On May 27 Billboard and Twitter announced their first ever real-time charts that would track the conversations about songs on the social service. Yet, three months later, only one K-pop act, Girls’ Generation, has earned a traditional Korean-language release hit the chart. That’s despite the genre’s avid fan chatter online with worldwide trending topics on the regular, while its stars are breaking into the Billboard rankings with higher chart performance on the Billboard 200 than any Korean acts before. The reason is not necessarily due to a lack of discussion.
To date, in all, only four K-pop acts in three songs have charted on the weekly Billboard Twitter Top Tracks that ranks the “most shared and/or mentioned songs on Twitter, ranked by the volume of shares over a seven day period.” That list includes:
–PSY: “Hangover” featuring Snoop Dogg spent four weeks on the chart, debuting at No. 43 on the ranking dated June 21, 2014, before jumping No. 1 the following week. The single moved to No. 20 to 42 in its third and fourth week, respectively.
–Girls’ Generation: “Mr.Mr.” hit No. 49 on July 17.
–G-Dragon (of BIGBANG): He is featured on Skrillex‘s “Dirty Vibe” that hit No. 16 on Aug. 2.
–CL (of 2NE1): Also featured on “Dirty Vibe.”
Interestingly, “Hangover” was a buzz track not even released in South Korea and features Snoop Dogg rapping half the song in English. And Skrillex’s “Dirty Vibe” features both G-Dragon singing and rapping in both English and Korean while CL raps almost entirely in English.
As such, Girls’ Generation’s “Mr.Mr.” is the only “traditional” K-pop release in being Korean with English mixed in and was released both in Korea and abroad. So where’s everyone else? The answer might lie in the K-pop players’ social media strategies.
K-Pop on the Charts
Dissecting K-pop’s artists’ accounts, as a solo artist PSY’s @psy_oppa account makes it easy to spot activity about his music. Likewise with Girls’ Generation’s @GirlsGeneration account. But, meanwhile, fellow popular acts like 2NE1 or BIGBANG largely operate individual accounts and do not have group accounts, making them ineligible for their music to be counted on the Billboard Twitter Top Tracks charts. (Skrillex is the main artist attributed to “Dirty Vibe” so featured artists CL, who does not have a Twitter account was carried on vicariously.)
As well, news is often shared through a record label account like such as for SM Entertainment (@SMTOWNGLOBAL shares Girls’ Generation updates as well as news from TVXQ!, SHINee, EXO and more), YG Entertainment (@ygent_official shares news about 2NE1, BIGBANG, Akdong Musician), and Cube Entertainment (@cubeunited shares news about 4Minute, Beast, HyunA). But, again, these would not count for the chart.
There is also the issue of acts having different accounts based on the country in which they’re looking to promote, potentially confusing fans who may want to mention their favorite acts. For example, boy band INFINITE saw their song “Last Romeo” fly in to the Top 10 of Billboard Twitter Top Tracks attributed to their @INFINITE_UM account which is used for their Japanese promotions, but fans will tell you their @Official_IFNT official “K-pop” account.
Even though K-pop acts have a lot of hurdles in charting on the Billboard Twitter ranking, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible as long as an act has a Twitter account. It may just require fans to put in a little extra effort. And if their track record has proven anything, K-pop fans do not mind putting in overtime for their favorite artists.