|After the Success of BTS and Blackpink comes another South Korean group that will surely hit in the US and across the globe. / Photo credit by Korean Culture and Information Service via Wikimedia Commons|
The music industry speculated that the rise of R&B singer Summer Walker would earn her her first No. 1 Billboard 200 with “Over It,” her debut album, said Hugh Mcintyre of American business magazine Forbes.
However, after all the sales and streams from the past week have been tabulated, someone—actually a group—seized the throne. It’s the all-new K-pop group SuperM! The group debuted “SuperM,” their first-ever EP release. It placed No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with 168,000 equivalent units. Of the said figure, 164,000 were actual sales, which is rare nowadays even for popular musicians.
SuperM’s Road to Stardom: Starting from the Top
|SuperM did not start from the bottom as the group's members were handpicked from SM’s more established K-pop groups. / Photo credit by Korean Culture and Information Service via Wikimedia Commons|
SuperM was created by the Capitol Music Group and SM Entertainment, a Korean management company, according to Tim Chan of American pop culture magazine Rolling Stone. SM Entertainment was founded in 1995 by a man named Lee Soo-man, also known as “Mr. Lee” in Korea due to his popularity. SM is among those who spearheaded the global K-pop movement, bringing Korean artists to North America in the early 2000s.
SuperM’s debut is SM’s latest move to finally conquer the American market. The K-pop group broke a variety of records in Asia while remaining relatively unknown in the United States. But, thanks to the success of BTS and Blackpink, it helped ignite the passion of SM and other companies to reach for the international market, with the US serving as a pivotal starting point for them.
SuperM did not start from scratch. Rather, they started from the top, Chan emphasized. Its members were chosen from SM’s more established K-pop groups, who collectively sold over 14 million albums online, as well as garnered nearly four billion views of their music videos. Fans refer to SuperM as “the Avengers of K-pop” as the group has gotten the most popular and talented members from each of SM’s other boy bands.
Baekhyun and Kai are from EXO, with the former being unofficially labeled as the group leader. Baekhyun is the oldest member at age 27. Taemin, who is 26-year-old, is from SHINee. He is one of the veterans of K-pop, as he made his debut way back in 2008. SuperM’s last members were chosen from sub-units of NCT, a 21-person K-pop group. Taeyong and Mark are originally from NCT 127 while Ten and Lucas are from Way V, NCT 127’s Chinese subset.
The idea of forming an all-star group started last year and Super M’s members did not gather to record until earlier this spring. All members have met each other before, but they have never collaborated on a song until the group was formed.
SuperM is branded as a supergroup, as all its members have found initial success in other well-known acts. In a short period of time, SuperM rose to be one of the successful groups in Korean pop. So far, the group has released one single titled “Jopping” earlier this October.
Conquering the American Market
SuperM’s debut album opens with “Jopping,” a portmanteau of the words “jumping” and “popping,” juxtaposing hip-hop and EDM. The song has yet to land on any Billboard chart, but it has a good chance of making its appearance given that SuperM’s album has performed well.
The members sing in both English and Korean. The music video for “Jopping” was filmed in Dubai and 22 million people have so far watched it online. Given SuperM’s success in the international scene, they plant to kick off a North American tour, which is set to begin on November 11 in Forth Worth, Texas. Sure, BTS already has already made its way into the mainstream. But SuperM is determined to “find success in their own terms.” Taemin acknowledged that they can’t ignore competition in the K-pop industry. “But we don’t want to step on other groups to get to the top. We want to stand alone as a group and bring something fresh and new to this K-pop scene,” he explained.
SuperM is trying to forge their own signature sound for their debut LP, which will center on the hip-hop/pop/R&B genres. They will also attempt to mix and match various genres in one song. Blackpink and BTS perform in Korean, but SuperM may decide to release songs in the English language. It’s not surprising for the hit group to do their homework.
In Los Angeles, they stream H.E.R., Ella Mai, Daniel Caesar, and Billie Eilish. Kai confessed, “If I said I didn’t feel any pressure that would be a lie.”
They may have been successful in their previous careers, but SuperM’s members are still relatively unknown to a certain extent. For Kai, with pressure comes great excitement. Taeyong agreed with his co-member. For him, competition is not necessarily bad because it pushes them to be better. After all, the group is here to level up K-pop. He asserted, “We are ready for K-pop to start raising the bar.”