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OP-ED, Special Features, Original Features

[OP-ED] Are Lesser-Known Western Celebrities Using K-Pop To Advance Their Own Careers?

By Patrick_Magee   Monday, April 10, 2017   122,766   2,915   1



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Recently, you might have noticed a lot of K-pop stars are getting name-dropped by western talents. From Wale and Kehlani to child actress Kylie Rogers, it seems that the Korean wave is once again catching the attention of stars out west. Big names like BTS are on the tip of everyone's tongue, and as a result, some interesting cultural exchanges are taking place between fans of Korean and western acts. One has to wonder though - isn't this name dropping mostly beneficial to the western acts in the equation?

When celebrities acknowledge each other or a particular brand on social media, it's usually strategic. Of course, plenty of people just make friends with those who they work around, so it makes sense for some celebrities to be buddy-buddy naturally. On the other hand, savvy and cynical followers of celebrity social media platforms can usually pick up on pre-planned promotion. For every post that doesn't get stamped with the infamous and repellant "#ad" hashtag, there's two or three more that serve the same purpose as advertisements without being totally explicit or in-your-face.

Let's look at the facts. The official Twitter account of BTS has 5.03 million followers. Their secondary account, used by their label for announcements and promotional purposes, has 3.24 million followers. When BTS social media accounts are active, a significant number of people are paying attention. When their name comes up in news articles and trending topics, fans and onlookers alike notice. Can the same be said for those who have name-dropped BTS lately, though?

Tinashe, who recently made headlines for saying she would like to collaborate with BTS (and J-Hope specifically), has about 644,000 Twitter followers. Kehlani, another alternative R&B singer on the rise, told her 360,000 followers to tell BTS "holla at me!" Furthermore, although Rap Monster collaborator Wale boasts an impressive 5.36 million followers, it's worth noting that he hasn't had a significant hit or feature verse since 2011's "Slight Work."

While BTS has been graceful and accepting of their international praise, it wouldn't be a stretch to say that they're doing favors for people who are, frankly, less famous. To understand the concept of influence is to recognize that some K-pop acts have enormous amounts of it. Acts like BTS and Big Bang gain the attention of international audiences even without English-language songs, whereas acts like Tinashe and Kehlani have to work quite hard to establish themselves slowly starting with western audiences.

For performers like BTS, international recognition is something cherished and often carefully approached. Labels and artists both recognize that you can only make one first impression on the world stage, so they approach things like promotion and touring with rigorous attention to detail. Conversely, the current state of Korean-western pop music relations makes it seem like western artists need only mention K-pop to receive heaps of attention from Korean music fans and news outlets. In the absence of a legitimate strategy for internationally expanding a western artist's career, the practice of appealing to the largest and most attentive K-pop fan groups has gained popularity.

Have you discovered K-pop through a western artist? Perhaps you had discovered an American artist through K-pop? If you said yes to either of these questions, take a moment to congratulate yourself; you're an influencer that can affect the cultural exchange! Share your experiences in the comments below!

SEE ALSO: Things only VIP's will Understand

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beashineeshawol Thursday, April 13, 2017

Yeah...I just can't get on board with this OP-ED. I usually really like them, but as soon as Wale and Kehlani were used as the examples, I was like "nope." Sure, there maybe some western unknowns trying to ride the Kpop wave but many of the artist being reported shouting out at BTS are relatively well established in their genres. They don't need BTS to boost their popularity. Also, Twitter does not define popularity or relevance in the American market. I still believe that Twitter is one of the dumbest social media platforms to ever come into existence. I'm not even on Twitter but I know of both Wale and Kehlani and I don't even follow mainstream western acts (which I can't say either of them really are yet). Lastly, who's not to say that some of these unknowns doing shout outs have been long-term Kpoppers? For example, I've been a general fan of Kpop since 2006. If I were to suddenly become somewhat famous and threw BTS congrats or shout out because I'm glad that other people are starting to see the talent that is in Kpop, does that mean I'm simply trying to ride BTS's coattails? Nah. I see what the OP is trying to say, but I just don't think that's the case. Also, groups like Big Bang and BTS get shout outs like this primarily because they produce music in genres that are more suited to international/western audiences (although I must say BTS really do keep that Korean flavor especially when it come lyrics). After all, when was the last time EXO got a shout out from a western artist (Note to stans: Don't jump at me. I'm just using them as an example because they're also a hugely popular Kpop act)?

fantasticlau Thursday, April 13, 2017

Exactly my thoughts. Don't know about Wale (he's popular among many, he's just not in the mainstream anymore) but many people try to ride their fame and for me it's quite obvious. Why doesn't Chris Brown or Lorde or Jay-Z kinds of people doesn't want to collaborate. You guessed it right, because they don't need such stuff they're already super rich and super famous (plus they might not know who those groups are). But hey, I'm happy for BTS, up they go!

beashineeshawol fantasticlau Thursday, April 13, 2017

Maybe they don't want to collab because they don't actually like Kpop?

