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Second to top Billboard, SuperM proves K-pop’s growing potential in US

Propelled by the decadeslong expertise of K-pop powerhouse S.M. Entertainment, coupled with the distribution network of Capitol Music Group, SuperM scored a No. 1 on the main Billboard albums chart with its debut album.

Billboard said on its official website Monday that the septet’s debut album, “SuperM: The 1st Mini Album,” topped the Billboard 200 for the week of Oct. 19.

Until Monday, BTS had been the only K-pop music act that had topped the main Billboard albums chart, scoring three No. 1 hits in the span of less than two years till April.

The latest Billboard feat makes SuperM the second K-pop act to conquer the albums chart and the first K-pop act to top the chart with its debut album.

(S.M. Entertainment)
(S.M. Entertainment)

The feat also marks a breakout hit for the joint music venture between S.M. and Capitol Music Group, one of the highest-profile K-pop collaborations between Korean and American music labels.

SuperM’s successful debut in the United States is the latest indication of the broadening horizon for K-pop artists in the US.

To capitalize on the growing popularity of K-pop in the US music market, Capitol reportedly came to S.M. first to propose the venture.

S.M., for its part, tapped into its more than two decades of K-pop producing experience to create the “SuperM” album as well as the boy band, whose seven members hail from four established S.M. boy bands -- SHINee, EXO, NCT 127 and WayV.

Experts say SuperM’s breakout success may be the result of introducing a new breed of music to American music listeners, along with the marketing power of one of the biggest American music labels.

“Because SuperM is a combination of various singers, it could have appealed to a variety of musical and personal tastes, recording a music feat unprecedented for North American (artists),”pop critic Kim Heon-sik said.

Speaking at a local forum earlier this month, Phil Quartararo, a former executive at Virgin Music and Warner Bros., highlighted the emergence of K-pop in the American music market where, “in the last couple of years, American pop music has got a little stale and flat.”

He said BTS opened the door for K-pop in the US, but a lot more Korean music acts could thrive there as long as good music quality is maintained.

SuperM debuted in the US with a high-profile showcase concert at the outdoor stage of Capital Records Tower in Hollywood, followed by an appearance on the CBS TV program “The Ellen Show.”

This debut “created a common understanding among (K-pop music labels) that (a K-pop act) with a systematic arrangement could make progress in the American music scene,” another pop critic, Kim Yun-ha, said.

Releasing a press statement Monday, S.M. celebrated SuperM’s Billboard victory as a joint work combining “S.M.’s matchless producing power and CMG’s excellent networks and marketing.”

“SuperM wrote new history today. ... This marks only the beginning. There will be a lot more to come,” Capitol Chairman Steve Barnett was quoted by S.M. as saying.

Following the headline-grabbing debut, SuperM may need to work harder to keep up in the highly competitive US market, according to pop critic Kim Heon-sik.

“Corporate marketing could help catch attention in the short term, but in the long run ... the key (to success) lies in forming a core fan base,” he said. (Yonhap)