The ‘bboom bboom’ of K-pop in the Philippines

Angelica Sinay, Bea Movido

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The ‘bboom bboom’ of K-pop in the Philippines
Analyzing the rise of Korean pop music based on Spotify data

MANILA, Philippines – 2018 has by far been proven to be the year for K-pop’s global breakthrough. Until then, K-pop was rarely seen grazing charts outside their own. But in one year alone, the contagious hallyu managed to break into billboard hits and music industries around the world.

To find out how K-pop fared in the Philippines, we looked at all of Spotify’s Weekly Top 200 charts from January 2017 to June 2019 (total of 130 weeks) in the country. We also included data from nearby countries Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia.

Rising popularity in Southeast Asia

Two years ago, there were less than 10 K-pop songs in the Philippines’ weekly charts – 4 in January, 8 in February, and 3 in March. 

By this time, weekly charts in Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia already had 47, 68, and 26 K-pop songs, respectively.

But in June 2018, the Philippines started catching up, with a total of 52 K-pop songs making it to the weekly charts. We surpassed Singapore, which had 33 K-pop songs, and Malaysia, which had 29. Indonesia was still leading with 89 songs, but since then, our numbers continued to rise.

While we still have the lowest number of K-pop tracks in the regional charts per year, K-pop is growing fastest in the Philippines versus neighboring countries. In 2018, we had more than double the number of K-pop songs versus 2017, and Pinoy K-poppers are showing no signs of slowing down.

More and more songs in Philippine weekly charts

For 130 weeks since January 2017, well-loved K-pop groups regularly appeared in Filipinos’ weekly top charts.

The graph above shows the total number of times a K-pop group or artist appeared in Philippines’ Weekly Top 200 songs from January 2017 to June 2019.

While 2017 and 2018 opened with just two K-pop songs in each of the top charts, this year started with 12 songs. 

Of all groups, Blackpink joined the charts most often, appearing almost half the time since January 2017!

Most streamed songs

K-pop has been climbing the ladder of Filipinos’ most played songs – from top 31 in 2017 to top 2 in 2018.

In 2017, “DNA” by BTS was the most played K-pop song in the weekly charts with around half a million streams. But in 2018, “Bboom Bboom” by MOMOLAND rose to the top of the weekly charts with more than twice the streams of “DNA.”

Now, we are only halfway done with the year and “Kill This Love” by BLACKPINK has already topped the charts with nearly 3 million streams in a single week.

K-pop sound vs. OPM sound

In Spotify, each track has a list of values of audio features identified for each song. The radar graph below is a comparison of the average audio features of the top-performing K-pop and OPM songs of 2019 so far. 

One audio feature, valence, is described as the musical positiveness of a track (i.e. whether a song stimulates positive or negative emotions). Notice the difference in valence levels of the two genres.

K-pop has a higher average valence value, meaning it is more likely to make listeners feel cheerful. In contrast, OPM has a relatively low average valence value – which is not surprising, given our love for hugot songs. 

The difference doesn’t seem to deter Filipinos from loving both genres, in different ways.

The data shows that while OPM music leans towards a more acoustic sound, K-pop is faster, louder, and more intense. This makes K-pop perfect for dancing – which is why choreography can sometimes stick more than the lyrics!

Who’s your bias?

With Filipino K-pop fandoms growing larger than ever, we can expect more groups to come and capture more Filipino hearts. Do you have your own bias whom you wish could visit the country? Tell us in the comments who you want to see! –

[Editor’s note: Angelica Sinay and Bea Movido are Rappler interns]

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