Millions of devoted followers worldwide follow K-pop idol groups, which are a global phenomenon. With groups like BTS and Blackpink breaking down barriers to become global successes, the K-pop industry has emerged over the past two decades as a cultural phenomenon that is only expected to continue to gain popularity.
What Is K Pop?
The aesthetic-driven, fashion-bending, trend-setting music genre of the twenty-first century is known as K-pop or Korean Pop. K-pop, which has its roots in South Korea, is influenced by a variety of musical styles, including experimental, pop, rock, hip-hop, R&B, electronic, and dance. There is a K-pop band or artist for every taste due to the wide range of inspirations. Massive female groups like Girls Generation have a history of releasing simple pop songs.
Check out Blackpink if you want pop music with rap breaks that are influenced by Nicki Minaj’s fast-paced lyrical approach. F.T. ISLAND, an emo-stylized band, is for you if your tastes lean more toward the alternative. G.o.d. also has the jams if you’re in the mood for some mellow, seductive R&B. K-pop is a distinctly Korean genre while crossing several genre boundaries. The music is influenced by traditional Korean music, and while most of the lyrics are in Korean, there are a few English words thrown in here and there.
How Did K-Pop Gain Popularity?
For decades, successful musical acts have consistently included youthful, attractive, and skilled performers. One Direction ruled in 2010, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera’s feuds dominated pop music in the 1990s, and New Kids On The Block was an acid-washed adolescent fantasy from the 1980s. However, the American music industry was rocked when the K-pop group BTS performed on the AMA stage on November 19, 2017, for the first time in the United States.
In the years that followed, BTS would break the record for the most Twitter interactions, appear on the cover of Rolling Stone, collaborate with Lil Nas X on Old Town Road (Seoul Town Road Remix), perform carpool karaoke, and further establish their fame throughout the world. The 1980s-era Korean Wave has now reached its zenith in the US. Four years have passed since BTS debuted in the American mainstream with a performance at the AMAs. However, to claim that K-pop began when BTS appeared on the scene would be a disservice to the genre.
A Short Overview of Modern Korean Pop
Modern K-pop has its roots in 1987, a year of intense political transition that ushered in democracy in South Korea. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, as Western cultural influences increased, musical artists started fusing elements of rap, rock, and jazz with the modern sounds of Korean music. Here is a glimpse at how the music genre has changed throughout time:
1. Seo Taiji and the Boys introduced contemporary K-pop. When Seo Taiji and the Boys’ breakthrough song, “I Know,” was published and spent 17 weeks at the top of the Korean music charts, modern K-pop began to take shape. The band’s music, which combined modern pop with American New Jack Swing, outshone the country’s then-dominant slower ballads. Idol Culture, a catch-all phrase for the fanbase that supports well-known musical artists (also known as Idols) in Japan and Korea, was created as a result of the band’s success in building a sizable fan base and inspiring several bands with a similar sound.
2. K-pop surge in the late 1990s. Entertainment companies started hiring more young performers for extensive idol training after Seo Taiji and the Boys’ breakthroughs to meet the need for new talent. The development of bands like H.O.T., Baby Vox, Fin. K.L, g.o.d., and Sechs Kies was a result of this training model, which was a spinoff of a comparable economic strategy utilised in J-pop, or Japanese pop.
3. K-pop expands abroad. With the help of bands like Big Bang, who made their debut in 2006 and received widespread recognition, K-pop grew throughout the 2000s. K-pop gained popularity among mainstream Western audiences during the past ten years, partly as a result of the enormous success of BTS (short for Bangtan Boys), a well-known boy band that was founded in 2010. The group’s performance at the American Music Awards in 2017 was a first for the genre, giving them exposure to millions of Western fans. In addition to smashing records, selling out tours, and releasing their first English-language single, “Dynamite,” which topped the Billboard charts upon its debut in 2020, the group has continued to chart globally.
Top 8 Most Popular K-Pop Artists
Numerous K-pop bands achieved success both inside and outside of the Korean music business, gaining sizable fan bases throughout the globe. The following is a list of some of the most well-known K-pop acts over the years:
1. BTS: Since debuting in the music industry in 2013, this K-pop group of seven members has seen success on a global scale. Although it took them some time to establish their footing, the guys’ switch to sentimental and intimate songs improved their appeal to younger audiences. Following a performance at the American Music Awards in 2017, they immediately gained recognition in the entire world.
2. Blackpink: The four-member K-pop group, created by YG Entertainment, combines hip-hop, trap, and electronic dance music (EDM) sounds with a current, hip-hop-inspired aesthetic. Like the colours in their name, the group’s distinctive bright and dark themes are reflected in their music, fashion sense, and lyrics. Since making its debut in 2016, the group has risen to the top spot among K-pop female groups on the Billboard Hot 100 list.
3. Girls’ Generation: Also referred to as SNSD, this eight-member Korean pop group was created by SM Entertainment in 2002. Even though their music has changed over the years, bubblegum pop and electropop are frequent comparisons.
4. Red Velvet: This five-person girl combo combines jazz and R&B with hip-hop and electronic influences to create a unique sound. The popular girl group’s animated representation and the song “Russian Roulette” were both included in Trolls World Tour in 2020.
5. Psy: In 2013, the success of the music video for his track “Gangnam Style” caused the popular Korean musician and rapper Psy to break records. He frequently uses comedy and sarcasm in both his songs and performances.
6. Exo: With nine members, this South Korean-Chinese boy band combines pop, hip-hop, and club music into its memorable compositions. They attained international popularity by the end of 2017, becoming Japan’s top-selling artist of 2014.
7. Seo Taiji and Boys: This trio of musicians, who were active from the early 1990s through 1996, employed avant-garde Western melodies as the foundation of their music. They are frequently regarded as among the original innovators who created the hybrid sound of contemporary K-pop.
8. Wonder Girls: This all-female JYP Entertainment formation was active from 2007 to 2017 and had several member changes. They used tunes and sounds from the 1960s through the 1980s in their music, giving it a more nostalgic feel.