April 09, 2021 13:08
Going solo is the latest trend among many members of the country's myriad manufactured boy and girl bands.
Gone are the days when members only went solo after the band had split up, or forced a split of the band by going it alone. Now many hope to combine a solo career with their work with the band.
Last month, Rosé of Black Pink released her first solo album, "R." It was a resounding success, selling 448,000 copies in the first week, and the lead track "On the Ground" rose to 70th place on the Billboard Hot 100 and the top of the Global 200 chart on March 23.
But it is Baek-hyun of EXO who holds the sales record for a solo album by an band member. His second solo album "Delight" sold 704,500 copies in the first week of its release in May last year and exceeded 1 million in about a month.
On March 30, Baek-hyun released his third solo mini album, "Bambi," and sold 780,000 copies on the first day.
This trend appears to have prolonged the lifespans of idol bands. Bangtan Boys, also known as BTS, have already been performing for seven years and EXO for more than nine years. BTS' Suga has released two solo albums so far and the second one, "D-2" released in May last year, rose to 11th place on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart, setting a new record for a Korean solo artist.
Big Bang have already been around for 15 years, and members G-Dragon and Taeyang have also released solo albums. Girl band Red Velvet have been performing for seven years, while Black Pink debuted five years ago and is still going strong. Red Velvet's main vocalist Wendy came out with her first solo album "Like Water" early this week.
The trend reflects the changing conditions in the Korean music industry over the last two decades. In the 1990s and early 2000s, talented singers usually debuted as solo acts. But now dance groups are de rigueur.
Pop music critic Chung Min-jae said, "Group acts featuring talented artists can draw huge numbers of fans quickly, so able musicians like G-Dragon and Taeyang of Big Bang are included in idol groups, and management companies help these artists release solo albums after the group becomes popular."
The main sales unit of the music industry shifted from albums to singles in the mid-2000s, which appears to have prompted more and more artists to try different genres. A classic case is Super Junior, who debuted 16 years ago and have been engaged in group, solo and other projects so far. Music critic Lee Dae-hwa said, "The K-pop idol business has been around for 20 years now, so the industry is firmly bedded in and has plenty of knowhow."
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