K-pop sensation CL is poised for a crossover and after becoming a trending topic last night, it's clear she'll have no problem with doing it. For its annual list of 100 people who are famous for famous reasons, TIME magazine is soliciting its readers' opinions, which meant that CL was suddenly vying for recognition in the TIME Top 100.
If you're unfamiliar with the 2NE1 singer/rapper, you may wonder why she deserves to be acknowledged as one of the world's most influential icons. The simple answer (beyond the fact that she's amazing) is that social clout that made her a contender in the first place.
Her fans, referred to as "GZBs" (for her solo work) or "Blackjacks" (for her work with 2NE1), have taken up the call to action on their own, making her name and the cause of voting for her a global trending topic on Twitter. As of last night, a cursory glance at the TIME 100 reader's poll shows her beating out pop culture heavyweights Emma Watson, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, and even Malala Yousafazi (who should definitely be ahead of Lady Gaga) all by a wide margin. The Obamas, Elon Musk, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Oprah are further down on this list, all far below CL.
Image courtesy of TIME
By the standards of western media, CL is very much an underdog in this competition. She's not featured in English language gossip blogs or quoted in the pages of tabloids. She doesn't walk red carpets for openings of summer blockbusters. She happens to be managed by Scooter Braun Projects, but her exposure in the US-dominated audience of media dinosaur TIME magazine has been minimal. (Unless TIME readers are big fans of her 2014 collab with Skrillex?)
Still, the success of the Korean pop star's fan campaign should really come as no surprise to those who have been following her career. Despite having recorded music almost exclusively in Korean (with occasional English phrases), CL's fanbase is global and translingual. "GZB" itself is an abbreviation of a transliterated Korean word, gizibe, which roughly translates to a non-profane word akin to bitch and repeated in her 2013 track, "The Baddest Female" (나쁜 기?'?•?). It's a Korean word that's been claimed by an audience far beyond Korea itself. As the response to her performance with Diplo on an award show last year demonstrated, CL is more than ready to expand her reach beyond the K-pop fanbase she has so remarkably established.
Little Monsters, you have some competition.
You can vote in the poll here.
Ziad Ramley is on Twitter.