2NE1's 'Crush' LP broke records on the Billboard 200, but a slew of upcoming K-pop releases have a potential to also sell big
Last month, 2NE1 set the new record for highest-charting and best-selling K-pop album with their sophomore full-length "Crush." Landing at No. 61, the girl group could claim a major chart victory, despite no U.S. promo. But the girls shouldn't sit too comfortably as a handful of K-pop acts have upcoming releases that could possibly snatch the title away.
Check out six forthcoming K-pop releases that could sell bigtime stateside and check Billboard's K-Town column for chart news on the Billboard 200, K-Pop Hot 100 and beyond.
-- PSY: The K-pop king followed up "Gangnam Style" with the single "Gentleman," a Top 5 Billboard Hot 100 hit but wasn't tied to an accompanying album. While "Gentleman" didn't match the massive success of his breakout hit, its video was still YouTube's most viewed clip last year. Plus, "Gangnam Style, "Gentleman" and PSY's 2010 Korean single "Right Now" -- that did not crossover -- all made the Top 10 biggest-selling K-pop songs of 2013.
In December, the rapper confirmed he finished recording his new LP that boasts rumored collaborators like Justin Bieber, Snoop Dogg and Steven Tyler. PSY's Korean record label, YG Entertainment, reported he will return in April.
-- EXO: The 12-member outfit is still relatively new to the scene, but last year earned accomplishments stateside that could see them crashing the charts. Their breakout hit "Growl" -- Billboard's No. 1 K-pop song of 2013 -- was the fifth best-selling K-pop track in America while their single "Wolf" was the ninth. Impressively, "Growl" and "Wolf" were the third and fifth most-viewed K-pop videos of the year, respectively, putting them in the company of PSY (No. 1), Girls' Generation (No. 2) and 2NE1 (No. 4).
The boys drop a new EP on April 15, led by the lead single "Overdose." The track is reported to be a mix of hip-hop, R&B and dance, crafted by Western hitmakers The Underdogs (Chris Brown, Justin Timberlake, Beyonce) and K-pop songwriter Kenzie (SHINee's "Why So Serious?", Girls' Generation's "Oh!"). Could their swelling interest parlay into a chart victory?
-- BIGBANG: The quintet has already made a bow on the Billboard 200 -- their "Alive" EP hit No. 150 in 2012 -- and are said to follow up with a new full-length album this summer. Despite not releasing new material in 2013, BIGBANG's popularity was still felt stateside with their 2012 single "Fantastic Baby" winding up as the third best-selling K-pop track of the year.
Not much is known about the record other than the group's leader G-Dragon has already begun crafting productions for the disc. He co-wrote on "Fantastic Baby" and has produced and written several records for the outfit.
-- Girls' Generation: The ninesome hit No. 110 on the Billboard 200 with their most recent EP, "Mr. Mr.," the same week 2NE1 charted at No. 61. With the set's title track already the most-viewed K-pop video of the year -- with more than 17 million views to date -- there's no lack of interest in the girls whose 2013 single "I Got a Boy" was the year's second most-viewed K-pop video and fourth best-selling song.
While promoting their new EP in Korea, the girls teased that there were plans to release a full-length before the year ended. The "Mr. Mr." EP was plagued by an early iTunes leak and with a smoother release, the girls could certainly make an even bigger dent on the charts.
-- Crayon Pop: The quirky quintet already caught Lady Gaga's eyes and will support her during select summer tour dates.
While Crayon Pop hasn't announced plans for a new album (yet), the girls only have seven songs to their name. While it's enough to open a concert, an album full of shiny new songs would be ideal to promote while meeting new audiences for two months. Their latest single "Uh-ee" has earned 2.5 million YouTube views in a week's time, could the fascination parlay into American interest? Their "The Streets Go Disco" EP, featuring their viral hit "Bar Bar Bar," could always catch on too.
While no date has been confirmed, the "Jeon Won Diary" group are expected to make a U.S. advancement with an English release. The group recently replaced U.S.-bred and English-speaking T-ara member Dani with previous Korean member Areum.
Of course -- as PSY taught us all -- it could be anyone's game when it comes to K-pop acts breaking out on the charts. Stay tuned to Billboard's K-Town for all the important chart updates.