Exploring the Rising Stars: 5 New K-Pop Groups You Should Be Listening To

K-pop‘s been around long enough for established stars like BTS and Blackpink to be household names and regular chart-toppers.

But if they’re the hottest K-pop artists putting the genre on the international map, who are the acts that are following that trail to stardom? These five groups all debuted in the last couple of years and are already sending the genre in new and tantalizing directions.

LE SSERAFIM

LE SSERAFIM (an anagram of “I’m Fearless”) is led by Chaewon, with singer-songwriter Yunjin and singers Sakura, Kazuha, and Eunchae all providing plenty of energy and appeal. This five-member girl group released their debut EP, Fearless, in May 2022. It opened at numbered two on the South Korean charts, quickly establishing the group as one to watch. Fearless features five songs, including the title track, which served as the lead single. With its heavy bass line leading the funky groove, the song’s production is crisp and hook-heavy, while the vocals alternate between Korean and English but maintain a coolness and allure in both. A few months later, LE SSERAFIM released their second EP, Antifragile. With empowerment themes, tight grooves, and percussive vocals, the title song and lead single helped shoot the EP to the top of the Japanese charts, number two in South Korea, and reached number fourteen in the US.

However, all that was the prelude to their debut full-length album, released in May 2023. Unforgiven includes six songs from their prior EPs as well as seven new songs. The infectious tune features legend Nile Rodgers on guitar, and the album shot to number six on the Billboard album charts. But with K-pop, especially, it’s not solely about the music, as style and performance play an essential role in a group’s success. Combining hip-hop-inspired street looks with sometimes sleeker, more elegant looks, the group shows off all kinds of potential and talent.

IVE

IVE debuted in December 2021 with their single album, “Eleven,” a bouncy dance-pop tune about feeling and being in love. Brightened with Arabic-style musical flourishes and striking lines like “I didn’t know my heart was so colorful,” the single rocketed to the top of the South Korean album charts and made a splash on Billboard’s world digital sales chart. IVE’s second single, “Love Dive,” another optimistic, love-themed catchy dance tune, popped to number one on South Korean digital charts and to number eight on Billboard’s chart of world digital sales.

Since then, the six-member girl group led by singer Yujin has only continued to grow, releasing its first studio album, I’ve Ive. “Kitsch,” the first single off the album, starts as a mid-tempo, melodic ballad before transitioning into a hooky, rhythmic charmer. “I Am” is a mid-tempo anthem of positivity, with lyrics that embrace change and growth: “Feels like each day changes color / Find the way that shines brightly,” they sing as vibrant synth chords and lush background vocals chime in. Both tracks hit the top of the charts in South Korea and look to blaze new trails for them internationally.

KARD

This group’s 2017 debut EP, Hola Hola, was led by the single “Oh NaNa,” a blend of dance beats, synth and keyboard chords, plus a rhythmic bass line that hit number five on Billboard’s world digital charts. A promising start for the four-member co-ed group, a relative rarity in K-pop circles. The group continued to flourish with a series of EPs that blend hip hop, reggaeton, EDM, and other influences to create their own distinctive sound.

Their music combines the female members Somin and Jiwoo’s more melodic, breathy vocals with the male members J.Seph and BM’as raps and spoken word-style contributions. Their visual style, as reflected in videos like “Oh NaNa,” emphasizes bright, almost electric colors that contrast sharply with more subdued backgrounds. The effect is a modern, appealing look and sound that sets them apart.

xikers

A ten-member boy band, xikers released their EP debut titled HOUSE OF TRICKY: Doorbell Ringing in March 2023 to widespread enthusiasm. It features two lead singles: “Tricky House,” a Bhangra-flavored dance-pop confection with hip-hop influences that’s full of energy and verve, and “Rockstar,” a driving, spirited ode to “feeling like a rockstar,” as the lyrics put it. The EP sold over 100,000 copies in South Korea in its first week, the fifth-highest total on record.

The group explains that their name, “xikers,” combines the English word “hikers” with the letter “x,” symbolizing coordinates. Thus, the name indicates a group that ‘travels through time and space’ seeking the right coordinates, according to their management company, KQ Entertainment. With two promising singles and a web series entitled Ready to One chronicling their rise, xikers is off to a rocket of a start.

XG

Proving that K-pop is not exclusively the province of South Koreans, XG (short for “extraordinary girls”) consists of seven Japanese singers, rappers, and dancers. Their 2022 debut single, “Tippy Toes,” alternates between lush, melodic sequences that show off the girls’ vocal talents with a more minimalist hollow bass groove while rapper Harvey takes the mic. It’s a catchy, captivating production that finds echoes in their follow-up single, “Mascara,” likewise boasting prominent bass grooves overlaid with wicked raps and alternating with a lusher, more melodic component.

In March 2023, XG became the first Japanese band to crack the US Top 40 radio charts with their song “Left Right.” We’re sure it’s just the start, with bigger things to come for these K-pop stars-in-the-making.

Dive into the Hottest K-Pop Artists on Deezer

Whether you’re looking for the top K-pop songs right now or keeping an eye out for K-pop debut songs, Deezer can deliver. Check out 5 Genre-Defying K-Pop Albums You Need to Hear, and keep the music going by tuning into K-Pop Universe: Top Playlists & Trending Albums and streaming our K-pop channel.

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