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RM of BTS
5 K-Pop Songwriters & Producers Who Defined 2021: SUMIN, Teddy Park, ADORA, RM & SUGA
To close out the year, GRAMMY.com is spotlighting five Korean K-pop songwriters and producers who made their mark worldwide in 2021: SUMIN, Teddy Park, ADORA, RM, and SUGA
Behind every successful K-pop act is a creative team helping compose their hit songs. Though more and more K-pop idols are becoming involved in their music creation, there are some contributors whose work on your favorite tracks simply can't go unrecognized. From R&B ballads to trap beats to electronic party anthems, the sonic possibilities are endless as genres continue to blur and producers get bolder with their choices. Many K-pop songwriters have done notable work abroad as well, collaborating with some of the biggest names in music globally and serving as the think tanks that made your favorite hit songs possible.
Though much of K-pop music mixes genres and languages, the structure of the songs often allows for more experimentation and nuance than we see in the Western pop industry. Taking inspiration worldwide and incorporating cultural markers in the music, the undefinable sound and flare of K-pop creatives has had an enormous impact on music as we know it.
To celebrate the incredible talent within the Korean music industry and to close out 2021, GRAMMY.com is spotlighting five Korean K-pop songwriters and producers who made their mark worldwide this year. Get to know SUMIN, Teddy Park, ADORA, RM, and SUGA.
Producing is too often dominated by men, but South Korean songwriter and producer SUMIN is a woman doing wondrous work in the space. SUMIN's versatility has found her expertly navigating both the underground and popular music scenes in Korea. Her style isn't bound by genre, often drawing influence from hip-hop, electronic, bass, and other sounds, with some dubbing her sound "Neo K-pop."
In addition to her own music — she released an EP called XX in 2020 — the composer has graced the credits of a diverse roster of Korean artists over the years. Some of the most popular songs she helped pen include "Lie" sung by Jimin on BTS' critically acclaimed 2016 Wings album; "Look" on Red Velvet's 2017 Perfect Velvet: The 2nd Album; "Eyes Locked, Hands Locked" on Red Velvet's 2019 The Reve Festival' Finale; and 2018 R&B single "Pool" by Woodz. Her most recent credits include "Epilogue" on IU's long-anticipated fifth album, Lilac, and "Bother Me" on Chungha's album, Querencia.
From all the amazing work SUMIN has done, K-pop will benefit greatly as she continues to innovate and experiment.
If you're a hardcore Blink, you may be familiar with the name Teddy Park. The in-house YG Entertainment producer is credited for BLACKPINK member Rosé's solo debut songs "On the Ground" and "Gone," and he has a close working relationship with the group as well. He is also credited on major hits, like BLACKPINK's "Ice Cream" featuring Selena Gomez as well as the group's collab with Lady Gaga, "Sour Candy," off her Chromatica album. He also produced most tracks on BLACKPINK's 2020 album, The Album, and the 2018 party staple "Ddu-Du Ddu-Du," which became the highest-charting song by a Korean girl group on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Besides BLACKPINK, Park works with other major K-pop artists and has helped write and compose hits like Big Bang's "Fxxk It" and "Bang Bang Bang," Psy's "Daddy" ft CL, and Sunmi's "Gashina," in addition to working on a huge chunk of 2NE1's discography. The Korean American's production style is influenced by his days as a rapper, but also incorporates contemporary R&B, reggae, house, and EDM.
As Park has had a hand in some of the industry's biggest hits, he rightfully deserves recognition for his success in shaping the sound of K-pop over the years and into the future.
ADORA, or Park Soohyun, has been a longtime interest to the BTS ARMY. Her angelic vocals lace many BTS songs, including "Trivia: Seesaw," "The Truth Untold," "Serendipity," and "Euphoria," which she also helped write. As the only woman on their producing team, ADORA's presence on the tracks provide an extra layer and perspective that helps complete them. Her contributions to BTS' discography are expansive: She's written lyrics for fan favorites like "Spring Day," "Love Maze," and V's "Sweet Night."
