K-pop girl groups NewJeans and LE SSERAFIM are extending their influence beyond music to captivate gaming fans with their participation in famous game theme songs, creating a competitive dynamic. NewJeans released ‘GODS’, the English theme song for the 2023 League of Legends (LoL) World Championship, on October 4, while LE SSERAFIM collaborated with Blizzard Entertainment for ‘Perfect Night’, released on October 27. ‘GODS’, characterized by its majestic sound and sense of challenge, contrasts with the upbeat and positive ‘Perfect Night’. This marks a notable shift in concept for both groups, as NewJeans usually focuses on light, easy-listening tracks, while LE SSERAFIM is known for powerful, girl-crush songs.
Both songs have maintained high positions on music charts, with ‘Perfect Night’ and ‘GODS’ securing the 2nd and 3rd spots, respectively, in YouTube Music’s latest ‘Weekly Popular Songs’ chart. Remarkably, ‘GODS’ has ranked in the U.S. Billboard ‘Global (Excluding U.S.)’ and ‘Global 200’ charts, a rare feat for a game theme song. ‘Perfect Night’ has achieved a first for a K-pop girl group English track by topping Melon’s ‘Top 100’, both daily and weekly charts. NewJeans and LE SSERAFIM have also performed these tracks at official events organized by League of Legends and Overwatch, further exciting game users.
This collaboration represents a significant move in the gaming and music industries. While there have been many instances of Korean artists partnering with the gaming industry, such as advertising models, comprehensive collaborations involving song releases, music videos, and official stage performances are rare. An industry insider noted the popularity of League of Legends and Overwatch, with user numbers in the millions, and acknowledged the positive reception of these collaborations among gamers. Cultural critic Kim Sung-soo highlighted the strategic marketing in linking K-pop artists with the gaming industry, bridging language barriers and creating a new market where game players, recognized as sports athletes, show high loyalty and purchasing power for games, music, and characters they engage with.