meta-scriptGet To Know The Many Sounds Of Asian Pop: From The Philippines' BGYO To Hong Kong's Tyson Yoshi & Thai Singer Phum Viphurit | GRAMMY.com
Many sounds of asian pop 2023
(From left) Baek Yerin , Tyson Yoshi, So!Yoon!, Lexie Liu, Phum Viphurit

Photos: Justin Shin/Getty Images, Just Kidding Limited, Justin Shin/Getty Images, Victor Boyko/Getty Images for Miu Miu, Frank Hoensch/Redferns

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Get To Know The Many Sounds Of Asian Pop: From The Philippines' BGYO To Hong Kong's Tyson Yoshi & Thai Singer Phum Viphurit

While many are likely familiar with big names in K-pop such as BTS, BLACKPINK and NCT 127, the Asian content has a plethora of equally exciting pop acts. Read on for 10 artists from China, Japan, Vietnam and beyond who are worthy of checking out.

GRAMMYs/May 11, 2023 - 08:48 pm

In recent years, the music industry has made strides when it comes to giving artists of Asian descent a platform. At this year's Oscars, "Naatu Naatu" from the film RRR became the first Indian-Telugu language song to win Best Original Song. At Coachella, Diljit Dosanjh made history as the first South Asian artist to perform in Punjabi; BLACKPINK became the first-ever K-pop group to headline the iconic music festival. 

Such achievements have been a long time coming. Asian musicians have long struggled in mainstream entertainment, often encountering stereotyping, exoticism and othering. Some studies have suggested that East Asian performers face more discrimination over their music-making, with many considering their style as less expressive than caucasian acts. And while much work has been done to change these views, more needs to be done. 

Asian artists around the world have been responsible for some of the most exciting and eclectic music being released today. While many are likely familiar with names in K-pop such as BTS, BLACKPINK and rapper Jackson Wang, there are many other underrated pop artists from across Asia. From Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, China, Japan to Vietnam, below are 10 artists worthy of checking out. 

Car, The Garden 

Since his debut in 2013, South Korean singer/songwriter Car, The Garden has been winning the hearts of audiences with his husky, soulful voice and feel-good songs. After releasing an EP and several singles under his previous stage name Mayson the Soul, the singer changed his name to Car, The Garden, which is an interpretation of his real name (his last name Cha is a homonym of "car" and his first name "Jung-won'' means garden). 

His original songs can be heard on Korean television series and international films. "Romantic Sunday," which he wrote for the hit 2021 K-rom com series "Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha," similarly evokes feelings of being cheerful, happy and carefree. His latest single, "Home Sweet Home," was written for the acclaimed Canadian film Riceboy Sleeps, about a South Korean single mom who leaves her life behind for the Canadian suburbs to give her son a better life.

Lexie Liu 

Chinese singer Lexie Liu has long been crossing cultural boundaries. Known for blending elements of electro-pop, cyberpunk, hip-hop and rock in her music, Liu also sings in English, Mandarin and Spanish. Liu incorporated Spanish into her debut studio album, The Happy Star, after hearing one of her songs on the Spanish Netflix series "Elite." 

As an independent artist, Liu’s career could have ended up much differently. At 17, she placed fourth on the South Korean reality competition series "K-pop Star 5." Ultimately, she decided to leave behind a chance at becoming a K-pop idol for more freedom to write and produce her own songs. 

Today, her cool girl and edgy style has moved beyond music. She’s since also become a darling in the fashion world, modeling and working with brands including Miu Miu, Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent. 

BGYO 

While idol groups are popular in Japan and Korea, BGYO have been redefining what it means to be a boy band in the Philippines. The five member boy group was formed in 2018 after the Philippine commercial broadcast network ABS-CBN launched its Star Hunt Academy, a program meant to introduce Filipino talent to the international market. After training in a program similar to the K-pop trainee system in South Korea, BGYO made its official debut in 2021.

Dubbed the "Aces of P-pop," the group’s name is an acronym for "Becoming the change, Going further, You and I, Originally Filipino." The quintet mix elements of pop and R&B, and attribute their music and style to their Filipino roots. BGYO's lyrics focus on social issues relevant to youth such as self-love, empowerment and hope. Their debut single "The Light" made the group the fifth Filipino artist ever to appear on the Billboard Next Big Sound chart, debuting at No. 2. BGYO capped off their debut year with more than 10 million streams on Spotify and 12 million views on YouTube. 

So!YoON!

So!YoON!, born Hwang So-yoon, is an alt-pop singer, songwriter and guitarist known for her powerful, raspy vocals. Before embarking on a solo career, she founded the band SE SO NEON at the age 18 — which became one of South Korea’s most acclaimed indie groups for their blend of rock riffs, R&B sounds and airy synths. 

