by Sara Conway ’21 A&E Co-Editor
It is hard not to hear about BTS, the Korean boy band taking over the world. The seven-member band has remained on Billboard’s Top 100 Artists Chart for 126 weeks, peaking at the #1 spot.
All of the stops for BTS’ world tour, Love Yourself, which began last August, have sold out. The band performed at notable venues in the U.S., such as the Staples Center in California, the Prudential Center in New Jersey, and the historical Citi Field in New York, which marked the first stadium concert by any K-pop group. The tour ends in early April with a performance in Bangkok, Thailand.
However, it was recently announced that a rebranded version of the Love Yourself world tour, Love Yourself: Speak Yourself, will commence on May 5, following BTS’ comeback with the album, The Map of the Soul: Persona, on April 12. While Citi Field was the only stadium on the former part of the world tour, BTS will be performing exclusively at stadiums for Love Yourself: Speak Yourself. The new locations include the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California, Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois, and MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. From there, BTS travels to London’s Wembley Stadium and then the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, France.
All of these venues will host BTS for two dates. Originally, Love Yourself: Speak Yourself featured one concert at each city, but once the first date sold out in hours—the 90,000 seat capacity of Wembley Stadium sold out in 90 minutes—Big Hit Entertainment, the company BTS was formed under, announced a second day.
BTS is not the only K-pop band stopping in North America for their tours. Neo Culture Technology 127 will tour the continent for the first time this coming April. A subunit of NCT, the group formed by SM Entertainment in 2016, NCT 127 consists of 10 members, although only nine are currently touring, as member WinWin is promoting with the newly created unit, WayV, which focuses on NCT’s audience in China. NCT prides itself on the concept of limitless members; as of early 2019, the group has 21 members ranging from the ages of 17 to 25 years.
The North American leg of Neo City—The Origin, NCT 127’s tour, kicks off on April 24 with the unit performing at the Prudential Center in New Jersey. The other stops include venues at Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, Phoenix, Houston, Chicago, San Jose, and Los Angeles. NCT 127 will also be performing in member Mark Lee’s home country of Canada at venues in Toronto and Vancouver.
According to Billboard, NCT 127 marks a first for the K-pop industry by traveling to 11 cities in North America—the “most-ever on a single tour by a K-pop boy band.” The group also recently collaborated with Jason Derulo and Lay of EXO with the single and its subsequent music video, “Let’s Shut Up and Dance” which dropped on Feb. 22. In addition, NCT 127’s latest album, Regular-Irregular, made it onto the Billboard 200 at No. 86.
A new group emerging on the scene is Stray Kids, who debuted about a year ago under JYP Entertainment. The nine-member band announced their UNVEIL Tour: ‘I am…’ in USA which commences on May 15. While the UNVEIL Tour is the group’s first solo tour in the U.S., it is not Stray Kids’ first time performing in the country, as they appeared at KCON in New York last year.
Stray Kids is set to have a concert at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, then in Los Angeles, closing the three-city tour in Houston. Their world tour follows the completion of their album trilogy, I am, in 2018. The series consisted of three mini albums titled I am NOT, I am WHO, and I am YOU.
It is not only the K-pop boy bands making an impact. Girl groups like Blackpink are emerging in the North American scene, too. Comprised of four members, Blackpink was formed by YG Entertainment in 2016. The group announced the North American stops in their BLACKPINK In Your Area world tour which starts in LA, travels to Chicago, Hamilton (Ontario), Newark, and Atlanta, and ends at Fort Worth. Blackpink will also be appearing at Coachella in April, marking the first time a K-pop girl group will perform at Coachella.
Blackpink’s 2018 EP, Squared Up, landed the group on the Billboard 200 chart at the #40 spot. The four members also recently collaborated with Dua Lipa on the single, “Kiss and Make Up,” which peaked at #93 on the Billboard 200. In addition, Blackpink and YG Entertainment released the news of their partnership with the U.S. label, Interscope Records. The girl group will be represented by Interscope and Universal Music Group (UMG) for matters outside of Asia.
Three months into 2019, and the year has already seen K-pop music push past the borders of South Korea and the continent of Asia as well as the language barrier through the announcements of these bands’ world tours featuring cities in North America.