Feedback
News

K-Pop Stars Hope Success in Asia Translates to American Audience

Image: South Korean singer Psy performs during the opening ceremony of the 17th Asian Games in Incheon

CL is the latest in a line of K-Pop stars, including Psy, crossing over to the mainstream American music scene. A look at who else has come (and gone) before her. TIM WIMBORNE / Reuters

K-pop fans delighted in the news that Scooter Braun –- music manager behind the likes of Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande –- is working with Chaerin -- who goes by the stage name, CL -- a singer and rapper from the girl group 2NE1 ("twenty one"), to break into the American music industry next year.

CL's voice may seem familiar to some Stateside. She was featured on a song by producer DJ Skrillex, and a 2NE1 song was the soundtrack to a recent Microsoft Surface commercial.

K-pop already enjoys a strong fanbase in the U.S., but CL is not the first to try and crossover to the mainstream American music scene. Here are four other Korean musicians who attempted the same transition, with varying degrees of success.

‘Gangnam Style’ makes plaza go gangbusters with PSY
(1) Psy

With the surprise global hit “Gangnam Style,” Psy and his signature dance move snagged the world’s attention in 2012. His video was the first to reach 1 billion views on YouTube, according to Variety, and earlier this year, it reached 2 billion. But the song isn’t Psy’s only connection to the U.S. -- he actually attended Boston’s Berklee College of Music. And what’s more all-American than football? Psy made his Super Bowl debut in 2013 through the Paramount Farms’ commercial for pistachios. In 2014, he collaborated with Snoop Dogg on the song, “Hangover.”

Wonderful Pistachios: “Crackin’ Style with Psy” 0:30
(2) BoA

One of Korea’s biggest pop stars, singer BoA has a career that has lasted more than a decade. The songstress, sometimes referred to as the Queen of K-Pop, also performs in Japanese. In late 2008, BoA dropped her first U.S. single, “Eat You Up,” featuring FloRida. Despite performing live alongside pop stars like Katy Perry and Rihanna, making her U.S. television debut on MTV, and being crowned BuzzFeed's "Most Underrated Queen of Pop," BoA hasn't quite caught on in America the way she has across Asia.

(3) The Wonder Girls

The Wonder Girls -- a Korean girl group first formed through a reality show on MTV South Korea -- attracted super-fans from all across Asia. The band made its U.S. debut when the girls opened for a Jonas Brothers tour in 2009. In that same year, the Wonder Girls’ English version of their hit Korean song, “Nobody,” landed on the Billboard Hot 100 charts – the first time a Korean artist appeared on the American list, according to The Atlantic. The group is reportedly currently taking a break.

(4) Rain

Known only by his stage name, Rain launched his musical career in a boy band, but later became a solo artist. The singer/dancer grew into a triple threat with a turn on the silver screen, starring in a popular Korean drama, and later got the attention of American audiences in the 2008 film "Speed Racer." He sold out a concert at New York's Madison Square Garden, and even placed in the TIME 100 online poll for the most influential person for three years, beating out Stephen Colbert in 2007 and prompting a comedic "feud" between the two.