What will it take for a group like 2NE1 or Girls’ Generation to break big in the States?
In the past five years, South Korea has looked to its girl groups to be the ones to break into America’s pop scene. Barring PSY‘s unexpected breakthrough with “Gangnam Style” — which many fans still don’t deem a “K-pop” breakthrough — a Korean group still hasn’t penetrated the scene in a meaningful way, despite fan bases that rival (and at times proven to be stronger than) One Direction, Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga. Will a K-pop girl group ever become a U.S. phenomenon?
But taking a deeper look at the unique case of 2NE1 — a four-member Korean girl group who by no means have “made it” in the U.S. but have a strong shot at doing so — gives hope to how a girl group could ultimately take over America.
Like their rivals, 2NE1 slowly but surely grew an international audience, and when it came time to visit America, the group went about it in a highly calculated way. Rather than hit the ground running with an English-language single, 2NE1 brought their Korean hits to U.S. grounds on their 2012 New Evolution Global Tour, taking time to giving in-depth interviews to an array of media outlets, including MTV, Pitchfork, The Wall Street Journal and Billboard. Each opportunity showcased CL, Minzy, Dara and Bom in their signature looks, talking about what made them unique instead of how they could ease into the U.S. landscape. Prime opportunities like a synch in a Microsoft commercial and a cameo in The Bachelor further put 2NE1 — and not an Americanized version of 2NE1, but the badass female quartet that wowed millions already — in reach for Western audiences.
Last March, 2NE1’s Crush album debuted at No. 61 on the Billboard 200, marking the highest-charting Korean album in America ever. The album moved 5,000 copies in the week ending March 2, 2014, according to Nielsen Music — not a huge number, but enough to mark the biggest first week sales for a K-pop album, and in only four days of sales instead of a full week (the album’s sales stand at 10,000 copies sold, according to Nielsen Music).
-Omitted Parts not Related to 2NE1/YG-