More recently, she worked alongside J-Hope on "Blue Side," sang on "Telepathy" on BE, and contributed vocally and lyrically to TXT's minisode1 : Blue Hour. Her other standout work includes GFriend's "Labyrinth" as well as production on the solo projects from BTS members, like "forever rain" on RM's Mono and "Daydream on J-Hope's Hopeworld. She can be heard on multiple songs throughout BTS' Map of the Soul: 7, Map of the Soul: Persona, and the group's other chart-topping albums.
ADORA's unique touch hasn't gone unnoticed to many fans, and it'll be exciting to see how she continues to add to the multifaceted sound of other Big Hit artists.
You may know him as the charming leader of BTS, but RM's talents span boundaries. His songwriting and producing work deserves just as much recognition as his leadership abilities and rap skills. He's credited as a songwriter and composer on the group's GRAMMY-nominated hit "Butter" in addition to a large portion of their overall discography, including Map of the Soul:7, BE, Map of the Soul: Persona, the Love Yourself albums, his own mixtape, Mono, and more.
The list goes on and on, and his hip-hop roots have led him to solo collaborations with artists like Wale on 2017's socially conscious "Change," which the two artists wrote together. RM also wrote his iconic verse on the chart-topping "Old Town Road (Seoul Town Road Remix)" with Lil Nas X and penned TXT's lead single, "0X1=LOVESONG."
RM's expert lyric writing incorporates exceptional wordplay and a deft mastery of multiple languages, which give him a unique edge and which can be heard on his notorious rap lines on "Ddaeng," "Tear," and "UGH!" As RM continues to expand on his production and songwriting work, K-pop fans are truly in for a treat.
BTS member Suga originally joined Big Hit as a producer. Most of his work outside of BTS has notably been with women artists. From co-writing and producing IU's "Eight," Heize's "We Don't Talk Together," and Suran's "Wine" — which earned him a Best Soul/R&B award at South Korea's 2017 Melon Music Awards — Suga has been passionate about creating meaningful music with artists he respects. With American artists, he wrote his verse on MAX's "Blueberry Eyes" and "SUGA's Interlude" on Halsey's 2020 album, Manic.
Suga's style has an introspective charm that reflects his own personality well. He's credited for co-producing earlier BTS hits like "Tomorrow" and "Let Me Know," but has since gone on to work on more as their sound continues to evolve. His own solo project, released under the alias Agust D in summer of 2020, gave a full-throttle view of his hard-hitting, diss-track style of rap coupled with more self-reflecting songs.
While the BTS members each have involvement in the behind-the-scenes music-making process, Suga counts more than 100 credits with the Korea Music Copyright Association. Along with BTS bandmate J-Hope, Suga became the first Korean lyricist and composer to take part in a No. 1 song in the Billboard Hot 100 chart with "Savage Love (BTS Remix)".
There's no telling what else Suga has in store for K-pop fans in the years to come, but his past work shows a promising future in production.
Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic via Getty Images
New Music Friday: Listen To New Releases From Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Blackpink & More
The summer of 2023 may be winding down, but its musical offerings remain white-hot. Check out some new songs and albums that arrived on Aug. 25, from Maluma to Burna Boy.
The faintest hint of fall is in the air, but the summer of 2023's musical deluge continues unabated. Across genres, scenes and styles, the landscape continues to flourish.
We have Miley Cyrus's first song since Endless Summer Vacation — a vulnerable, proudly "unfinished" offering. On the opposite end of the vibe spectrum, Selena Gomez has thrown caution to the wind with the carefree "Single Soon."
Miley Cyrus — "Used To Be Young"
On her first song since Endless Summer Vacation arrived in March, two-time GRAMMY nominee Cyrus avoids tidiness, and pursues honest reflection.
