December 8, 2015


K-Pop Chart Showdown: BTS Outsells PSY in U.S. Album Sales

Getty Images
Getty Images

PSY may be the K-pop star most familiar to Americans, but a new boy band is quickly rising stateside, and may have just proven themselves to have a larger support system than the king of YouTube.

BTS is the seven-member act that, in less than three years, has broken out in their native South Korea and in America, with two sold-out tours in 2015. The boy band's latest album, The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, Pt. 2, was released on November 30 and this week debuts on the Billboard 200 albums chart at No. 171 with 5,000 copies sold this week.

A day later on December 1, PSY also released a new album—his first full-length since breaking out with "Gangnam Style"—which failed to make the Billboard 200.

BTS' chart victory is significant: Here is an act that does not sing in English and did not promote their album at all in America cracking the chart. In today's music industry, it's not a guarantee for English-speaking artists with a huge amount of hype and press to chart on the Billboard 200 (case in point: Shamir's critically acclaimed Rachet), so the boy band must be connecting with U.S. audiences in a unique way. 

While BTS is not racking up as many YouTube views as PSY (their new single "Run" has 6.3 million views while PSY's "Daddy" has nearly 40 million), they seem to be connecting in a manner that makes a significant amount of fans want to buy a full record. A big part of that connection could be the band's unapologetic exploration of social topics, and challenging societal norms that most K-pop acts choose not to approach.

At the very least, PSY can still claim victory on the singles chart. His new tune "Daddy" featuring CL is No. 97 on the Hot 100 singles chart, three years after "Gangnam Style" peaked at No. 2 on the tally. "Daddy" is also No. 1 on World Digital Songs (a chart that ranks all songs in the world genre) while BTS' "Run" is No. 3.

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