Huh Gak, the roly-poly, ballad-singing star of the second season of “Superstar K,” the Korean version of “American Idol,” has finally done it. The title song off Hu Gak’s first EP, “Hello,” has topped the Billboard K-Pop Hot 100 for the first week of October, ruining, in the process, Davichi’s aspirations of notching a fourth consecutive No. 1. The Korean music industry is under the common belief that reality singing competition stars have a musical shelf life of about 12 months before they fall into obscurity, however, this young man has just begun fulfilling his potential a full year after he first won “Superstar K.” With his chart performance this week, Huh Gak has proven he’s here to stay.
GO TO THE BILLBOARD K-POP HOT 100
This week’s K-Pop chart news will introduce the K-pop stars who are receiving raves in Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and other parts of Asia and helping to facilitate the spread of K-Pop outside of its home in South Korea.
Taiwan: Super Junior
Super Junior enjoys unrivaled popularity on the island of Taiwan. The title song from this boy band’s fourth album named, “Bona Mana”, achieved an astonishing record of 63 straight weeks at No. 1 on one of Taiwan’s leading music sales websites. Junior’s song spent an amazing 15 months at the top of Taiwan’s music charts. The only reason why “Bona Mana” didn’t spend more time at the top is because of the release of another Super Junior song, “Mr. Simple,” which pushed “Bona Mana” down to No. 2. “Mr. Simple” has been enjoying the distinction of being the most popular song in Taiwan for the last six weeks now. Some Taiwanese music experts expect this new track’s reign to surpass even the record made by Super Junior’s “Bona Mana.” Super Junior’s “Mr. Simple” has also attained several high rankings on the Billboard K-Pop Hot 100 since the charts inception in late August 2011 and is ranked No. 40 for the first week of October. Super Junior’s new single “Ah-Cha” is currently No. 19 on the chart and is predicted to rise in future weeks. The recipe behind Super Junior’s Asia-wide success is said to be their pretty boy good looks, their flashy but precise group dance choreography, the addicting up-tempo beats of their songs and their seasoned vocal abilities.
Once the attention-loving newcomer in the Korean music scene, Kara has matured into one of the representative faces of K-Pop across Asia. The five members (Gyuri, Hara, Nicole, Jiyoung and Seungyeon) are known for their extremely cute and feminine appearances and their jubilant, energy-filled dance tunes. Kara was nearly disbanded earlier this year but has rebounded better than ever with their new songs, “Step,” “Jumping” and “Jet Coast Love,” that have been sweeping the top spots on ring-tone and music video charts on several Japanese music websites. “Step” is also No. 4 on this week’s Billboard K-Pop Hot 100 chart demonstrating Kara’s broad appeal across Asia.
Japan: Girls’ Generation
Kara’s blazing effort spreading K-Pop into Japan was followed up by an equally popular and adorable nine-member Korean girl group, Girls Generation. They first leaped to the forefront of Korean music in 2009 with the song “Tell Me Your Wish.” The girls began their activities in Japan with the hit song, “Genie,” which was met with spectacular popularity from Japanese young men and women alike. We’re going out on a limb here, but GG’s popularity in Japan can probably be attributed to their hotness. Other hit songs that have taken high positions on Billboard Japan’s Hot 100 singles chart are “Gee” and “Mr. Taxi.” Girls Generation is in the midst of preparing its third full album and will release the title track, “The Boys,” in English and Korean globally on Oct. 4.
T-ara is K-Pop’s newcomer in the Japanese music market, however, it would be a mistake to overlook these seven young ladies. T-ara released its first Japanese single, “Bopeep Bopeep” on September 28 and sold over 20,000 copies upon its release making T-ara the first ever K-Pop girl group to secure the No. 1 position on Japan’s Oricon daily singles music chart. The seven girls of T-ara are spot-on examples of the adorable cute, girl-next-door image that is integral to being a K-Pop girl group star. T-ara’s sudden ascent to stardom in Japan is another example of how the K-Pop phenomenon in Japan and the rest of Asia is here to stay. T-ara’s song, “Roly-Poly” is currently ranked No. 16 on the Billboard K-Pop Hot 100.
Hong Kong & Singapore: 2PM and 2AM
Hong Kong and Singapore are also becoming hot spots for K-Pop music, especially for artists 2PM, 2AM and G.NA. Five member boy band 2PM is attaining top spots on several of the local Hong Kong music charts with its second regular album, “Hands Up.” 2PM is at its best while performing in front of crowds and the dance repertoires of its members have dazzled many a concert crowd in Hong Kong. Managed by the same Korean company as 2PM, the four-member boy band 2AM is causing waves in the Singaporean music market. 2AM released its first regular album titled, “Saint O’clock” last December, and it spent some time as the No. 1 album on various Singapore weekly music sales charts. The secret to 2AM’s success abroad is their convincing live performances of the group’s soulful, R&B love ballads.