fantasticlau beashineeshawol Thursday, April 13, 2017

I don't know man, I wrote those names randomly. (But as I remember Chris Brown follows some K-Pop artists on social media)

Johncane Wednesday, April 12, 2017

LOOOOOOOOL using twitter followers oh my. You can have 50 million followers on twitter and not be remembered 30 years from now

LAFF92 Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Just an example. In Twitter, Pharell Williams has over 10M, and he's following GD who has  around 7M. Adam Levine has like over 7M. And you know what? They're  HUGE  stars, Adam and Pharell, their popularity does not depend how many followers they have on social media. Something this writer should have known before writing this article. The number of subscribers is not the measuring tool of how popular a celebrity is in the U.S.  There are still celebrities who does not use SNS . In KPOP, it's a different story. Fandoms are a huge thing in KPOP hence SNS play a key role to gain fans  and keep them through social networking. Idols when not active can interact with the fans through SNS. In the U.S, we don't have to follow the artist that we like. It's not that big of a deal. I love Adam, but I don't follow him on twitter. I just watch The voice. BUT, some fans do have a point., there are not so popular artists who jumped into the bandwagon, the unknowns,  but certainly NOT Wale and Kehlani.

bulletproofELLEN Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Not only western artists, but many people nowadays are using kpop to try to gain subscribers/ followers even when they aren't even the slightest bit interested in it. It's extremely frustrating to me as a kpop fan because they are trying to create a following based off of something they dont even appreciate and getting POSITIVE ATTENTION FOR IT!

Calcifer Tuesday, April 11, 2017

LMAO # of Twitter followers is an indication of success now? Madonna has 1.5m, is she less successful than BTS? Bette Midler has a paltry 1.13m, way less successful than BTS. On the other hand you got Daniel Tosh with 25m so obviously it would be acceptable if this chump shouted out to BTS.How about some people in the west are becoming fans of BTS and wanted to talk about it on their Twitter? There is no sinister meaning behind it and this article is ridiculous

Mehrvigne Tuesday, April 11, 2017

I was introduced to Kpop through a friend on a gaming website.  As far as Wale, Tinashe and Kehlani, I've never heard of them till they name-dropped BTS.  I'm not into any of their music, so I won't be exploring it further.  On the other hand, J-Hope recommended a song he liked by Remy Shand "Rock Steady."  I actually liked it.  He recommended it.  It wasn't like some no-name wanted to collaborate because the fans hooked them up like Tinashe.  Does she even know what Kpop is?  It really makes me wonder.  Even in the interview, she seemed like she was just spacing out giving a very insincere shout-out to (whoever this J-Hope and BTS person is) to send them a track.

ariellll Mehrvigne Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Thank you! Another clear thinker. People are so offended and defending these nugu artists, while the reality is that BTS has enough of a presence for these nugus to want to use BTS. I'm not too familiar with BTS myself, but this whole situation is obvious even to me.

LAFF92 Mehrvigne Wednesday, April 12, 2017

BTS were the FIRST ones to mention Kehlani , and an ARMY beg Wale to check Rapmom and beg for a collab. So they NEVER namedropped BTS. FACT. I can say more but in respect to other army's that I came to be friendly in this forum I would rather not.

Johncane Mehrvigne Wednesday, April 12, 2017

LOL you should do your research

ggsone9 ariellll Thursday, April 13, 2017

Obvious to you cause you're biased and dont listen to that genre, if you know r&b/hiphop you'd have heard of all 3 of those "nugus".

ariellll ggsone9 Friday, April 14, 2017

But that's just the point. They are nugus to everyone who doesn't listen to that genre, which is clearly a huge market.

LAFF92 ariellll Friday, April 14, 2017

who are the nugus and which one is the huge market..

lilwinster2k Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Also, this topic is something that AllKpop should know better than anybody--the authors on the site use BTS as clickbait and promotional use all the time.

lilwinster2k Tuesday, April 11, 2017

it's not completely unimaginable--K-pop is trending on the media, after all.

Bubbles26 Tuesday, April 11, 2017

No. The answer is no lol I guess it depends on what you listen to, but Kehlani, Charlie Puth, and Wale are not "lesser-known". Tinashe has also been following BTS for a minute now. They ain't no Beyonce but people actually at least know them and a song or two. Just look at how much views We Don't Talk Anymore has. I think it's the fans hyping the living hell out of BTS (mind you, I love BTS) in places where kpop has no business are catching the attention of the artists and then those artists realize some of their fans are kpop fans so they hype them up too. They probably also watch a video or two and all of a sudden they think they know kpop (celebs and non-celebs alike lol) So I guess I see some of the points your making. Like literally all you have to do is breathe BTS and ARMYs come out of nowhere! But no. Still. Those artists don't need BTS and BTS clearly doesn't need them. These exchanges are not a bad thing though. Almost five years ago I was introduced to the Wonder Girls by the western group, the School Gyrls.

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