Ever heard of K-pop? How about a singer named PSY? There is much more to the Korean pop phenomenon than the famous “Gangnam Style” singer. There are a plethora of girl and boy groups, all of which have different styles. Each group and every performance has a different aesthetic, as K-pop groups include a blend of singers, dancers, and rappers.
If you’ve never had a friend that introduced you to K-pop, here is a list of groups you should check out. Once you get into it, you can join the K-pop fandom, an online community that makes each new album release and piece of celebrity gossip all the more exciting.
The big three
The big three companies are S.M. Entertainment (SM), YG Entertainment (YG), and JYP Entertainment (JYP). Most people start with groups from these companies because they often dominate the music charts. I would recommend branching out and listening to groups from smaller, lesser—known companies—there is talent everywhere.
What I love most about K-pop is the aesthetic combination of dancing, singing, and rapping. There is no need to worry about the language barrier, as the music goes beyond language. The songs are not only catchy, but the music videos are visually entertaining. Each has dances to go along with them, and the clothing is fun and colourful, showcasing a broad range of styles depending on the concept of the music video and song.
Bangtan Boys (BTS) is a seven-member group formed by Big Hit Entertainment in 2013. The group’s popularity began to rise quickly after the release of their single, “I Need You” in 2015.
BTS is my favourite group because of the beautiful production design and the universal themes behind their songs and music videos—addressing issues such as the importance of camaraderie and individuality. Check out their music video (MV) “Blood Sweat & Tears.” Their MVs strive for perfection–the intricate storytelling, costuming, and set design still keep blowing me away.
K.A.R.D. is a four-member group, with two girls and two boys, and is currently the only active co-ed group. They were formed under DBS Media in 2016. They released their first song at the end of the year and fans anxiously waited for their next song, which finally came out February 2017. Co-ed groups are rare in K-pop and do not tend to last long. So far, K.A.R.D. has been exceptional—blending catchy rap and an edgy spirit into one. Check out their videos for “Oh NaNa” and “Don’t Recall.”
BLACKPINK is a four-member girl group under YG, formed in 2016. They are my favourite girl group because of their bad-girl persona. A lot of girl groups are often very feminine and cutesy, yet BLACKPINK diverges from this typical style. Thus, for a beginner to K-pop, I recommend this group because they are different from the more common types of girl groups. Their debut songs—“Boombayah” and “Whistle”—were hits, showcasing the typically edgy persona that YG groups are known for. Their most recent songs ,“Playing with Fire”—which has a great MV—and “Stay” display a softer side to their music. If you prefer romantic ballads, check out “Stay.”
These groups are few among many talented groups that you should check out. K-pop helps me get through the hard days, boosts my energy, and makes me happy.