Earlier this year, So!YoON! released her sophomore studio album Episode1: Love which explores themes of love, desire and self-reflection. Lead single"Smoke Sprite" features BTS rapper RM. Set over the grainy wash of grungy guitars, the sensual song follows two lovers calling out to one another in the gap between dreams and reality. The track is effortlessly cool, and perfectly describes So!YoON!’s unique sound and style. 

PRETZELLE 

PRETZELLE  is a Thai pop girl group that’s quickly taking the T-pop genre into the international market. The quartet's name is inspired by the infinity shape of the pretzel because it symbolizes happiness and enjoyment. 

This past January, PRETZELLE released the assertive and confident love song "U R MINE," which sees members fiercely devoted to a romantic partner and not wanting outside competition for their affection. Members Inc, Ice, Aumaim and Grace all took part in the writing process, and enlisted Shin BongWon (known for working on "Ditto" by the K-pop group NewJeans) to mix the song. The song has since received more than 161 million streams overall on streaming platforms including YouTube, Apple Music, Spotify and TikTok. 

Since its debut in 2020, PRETZELLE’s music has also appeared on a number of original soundtracks, including the Thai TV drama "Love Revolution" and the Korean animation "Teteru." The group have also found a solid fanbase, fondly called Twist. 

Baek Yerin 

The frontwoman of the indie Korean rock band the Volunteers is also a singer/songwriter whose voice you may have heard on K-drama soundtracks. Baek Yerin's original ballad, "Here I am Again," was featured in "Crash Landing on You" and peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard K-pop Hot 100 chart. Known for her sweet and delicate vocals, Baek is credited with composing the majority of her songs, often touching on real life experiences. 

She first debuted with major South Korean label JYP Entertainment as part of the duo 15& with singer Jamie (also known as Park Ji-min), and formed her own independent label, Blue Vinyl, in 2019. The 25-year-old writes in Korean and English, citing Amy Winehouse, Oasis and Rage Against The Machine as some of her biggest influences. Yerin has also written for artists including Chungha, Soyou and Yeonsoo. 

Phum Viphurit 

Thai Indie singer/songwriter Phum Viphurit first rose to international fame in 2018 with the breezy summer song "Lover Boy," and has since garnered a loyal fanbase in his home country as well as South Korea, India, Japan and Hong Kong. Viphurit writes in English and blends elements of surf-rock, pop and neo-soul into his guitar riffs and melodies. 

The 27-year-old moved to New Zealand at age 9, and then moved back to Thailand for university. Viphurit reached viral fame for his original and cover songs on YouTube, and signed to the indie label Rats Records. While Viphurit’s songs are often uplifting (such as 2022's "Welcome Change"), he has also been open about his own mental health struggles in songs like 2019’s  "Hello Anxiety."

Sexy Zone 

Fans of the "Full House" TV franchise may recognize Sexy Zone, the Japanese boy band that made a brief appearance on "Fuller House" in 2018. Yet  Sexy Zone has been an active group since 2011, releasing eight studio albums and numerous No. 1 hits in Japan. 

With a name inspired by Michael Jackson’s "sexiness"  and bright and colorful concepts, Sexy Zone’s music can surely be compared to the catchy bubblegum pop hits often heard in K-pop. The members’ eye-catching costumes, synchronized choreography and charming personalities have helped the group garner a loyal fanbase, dubbed the Sexy Lovers. 

Tyson Yoshi 

Tyson Yoshi, born Ben Ching Tsun Yin, is one of Hong Kong’s best known hip-hop artists, amassing more than 46 million views on YouTube and more than 247,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, with streams from more than 100 countries. While ballads have often dominated the Hong Kong music scene, Yoshi represents a new kind of contemporary artist in his home city. His music melds elements of trap, pop, hip-hop and R&B, while he sings in Cantonese, Mandarin and English. 

While Hong Kong society has typically favored more conservative styles and appearances, Yoshi stands out for his bleached colorful hair and tattoos. He's developed a fanbase for singing about wanting to be understood and tackling stereotypes, such as in  "I Don’t Smoke & I Don’t Drink."  When he started dabbling in songwriting in university, he took inspiration from artists including Avril Lavigne, Justin Bieber and pop-punk bands Sum 41 and Simple Plan. 

MIN 

MIN first gained popularity as part of the dance and music group St.31, eventually becoming one of Vietnam’s top female soloists. She found success with her 2017 mid-tempo pop single "Có em chờ" with rapper MR.A. Later that year, her EDM-inspired track "Ghen" featuring ERIK from the V-pop boy band MONSTAR. 