"The time has arrived to release a song that I could perfect forever. Although my work is done, this song will continue to write itself everyday," she said in a statement. "The fact it remains unfinished is a part of its beauty. That is my life at this moment ….. unfinished yet complete."
"Used to Be Young" belongs to the pantheon of "turning 30" jams; therein, Cyrus looks back on her misspent youth, and the attendant heat of the spotlight. "You say I used to be wild/ I say I used to be young," she sings.
In the stark video, she gazes unflinchingly into the lens, without varnish or artifice.
Selena Gomez — "Single Soon"
Where Cyrus' new song bittersweetly gazes backward, Gomez's carbonated new jam "Single Soon" is focused on the promised reverie of tomorrow — sans boyfriend.
"Should I do it on the phone?/ Should I leave a little note/ In the pocket of his coat?" the two-time GRAMMY nominee wonders, sounding positively giddy about her unshackling from Mr. Wrong.
As the song unspools, Gomez gets ready for a wild night out; the song ends with the portentous question, "Well, who's next?" If you're ready to slough off your summer fling, "Single Soon" is for you.
Ariana Grande — Yours Truly: Tenth Anniversary
The two-time GRAMMY winner and 15-time nominee's acclaimed debut album, Yours Truly, arrived on Aug. 30, 2013; thus, it's time to ring in its tin anniversary.
Granted, these aren't "new songs," per se: rather, in a weeklong celebration, Grande is reintroducing audiences to Yours Truly.
Dive in, and you'll find "Live From London" versions of multiple songs. Plus — perhaps most enticingly — the sprawling re-release contains two new versions of "The Way," her hit collaboration with late ex Mac Miller.
Maluma — Don Juan
Papi Juancho is dead; long live Don Juan. "Fue un placer," Maluma wrote on Instagram last New Year's Eve. (It translates to "It was a pleasure.")
And with that, the Colombian rap-singing heavyweight ushered in a new character. He's now Don Juan — in a reference both to the fictional libertine and his birth name of Juan Luis Londoño Arias.
Now, Don Juan's out with his titular album — which he dubs a "mature" blending of the musics that got him going, like reggaeton, house, salsa, and hip-hop.
Burna Boy & Dave — "Cheat On Me"
Just over a year after his latest album, Love, Damini, Burna Boy is back with I Told Them… The Nigerian star offers another forward-thinking missive with his seventh album.
Featuring the likes of 21 Savage, J. Cole, and Wu-Tang Clan's GZA and RZA, I Told Them… is one highlight after the next — and "Cheat On Me" is one of them. For the advance single, the GRAMMY-winning Afro-fusion dynamo teamed up with London rapper Dave.
Therein, the pair expound on getting out of their own way. The chorus, powered by a sample from British-Ghanian singer/songwriter Kwabs, sums it all up: "I couldn't see/ I was cheating on, cheating on me."
Blackpink — "The Girls"
BLACKPINK are a bona fide cross-cultural sensation, but they won't stop at the music: they're a game now.
A little over a year after their second studio album, Born Pink, the acclaimed South Korean girl group has released a mobile app, succinctly called "The Game." Therein — and above — players can watch the video for "The Girls," their first post-Born Pink jam.
Don't say Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa didn't warn you: "Stop sign, we're burning it down/ Better watch out, we coming in loud/ Bang, bang, just playing around/ Don't mess with the girls, with the girls, with the girls."
The Killers — "Your Side of Town"
The Killers' beloved debut album, Hot Fuss, turns 20 next year; as a ramp-up, here's "Your Side of Town," a new slice of electro-pop from the Vegas crew.
The sleek, aerodynamic, Auto-Tuned "Your Side of Town" is their first single since their acclaimed pair of albums, 2020's Imploding the Mirage and 2021's Pressure Machine.
Here, the five-time GRAMMY nominees take a Pet Shop Boys-like tack with the music; lyrically, they're still putting the "heart" in heartland rock.
