The Korean Pop industry has really come a long way since its peak in the 1990s and it was hard to imagine just how fast and how big its growth has become. Years ago, we’d only get to see a few boy and girl KPop groups on stage but nowadays, numbered rookie groups seem to debut every month and there is always something new to listen to with the number of singles and albums released every passing day.
And out of all these groups, a few of them are on the longer end of the stick. These are the groups that have a massive fanbase locally and internationally, have the heart of the general population, sell out stadiums around the world, and hits the roof when it comes to chart ranks.
Sure I can list them all right now but the most notable of them all are the groups, BlackPink and BTS.
It would be very hard to imagine for millennials to not know who these KPop groups are. Their songs trends on TikTok, they have millions of followers on group and individual Instagrams, they sell millions of albums worldwide and their tours are always sought-after, stadiums filled to the brim and tickets sold out in a few seconds.
They represent boy and girl KPop groups around the world and it really makes us wonder, which one is the best KPop band?
Well, ladies first! Let’s get to know who are these girl power.
Who runs the world? Girls. Specifically? Maybe BlackPink. I would find it very hard to believe if you’ll tell me that you haven’t heard about these girls. They were a huge topic in the KPop industry even before their debut. The company that manages them, YG Entertainment, has built up enough hype that has everyone looking forward to the new girl group that they were going to come out with. Being a powerhouse that has Big Bang and the former, 2Ne1, they had all eyes and ears.
Quite an introduction but let’s go back to the basics.
BLACKPINK is a South Korean girl group managed by YG Entertainment, which is a well-known agency for being the homes of equally famous groups like BigBang and the former, 2Ne1. There are a total of 4 members in the group, namely, Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa. They officially debuted in August 2016 with the album “Square One” featuring the songs “Boombayah,” their debut song and “Whistle,” a side track. These songs were the girls’ first number ones.
The group’s preparation started as early as 2011, when YG Entertainment revealed that they are planning to debut a girl group in the early half of 2012. Since then, “YG’s new girl group” has had numerous rumors regarding the member line-up and songs. Came 2012, they were no further news about the said girl group and rumors had spread in the grapevine concerning the group’s delayed debut. Nothing has been confirmed.
It wasn’t until May 2016, 4 years later from the original debut year, that YG has confirmed the group, emphasizing that the members were selected through years of stiff competition. The label then clarified that 2 trainees who were introduced to the public as potential members weren’t included in the lineup.
June 29, YG confirmed the group's lineup as 4 members, which was a huge change in their original plan of nine members and revealed the group’s official name, Blackpink.
Their debut took the world by a storm. They were promoted with the release of teasers, advertisement, images and videos. One of their famous one was a dance video released through their official YouTube channel, showcasing the group’s dancing skills and overwhelming charismatic aura.
They officially released their debut single album, Square One, on August 8, 2016, actively promoting the songs “Boombayah” and “Whistle” on South Korea’s series of music shows. With their debut, they were the fastest act to have charted number one and number two on Billboard World Digital Song Sales chart. They were also number one on the categories of weekly, popularity, music video and KPop’s music video charts of China’s biggest music-streaming services, QQ Music.
August 14, 2016 was the airing date of their first music show performance on SBS’s Inkigayo and 13 days later, also gave them their music show win. This win broke the record for the shortest time a girl group has won on music shows. And from then, everything was history and they continued to break off records and top both local and international music charts.
Blackpink’s List of Notable Achievements
The girls have achieved so much just 4 years into their debut that it is unbelievable how big their impact is on the music industry. Listed here are the girls’ notable achievements according to newsopener.com
- Fastest girl group to win on a music show program after debut
- First KPop girl group to chart on Canadian Hot 100
- Most viewed video by a KPop group
- First female KPop artist on a Billboard Cover
- Biggest Music Video debut on Youtube (First with Let’s Kill This Love, 56.7 million in 24 hours then How You Like That, 86.4 million in 24 hours)
- First KPop Girl Group to perform in Coachella
- First KPop Girl Group recognized by RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America)
- First KPop Group with 1 billion views
- 3 Guinness World Records
- Highest Charting Single by a girl group on Digital Song Sales
Now, let’s go to the boy counterpart. Introducing, BTS.
Now, if we talk about worldwide recognition, I think it is only right that we talk about this KPop boy group that has been charming their way into the international music scene. If you mention the word “KPop” at the moment, one of the first things that would surely pop up in the mind is the KPop boy group BTS. They are literally everywhere, it is pretty hard not to know them or even be affected by their influence.