MIN’s profile continued to grow internationally after Vietnamese-American singer Thuy asked her to sing Vietnamese lyrics on a remix of her viral single "girls like me don’t cry." On collaborating with MIN, Thuy wrote on YouTube that it’s "so important to me to show two badass Vietnamese women from opposite ends of the globe TOGETHER." 

Celebrate AAPI Month 2023 With A Genre-Spanning Playlist Featuring BLACKPINK, Yaeji, Olivia Rodrigo & More

Yuna 

Photo: Timothy Norris/Getty Images

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Listen: Celebrate AAPI Month 2021 With This Playlist Featuring Artists Of Asian & Pacific Islander Descent

While the AAPI experience is far more vast than four letters can hold, AAPI Heritage Month provides ample opportunity to explore the infinite reaches of what Asian, Asian-American and Pacific Islander art can be—and this playlist can be your soundtrack

GRAMMYs/May 26, 2021 - 01:57 am

The experience of being Asian-American and/or of Pacific Islander descent cannot be contained in a word, phrase or corporate slogan. Each universe contains innumerable micro-universes; under a microscope, even more realms of identity and feeling emerge. 

That said, it is incumbent on each of us to recognize and appreciate the contributions of AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) artists, even though the dialogue and introspection the term entails is astronomically larger than four letters can hold.

GRAMMY.com is proud to curate a playlist for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2021. Uncontained by genre or racial identity within the Asian and Pacific Islander diasporas, the result is a sonic tour through wildly divergent genres: pop, jazz, classical and beyond. We've also compiled quotes from artists as well as Recording Academy staffers who self-identify as AAPI.

The aim of this playlist is not to artificially string together artists based on their appearance or perceived racial descent; rather, it is to demonstrate how artists within the AAPI world have enriched more styles of music than we can count.

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Picks From Recording Academy Staff Members Of AAPI Descent

Kobukuro — "Winding Road"
Golden — "Hate Everything"
Lee Hong Gi — "Still"

"I love that this month gives us an additional platform to celebrate the APIDA community. The Asian American experience is filled with a lot of complexity and richness, so I'm grateful we've been able to shed some light on that through food, music and art, history, advocacy, and a heightened sense of community. Always excited to keep the energy going beyond this month!" —Taylor Kimiko Saucedo, Project Manager of Ticketing and Event Operations, Production Department

BTS — "Butter"
Stray Kids — "Back Door"
Eric Nam — "Honestly"
Radwimps — "Nandemonaiya"
Pierre Fitz — "T'lah Berubah"
Gabe Bondoc — "Filler"

"I'm so appreciative of our community and all those who support it, in and out of this month. My Philippine culture has always been a part of me, and while I always try to bring it out in everything that I do, this month I feel more welcomed to show it! During this month, I'd also love to encourage everyone to support local Asian businesses; not only have they been affected by COVID, but also the Asian injustice acts happening throughout the world." —Thea Marvic A. Domingo, Executive Office Coordinator

Rina Sawayama — "Bad Friend"
Mitski — "Your Best American Girl"
Yuna — "Dance Like Nobody's Watching"
H.E.R. — "Focus"
Suzuki Saint — "Sunday"
Japanese Breakfast — "Be Sweet"

"To be honest, I am used to AAPI Month being ignored by non-AAPI entities, so it's been a little strange to see so much about it this year. I'm getting promotional emails from companies highlighting AAPI-owned products, etc. I have a feeling the increased celebration of AAPI month is unfortunately tied to the rise in hate crimes targeting AAPI people, and so I have mixed feelings about it—not about the month itself, but about non-AAPI folks suddenly acknowledging it when they haven't before."  —Jane Kim, Coordinator

Crush + Pink Sweat$ — "I Wanna Be Yours"
DPR Live — "Cheese & Wine"
Phum Viphurit — "Lover Boy"
NIKI — "Indigo"
Rich Brian — "Kids"

"I'm glad that many people have been promoting Asian American culture this month! From the food and languages to more serious issues such as discrimination and #StopAsianHate, it's been an enlightening few weeks." —Chris Chhoeun, Accountant, Business Affairs

Quotes From Artists Of AAPI Descent

Joey Alexander — "Under The Sun"

"While it's often customary in Asian culture to remain silent when faced with adversity, it is encouraging to see how all the Asian communities have banded together to speak out against the violence that's been inflicted on our elders, brothers and sisters, not just recently but systematically because of how we look. I am hopeful for a future of harmony where there is an open dialogue about our cultural differences and how as humans, we are all seeking peace, happiness and prosperity." —Joey Alexander