"I'm hanging on your side of town/ I notice when you're not around," frontman Brandon Flowers sings on the chorus. "Can't keep my cool, I'm burning inside/ A broken heartbeat, barely alive."
But the Killers — like everyone on this list — remain very alive.
Photo courtesy of YG Entertainment.
5 Ways BLACKPINK's MetLife Concert Was A Joyous Celebration Of Their Career
K-pop phenoms BLACKPINK took over New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium on Aug. 11 and 12, marking both their biggest North American shows to date and their 7th anniversary as a group. Take a look at five special highlights from night one.
At one point in BLACKPINK's concert at MetLife Stadium on Aug. 11, Jennie tilted her head toward the sky. It was the K-pop juggernaut's first of two nights playing at the football stadium, and the singer wanted to properly say hello to the tens of thousands who had gathered.
"Second floor! Third floor! And… is that fourth floor?" She surveyed the BLINKs seated at the edges of the venue before turning to members Jisoo, Rose and Lisa with a look of disbelief. "No way," Lisa responded as the entire stadium erupted in cheer. "New Jersey has leveled up — whole other level," Rosé said. "Unbelievable."
Just last year, BLACKPINK performed in New Jersey at a sizable, but much smaller venue. Prudential Center had three levels instead of four, and the boost in attendance could easily be felt at MetLife. The sky glowed rosy pink as the legions of BLINKs waved the group's hammer-shaped lightsticks in hand.
The concert on Aug. 11 was part of BLACKPINK's Encore leg of their Born Pink World Tour, and MetLife was the first North American stop. Born Pink kicked off in Seoul in October 2022, and since then, BLACKPINK has traversed dozens of cities around the globe. Though the setlist was expected to be similar to that of last year's — BLACKPINK has not released music as a group since their 2022 stateside concerts — that did not lessen the Encore shows' demand.
Besides, BLINKs know 2023 is a major year for BLACKPINK: the act is celebrating their seventh year anniversary — almost exactly to the date, since they debuted on Aug. 8, 2016. The group's contract is also set to expire this year, and given that YG Entertainment has not announced news of renewals, there's an added sense of urgency for many BLINKS to watch their beloved idols perform live.
And BLACKPINK did not disappoint. Across two hours, Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa delivered one rousing hit song after another and showed how far they've come since August 2016. Here are five ways the first of the group's two MetLife concerts was a celebration of their career.
At Last, Every Member Performed Solo Music
Though BLACKPINK has not released new songs as a group in 2023, earlier this year Jisoo made her solo debut, becoming the final member to do so. At past BLACKPINK concerts, Jisoo sang covers including Camila Cabello's "Liar" and Zedd ft. Foxes' "Clarity" as the other members performed their solo music. And while the covers showcased Jisoo's sophisticated charm, they left fans wanting her solo music to come sooner — and the wait was finally over.
Jisoo performed both the springy dance-pop track "Flower" and, for the first time, the buoyant EDM-infused "All Eyes on Me." And all eyes were surely on the eldest BLACKPINK member as she strutted down the runway in a sparkling silver dress.
With all of BLACKPINK performing songs they have their personal stamps on, the setlist not only demonstrated how they have grown both collectively and individually — it felt more complete than ever.
The Throwback Songs Had The Venue Shaking — Literally
BLACKPINK's more recent singles, from "Shut Down" to "Pink Venom," are undeniable pop anthems. But the ensemble has released addictive bangers since the very start of their career, and the fervor at MetLife during the throwback songs was a testament.
When "Boombayah," one of BLACKPINK's debut songs, started playing, the already roaring screams rose in volume. BLINKS swung their lightsticks more powerfully than before to the heavy beats of the song, and there was no hesitation when Jennie yelled "jump!" as the final verses approached. The floor began to shake as fans on all levels leapt in place while the group did the same on stage.
