The untold truth of Blackpink
K-pop — or South Korean pop music for those unfamiliar with the super-cool-yet-red-hot subsection of the entertainment industry — has become wildly popular beyond the country in which it first started. In 2018, Rolling Stone took a look at the “worldwide explosion of K-pop, which has swelled in the past five years from a niche genre to a $5 billion global industry.” One of the groups leading the K-pop scene is Blackpink.
Debuting in 2016, you’ll find four ladies taking the stage whenever Blackpink performs: Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa. And while Time notes that they “may have just begun touring globally” by the time 2019 rolled around, the group already has “a strong fanbase stretching far beyond South Korea,” which is “powering their rapid ascent.”
That success may be why you know a few things about Blackpink, but considering the group — which combines lilting lyrics and the occasional catchy rap — surely abide by the rules that most K-pop stars have to follow, a lot of aspects around their reputations are strictly controlled, and their personal lives are kept largely under wraps. While that means that there are likely plenty of details we’ll never know about the women of Blackpink, we can let you in on the following tidbits of untold truth about the group that will make you feel like a legitimate Blink, which, FYI, is what their fans are called. See? You’ve already learned something about the world of Blackpink! Now, keep reading for more.
There's more to Blackpink's group name
The name Blackpink is certainly cool as it is, but it turns out there’s much more to it than just a couple of colors. First of all, it can be stylized as BLΛƆKPIИK, according to Refinery29. Beyond that, in 2016, Allkpop explained that a YG Entertainment representative, Blackpink’s label, opened up about the significance of the group’s name.
“The meaning of Blackpink aims to contradict the common perception of the color pink,” the industry pro explained. “Pink is commonly used to portray prettiness, but Blackpink actually means to say that ‘Pretty isn’t everything.'” The two colors are supposed to represent the fact that the women in the group “are a team that encompasses not only beauty, but also great talent.”
As for the individual members, Stylecaster notes that both Kim Jennie and Kim Jisoo use their real names, although they simply go by Jennie and Jisoo. In contrast, Lisa uses a shortened version of her real name Lalisa (Pranpriya) Manoban. Rosé’s real name is Park Chae Young, however, her English name is Roseanne, which, we assume, is where she got the inspiration for her stage name. Whatever the reasons behind what they’ve chosen to be called in their professional lives, when it comes to what the ladies in the K-pop group, as we’ve been told, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet and, in this case, sound as sweet as well.
The K-pop singers are multilingual
Although they’re a K-pop group, it turns out that not all of the members of Blackpink are originally from South Korea. The fact that they have lived in various countries is, in part, why they’re multilingual. As it turns out, they can converse with their fans in Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, and English, which Billboard notes give them “a bit of an edge on the international K-pop scene because [they’re] able to communicate directly with … fans” who speak any of those five languages.
Rosé was born in New Zealand, according to Time, but was “raised in Australia,” which is why she speaks English and “frequently covers both” tunes in that language as well as “Korean songs.” Jennie also “lived in New Zealand for a period before moving back to South Korea in 2010,” which is why she “speaks fluent English in addition to Korean and Japanese.”
Lisa comes from Thailand, and along with her first language, speaks English, Japanese, and basic Chinese, as well as Korean, which Time explains “she started to learn after moving to South Korea in 2011.” Jisoo “is the only member who does not speak English fluently,” however, “the vocalist is nevertheless trilingual, able to speak Korean, Japanese, and Chinese.” If it wasn’t already perfectly clear, the ladies in Blackpink are not only talented when it comes to singing, they’re also super skilled when it comes to speaking in different tongues.
Blackpink's success certainly isn't based on 'quantity'
Blackpink is proof that you don’t need a lengthy catalog of songs in order to rise to the top of the music industry. Frankly, by 2018, Blackpink had become “the best-charting female Korean act ever,” according to Billboard, despite the fact that they’d only released nine songs. While they admittedly re-release some of their tunes, Blackpink can attribute their success to “quality over quantity.”
That opinion seems to be backed up by the fact that all nine songs have made their way onto Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart. While “Kick It” peaked at #89, “As If It’s Your Last” made it to #43, and “Playing With Fire” found its way to #26. Other hits did even better, with “See You Later” making it into the top #10, “Don’t Know What To Do” hitting the #9 spot, “Really” rising to #8, while both “Kill This Love,” and “Forever Young” climbed to the #2 spot. However, it was their single “Ddu-Du Ddu-Du” that “made history” in June 2018 “when it debuted at No. 55” on the respected list and eventually reached #1.