Read: Joey Alexander On The Primacy Of The Blues, Building Tunes To Last & His New Single, "Under The Sun"

Vijay Iyer Trio — "Children of Flint"

"It's not that any particular album is political, but at almost any moment in my musical life, I'm listening to what's happening outside and that is informing what I do, why I do it and with whom I do it. And for whom I do it. The first two pieces on the album [2021's Uneasy] are probably the most 'political.' But it's more like each of them was serving a specific purpose—serving a specific cause. And by serving, I mean literally serving. Trying to support an existing movement on the ground." —Vijay Iyer, speaking to GRAMMY.com in 2021

Bhi Bhiman — "Magic Carpet Ride"

"I'm happy to see it. I think it's important for the younger generation of kids—Asian kids, but maybe more importantly, non-Asian kids—to see that we are just a normal part of the country. We don't need special sections for our movies on Netflix or a temporary showcase on corporate retail websites. We just wish to be treated with the same respect as our European-American counterparts in real-life situations. We want to be judged on the content of our character, not the color of our skin. But there are some strong stereotypes in America about Asians, and in my case, Indians. My parents are from Sri Lanka, which floats on the edge of the Indian subcontinent. As a musician, I'm often on the wrong end of conscious and unconscious bias, unfortunately. The plight of the perpetual foreigner is that our superpower is invisibility in plain sight. It can be challenging, especially when I know I am one of the best out there at what I do. But I love seeing people embracing their heritage and culture and having pride in it. I see the world changing and stereotypes fading away, which is good news for the next generation." —Bhi Bhiman

Yo-Yo Ma — "Amazing Grace (Prelude)"

"I value the perspective that time can give as well as different disciplines. We can look at ourselves biologically. If we look at ourselves genetically, the huge chasms in racial-ethnic differences become minuscule." —Yo-Yo Ma, speaking to GRAMMY.com in 2021

Jihye Lee — "Struggle Gives You Strength"

"I sincerely appreciate the many organizations celebrating AAPI Month. I am thrilled to see some of the Asian musicians getting special exposure, including myself. I am beyond thankful for the support. Although I am aware all the actions come from genuine intention, I still want to be seen just as a composer. I hear the name Toshiko Akiyoshi as a comparison just because of my ethnicity. Even though I have tremendous respect toward her, I don't think it's my music that reminds them of Toshiko but my look—and I am not even Japanese. Maybe people want to name the same skin color of musicians they know as a nice and kind gesture, just like I hear 'Ni hao' on the street—and I am not Chinese. I am an Asian female composer, but when it comes to music, I wish my music to be heard without any preconception and wish to have AAPI support focused on our works—not on being Asian itself. We are in the middle of making changes, and I hope these efforts lead us to a world that doesn't need the word AAPI." —Jihye Lee

Jen Shyu — "Lament for Breonna Taylor"

"I'm an artist who really embraces my ancestry. I go deep into it. That's my path. But I know how frustrating it must be for other Asian artists who people might expect that of them. They just want to make music, you know? It's just being the other. I've never let it stop me because I'm so hard-headed. I just go forward." —Jen Shyu, speaking to GRAMMY.com in 2021.

Tomoko Omura — "Revenge of the Rabbit"

"They're stories you can relate to, those folk tales. They've been told for a long time for reasons, right? Because we're humans at the end. Those children's folk songs and folk tales have lived so long because the messages are strong. I think it's a great way to connect us as humans." —Tomoko Omura, speaking to GRAMMY.com in 2021.

Min Xiao-Fen — "Annica (Impermanence)"

"This world is small, you know? People should be open-minded." —Min Xiao-Fen, speaking to GRAMMY.com in 2021.

More Artist Picks By Recording Academy Staff

Jay Som — "Tenderness"
Mxmtoon — "Creep"
Tyler Shaw — "North Star"
Steve Aoki feat. BTS — "Waste It On Me"
TOKiMONSTA — "Bibimbap"
Giraffage feat. Japanese Breakfast — "Maybes"
RayRay — "Outer Space"
Yaeji — "Raingurl"
Peggy Gou — "It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)"

"As a person of color myself, I know the struggle of feeling foreign or being 'othered' in my own home country. Yes, I am of two lineages, but I am as equally American as I am Mexican. I feel the plight of my AAPI brothers, sisters and nonbinary friends during this difficult, scary time. And while we are celebrating AAPI artists and cultures all month long, we must keep the conversation going all year long. #AAPIAllYear." —John Ochoa, Managing Editor of GRAMMY.com

