K-pop’s global rise has introduced Korean culture to millions of teenagers. Even in the heartland of America, thousands of teenagers listen to K-pop on Airpods and BTS fandom is spreading like a California wildfire.
The K-pop takeover is real.
C-pop hasn’t had the same level of cross-over appeal. China’s pop stars have a reliable market and fanbase in mainland China. In the past, this meant that many Chinese pop stars didn’t even try to cross-over.
Lately, however, this has been changing. A new wave of C-pop stars have their eyes set on a global audience and they are giving K-pop a run for the money.
Cai Xukun, also known as KUN, is currently on a sold-out tour of North America and the UK. He appeals to the western fans by combining his talents of rapping, dancing, and singing into his performances. He is a great example of a rising C-pop star with global appeal by adopting and modifying a global music style.
He draws influence by icons such as Queen, Nirvana, Lana Del Rey, The Beatles, and American R&B. He rose to fame after winning the “Idol Producer” talent show. Later, he crossed over with his first English single, “Wait Wait Wait,” released this past August. Mixing languages and musical styles, this 20-year-old has a promising future ahead.
Lay Zhang (Zhang Yixing) is an unusual C-pop star; he got his start as the only Chinese member of the K-pop band Exo. His dual-language album, “Namanana,” quickly reached #21 on the Billboard 200. He is the highest-charting C-pop artist to date.
What is he up to now? He is working with DJ Khalid and is even set to release a Michael Jackson tribute with Jason Derulo in 2020.
Jane Zhang (Zhang Liangying) rose through the ranks on singing competitions, including Super Girl and Idol Producer. She performed the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games theme song “One World, One Dream,” with an Italian opera singer, Andrea Bocelli.
Brand USA, a US tourism organization, brought Jane Zhang to sing in the big-budget ‘Feel the USA’ TV campaign.
She has an incredible 5-octave range with a versatile musical style. Now, appealing to an older audience, she is a cross-over audience that other C-pop stars can follow.