Niki & Sammy talk KPOP: Their Time has Come; Play BTS on the Radio

CelebMix’s resident K-POP experts Niki & Sammy give their take on the latest goings on in the Korean pop world twice a month. Stay tuned for more, follow @CelebMix for the latest, and click here to read their previous articles.

There’s a trend on twitter of British media outlets/tv/radio baiting fandoms with photos and posts of BTS (and k-pop acts in general) on their social media, teasing their presence on their platforms, but never actually following through on that promise.

It’s as if there is a fear of committing airtime to BTS (who’s summer stadium tour sold out faster than Cardi B, and Rolling Stones (and currently rank 3rd “highest concert tour on-sale date this year”) on StubHub after Adele and Elton John.)

And I get it.

It’s different and it’s change. It’s hard for Western mainstream media to accept that pop culture isn’t Americo-eurocentric. There’s this fear that playing BTS on the radio during peak hours (breakfast and drive time) will -excuse the pun- drive casual listeners away. We’ve spoken to so many media professionals and the general consensus is they feel audiences want something easy and familiar to listen to.

Or do they? 

K-pop is weirdly still underground in the UK and that’s part of the appeal. We get to pretend that BTS is our badly kept secret and find joy when we see them exceed in any capacity.

BTS were on Graham Norton and it was tantamount to them getting a BRIT nomination (which, btw they were robbed of.)

K-pop is exciting and represents some real positivity. J-hope is singlehandedly reviving red squirrels from near-extinction. Their debut gig at the O2 saw teams of volunteer litter pickers parade the grounds of the Millennium Dome collecting any and all debris that may have found itself on the ground in the queues.

I get that there are some practical reasons that k-pop isn’t played on UK radio as frequently – such as Korean labels not prioritizing the UK market, and therefore not making their catalog available here – but largely it’s about taking a chance.

We’ve seen Latin music getting a lot more airtime, and there was even a point a few years ago when Grime was considered “too different” to make it onto some of the biggest commercial stations… but this changed. This gives me confidence that one day, very soon, it wouldn’t be so odd to hear the Korean language on the radio.

There is a passionate, positive and supportive audience willing and ready to engage with great content. The groups, especially BTS, have positive mantras that, particularly in these uncertain times, are a happy distraction from all the negativity in the world. K-pop will follow the fans, and there are plenty of us in the UK.

Written by NikiSammy