Raveena — "Tweety"
Hayley Kiyoko — "Found My Friends"
—Jenn Velez, Editor of GRAMMY.com

ZHU ft. Yuna — "Sky Is Crying" 
TOKiMONSTA ft. Yuna — "Don't Call Me"
Lastlings — "No Time"
Yaeji — "WAKING UP DOWN"

—Ana Monroy Yglesias, Editor of GRAMMY.com

ZHU Talks New Rave-Ready Album DREAMLAND 2021, Being Inspired By Hyphy Music & Asian Americans Finally Being Heard

Display inside GRAMMY Museum's New K-Pop Pop-Up
ATEEZ on display at the GRAMMY Museum

Photo: Rebecca Sapp

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Inside The GRAMMY Museum's ATEEZ & Xikers Pop-Up: 5 Things We Learned

Rookie K-pop group Xikers and label brothers ATEEZ are the subject of the GRAMMY museum’s first-ever K-pop pop-up exhibit. Go inside the exhibit, which runs through June 10, and learn about the clothes, videos and stories behind these K-pop boy groups.

GRAMMYs/Apr 12, 2024 - 11:32 pm

K-pop’s reach has expanded exponentially over the past decade, bringing some of Korea’s biggest pop stars to the West for sold-out tours, history-making performances, and a number of cross-cultural collabs.

K-pop touring acts accounted for a record high of 5.1 percent of the 100 highest-grossing tours globally in 2023 according to Billboard. K-pop’s reach has been palpable in regions outside of Asia — like the U.S., Europe and Latin America. According to the same study, BLACKPINK was the No. 1 grossing K-pop group in 2023, with their global tour netting $148.3 million over 29 shows; the group was the 10th most profitable touring act across any genre. 

The GRAMMY Museum is capturing this historic moment in time with a pop-up exhibition focused on two of the fastest-growing groups in the industry. On April 10 through June 10 at the GRAMMY Museum in downtown Los Angeles, "KQ Ent.: ATEEZ & Xikers" is an inclusive environment for anyone — whether you’re a dedicated Xikers fan who knows the dances step-by-step or a casual listener wanting to learn more about K-pop. 

Read more: What's Next For K-Pop? A Roundtable Unpacks The Genre's Past, Present And Future

After passing through displays dedicated to King of Pop Michael Jackson, you’re transported to a new era of pop music through an exploration of both ATEEZ and Xikers’ careers. Right at the entrance is a bright blue wall containing a sweeping look at the history of Korean pop music, written in both English and Korean. The exhibit details terms exclusive to the world of K-pop, including the positions of various members in each group, and what key terms like "bias" and "trainee" mean. 

GRAMMY Museum's New K-Pop Pop-Up _ What Is K-Pop Wall

The second part of the exhibit displays outfits both groups have worn, as well as props from their music videos. Other items on display include abstract drawings Xikers’ members did themselves as concept art for their first mini-album HOUSE OF TRICKY: Doorbell Ringing.

The second and third walls of the exhibit focus on breaking down the basics on what to know about ATEEZ and Xikers. Visitors can then head to a wall of music videos from both groups, pop on the attached headphones, and enjoy the exhibit’s displays come to life in a glorious video. 

At the pop-up's opening event, there was palpable excitement from both groups' fan bases — also know as Xikers’ Roadys and ATINYs for fans of ATEEZ. Fans squealed and gasped, taking pictures of each other and the exhibit; some fans even brought photocards of their favorite members (protected in a pink, decorated case, of course) in order to snap a photo of the card next to a member’s outfit on display. 

This exhibit is a love letter to fans, as well as a succinct introduction into the world of the modern K-pop star. Read on for five things we learned from "KQ Entertainment: ATEEZ and Xikers" exhibit.

All photos by Rebecca Sapp.

For Xikers, It's All About Relating To Their Fans 

GRAMMY Museum's New K-Pop Pop-Up _ Xikers Outfits

*Xikers' outfits on display*

Xikers already had fans in their pre-debut days, and their journey was on full display at the GRAMMY Museum. Under the temporary moniker KQ Fellaz 2, the group released pre-debut documentary-style videos exploring how the members approached training in Los Angeles. 

The pop-up explains how the 10-member group came up with their name: The "X" was short for x-coordinates, while "IKERS" derives from the word hiker. Together, the name was supposed to represent the group on a journey to find their Roadys (the "Y" representing y-coordinates) as well as their own career trajectory. 

Xikers are fearless stylistic chameleons who pen their own tracks and experiment with genres like hyperpop and rap. With such innovation, it makes sense that they are the only group from K-pop’s fifth generation that has landed two albums on the BIllboard Global 200 chart within the year of their official debut (March 30, 2023). Their latest EP, HOUSE OF TRICKY: Trial And Error, arrived in early March 2024.