The quartet's 2020 hit song "Lovesick Girls" played immediately after, and once again the tens of thousands jumping across the stadium caused the ground to quake. The same electrifying energy filled the space when BLACKPINK performed their other early songs — from "DDU-DU DDU-DU" and "Forever Young" to "PLAYING WITH FIRE" and "As If It's Your Last" — in the second half of the show.
With pyrotechnics and fireworks, the MetLife show was already leaving a searing impression. But there's nothing quite like feeling the impact of a group through the floor literally trembling.
Diversity Of BLINKs Was On Full Display
Anyone who has attended a BLACKPINK concert knows that the group's fans come from all backgrounds, genders and ages. This was also extremely evident from one look at those waiting in line to enter MetLife.
But one addition to the concert from last year's Prudential Center show highlighted BLINKS' diversity even more. The giant screens presented a dance challenge in the minutes before the encore, and cameras zoomed in on fans who grooved to the music — some replicating the choreography to a tee while others improvised with pizzazz.
Two young girls in matching black shirts and sequined magenta skirts danced to "Pink Venom," and moments later a man in a rosy bucket hat performed the "Flower" choreography with a lightstick in hand. Two women in hot pink hijabs swayed to "How You Like That," before a male BLINK in a white dress shirt body rolled to the post-chorus and ended the performance with a wink.
BLINKS Joined BLACKPINK In Singing Happy Birthday
The most obvious way this show celebrated BLACKPINK's career was, well, with an actual celebration. Near the end of the concert, the members crowded around a four-tiered black and pink cake adorned with ribbons and roses.
"Can we sing happy birthday to ourselves?" Rosé asked as the four artists held banners that read, "Happy 7th year anniversary / BLACKPINK BLINK FOUREVER." The crowd of course screamed a resounding "YES!" and joined in on the song. "Happy birthday to Jennie Jisoo Lisa Rose," Lisa sang with a chuckle.
BLACKPINK Reminisced On A First Meeting From 10 Years Ago
The most heartwarming moment of the show happened shortly after the birthday celebration. "Remember the day that we met?" Jennie asked softly. "So romantic," Rosé laughed, seemingly surprised at the turn in conversation — just after she said she didn't want to cry that evening.
"I remember the first day you came to YG," Lisa said to Rosé. Then, BLINKS were treated to a different kind of performance. "Should we reenact the elevator scene?" Rosé asked as she put down the anniversary banner and stepped in front of the cake to get ready.
"I was with all my books and stuff," Lisa recalled as she gathered more anniversary banners and clutched them in front of her chest as if they were books. Rosé pretended to press an elevator button. "I'll go downstairs to say hi to the girls," she said, almost in a whisper. "Oh, I'm so nervous."
Together, the two of them pretended that the elevator door opened with a ding. "And then I walked into the room and was like this [motions a wave], 'Hi,' and they were so welcoming!"
At this moment, Jennie and Jisoo embraced her in a hug. "And then all night we played the guitar, til morning," Rosé remembered as her fingers strummed the air.
In the past 10 years, BLACKPINK has trained together, debuted together, and now, celebrated their seventh anniversary together. So much of their journey to becoming a top girl group is unseen by the public, but for those few minutes Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa warmly welcomed BLINKS into their memories — creating an unforgettably meaningful celebration for everyone involved.
All images courtesy of YG Entertainment.
Photo: Eric Jamison/CBS via Getty Images
Take A Look Inside "BTS 10th Anniversary FESTA" Celebrating A Decade Of The Bangtan Boys In Seoul: Photos & Social Media Reactions
Below, view photos of the BTS ARMY’s epic blowout in celebration of 10 years of Jin, Suga, j-hope, RM, Jimin, V, and Jungkook.
BTS may be on a temporary hiatus, but the ARMY hasn’t gone anywhere. On June 17, an estimated 400,000 people gathered in South Korea’s capital Seoul to commemorate a decade of the spectacular, five-time GRAMMY-nominated K-pop band.