Apparently, the group’s songs “[draw] in fans” thanks to “their bright, bombastic electronic dance-meets-hip-pop sound — plus a look at their softer side on the folk-pop ballad ‘Stay’ — and their captivating performances.” Want to get a glimpse at what the fuss is all about? Check out their performance at Coachella in 2019, which Vulture called a “historic moment for K-pop and music’s future.”
Blackpink has broken multiple YouTube records
Blackpink is a K-pop group designed to succeed in the modern music market, much like their boy-band equivalent, BTS. That means not only dominating the Billboard Hot 100 chart — which they often do — but also making a mark on YouTube. The latter feat is something that Blackpink has no trouble doing thanks to their highly-fashionable, dance-filled, rewatch-worthy videos which have helped them break multiple YouTube records.
“The group’s ‘Kill This Love’ video, released April 4 , garnered 56.7 million views in its first 24 hours,” according to Variety, who note that it “beat the previous record holder, Ariana Grande’s ‘thank u, next.'” As of June 2020, it has earned almost 850 million views. On top of that, Billboard reported that in January 2019, “Ddu-Du Ddu-Du” became “the top video on the site from a K-pop group” with 621.5 million views, and by that November, Forbes noted that it became “the first music video by a K-pop group to earn 1 billion YouTube views.” Yes, one billion.
Those views came about with the help of the group’s massive following on the platform, which at 31.2 million subscribers in November 2019, made them “the most-subscribed music group on YouTube,” per Forbes. That number continues to be on the rise, and as of June 2020, they had almost 36 million subscribers. At that rate, it won’t be long before they see 40 and 50 million names on their list of subscribers.
Blackpink also dominates social media and streaming
As a group and as individuals, Blackpink is having no trouble topping other acts on social media. “Not only is Lisa the most-followed K-pop female idol on Instagram” with over 33 million followers as of June 2020, but in April 2019, Blackpink was the “most-followed K-pop group account on the platform with 16.4 million followers,” according to Time. That number has risen radically, and at the time of this writing, the K-pop superstars have 23.6 million followers on Instagram.
However, Instagram isn’t the only place online that Blackpink fans can indulge in their love of the group. Along with their 36.2 million YouTube subscribers, the group also has 4 million followers on Twitter, and they’re approaching 20 million “monthly listeners” on Spotify. Those loyal listeners were part of the reason why “Kiss and Make Up,” Blackpink’s “collaboration track with Grammy-winning artist, Dua Lipa became the most streamed song by any Korean act in Spotify history” in June 2019 with “over 247 million streams,” according to E! News. That was followed by the May 2020 release of “Sour Candy” with Lady Gaga, which Forbes notes “debuted at No. 6 on the global Spotify chart with over 3.67 million streams and No. 12 in the United States with over 757,000 streams.”
Obviously, if you’re enthusiastic about indulging in your love of Blackpink online, it won’t be hard to find others who are eagerly doing the same thing.
This top K-pop group has plenty of famous fans
Blackpink not only have millions of — shall we call them “regular”? — fans around the world, the group also has fellow celebrity admirers. When it comes to those in the music industry, Drake and Halsey have expressed their appreciation for the performers, according to Billboard, as have Charli XCX, Todrick Hall, Zedd, and Steve Aoki who actually wanted to work with the group after previously working with other K-pop acts BTS and Monsta X. Harry Styles was even spotted in the audience at a Blackpink concert in April 2019, while Diplo was “literally wearing black and pink” when he posed with the quartet that same month, as was Jaden Smith.
Beyond the music scene, James Corden, who welcomed Blackpink to his show during their U.S. visit in the spring of 2019, is apparently apt to pop on one of their songs when he’s in the mood, and the same goes for models Kendall Jenner and Hailey Bieber, who were seen in the crowd while Blackpink performed at Coachella and have obviously joined “the Blink fandom,” as Billboard states.
The stars of Blackpink have also been meeting and collaborating with some other top industry players, as Koreaboo points out, like Lady Gaga, Dua Lipa, Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish, Pharrell Williams, and actress Nina Dobrev, as well as Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith. At this point, it’s clear that the ladies of Blackpink are experts at hobnobbing with the entertainment industry’s elite.
Blackpink is willing to help out when tragedy strikes
As one of the top groups in the K-pop music scene, the members of Blackpink surely enjoy the benefits of fame. While that affords them both personal and professional perks, it also allows them to use their good fortune to help others. And that’s just what they did in April 2019, when the group donated 40 million won (around $35,000 USD) to help victims of the Gangwon Province fire in South Korea.
