the No. 1 album in the United States this week.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SO WHAT")

BTS: (Singing in Korean).

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Anastasia Tsioulcas writes for NPR Music, and she's been waiting a long time for the United States to catch on to the phenomenon that is BTS.

ANASTASIA TSIOULCAS, BYLINE: BTS stands for a number of names - Bangtan Boys or Bulletproof Boy Scouts or the more English-friendly Beyond The Scene.

INSKEEP: To give you a sense of their influence, whatever the initials may stand for, she reports that last year, BTS were the world's most-tweeted-about celebrities.

TSIOULCAS: Their tweets were liked or retweeted half a billion times, and that is reportedly more than those of either President Trump or Justin Bieber or even Trump and Bieber combined.

MARTIN: Wow. OK, so just a few weeks ago, BTS blew the roof off the Billboard Music Awards with a dazzling performance of their new single, "Fake Love."

(SOUNDBITE OF 2018 BILLBOARD MUSIC AWARDS TELECAST)

BTS: (Singing in Korean) Love you so bad...

MARTIN: Imagine seven young men in a tightly choreographed swirl, each taking turns to pose and preen for the crowd. People Magazine wrote, BTS brings screaming fans to tears.

INSKEEP: (Laughter) All right. Now, I know what you're thinking because you're such a culturally aware person. You're thinking, hey, wasn't there some other big Korean pop song a few years ago?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GANGNAM STYLE")

PSY: Oppan Gangnam style

MARTIN: Yeah, that's the artist Psy. He took the hit "Gangnam Style" to No. 2 on the singles chart. But he never charted an entire album. Again, Anastasia Tsioulcas.

TSIOULCAS: "Gangnam Style" was a novelty hit, but I think it really opened the doors for BTS and K-pop in the U.S.

INSKEEP: And now that the doors are being passed through, could other K-pop bands be far behind? It's been a while since the British Invasion. Maybe it's time for a Korean one. The new album from BTS is called "Love Yourself: Tear."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FAKE LOVE")

BTS: (Singing) I'm so sick of this fake love, fake love, fake love. I'm so sorry but it's fake love, fake love, fake love. I want to be... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.