A distinct blend of electronic music, hip hop, rock, jazz and addictive melodies, K-pop propelled South Korea to global fame, buoyed by the popularity of boy band Bangtan Boys, or simply, BTS.
But they’re not the be-all and end-all of K-pop. As the band prepares to take a break from military service, fans are pointing out other worthy bands on the scene.
Tanaz Hoque, founder of online K-pop fanclub IndHangul, recommends Seventeen, NCT, Got7, EXO, Stray Kids, Sechs Kies and Ateez among boy bands.
Girl groups such as Twice, Red Velvet, Itzy and Blackpink have released powerful albums, adds Deepthi, another K-pop fan.
Google research reveals many anecdotes about their success.
In just seven years since their debut, Seventeen have earned nicknames like “Performance Kings” and “Stage Breakers” because they put on very precise and in-sync acts. Quite a feat, considering they’re a big group of 13 members (no, not 17). Known for their catchy songs, ‘Hot’, ‘World’, ‘Don’t Wanna Cry’ and ‘Very Nice’ are some of their hits. They have 10.4 million followers on Instagram.
Much like Seventeen, Straykids are a self-producing group that writes, composes and choreographs. The mini album ‘Maxident’ tops the ‘Billboard 200’ and ‘Artist 100’ charts this week. They are known for the “mala taste genre”, which is shocking to hear yet addictive – sample their song “God’s Menu”. With their album “Noeasy”, they reclaimed noise music – this genre is what it sounds like, loud and unmusical.
Among girl groups, Blackpink’s list of achievements is the envy. The single “Ddu-Du Ddu-Du” landed them in YouTube’s “billion view club” in November 2019. The foursome have the most Instagram followers, with more than 50 million. Their “Born Pink” (2022) is the best-selling album of all time and the song “Pink Venom” has had over 300 million views on YouTube. With fierce rapping and chic style, they are also icons of “girl crush,” a concept that embraces female confidence and empowerment.
K-pop songs are fun, but they can also be meaningful.
“Ateez released a song called ‘One Day at a Time’ in 2020. It gave us hope that even though we were living far apart and confined, we would meet one day and it was important to lead a happy life until then. “, Tanaz talks about the eight-member boy band. Or, search for “Put My Sneakers On” by girl group Itzy. It inspires young people to live with confidence, say fans. “Such songs provide a good distraction from the hectic life,” jokes K-pop lover Adithi Arun.
Not just bands, the K-pop galaxy is dotted with stellar solo artists. Look for Chungha, Sunmi, Kang Daniel and Jessi and their respective hits “Gotta Go”, “Heart Burn”, “Who U Are” and “Unpretty Dreams”, fans are rattling off names.