The Global Phenomenon: 5 Internationally Acclaimed K-Pop Groups You Can’t Ignore
The worldwide phenomenon that is K-pop — short for “Korean popular music” — has taken the music industry by storm, captivating audiences with its catchy melodies, incredible choreographies, and charismatic performers.
Since the 1990s, modern K-pop idol culture has included numerous K-pop artists that have left indelible marks on the international music scene. Read on to learn about current top K-pop artists, including famous K-pop groups like BTS, Bibi, and Astro.
BTS: Breaking Boundaries and Shattering Records
Also known as the “Bangtan Boys,” BTS is a South Korean K-pop septet who grew to unparalleled success since the band’s debut in 2013. With their infectious music, thought-provoking lyrics, and electrifying performances, BTS became K-pop idols who amassed a dedicated global fanbase known as the “BTS ARMY.” No wonder why — by 2017, BTS had crossed into the international music market to ride a “Korean Wave” in the US, becoming the first Korean group to receive a Gold certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for their single “Mic Drop.” As one of the most famous K-pop groups in history and the first act from South Korea to top the Billboard 200 with their studio album Love Yourself: Tear (2018), the group not only headed the charts, but also opened the way for other K-pop stars like Girls’ Generation, EXO, and BLACKPINK to reach the US, solidifying their place as pioneers in the genre.
BTS’s songs resonate with people of all ages and backgrounds, addressing themes of self-love, mental health, and societal issues. The group has shattered numerous records, including topping the Billboard Hot 100 chart with their hit single “Dynamite.” In 2020, BTS also became one of the few groups since the Beatles in the 1960s to have four US number-one albums in less than two years. Speaking of lucky number 4, their releases “Savage Love,” “Life Goes On,” “Butter,” and “Permission to Dance” remain some of the best K-pop songs to grace the industry and made them the fastest group to earn four US #1 songs since Justin Timberlake in 2006.
Bibi: The Rising Star
While K-pop groups dominate the scene, solo artists have also garnered substantial K-pop star acclaim. In 2017, Bibi, also known as Kim Hyung-seo, signed with Feel Ghood Music after Korean-American artist Yoon Mi-rae discovered her self-produced songs on SoundCloud. In 2021, Bibi released the song “The Weekend” in collaboration with 88rising, which peaked at #29 on the Mediabase Top 40 chart, making the artist the first Korean female soloist to achieve the feat.
In 2022, she released her first studio album, Lowlife Princess: Noir, which has made a mark on listeners due to Bibi’s soulful voice and versatility, plus the songs’ relatable lyrics. Her dynamic performances and powerful vocals make her one of the industry’s most promising emerging K-pop stars.
Astro: A Stellar Journey
Named one of the best new K-pop acts by Billboard when they debuted in 2016, Astro was a six-member boy group formed by Fantagio Entertainment that has gained recognition for their energetic performances and melodic music. Known for their youthful charm and synchronized dance moves, Astro members have proven their versatility and ability to deliver captivating performances across various genres, including R&B and electropop.
Members of Astro are actively involved in the production and composition of their music. With catchy tracks like “All Night” and “Blue Flame,” it’s no wonder the crew has solidified their position as one of the top K-pop groups to emerge in recent years. In 2023 they lost two members – Rocky left the group in February, and Moonbin unfortunately passed away in April. But the remaining group members seem determined to continue on their path of K-pop greatness in the future to come.
BLACKPINK: The Reigning Queens
BLACKPINK, a four-member girl group under YG Entertainment, has taken the world by storm with their fierce attitude, empowering anthems, infectious beats, and visually stunning music videos. The group’s music is primarily EDM and pop with elements of hip-hop and trap. But they have incorporated a variety of other genres in their discography, including R&B, Arabic music, ballad, and rock, to name a few.
From collaborating with international artists (think Dua Lipa, Lady Gaga, and Selena Gomez) to headlining major music festivals like Coachella, BLACKPINK has demonstrated the global demand for K-pop music. While their 2022 album, Born Pink, debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, their impact goes way beyond the charts, inspiring a new wave of K-pop stars and empowering fans worldwide.
EXO: Uniting Cultures
EXO is a multinational boy group synonymous with K-pop’s global expansion. Comprising both Korean and Chinese members, EXO showcases the power of music in transcending cultural boundaries. Their music seamlessly blends Korean with Mandarin, and K-pop with R&B, hip-hop, EDM, and dance-pop, appealing to fans from various backgrounds. With their distinctive concept and powerful performances (hello, 2018 Winter Olympics closing ceremony!), EXO has left an indelible mark on the K-pop industry, cementing their status as one of the best K-pop groups of all time.
Keep Following K-Pop’s Rise
K-pop has evolved into a global phenomenon, with its influence reaching every corner of the world. If you’re looking to delve into the world of K-pop, you can learn more from Deezer’s Beginner’s Guide to K-Pop Music; you can also check out these 5 New K-Pop Groups You Need to Hear, these K-Pop Top Playlists for the best K-Pop songs, and these Genre-Defying K-Pop Albums to experience the best that this genre has to offer.