At “BTS 10th Anniversary FESTA,” tens of thousands of fans enjoyed immersive exhibits — including a BTS history wall, the band’s onstage costumes and dedicatory sculptures of Jin, Suga, j-hope, RM, Jimin, V, and Jungkook.
Below, check out some photos — and social media outpourings — from the astonishing event.
All photos by Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images.
Photo: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella
Get To Know 5 Asian Artists Taking Center Stage At 2023 Festivals
From Jackson Wang’s historic Coachella set to NoSo’s marvelous Kilby Block Party debut, here are 5 artists of Asian heritage performing at popular music festivals this year.
Festival season is upon us and among the many names in those occasionally hard-to-read lineup posters, artists of Asian heritage have been rising to headliner status.
BLACKPINK might be first to come to mind: the South Korean group dropped jaws with their revolutionary Coachella performance, becoming the first K-pop group to headline the massive spring festival. From NewJeans to TOMORROW X TOGETHER to aespa making appearances at festivals later this August, K-pop in particular has continued to take the festival circuit by storm.
Indie, rock and EDM stars of Asian heritage are also making their mark on festival stages this year. Four Tet turned Coachella upside down alongside Skrillex and Fred again.., and Beabadoobee will take on Lollapalooza Chicago, Outside Lands, and All Things Go, all after opening for Taylor Swift on her Eras Tour and headlining her own EU tour.
From mainstays like NIKI and Raveena to rising stars like Yaeji and Wallice, festival lineups are bursting with talent this year. In honor of AAPI month, here are five Asian artists bringing their striking performances to major festival stages this year.
Although spill tab makes bedroom pop, her music was destined for festival stages.
Born Claire Chicha, the breakout French Korean singer/songwriter shapes her introspections into ambitious alternative pop. Swimming through layered vocals and electropop tinges, the artist knows how to transform her dreamy reflections into eye-catching performances.
After playing Austin City Limits last fall, Chicha graced the stage at Kilby Block Party in Utah this spring. Having already opened for everyone from Wallows to Sabrina Carpenter, spill tab knows the stage like the back of her hand.
The Rose is making their Lollapalooza Chicago debut this August, but the K-pop four-piece have been festival-ready since their mainstream debut in 2017.
Newly under the management of label Far East Movement, The Rose is known for their escalating soft-rock ballads like “She’s In The Rain” and “sorry.” Able to switch from electric to acoustic with ease, the group’s versatility translates into a bright, contagious energy meant for festival stages.
Marked by poignance and soft guitar, NoSo’s performances fill a venue with comfort. Just a few months after performing for NPR’s popular Tiny Desk Concert series, NoSo put on an emotionally enlightening show at Kilby Block Party.
The Korean American artist, who also identifies as nonbinary and transgender, released their debut Stay Proud of Me in 2022. The album tells stories centering around their racial and gender identity, offering a serenity akin to a healing force.
Hailing from Hong Kong, Jackson Wang made waves at Coachella as the first Chinese solo artist invited to perform at the festival. Bringing out Ciara to perform their sultry R&B collaboration “Slow,” the singer-rapper proved he’s full of surprises.
Previously part of the K-pop group GOT7, Wang’s massive platform is only continuing to grow. His smooth, breathy voice molds to every genre from pop to rap, and his spectacular Coachella performance highlighted how his shining stage presence will only continue to mesmerize audiences.
After a long dusty day of stomping around festival grounds, Tanukichan’s refreshing set can help you recharge.
Born Hannah van Loon, the San Francisco-based indie rock star balances warmth and grit perfectly, individualizing her own sound after four years in the pop band Trails and Ways. Just a few months before her Kilby Block Party debut, she released her dynamic album GIZMO, which followed her 2018 Toro y Moi-produced debut and tour support for Kero Kero Bonito.