Era of “2-minute” songs “Why have K-pop songs gotten shorter?”

K-pop idol music is transitioning into a full-fledged era of "2-minute" songs

With a significant increase in songs that are around 2 minutes long, finding songs exceeding 3 minutes has become difficult in the idol music market.

Among the idol music currently ranking high on major music streaming platforms, only a handful exceed 3 minutes in length. Songs like (G)I-DLE’s “Fate” (2 minutes 42 seconds), TWS’s “plot twist” (2 minutes 33 seconds), LE SSERAFIM’s “Easy” (2 minutes 45 seconds), “Smart” (2 minutes 45 seconds), RIIZE’s “Love 119” (2 minutes 54 seconds) and ILLIT’s “Magnetic” (2 minutes 41 seconds) are representative examples. The predominance of songs under 3 minutes in the current K-pop idol market reflects the trend of shortened song lengths.

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Although there are occasional instances of songs, such as BIBI’s “Bam Yang Gang” (2 minutes 27 seconds) and Taeyeon’s “To. X” (2 minutes 51 seconds), not conforming to the typical idol music, it is noteworthy that a large number of songs by idol groups are in the “2-minute” length category. What could be the reason for this?

The trend of songs under 3 minutes in length began to emerge from last year. Songs by artists like IVE, NewJeans and (G)I-DLE, which gained significant popularity in the K-pop market at that time, are prime examples. The focus of attention from both within and outside the industry shifted to these artists’ music, which shortened the playback time by more than a minute compared to the conventional length of the mid-to-late 3-minute range in the music industry.

However, this trend soon led to a broader change across the entire K-pop market. A considerable number of idol group songs released from the latter part of last year to this year remained in the “2-minute” range, indicating the full-scale emergence of the era of “2-minute” songs.

The primary reason for this change stems from the nature of today’s idols, who must appeal to both domestic and international markets. Given that listener interest directly translates into popularity, releasing songs tailored to the needs of the MZ generation, the main consumer base of K-pop, has become crucial. In order to target the MZ generation, who are accustomed to short-form content, it is essential to quickly capture their attention and leave a strong impression. A music industry insider commented, “These days, unless you are a fan of a particular artist, it is rare for people to listen to a song all the way through for the first time. As listeners tend to consume songs based on their own needs, finding songs that can quickly and powerfully attract listeners has become a trend.”


The situation in the K-pop music market, where popularity on short-form platforms is directly linked to the success of music streaming, is another reason for the shortening of song lengths. In order to increase interest in music streaming platforms, it is necessary to expose songs in a short format, leading to a reduction in song length. The emphasis on highlighting the core sections of songs within a set time frame, particularly for the “short-form challenge” that has dominated the music industry in recent years, has also significantly influenced the shortening of song lengths.

The saying “Nowadays, even 1-minute songs are being released” is no longer just a joke but a reality. However, there are also concerns emerging regarding the gradually shorter K-pop songs. Focusing solely on chart performance could lead artists to lose sight of their musical identity and color. In the rapidly changing landscape of the music industry, it is crucial to maintain balance and lead the change without being swayed in one direction.

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