The devastating “wildfire broke out on April 4 at approximately 7 p.m. KST near Ilsung Resort in Goseong County, and it soon spread to downtown Sokcho,” according to Soompi. “The following day, a state of disaster was declared for Goseong County, Inje County, and the cities of Sokcho, Gangneung, and Donghae in Gangwon Province.” Apparently, along with “extensive property damage and power outages,” the fire was responsible for “the evacuation of thousands of residents to emergency shelters.” Sadly, it was also “reported that one person died and 11 people [had] been injured.”
In response, Hope Bridge Association of National Disaster Relief revealed that “each member” of Blackpink “donated 10 million won,” Allkpop reported. The group also took to social media (via Allkpop), writing, “We empathize with the pain of the residents of the Gangwon area.” Fans were impressed by the altruistic action, tweeting sentiments like “Absolutely angels … They have such lovely hearts,” and “They are real idols and [a] true inspiration.”
Their fans are also willing to step up
Fans of K-pop are arguably some of the most loyal, involved, and even obsessive music lovers in the world. In fact, “K-pop superfans … can make, and break, musical careers in South Korea,” according to the South China Morning Post. They’re also able to put their significant ability to sway opinions and actions to good use, which is just what they did at the end of May and the beginning of June 2020.
When Blackpink collaborated with Lady Gaga, fans of both the group and the solo singer were surely thrilled. However, when the single, “Sour Candy,” was released, it came out at the same time that protests were taking place in the United States and beyond in response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of at least one Minneapolis police officer, as well as other horrifying acts of violence against Black people.
In reaction to the circumstances which gained international attention, Blackpink’s fans “[organized] to keep [the] single from trending online out of respect for #BlackLivesMatter,” according to Business Insider. They did so by “encouraging people to not use the [#SourCandy] hashtag and to instead support the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag.” After making the same request that other supporters of the K-pop group were making, the Blackpink Asia Twitter account tweeted, “[L]et us pay our respects to George, Breonna [Taylor], Ahmaud [Arbery], and all of the victims of this inhumane violence and injustice. No life matters until #BlackLivesMatter.”
The members of Blackpink are rich (but maybe not as rich as you'd think)
K-pop is a money-making machine, which is why “the combined earnings” of the four biggest companies in the scene — Big Hit Entertainment, SM Entertainment, JYP Entertainment, and YG Entertainment (which are the force behind Blackpink) — “hit approximately $1 billion [USD] in 2018,” according to E! News. The Investor notes that “K-pop agencies’ profits [rose] to 51.5% in 2019.” In turn, groups like Blackpink, BTS, Twice, TVXQ, and EXO top the list of the “richest K-pop groups right now,” per E!
And it’s not just music that’s making these stars wealthy. Stylecaster explains that the performers of Blackpink have endorsement deals and brand ambassador contracts with top brands like Chanel, Adidas, Samsung, Yves Saint Laurent, Dior Beauty, and more. That’s why each member — Jennie, Lisa, Rosé, and Jisoo — is estimated to have $8 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. While that’s certainly a lot of money, you might have assumed that they’d have more considering their success. However, the ladies’ fortunes seem to be in line with what other top K-pop figures are worth.
For instance, most of the members of BTS — Jin, Suga, RM, Jimin, Jungkook, and V — are also worth $8 million each, although J-Hope has slightly more with $12 million. Granted, each of their funds are just a fraction of the $60 million that Psy has. A figure to aspire to in the future, perhaps?
The women of Blackpink are among the most powerful celebrities in the world
Thanks to the fact that Blackpink’s songs climb the charts and their videos break records, not to mention their sell-out tours and major brand deals, the group has become incredibly influential. In fact, in April 2019, Forbes Korea released its list of the Top 40 Power Celebrities in Korea, and per E! News, BTS took the second spot, with Wanna One coming in third, and Kang Daniel appearing in the fourth spot, while fifth place went to Red Velvet. Blackpink took the top spot.
“Forbes Korea narrowed down the list to 150 nominees by looking at search rankings provided by Kakao, with the time period being from March 2018 to February 2019,” Soompi explained, while also noting that any K-pop stars involved in scandals at the time were “excluded.”
That same year, Blackpink also landed a spot on the Time 100 list of “the world’s most influential people,” which “spotlights 100 rising stars who are shaping the future of business, entertainment, sports, politics, science, health, and more.” Time writer Kat Moon explained their inclusion, pointing out that while “Blackpink’s star may still be rising in the U.S.,” their Coachella performance was responsible for “heralding a new era of Korean acts stepping past language barriers to play global stages.” With that kind of influence, Blackpink’s fans have a reason to be excited to see what the group continues to do throughout their chart-topping, record-breaking, money-making K-pop career.
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