The props and outfits acquired from the sets of Xikers' music videos are often an homage to traditional Asian culture and intertwined with the bright, braggadocio of street style — all with a youthful spin. At the exhibit, large bubble guns and neon bandanas from the "We Don’t Stop" music video are a snapshot of these small moments of youthfulness. 

ATEEZ’s Focus On Freedom Has Always Important To Their Art 

GRAMMY Museum's New K-Pop Pop-Up _ ATEEZ skateboard

*ATEEZ's prop skateboard*

Throughout the pop-up ATEEZ, are described as having "everything the youth needs." It’s a tall order for any musical artist, but the exhibit solidifies ATEEZ’s growth into that role. 

Their sophisticated debut tracks were self-assured and encouraged fans to embrace the same attitude: "We can do anything, just follow us" they sing on their debut single, "Pirate King." Yet, becoming a symbol of youth meant digging into how powerless the young can find themselves. Reflected in the band's anarchy card props and graffitied skateboards on display,  ATEEZ's music has always included a rebellious streak. 

The group often revisit this theme throughout their career — particularly on 2020’s "Say My Name" and "Pirate King" — except with more of an exploration of figuring out how to liberate oneself from those in power. While some K-pop groups’ concepts and music video can be tedious or confusing, ATEEZ's focus on freedom is effortless.

K-Pop Stage Outfits Are Even More Magnificent IRL 

GRAMMY Museum's New K-Pop Pop-Up _ ATEEZ outfit

*An outfit worn by Jongho from ATEEZ*

High-energy choreography has been an essential facet of K-pop, and both ATEEZ and Xikers perform a youthful, powerful choreography (so much so that ATEEZ included a dance practice video for their display). 

Xikers’ emphasis on smooth, synchronized and intense choreography was proudly displayed on their wall of information and in the music video playing throughout their display. The group incorporated their outfits into their choreography, with dynamic zipping motions and confidently stomping out complicated footwork with their platform sneakers. 

Both Groups Performed Sold Out Debut Tours

GRAMMY Museum's New K-Pop Pop-Up _ xikers props

*Xikers props*

Xikers and ATEEZ stay booked and busy. On  both walls listing their accomplishments, there seemed to be an endless array of album titles and projects coming out —  ATEEZ have released nine EPs since their 2018 debut. It only highlighted the immense work ethic it takes to thrive in the industry.

ATEEZ's first tour came only four months after their debut and sold out in mere minutes. Xikers headed on a tour merely six months after their debut, performing in North America, Europe and Japan. Both bands' global popularity speaks to the depth with which K-pop groups (and Xikers and ATEEZ in particular) connect with their fans. On social media, under each tour’s hashtag, fans record their live performances, or write about how much a song meant to them.  

ATEEZ’s upcoming fourth world tour Towards the Light: Will to Power, is on the horizon, and Xikers just wrapped their tour this year in February. It’s clear that touring has become an essential part of their artistry, as well as a crucial way to connect with with listeners in a safe space. In fact, it’s something fans often look forward to — not only being able to relate to their favorite singer but also finding other fans. As this exhibit reveals, despite the glitz and glamor of the industry, at the core of it all is the group’s desire to find connection. You might carry a photocard of them, but they are just a bit like you, too. It makes this unique connection all the better for it. 

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(L-R) Tony Kanal, Gwen Stefani, Adrian Young and Tom Dumont of No Doubt stand holding their GRAMMY Award for  Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal
(L-R) Tony Kanal, Gwen Stefani, Adrian Young and Tom Dumont of No Doubt

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

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GRAMMY Rewind: Watch No Doubt Accept Their GRAMMY Award For “Underneath It All” In 2004

Ahead of No Doubt’s highly anticipated reunion at Coachella on April 13 and 20, revisit the last time the band was on stage at the GRAMMYs together — the moment they won Best Pop Performance By A Duo/Group at the 46th Annual GRAMMY Awards.

GRAMMYs/Apr 12, 2024 - 05:49 pm

Right before their hiatus in 2004, No Doubt had one last hurrah with a win for Best Pop Performance By A Pop Duo Or Group With Vocals for "Underneath It All" at the 46th Annual GRAMMY Awards.

In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, travel back to when they took the stage to accept their award presented by Mathew Perry together.

Drummer Adrian Young began by praising their families, loved ones, and the citizens of Drapers, Jamaica, for "showing us how to have a good time and relax while recording music" Then, bassist Tony Kanal took a turn at the microphone thanking their team, management company, and label, Interscope Records.

