With K-pop groups on the rise in the music and entertainment industry with household names such as BTS, NCT, Twice, BlackPink, ATEEZ, Stray Kids, etc, there has been an influx in Asian representation and a newly shined spotlight on their cultures and backgrounds. With that, there are so many Asian/ Asian American artists that deserve some extra love that I want to introduce to you.
- Olivia Rodrigo
For the two weeks, I know all of you, especially those on TikTok, have heard of Olivia Rodrigo’s song “driver’s license.” A song about heartbreak and loving someone so deeply when they have already moved on, it has us all in tears and describes a feeling that most can relate to. As a half-Filipina myself, seeing another Filipina top charts and break streaming records brings a sense of empowerment. More known for her acting career as she was a star character in shows such as Bizaardvark and High School Musical: The Musical-The Series, she has shown her prowess as an upcoming artist. While she has not released much music officially, she posts on her Instagram stories almost daily with songs that she is in the process of writing. Waiting for the day that she drops her debut album.
Texas-grown Vietnamese artist Keshi has become well known for his soulful singing and always pulling out all the stops for everything he releases. Getting everyone in their feels, Keshi’s alternative/indie music has been streamed over 400 million times. I think we can all relate to him as well, as he decided to stop his nurse career in order to pursue his music career because he realized this was a chance that he could not pass up. Having to balance working as an oncology nurse in Texas to going to New York every weekend for music meetings, he made the decision to quit nursing and do music full time. I think many Asian Americans can relate to wanting to be creatively free and pursue art, but the pressure from parents to be financially stable often holds many of us back.
Crying in my prom dress, I listen to mxmtoon quite often as she has made her place in the indie-pop genre. Having a Chinese mother and Scottish father, she grew up culturally mixed but still staying culturally connected to her Chinese roots. In addition to being Asian-American, mxmtoon or Maia also identifies as bisexual, being one of few Asian-American artists that I have come across that is a part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Traditionally, many Asian countries are not as accepting of this community and have made much smaller progress in providing protection and rights to LGBTQIA+ people than here in America (not saying that America is all that perfect either). It is refreshing and builds an even larger sense of community to see a fellow Asian-American belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community and using their platform to speak.
George Kusunoki Miller, but better known by his stage name Joji, has always been a favorite of mine. Starting out as a Youtuber with three channels, he left that behind in order to work more on his music. While his YouTube personas were very silly and crazy, his music is drastically different as it has a more serious feeling. His music genres mainly being R&B, lo-fi, and trip-hop, Joji has definitely made a name for himself in the music industry, especially when his debut studio album Ballads 1 reached number 1 on Billboard's top R&B and hip-hop chart, making him the first ever Asian-born artist to accomplish this.
Korean American pop musician NIve has made his debut in both the US and in Korea. This singer-songwriter and producer has not only worked on his own discography but has aided and written music for artists such as EXO, EXO’s CHEN, Paul Kim, Sam Kim, Jeong Sewoon. A personal favorite song of mine by NIve is “I’m Tired” and his debut song “Getaway.”
- Japanese Breakfast
Michelle Zauner is a Korean-American singer and songwriter with stage name, Japanese Breakfast. Her genres consist of indie rock, indie pop, experimental pop, and lofi. She released her first studio album in 2016, titled Psychopomp, and it was a dedicated confrontation to her mother’s death. Her style is beautiful and different from what you normally expect from an indie or pop song, if you have the time, go and check out her music.