With the rise in popularity of BTS and the love that followed Black Pink’s song ‘Kill This Love’, as well as the unforgettable ‘Gangnam Style’, there is an increasing interest in Korean pop or K-pop. But why limit yourself to just these two bands and those that are mainstream, why not broaden yourself to experience more of their culture by checking out these 6 bands.
These are just 6 to get you started with, they are popular bands that have made a huge name for themselves over the years. But this doesn’t mean you should only check out these 6, go and find more, experience the world of K-pop, you won’t regret it.
1. Big Bang
This band has a long history beginning from 2008 but they are currently on hiatus as some members are serving in the Korean army, a mandatory requirement in Korea. They had 5 members to begin with, however, recently they have become a group of 4 due to one member having to resign.
The best part about Big Bang is that each member has an amazingly successful solo career as well. It isn’t one of those bands where one person carries the rest like in One Direction, each member brings something to the group. For this reason, they are hugely successful and when they reform again after their service they will dominate the Korean charts and probably others across the world. A Korean magazine once said that because their music is of such a wide variety and that each member brings something different to the table, they have music that would suit everyone. Just go find your song.
Because each leads a successful solo career I thought I would go through the members with you so you know who to search individually as well.
Firstly, we have G-dragon, born Kwon Ji Yong, who is the charismatic leader. He produces and writes most of the music for the band and has made waves in the fashion world as well. He has also worked alongside Flo-Rida and Skrillex, you judge whether that makes him cooler. Second is Taeyang, the lead vocalist of the group. His solo career focuses more on the RnB genre, but the song you should definitely listen to is his ‘Eyes, Nose, Lips’ which is a spectacular song of his. Perhaps even put it on as you finish reading this article?
We then have T.O.P who is the lead rapper and has also lead a successful career in acting. Daesung is a vocalist of the group who has a successful career in Japan and specializes in the Trot genre, or in simple terms: Korean old style music. Finally, we have Seungri who recently retired from the band. He was another vocalist and successful actor, as well as having success in releasing his own solo albums. Check out his ‘Let’s Talk About Love’ which features G-Dragon and Taeyang, apparently, T.O.P and Daesung weren’t needed.
Big Bang dominated and changed the K-Pop world, and once you start listening you’ll know why. My bio’s on the other bands will be a lot shorter I swear, it’s just I love Big Bang so much I got carried away…
2. CN Blue
This band is more like an actual band than a boy band as members play instruments as well as sing vocals. They have had an extremely successful music career starting from 2009 and have been dubbed the younger of F.T. Island (Five Treasure Island). Another band you should check out at some point if you aren’t aware of who they are.
CN Blue’s debut was extremely successful and they reached number 1 with their first track, ‘In My Head’, which was later used as Supernaturals: The Animation’s theme song. They have remained a popular band for 10 years as most of their music is extremely catchy and definitely fun to listen to. Jung Yong-hwa, their lead vocalist and face of the group, has also had a successful career as a solo artist and an actor too. If you want some K-dramas to watch, why not check his out.
A wonderful female band for you to check out is Mamamoo! It consists of 4 members, one of whom, Hwasa has become my female crush. She is just beginning a solo career on the side and is definitely one to watch as her song ‘Twit’ was extremely popular. Mamamoo began in 2014, and their debut was dubbed by some critics as one of the best debuts in the K-Pop industry. Their recent songs have been reaching new heights but I believe they should get more recognition then they get because their music is catchy as hell. Check out their song ‘Gogobebe’ and you’ll see what I mean if you don’t want to hear this in a club to dance to I’ll be shocked.
Another extremely popular female group, but Twice has a more cute and girly vibe than Mamamoo. As well as 9 members rather than 4, if only it was twice as many members I could have had an amazing dad joke on my hands. Their band debuted in 2015 after appearing on a reality TV show called Sixteen, they have since been signed by the hosts: JYP Entertainment who manage many other successful bands. JYP Entertainment is one of 3 major companies in Korea so Twice is going to lead a very successful career under their management.
Their music is of the repetitive but extremely catchy type, but what makes this band great is their dances which are extremely mesmerising! With a bit of dedication, you can learn all their dances and impress everyone a K-Pop night at your club. Honestly, it’s the best feeling being able to do the dances with all these other on the dance floor!
5. Epik High
Epic High is part of the older generation of bands but has proved time and time again that they are still extremely relevant. They are more of an alternative hip-hop band, making them quite different from the other bands in the list, but a band that is definitely worth checking out if you prefer rap.
They debuted in 2003 and had an extremely successful career until they went for their mandatory army enlistment. When they returned after their service in 2012 they proved their popularity had not died down as they were signed by YG Entertainment who manages some of the biggest bands in the K-Pop industry, including Psy the creator of ‘Gangnam Style’. Epik High consists of 3 members, 2 rappers: Tablo and Mithra Jin, and the DJ Tukutz. They have released music that has been extremely popular and has been praised time and time again for their poetic and deep lyrics.
6. Girls Generation (SNSD)
This female band hails from the same era as Big Bang, originally having 9 members now only having 8. They are also referred to as SNSD which is a shortened form of their Korean name, So Nyeo Shi Dae, but for easiness, I shall refer to them in the English way. Each member is extremely popular and together have had a massively successful career lasting over 10 years, debuting in 2007.
They have performed on the David Letterman show in 2012 before K-Pop was such a relevant music genre, showing how the previous generation of groups paved the way for future groups, like Black Pink. Also, most of their music has topped the charts in the K-Pop industry making them one of the biggest bands from their era. Check out ‘I’ve Got A Boy’, ‘The Boys’ or ‘Gee’ to get you started. Again you can learn a lot of their dances as well making them great fun to watch.