K-pop has gained worldwide popularity, and this trend is reflected in the increased use of English in song lyrics, especially in girl groups
According to Circle Chart’s chief researcher Kim Jin-woo, in the first half of this year, the proportion of English lyrics in the songs of girl groups that made it to the top 400 on the digital charts increased by 18.9%, reaching 41.3% compared to the same period in 2018.
By group, (G)I-DLE had the highest proportion of English lyrics in their songs in the first half of this year at 53.6%. Following them were LE SSERAFIM at 50.6%, BLACKPINK at 50%, NMIXX at 49.3% and NewJeans at 48.4%.
In contrast, IVE’s song lyrics had a low percentage of English lyrics at 24.9%.
Commonly used English words in their lyrics included “I”, “You”, “Like” and “Love”.
Researcher Kim explained, “After BLACKPINK’s global success, the girl group market that used to be domestic-focused expanded overseas, leading to an increased use of English lyrics.” He also interpreted that the higher the overseas consumer base for a group, the more English lyrics are used.
Music critic Kang Tae-gyu analyzed, “The MZ generation has no resistance to English lyrics, and this phenomenon is reflected in the actual charts. There’s no longer a need to limit lyrics to Korean.”
While boy groups have also seen an increase in the proportion of English lyrics, their growth rate has been relatively lower compared to girl groups.
For boy groups, the proportion of English lyrics in the first half of this year was 24.3%, a 5.6% point increase from the first half of 2018.
Researcher Kim explained, “Girl groups are targeting not only fandom but also a global audience, leading to a different phenomenon compared to male idols who are more fandom-centric.”
The survey included idol songs that made it to the top 400 on the digital charts based on Circle Chart’s standards, consisting of 38 songs by girl groups and 76 songs by boy groups from the first half of 2018, as well as 63 songs by girl groups and 24 songs by boy groups from the first half of 2023. Songs entirely in English were excluded from the survey.
The number of people involved in producing K-pop songs has also increased. This is attributed to idol members participating in songwriting and composition, as well as the activities of foreign songwriters in the K-pop market.
In the first half of this year, an average of 3.9 people contributed to the lyrics, 4.8 to the composition and 2.2 to the arrangement for one K-pop song. This represents an increase of 1 person for lyrics, 1.4 for composition and 0.5 for arrangement compared to the same period in 2018.
Source: Asia Kyungje