K-Pop 101: 10 Artists You Should Be Listening to

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K-Pop is one of the biggest and most successful genres worldwide, and within the country. This genre rose to prominence back in the early 2000s: through groups like 2NE1, Super Junior, and hits like “Nobody” and “Gangnam Style.” 

Much has changed since then: K-Pop, after all, is constantly producing new talents and new sounds to listen to. Various groups have come and go, and catching up to everything may seem a little daunting — but it doesn’t have to be! Here is a handy guide to help you get started!

LOOΠΔ

Formed by Blockberry Creative, you may be familiar with this group through their unique pre-debut project: the introduction of their members through promotional solo singles over a period of eighteen months since 2016. LOOΠΔ has since debuted as a group with their single "favOriTe," released earlier this year.

They are comprised of twelve members: ViVi, Yves, JinSoul, HaSeul, Kim Lip. Chuu, HeeJin, HyunJin, Go Won, Choerry, Olivia Hye, YeoJin.


 

Holland

Although he currently has no agency backing him, this singer has made waves in the Korean pop scene by being Korea’s first openly gay idol. His debut single, “Neverland,” as well as his subsequent releases, all address his sexuality and same-sex love.

Holland has also served as a role model in the LGBTQ+ community in South Korea and across the world: his debut spurred the #HollandDebutDay to trend worldwide and he topped the Annual Dazed 100 list!


 

Gfriend

Formed by Source Music in 2015, this girl group has won several awards from MelOn, Gaon Chart, and the Seoul Music Award for Best New Artist during their debut year. Their title song, “Rough,” has won first place in various music shows, and ranked third in Billboard’s Most Viewed K-Pop Videos Around the World: January 2016.

This six-piece group is comprised of Sowon, Yerin, Eunha, Yuju, SinB, and Umji. They’re currently on their Season of Gfriend tour, set to visit countries around Asia — including Manila! 


 

SEVENTEEN

Contrary to their group’s name, this group has only thirteen members! The group is split into three sub-units: each unit specializing in vocals, hip-hop, and performance. Their latest EP, You Make My Day, ranked third on Billboard’s World Albums chart and seventh on the Heatseekers Albums chart.

This group is comprised of S.Coups, Wonwoo, Mingyu, and Vernon on the Hip-Hop unit; Jeonghan, Joshua, Woozi, DK, and Seungkwan on the Vocal unit; Jun, Hoshi, The8, and Dino on the Performance unit.


 

BLACKPINK

Formed by YG Entertainment in 2016, this group is currently the highest-charting female Korean act on Billboard’s Hot 100 and Billboard’s Emerging Artists chart. Their latest single, “DDU-DU DDU-DU,” debuted as the highest-charting Hot 100 hit by a female Korean act, and ranked seventeenth on United Kingdom’s Official Trending Chart.

This group is comprised of Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa.


 

BTS

Although this group is more known for their social media presence, this group rose to success due to their onstage personalities and their high-concept songs and music videos. Their singles “DNA” and “MIC Drop” are the first Korean releases to be certified Gold by the RIAA.

This group is comprised of seven members: Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V, and Jungkook. The group has also been involved in charity events: they are currently working on their Love Myself campaign in partnership with UNICEF.


 

Red Velvet

Debuted in 2015, this girl group is known for their very unique dual concept: Red, their brighter and pop-inspired concept and Velvet, their RNB-inspired, mysterious concept. They’ve gained several awards since their debut: they became the Korean girl group with the most number one albums on Billboard’s World Albums chart, and won awards for their music and choreography.

This five-piece girl group is comprised of Irene, Seulgi, Wendy, Joy and Yeri.


 

EXO

Formed in SM Entertainment in 2012, this boy group performs music in Korean, Japanese, AND Mandarin! They are one of the top five most influential celebrities on Forbes’ Korea Power Celebrity list, and they have been dubbed the Kings of K-Pop by the media. Their latest album, The War, won them an Artist of the Year award at the Melon Music Awards and was their highest charting album on the Billboard 200.

This nine-piece group is comprised of Suho, Xiumin, Lay, Baekhyun, Chen, Chanyeol, D.O., Kai, and Sehun.


 

KARD

Formed by DSP Media in 2017, they’re one of the most successful co-ed groups within the genre. They’ve garnered a huge following internationally: they’ve headlined tours in North and South Americas, and they’ve won rookie awards in Korea and internationally. Their debut EP, Hola Hola, ranked third on Billboard’s World Albums chart.

This quartet is comprised of J.Seph, B.M, Jeon So-min, and Jeon Ji-woo.


 

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