The number of K-pop acts and tunes promoted by artists primarily known for their work in the South Korean music industry that make it to the Pop Airplay chart in America is increasing rapidly. A decade ago, the first-ever single by a K-pop artist found its way to the ranking of the titles that reach the largest audience at pop radio in the U.S., and with each passing year, there are more and more wins among that community. 2021 turned out to be the biggest year ever in that respect, as more cuts by K-pop artists landed on the tally than ever before. In fact, twice as many managed to, making it a standout year.
Seven songs by K-pop artists appeared on the Pop Airplay chart in 2021, with half a dozen different acts from that field landing somewhere on the list for at least one frame. Of that bunch, four scored their first win, and all of them made history simply by breaking onto the 40-spot tally at all.
BTS led all K-pop acts in 2021 when looking at the Pop Airplay chart, as they were the only name to score more than one hit. The band’s own “Butter” worked its way to No. 7, becoming the second-highest-peaking tune by a South Korean act in the ranking’s history. The tune also spent 20 frames on the list, tying the same septet’s “Dynamite” as the longest-running smash by a K-pop figure. The group returned to the roster alongside Coldplay on “My Universe,” which is still going strong.
On the first chart dated in 2021, Suga started the year right by earning his first placement on the Pop Airplay chart on his own. The BTS member and solo star joined pop singer Max on the single “Blueberry Eyes,” which never made it past No. 39, even though it spent a month on the list.
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A month later, South Korean girl group Loona joined in on the fun as their single “Star” made them just the second all-female band from the nation to hit the Pop Airplay chart. The tune rose to No. 31 and racked up eight stays on the list.
After 2021’s midpoint, Tomorrow X Together earned their debut appearance on the Pop Airplay chart with their smash “Magic,” which held on for several weeks. A few months later, Monsta X collected yet another smash with “One Day,” which lifted to No. 30 and spent an incredible 10 weeks on the list. With the new win, the South Korean band upped their career total to three charting singles, the second-most among all acts from that nation (behind only BTS).
Just before 2022 rolled around, Lisa found herself on the Pop Airplay chart with “Money,” the second single from her very short debut collection Lalisa. The track only climbed as high as No. 35, but it made her the first solo female K-pop artist to score a pop radio hit in the U.S., and it showed that she could reach the masses both as a member of Blackpink (who broke onto the tally in 2020) and on her own.
Before 2021, 2020 and 2019 were tied as the busiest years on the Pop Airplay chart in terms of artists from the K-pop world reaching the tally. In both years, three songs from South Korean favorites appeared on the list.