There are plenty of other artists to discover beyond some of the more famous names dominating the K-Pop landscape. From upbeat bops to tracks inspired by R&B, there’s something for everyone. Check out this beginner’s guide to K-Pop and delve into songs that’ll make it easy for newbies to fall in love with South Korean music.
So, you’ve decided to step into the world of K-Pop. I’m here to help.
Before we get into the actual groups, here are a few basics:
Trainee: Here in the States, many musicians start off as independent artists and then are eventually picked up by record labels. When it comes to K-Pop, idols go through a very formal process. Usually if one wants to become an idol, he/she has to audition for an entertainment company. If the artist is accepted into the company, he/she goes through a rigorous training period of up to 10 years before making a debut.
Comeback: A comeback marks the time when a K-Pop group comes back with a new album. Comebacks often employ a concept that dictates what kind of feel the song will get and what style will define the fashion.
If you have heard of a K-Pop group, it is probably BTS. Arguably one of the most successful groups to have come out of South Korea in recent years, they’ve topped the Billboard 200 chart, appeared on many American talk shows and recently spoke at the United Nations. If you’re still wondering who exactly this septet is as a music group, start with their song “Blood, Sweat & Tears.”
When it comes to concepts both musically and aesthetically, it’s hard to find a group that’s as diverse as Red Velvet. This five-member girl group has a dual concept: “red” and “velvet.” Their “red” side tends to show a brighter, more pop-inspired concept with songs such as “Red Flavor,” while “velvet” is their more mysterious R&B persona, like “Bad Boy”.
EXO debuted in 2012 and is composed of both South Korean and Chinese members. EXO’s fame has made them the best-selling Korean artist in the history of K-Pop, and they were featured as part of the closing ceremony for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. This nine-member boy group has served dozens of concepts and catchy songs, including “Ko Ko Bop,” which has a mix of reggae vibes and electronica.
Not fazed by big numbers? Try SEVENTEEN or NCT 2018.
BIGBANG is a five-member boy group that debuted in 2006. “Fantastic Baby” was released in 2012 and remains a track that brings everyone to the dance floor – not surprising since it comes from undisputed K-Pop legends. They are highly respected for their experimental and diverse use of music genres and their personal involvement in producing their own records. Their stage performances have been admired by music critics and influence several younger K-Pop artists.
Want to hear more K-Pop royalty? Try SHINee, TVXQ! and Super Junior.
BLACKPINK is a part of the latest generation of girl groups and has a huge fanbase for their sassy pop, hard-hitting raps and distinctive vocal delivery. With only six singles and no full album, BLACKPINK’s impact on K-Pop is already visible, especially with their latest record-breaking single, “Ddu-Du Ddu-Du.”