K-pop collaboration hits and misses, from Lady Gaga and Blackpink to Coldplay and BTS

Songs by K-pop artists teaming up with western acts have a history going back more than a decade

Coldplay and BTS perform My Universe, a memorable pop track that topped the US charts. Reuters
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K-pop rising stars Seventeen have teamed up with eighties pop group New Kids on the Block for a remix of the latter's 2008 comeback hit Dirty Dancing.

The new version, titled Dirty Dancing (Dem Jointz Remix), is a slick piece of radio-friendly pop featuring three Seventeen members – Joshua, DK and Dino – alongside all five members of New Kids on the Block.

This supersized partnership is the latest in a string of collaborations between K-pop and western pop acts stretching more than a decade.

Some of these songs have become international hits, while others have gone down as a case of bad chemistry.

Below are seven songs that were hits and misses.

1. My Universe by Coldplay featuring BTS (2021)

Both artists bring their A-games to what is the best collaboration of their respective careers.

While it looks like a commercial exercise, Coldplay and BTS are kindred pop spirits. In addition to songs with anthemic global appeal, their lyrics often hint at deeper humanist messages of love, reconciliation and unity.

My Universe amplifies those themes in a memorable pop track that topped the US charts.

Coldplay maintained the collaborative atmosphere by co-writing and recording the music for BTS member Jin’s 2022 single The Astronaut.

2. Sour Candy by Lady Gaga featuring Blackpink (2020)

Gaga was one of the first major pop stars to fully embrace the sound coming out of South Korea as an unabashed fan of Blackpink.

While the joint track Sour Candy – appearing in Gaga's underrated return pop album Chromatica, – is a thrilling slice of synth pop, the fact it was released at the onset of the pandemic robbed it of any traction.

3. Old Town Road (Seoul Town Road Remix) by Lil Nas X and RM (2019)

A collaboration seemingly cooked up in a boardroom, this prosaic version of Lil Nas X’s global hit Old Town Road did achieve its objectives.

By getting RM from K-pop behemoth BTS to appear, the American rapper extended his reach to the South Korean market.

While BTS benefited by latching on to one of the biggest pop tracks of the decade, all the while cheekily aiding RM on his eventual road to solo stardom.

4. Written in the Stars by Wendy and John Legend (2018)

Released as part of a series of international cross-genre collaborations by powerhouse South Korean music company SM Entertainment, Written in the Stars is a tender romantic ballad well within RnB singer Legend's wheelhouse.

The song also gave singer Wendy from K-pop girl group Red Velvet a chance to showcase her strong and dramatic vocals – an aspect often hidden within the strident electropop stylings of her group.

5. Hangover by Psy featuring Snoop Dogg (2014)

A frankly convoluted mishmash of EDM.

Then again, if anyone could try to pull this off it would have been Psy. On the back of 2012’s Gangnam Style, a global hit turned pop culture phenomenon, the South Korean rapper tried to repeat the trick with Hangover.

Even with a stylish verse from US hip-hop star Snoop Dogg, the track is more cacophony than cool collaboration.

Play it once and move on.

6. Niliria by G-Dragon and Missy Elliot (2013)

Elliot doesn't record with anyone. Such is her enigmatic presence and supreme technical rapping that it needs a talented artist to share the microphone with her.

Fortunately, rapper and singer G-Dragon – who at only 35 is considered a veteran of the K-pop scene – shows he is no slouch at the studio as both he and Elliot trade blistering verses.

Released as part of Coup d'Etat, his internationally acclaimed 2013 album, Niliria remains one of G-Dragon’s signature songs.

7. Like Money by The Wonder Girls featuring Akon (2012)

Credit to Senegalese-American rapper Akon who appreciated the potential of K-pop before many of his peers. Akon teamed up with the now defunct Wonder Girls and the track Like Money featured prominently on the group's self-titled TV movie.

While this pop and hip-hop fusion can be described as lightweight at best, the track was a relative hit in South Korea. With better production, marketing and talent on offer, K-pop artists and producers went on to release more arresting sounds.

Updated: September 08, 2023, 4:08 AM