Korean pop music (K-pop) has taken over global music charts in recent years. While many may think of Psy and his infamous single “Gangnam Style,” the list of notable K-pop musicians who are making their way into the American music market is ever growing. From quirky and cute love songs to hip-hop and rap jams, K-pop offers music everyone can find enjoyable. But with several dozen K-pop groups releasing music constantly, it may be hard to keep up with all the latest tunes. Whether you’re a K-pop fanatic or simply a little curious, here is a breakdown of some top artists to check out.
1. Exo — Exo is considered one of the most acclaimed groups in the K-pop industry. Started in 2011, the group is made up of nine members from both South Korea and China. They are notable for not only their vocals but strong dancing abilities as well. One of Exo’s most recent releases, “Lotto,” ranked No. 1 on Billboard’s World Digital Songs chart for Sept. 10. Another recent release, “Dancing King,” ranked No. 2 on the chart for Oct. 8. Both songs have an electronic vibe and will easily get stuck in your head with their catchy lyrics. Exo is a great choice for beginner K-Pop listeners.
2. Blackpink — Blackpink debuted as a group in August with singles “Boombayah” and “Whistle.” Both songs went immediately to No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, on Billboard’s World Digital Songs chart. Blackpink is not your typical girl group. Like the name implies, the group showcases a fusion of girly spunk and hip-hop vibes. Their music and dance performances stand out from the cookie-cutter routines one may expect from a girl group.
3. Got7 — Got7 is on the rise to being a household name in South Korea. The male group debuted just two years ago but have already garnered international attention, something partly attributed to its diversity; the seven members hail from South Korea, China, Thailand and the U.S. Got7 recently released their second album, “Flight Log: Turbulence,” on Sept. 27. “Hard Carry,” the first single off the album, is a hip-hop-influenced track with electric beats and plenty of bass. Got7 is known for mixing vocals and rap for a pop sound that’s typical of boy bands, but that also has an edge.
4. Red Velvet — Red Velvet debuted in 2014 and consists of five female members. The group is known for its animated style and music videos. Red Velvet’s recent release, “Russian Roulette,” peaked at No. 2 on Billboard’s World Digital Songs chart for Sept. 24. The song, a bubbly techno track, was accompanied by a video that held true to the group’s quirky aesthetic, featuring a storyline about friends killing friends for love.
5. 2PM — 2PM is one of K-pop’s classic acts, having been in the industry since 2008. The group, made up of six members, has a more mature sound compared to most other groups. “Promise (I’ll be),” 2PM’s latest single, is a rhythm and blues ballad perfect for a rainy day or post-breakup. 2PM writes for an older audience, as members range from 26 to 28 years old, but the group’s work varies from upbeat dance tunes to soft, acoustic love songs.