Frontwoman Gwen Stefani closed out the speech by acknowledging "Underneath It All" co-writer, David Stewart of Eurythmics; her then-husband, Gavin Rossdale, who inspired the track; and, of course, the fans for "letting us stay alive as a band for all these years."

This Saturday, No Doubt will reunite again (they took a second hiatus in 2015) for a premiere performance on the Coachella stage. 

Press play on the video above to watch No Doubt's complete acceptance speech for their "Underneath It All" win in 2004, and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind.

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Eric Bloom and Buck Dharma
(L-R: Eric Bloom and Buck Dharma of Blue Öyster Cult

Photo: Sandra Roeser

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On Their New-Ish Album, 'Ghost Stories,' Blue Öyster Cult Defy The Reaper Once Again

Long-running hard rockers Blue Öyster Cult have experienced exhilarating highs and tragic lows. On 'Ghost Stories,' an album of refurbished outtakes of yore, they survey what they've lost and savor their resilience.

GRAMMYs/Apr 12, 2024 - 04:15 pm

It's been eons since far-out classics like "E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)," but Blue Öyster Cult are still enveloped in the sci-fi dream. At 79, singer and multi-instrumentalist Eric Bloom still plays video games every day. "I'm playing 'Diablo Immortal,' 'Nexus War' and 'Return of Shadow,'" he reports over Zoom, at home in Florida, with wall art of Saturnian rings and moons swirling overhead.

Later on, Bloom remembers Allen Lanier, their founding guitarist who passed in 2013, at age 67. "He was probably the brightest guy in Blue Öyster Cult intellect-wise," Bloom says of his late friend. "He always had a book." BÖC's been irresistibly brainy from the jump; they got saddled with the "heavy metal" genre tag, but that never made that style of music, nor fit that macho archetype.

So are the nuances of this cult classic rock band. If you only know the ever-spellbinding "Don't Fear the Reaper" and cowbell jokes — well, you have a lifetime of entertainment ahead of you. Happily, the band is still forging ahead at full capacity. Their last album of new material, 2020's The Symbol Remains, was excellent and one of their most consistent. (And, no, that's not graded on a legacy-act curve.)

Now, they've followed it up with Ghost Stories — an album of songs of yore whose recordings were never finished, until now. "It's for the hardcore BÖC fan," Bloom admits of this collection of tunes, which could have ended up on 1979's Mirrors or 1983's The Revölution by Night if things went in a different direction. (The limit of how much audio could fit on an LP, or cassette, was one factor.) But tracks like "Late Night Street Fight" and "So Supernatural" could make you one.

When you visit BÖC's homepage, you're greeted with an emblazoned "On Tour Forever!" — and not for nothing. In a 100+ show-per-year touring schedule that would flatten many bands half their age, Bloom and brother in arms Donald Roeser — that's Buck Dharma to you and me — carry the flame throughout the small theaters, state fairs and casino resorts of America.

Dharma's the only original member of the band, back when they were Soft White Underbelly — a paraphrasal of a Winston Churchill comment about Italy's role in World War II, by their manager, in-house poet and overall impresario, Sandy Pearlman. On Christmas Day, 1968, Bloom moved into the band house in Great Neck on Long Island, as their tour manager. The next year, he was their vocalist.

In 1971, they became Blue Öyster Cult, named from a Pearlman poem about a conspiracy of aliens taking over the world. (To get a handle on the lore, just read the lyrics to their 1988 album Imaginos, all drawn from Pearlman's bonkers poems and scripts.)  And aside from one brief breakup during a rough '80s, they've been powering ahead ever since.

"We're not dead yet," Bloom deadpans from behind wraparound shades. But they're still telling Ghost Stories.

Eric Bloom

*Eric Bloom performing with Blue Öyster Cult in 1978. Photo: Ed Perlstein/Redferns/Getty Images*

The Symbol Remains did so well that their label, Frontiers Music out of Italy, chomped at the bit for more output. However, they couldn't make a new album at that juncture; the road dogs had to be on tour. Eventually, the idea came about to return to unfinished material from 1978 to 1983, de-mix them, remix them and complete them.

As the equally boyish and soft-spoken Dharma explains, the Ghost Stories multitracks weren't recorded in a proper studio, but in a rehearsal hall to eight-track tape. They got the tapes from their original audio engineer, George Geranios, who baked the tapes and, in effect, "pre-produced" the record (Bloom says with air quotes).

Afterward, Geranios sent them to Richie Castellano's studio and still found deterioration on the vocal of the first single, "So Supernatural." BÖC leapt at the opportunity to employ cutting-edge technology to complete the music.

