First K-pop band featured in Philadelphia's Jingle Ball

By TORI D'AMICO
On December 10, 2018

Photo courtesy of Z100 New York, Twitter

Q102’s Philadelphia Jingle Ball finished out its run featuring Monsta X, the first K-pop group to ever perform on the tour on Wednesday, Dec. 5. The Korean idol group performed at five of the event’s locations, alongside other international American favorites like Shawn Mendes and 5 Seconds of Summer.

Korean music has been on the rise in the American mainstream since BTS, an internationally famous K-pop boy band, won the first Billboard “Top Social Artist” award to go to a Korean group. Now, other groups are following suit of BTS and finding their way onto American red carpets and stages.

Monsta X is a seven-member male group who first debuted three years ago through Starship Entertainment, and has amassed hundreds of thousands of fans since then. Their most recent album, “Take.1 Are You There?” peaked at #2 on the Billboard World Albums chart in November of 2018.

Upon becoming the first K-pop group to ever headline the tour (the only Korean artists at all following solo act Psy in 2012), American interest in them peaked.

“It’s a true honor,” said the group’s leader, Shownu, in an interview to SoompiTV.

“At first they were fascinated,” says main vocalist Kihyun in the same interview, “but by the third song people were cheering for us.”

The group showed up with their mix of vocals, rap and choreography, performing their most recent hit “Shoot Out” and their 2017 comeback title track “DRAMARAMA” among others. The group, despite the language barrier, used their music to connect with the audience.

“Monsta X was super entertaining,” said Christina Booth, a concert attendee, “Even though I wasn’t familiar with their music, their dancing was insane and [they] had me on my feet the whole time.”

Venues hosting the event had to include in their event details this year that “light sticks” are not allowed within, a specific adjustment for their K-pop act. K-pop groups, not excluding Monsta X, often have a light stick designed for their fans to wave at the concert, but American venues have not adopted them just yet.

While groups like BTS who have their name established internationally are looking at their next move involving the Grammy Awards, lesser-known groups like Monsta X are working hard to break into smaller events like Jingle Ball.

Despite the size of the event, it is sponsored across the country by premiere radio stations, among them KIISFM and Philadelphia’s own Q102.1. These stations attract their many diligent listeners with the most popular names of the year, and by breaking into ranks with these artists, Monsta X may achieve these levels of popularity.

The Korean music industry functions unlike any other, with groups and artists being constantly trained and debuted to the world after strenuous years of training in dancing and vocals, with Monsta X as no exception.

The seven members, Shownu, Wonho, I.M., Kihyun, Jooheon, Minhyuk and Hyungwon, were brought together on a Korean music competition show “No.Mercy.” This method of training and pairing is decided purely by the companies to which the individual members are signed, with little say from the artists.

Nonetheless, the group considers themselves like a family, and are proud to perform for their international fans. Though they aren’t making daily radio play yet, Monsta X is among the Korean groups you can be sure to see in the coming years at the events you know and love.

 

vdamico@ramapo.edu

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