Only 4 Kpop albums entered the Billboard 200 chart – a summary of the best albums in 2020.
Besides the Billboard Hot 100 chart, the Billboard 200 chart is also the chart that receives a lot of attention from artists, fans, and the public. This is the chart of the most popular albums in the US based on album sales. As long as the album has a good record on this chart, it is also a remarkable recognition, but this also depends on the ability of the album in long term.
Accordingly, Billboard recently announced a series of 2020 summary charts, including the summary of the Billboard 200 chart. Because this is a category considering global artists and also has to rely on ‘long-term’ achievements. So very few Kpop representatives are on that list. In the chart with 200 rankings, only 4 Kpop albums appeared, let’s find out which albums they are.
200: Neo Zone, The 2nd Album – NCT 127
Release date: March 6, 2020
Title track: ‘Kick It’
Not being invested and promoted like SuperM, but NCT 127 is the group that enters this list. According to the introduction, ‘Neo Zone’ is a multi-genre album featuring hip hop, R&B, funk, and electro-pop music to create an atmosphere that is both enchanting and relaxing.
This is one of the albums that received many positive reviews from music critics. Critic site IZM Korea said that ‘the success of this album is not due to luck’. The Rolling Stone site praises ‘this album has had both unique and seamless genre experiences.’
The album ‘Neo Zone’ had a debut at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 chart with 87,000 album units (83,000 copies) and was the first album of NCT 127 to enter the top 5 of this chart. This is also NCT 127’s album that has the longest time on the Billboard 200 chart. Because of these commendable achievements, ‘Neo Zone’ is the last Kpop representative of Billboard 200’s 2020 summary chart at No. 200.
189: The Album – BLACKPINK
Release date: October 2, 2020
Title track: ‘Lovesick Girls’
BLACKPINK is the representative who is expected to be on the Billboard 200 2020 summary chart, and in the end, they are the only Kpop girl group to appear at No. 189. This is the first full album in BLACKPINK’s career after 4 years, so it is highly anticipated. The album leads listeners to explore new sides of the group through themes of love and the complexity of maturing. In terms of music, the album is diverse with genres such as pop, R&B, hip hop, EDM, and trap.
This album also received a lot of positive praise from music critics. The Guardian page rated this as a well-produced album: ‘Pop songs influenced by rap leave a Western mark’. Meanwhile, Rolling Stone praises ‘these 8 songs are extremely delicate, confident, and wild from the biggest girl group in the world right now’.
The Album ‘had their debut at No.2 on the Billboard 200 chart with 110,000 album units (including 81,000 copies) – the highest-ranking album on this chart by a Kpop girl group, and the highest-ranking of the world female group’s album within 12 years. BLACKPINK becomes the second Kpop artist to spend weeks in the top 10 of the Billboard 200.
156: Love Yourself: Answer – BTS
Release Date: August 24, 2018
Title track: ‘IDOL’
This is a big surprise when BTS’s 2-year-old album is still on the 2020 summary chart of the Billboard 200 chart. The album includes 25 songs (26 for the digital version) with ‘IDOL’ as the title track. Some of the content the album mentions include empowerment, youth, love, and reflection on life. The album includes a variety of pop genres with vibrant colors, confidence, and enthusiasm.
Rolling Stone once said that BTS ‘showed sincerity and passion in the melody and lyrics’ and ‘created a strong and shocking effect in the gloomy atmosphere of the American music market at that time.’ Billboard once again complimented, ‘It is undeniable that this is a great work from BTS that very few other male artists or groups can do the same.’
Love Yourself: Answer debuted at No.1 on the Billboard 200 and became the 2nd album of BTS to reach the top of this chart. During that first week, the album recorded sales of 185,000 album units (141,000 copies). This is also the first Korean album to receive the RIAA album certification. The fact that this album has been released for 2 years but is still on the chart of year 200 has proven its ‘long-term’ charm. In fact, ‘Love Yourself: Answer’ has a very long time on the Billboard 200 chart.
20: Map of the Soul: 7 – BTS
Release date: February 21, 2020
Title track: ‘ON’
As the next chapter of ‘Map of the Soul: PERSONA’, ‘Map of the Soul: 7’ is described as ‘deeply personal’ by BTS. Throughout the album are the group’s stories and emotions in their journey of maturity in the 7 years since their debut (this is also one of the reasons why the album is titled ‘7’). The album still pursues diverse genres such as pop, R&B, hip hop, and contemporary urban color influences such as rock, trap , and EDM. Topics reflected by the album can be mentioned as self-esteem, inner feelings, and love, and self-acceptance.
This is one of the Kpop albums that received the most acclaim from music critics in 2020. The Metacritic site showed that the album received an average score of 82/100 and rated it as ‘receiving global recognition’. Critic site IZM Korea commented: ‘It is like a story summarizing the history of a Kpop boy group while also digging deeper on a personal level to relive BTS’s past.’ Meanwhile, Rolling Stone has called ‘Map of the Soul: 7’ as ‘BTS’s most impressive album ever, demonstrating the skillful coordination of different pop styles’.
‘Map of the Soul: 7’ debuted at No.1 on the Billboard 200 chart with 422,000 album units (with 347,000 copies). This is the album with the highest first-week sales of any BTS album in the US so far. The album also recorded the group’s 4th No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. In November 2020, this album was certified RIAA platinum for its achievement of selling 1 million album units.
Besides, the album ‘Map of the Soul: 7’ has also been on the list of the best albums of 2020 by Billboard, Rolling Stone, PopCrush, Consequence of Sound, and Uproxx. In particular, BTS is also the only Kpop artist to enter the Billboard 200 Artists summary chart of 200.