But before their world domination, who are they? What were they doing prior to breaking charts and records?
To start off, BTS or Bangtan Boys is a boy group under the label Big Hit Entertainment, a relatively new music label if you compare it to the others that have been making its mark since the ’90s. It is a seven-member boy group, composed of RM (leader), Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and JungKook.
The group name BTS, stands for the Korean expression Bangtan Sonyeondan which roughly translates to “Bulletproof Boy Scouts.” As said by J-Hope, the name implies that the group wishes to, “to block out stereotypes, criticisms, and expectations that aim at adolescents like bullets." This would later be proven true for the lyrics of their songs often touches on the topics of mental health, youth-age troubles, loss, loving oneself and individualism. These themes are well-embraced by the general population, with teenagers and young adults relating to the lyrics.
In contrary to its girl counterpart that we’ve discussed above, BTS didn’t start off big. First, they came from a newly-formed entertainment label, and prior to their debut, the only exposure and promotion they had were social media websites and YouTube and Soundcloud covers. Furthermore, the label’s original plan for them was not of a traditional idol group but instead, they were supposed to debut as a hip-hop group.
They officially debuted on June 12, 2013 with the album “2 Cool 4 Skool” with its lead single “No More Dream.” It peaked 124 in the Korean charts before ultimately falling off. They were not a hit in 2013, only selling 24,000 copies of their album. Their following single “We are Bulletproof Pt. 2” failed to enter the charts.
Despite that, their charm, charisma, and group dynamics didn’t fail to capture the hearts of their now-fans and after several performances on music shows and variety shows, they received a few New Artists Award by the 2013 year-end shows.
A quick read to their 2014-2015 agenda says that these were the years they had moderate success. Their EP Skool Luv Affair, released in January 2014t topped the Gaon Album Chart and went off to sold 100,000 copies. This also marked BTS’ first appearance on the Billboard’s World Album Charts, peaking at number 3. They also held their fan-meeting with an audience of 3,000 fans in Seoul and have slowly charted the U.S marketplace by conducting a free concert to a limited 200 fans in West Hollywood. It is now safe to say that BTS really did work their way to where they are right now.
Fast forward to 2016, which was their breakthrough year. This was the year where they got their first music show win in SBS’ MTV: The Show, where they have their first 100 million YouTube views, had a tour extension and visited places across Asia, Oceania, North America, and Latin America, topped the Gaon Charts and Billboard World Albums chart and became the first KPop act to remain at the top for several weeks.
Nearing the end of 2016, they received an “all-kill” in Korean music charts with their lead single “Blood, Sweat & Tears,” became the first Korean group to top the Billboard Social 50 chart that month, and received their first “million seller” title with over 1.5 million albums sold.
BTS’ List of Notable Achievements
To religiously list BTS’ achievements would mean endless paragraphs of word vomit. With the amount of achievements they’ve had, a user from aminoapps.com has compiled the most notable ones.
- First Korean album to debut on top of Billboard 200 Album Charts and Billboard Hot 100
- First Korean album to enter the official U.K chart
- Highest Ranking for a Korean Artist on Spotify Global Top 200
- First Korean Boy Group to receive a gold certification by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America)
- First Korean to win an award at the Billboard Music Awards
- First Korean Group to perform at the American Music Awards
- First Korean Group to reach No. 1 on U.S Itunes Top Songs Chart
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. They’ve achieved so much more in a year and those are something that you cannot invalidate. They have totally captured the essence of what it means to be a worldwide star.
The Verdict: BTS vs Blackpink
As a KPop fan since 2009, I’ve seen numerous groups debut, rise, fall, disband, or just disappeared off the music scene. But do you know what is that one thing they all have in common? This is ironic but what they all have is uniqueness.
Let’s be real. Aren’t the group we stan the best for us? It doesn’t matter if that particular group has been on a hiatus, wasn’t as active as before, hasn’t had their first win yet, or is still trying to breakthrough. For us, the fans, aren’t they still the best?
Dubbing someone the best is a subjective matter. Blinks (Blankpink’s official fan club name) would naturally think Blackpink is the best while Army (BTS’ official fan club name) would definitely think their boys are the more than the best in the world. If we put this into a debate, this would be one of those topics that will never seem to end. Mainly because we will always argue in our favor and our personal preference.
We all like different groups because we see something in them that is different from the others, we see that uniqueness. And even if other groups achieve more than our favorites ever has, it doesn’t matter because they don’t have that certain flavor, that certain charm we are looking for.
So really, the final question is, who is the best? Well, all of them.