"We deconstructed some of them with these AI software tools to separate the individual elements of the ones that weren't multi-track," Bloom explains. Original BÖC drummer Albert Bouchard, who left the band in 1981, stepped behind the kit to complete the tunes that weren't fully tracked. Albert's brother, their former bassist Joe Bouchard, who left in '86, followed suit.

Regarding "So Supernatural," "Joe Bouchard had to come in, current day, and re-sing it. I believe that's the only song that had a vocal re-sung," Bloom says. Neither he nor Dharma had to re-sing anything; he's not sure that Dharma played anything new, but knows Castellano had to replay elements that were missing. "Some of those older tapes had holes on them where they were abandoned before rhythm guitars were put on them, things like that," he says.

Overall, "It was a nice collaborative effort with the original band members," Dharma says. Naturally, as they flip through these Ghost Stories, both Dharma and Bloom's heads fill with memories of the original sessions. Especially of one very, very critical figure in the band's history.

"Of course, Allen Lanier is gone now," Dharma says. "But to hear him play, it makes me feel good to hear him and hear the band as it was at that time period. It's like a snapshot of what it was."

Dharma can mentally place himself in the room where this music was made. "It was sort of transitional in the band's career because 'Reaper' had been a hit, and once you have a hit, the record company wants you to get another hit," he says. "There's quite a bit of pressure to sustain your level of output and quality. It's a burden."

For a white-hot streak in the '70s and early '80s, Blue Öyster Cult were as big as your ZZ Tops or Cheap Tricks. In the '80s, "The Reaper," "Burnin' For You," "Godzilla," and the like remain staples of classic rock radio.

Still, "It's not like we were hitmakers in terms of writing or performing or posing or whatever you're supposed to do to be a hit recording artist," Dharma says. "We just always thought of ourselves as an album band. And we didn't mind taking the road less traveled as far as styles and going out on limbs and stuff like that."

"I think that's where we did our best stuff, when we just didn't give a thought about commercial success," Dharma concludes. "So, it was an odd time for us, but we persevered. And here we are. It's 2024, for crying out loud."

According to press materials, Ghost Stories "marks a fitting finale to the recording legacy of one of rock's most iconic fixtures from the past 50 years." This notion clearly irks Bloom; he denies it without reservation. "That is record label speech, and my answer to that is never say never," he says. "There's no reason why we couldn't do another project if there was a reason to."

Buck Dharma

*Buck Dharma performing with Blue Öyster Cult in 1978. Photo: Ed Perlstein/Redferns/Getty Images*

Beyond having eternal radio staples, Blue Öyster Cult have sneakily resonated with younger generations. Their catalog is vast, and full of treasures, oddities and are-they-or-aren't-they missteps to argue about; this is a band with a lot to offer to the instant-access Spotify generation.

By the way, Dharma's not buying the "Spotify is evil" line: "People bitch about the streaming and who gets the money and stuff, but actually streaming is more equitable to the artists than it ever was in the physical product days," he contends.

Rather, he puts the onus more on the predatory deals with labels: "The split is better, and the bookkeeping is much better, because every listen is logged and no one's really cheating on that. You may complain about who gets the percentage of what, but if your music is popular, you are making money now."

Everyone knows the Christopher Walken "more cowbell" skit from SNL, but BÖC heads have been found in many a writer's room; they've been referenced, and played, repeatedly on shows that burrowed into millennials' heads young, from "The Simpsons" to "That '70s Show." They've even infiltrated indie, punk and alternative: Bloom being credited as "E. Bloom" led one Dennes Dale Boon from San Pedro, California to become D. Boon.

Neither Dharma or Bloom ever met the Minutemen legend, who was tragically hurled from a van in the Arizona Desert in 1985, marking another member of rock's "27 Club." But their camps are close; Bloom has a fond memory of Mike Watt joining BÖC live to perform the blazing "The Red and the Black" — which, Watt has maintained over the years, was the first song he and Boon ever played together.

"I'm grateful for them giving a damn about Blue Öyster Cult, because I certainly appreciate what they did with it," Dharma says. And, unrelated, Bloom recently caught wind that none other than Dave Grohl's a huge fan.

"Every time our name comes up, it's always something positive," Bloom says. And whether or not Ghost Stories will mark the end of the line, Blue Öyster Cult are not apparitions to be relegated to the past. There've been ups and downs galore with this complicated, idiosyncratic, rewarding band — but as agents of fortune, Lady Luck's been with them indeed.

And to the Reaper — the main character in their greatest song, who will take us and everyone we know eventually — better luck next time.

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