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BTS, Blackpink, Coldplay and Ed Sheeran lead a wave of K-pop collaborations with Western artists

South China Morning Post logo South China Morning Post 16/9/2021
Chris Martin et al. posing for the camera: BTS collaborated with British band Coldplay on a single, My Universe, which is out on September 24. Photo: Twitter BTS collaborated with British band Coldplay on a single, My Universe, which is out on September 24. Photo: Twitter

Pop music is having an East-meets-West love affair, as many of the biggest English- and Spanish-speaking pop stars team up with Korean counterparts.

This week, superstar South Korean septet BTS and popular British band Coldplay confirmed a long-rumoured upcoming release, My Universe, out on September 24.

The confirmation followed Puerto Rican hitmaker Ozuna dropping the surprise news, during Sunday's MTV VMA awards show, that he had an upcoming release featuring Blackpink along with DJ Snake and American hip-hop artist Megan Thee Stallion.

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That news followed the recent release of BTS' Butter remix featuring Megan Thee Stallion.

These are just the latest collaborations between Western hitmakers and K-pop stars as music industries become more connected.

The past two years have seen Lady Gaga, Jason Derulo, Dua Lipa, Selena Gomez and others collaborate with Blackpink, BTS and NCT 127. Popular Latin American artists, including Guaynaa and Leslie Grace, have collaborated with Korean performers including Super Junior and Chungha.

K-pop September releases from Blackpink's Lisa, NCT 127 and more

British pop makers are being credited as songwriters on tunes from K-pop's biggest names: Ed Sheeran recently penned his second BTS song, Permission to Dance (he also co-wrote 2019's Make It Right), and Little Mix's Jade Thirwall co-wrote Twice's May B-side First Time.

In the past, Korean star BoA appeared on a 2002 revamp of Westlife's Flying without Wings, while TVXQ debuted during a BoA and Britney Spears Christmas special in 2003.

The trend for full-blown musical collaborations started in earnest in the 2010s, when Kanye West appeared on JYJ's Ayy Girl in 2010, Wonder Girls teamed up with Akon in 2012, and Missy Elliot with G-Dragon in 2013. The trend died down for a few years, but picked up in earnest before the end of the decade as K-pop's global presence rose, bolstered by the success of acts like BTS and Blackpink.

There will probably be more high-profile collaborations in the future.

Earlier this year, BTS' label, Hybe, merged with Scooter Braun's Ithaca, which has a major star roster including Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, and Braun said in an interview with American outlet Variety that this may lead to artist collaborations.

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