articleK-Pop

Views, albums sales, and streaming don’t help Kpop idols become popular, said music critic

Kpop fans often work hard to boost the popularity of their idols, but the methods they do it don’t necessity work

To support their favorite groups, Kpop fans often bulk buy physical albums or stream official MVs to increase views. 

Many of these fans believe that the higher the views and album sales, the more popular their Kpop idols are. However, music critic Jung Jae Min pointed out that popularity can be caused by a completely different element. 

It’s unfair to evaluate popularity based on just album sales, the critic said, explaining: “Let’s say an idol has 10 fans. Each of these 10 fans then purchase 100 copies. There are 1,000 copies sold, which is impressive, but it isn’t equivalent to having 1,000 fans.”

According to Jung Jae Min, the term “public appeal” seems to have lost its value. The music critic then takes BTS as an example, saying: “Contrary to popular belief, BTS doesn’t have much public appeal in Korea. People know of them from news that they topped the Billboard charts and other achievements, and most of them know of songs like “Butter”. However, they don’t really listen to the song, and instead just saw news about it.

Therefore, Jung Jae Min concluded that physical album sales and view counts are not crucial elements that help maintain fame for Kpop idols. 

The music critic shared that the media and SNS are growing stranger than ever before. Therefore, social network sites can recommend contents and information specifically catered to each individual’s taste. As such, a Kpop idol can only be successful if they went viral across various platforms. 

Jung Jae Min explained that nowadays, a song is considered a hit when it becomes viral among the public. The influence is stronger if some scenes from the MVs are widely used as Internet memes. 

aespa’s mega-hit “Next Level” is a prime example. “Next Level” gained popularity thanks to its unique lyrics, catchy chorus, and simple yet memorable key choreography. In particular, the song’s iconic hand dance became viral across different SNS platforms.

Jung Jae Min added, “Have you checked out the strange lyrics of Next Level? It went viral on social media. The choreography of Next Level was even used as an illustration during the presidential election in March. When a song is used as a meme, it means that the majority of the public is recognizing its popularity.

Jung Jae Min also pointed out the downside of fans bulk buying idols’ albums. In December 2021, a photo of NCT‘s unboxed albums being thrown on the side of the road drew attention online, causing outrage. NCT fans were criticized for littering, which is banned in Korea.

Jung Jae Min worries that if entertainment companies keep encouraging fans to buy a lot of albums, they will turn a blind eye on the importance of protecting the environment.

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