K-pop, or Korean popular music, has taken the world by storm. Since its beginnings in the mid-1990s, this musical genre has spawned a wave of hit bands that have dominated pop culture. You’re probably familiar with some of K-pop’s most acclaimed groups, including BTS, Blackpink, and SEVENTEEN. Infused with traditional Korean sounds while celebrating Western musical influences like hip-hop, electronic dance, and R&B, here’s a list of the best K-Pop bands you need to know.
Originally known as the Bangtan Boys, BTS is a South Korean boy band that rose to meteoric success after debuting in 2013. With four No. 1 albums and five consecutive No. 1 singles, BTS has also entered the history by being the first Korean group to perform at the American Music Awards in 2017 and became the first Asian group to win the American Music Award for Artist of the Year. The seven-member group has an estimated net worth of $100 million, with each idol having an individual net worth of around $20 million.
Blackpink, a four-member K-pop girl group, made history as the first K-pop girl group to perform at Coachella in 2019 and, once again, as a girl group Top-ranked K-pop on the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard 200. Known for their style and choreography, the group has branched out into sponsorships with MAC Cosmetics and the Calm app. Blackpink even got their own Netflix documentary, and in 2021 band member Lisa made her solo debut.
With 13 members and three units, SEVENTEEN is considered one of K-pop’s leading superstars. The former Seventeen magazine cover stars celebrate over 2 billion streams and boast of selling over 10 million albums. They kicked off 2021 with a bang, becoming the first group to twice rank No. 1 on Billboard album sales and were nominated for Best K-pop at the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards.
ITZY debuted in 2019 and made history by becoming the first and only K-pop girl group to achieve a “Rookie Grand Slam” or receive the Rookie of the Year award at all five major Korean music awards. They also made history as the second South Korean girl group to score more than one hit on the Billboard Global 200 with the release of their single, “In The Morning.”
After debuting in 2020, ENHYPEN has won four “Rookie of the Year” awards. The seven members of the group serve as global ambassadors for Ami Paris, and they have garnered more than 100 million views between the music videos for their singles, “Given-Taken”, “Drunk-Dazed” and “Tamed-Dashed”.
(G)I-DLE, a K-pop girl group, was formed as a six-person group in 2018. In 2020, the group set the highest record for a South Korean girl group and the fourth girl group to sell 100,000 copies in the first week of sales following the release of their third EP I Trust in 2020.
BIGBANG was formed through a television series called Big Bang Documentary in 2006. For years, the R&B-inspired quintet made waves as one of the biggest K-pop groups of the 2000s. compulsory military service in South Korea, members of the group enlisted in the military in 2017. Reports of a possible return emerged when members Taeyang and Daesung were discharged from the Korean military in November 2019.
Tomorrow X Together, also known as TXT, made their debut EP, The Dream Chapter: Star, in 2019. The music video for the EP’s lead single made history as K’s debut music video. -most-viewed pop in 24 hours for a boy band, after “Crown” garnered 14.5 views in one day. The group rose to No. 1 on the Billboard Emerging Artists chart and was nominated for the first time at the MTV Video Music Awards in the category “Best K-pop Group”. Their sequel, The Dream Chapter: Magic debuted at number three on the Billboard World Albums Chart. TXT’s success continued with the awarding of GQ Japan’s Men of the Year Pop Icon Award.
Known for incorporating martial arts and street dancing into their live performances, GOT7 released their debut EP, Got It?, in 2014. The group’s second studio album, Flight Log: Turbulence, debuted at number one on the chart. Billboard World Albums. The group collaborated with Adidas in a one-off performance of their single “Look” in 2018. In April 2020, GOT7 released their 11th EP Dye and broke their first day and first week sales record. The group then announced that their contracts with JYP Entertainment had expired and they would be leaving the company. In February 2021, GOT7 released their single, “Encore”.
10. NCT 127
A sub-unit of South Korean boy band NCT, NCT 127 debuted in July 2016 with their single “Fire Truck”. After releasing their EP NCT #127, they won Best New Group at several South Korean music award shows. In 2020, they released Neo Zone, which became their first top 5 entry on the US Billboard 200 chart. In 2021, the group released Sticker, which debuted at number three on the US Billboard 200, making it the highest-charting K-pop album of 2021.
TVXQ! are recognized as one of the most famous and accomplished K-pop duos of all time. The group, which was originally a quintet, debuted in 2003. After releasing two of its best-selling albums, O-Jung.Ban.Hap in 2006 and Mirotic in 2008, the group won the Golden Disk Award for Album of the Year. Internal conflicts led to the members leaving the group in 2010. After a one-year hiatus, the remaining members of TVXQ!, Yunho and Changmin, released the follow-up albums Tone and Time in 2011 and 2013. In 2018, they became the first international artist in Japan to gather a million people during a single tour of the country. They also celebrated having the highest-attended and highest-grossing K-pop concert in Japan with their 2013 Time tour show.
12. Girls’ Generation
With over 100 million digital and physical records sold, Girls’ Generation is one of K-pop’s biggest girl groups. From their debut in 2007 to their last release as a group in 2018, Girls’ Generation blazed a trail and made history in the process. In 2018, they entered the Guinness World Records after winning 13 trophies at the MelOn Music Awards, making them the artists with the most awards at this show. Their group members have since become successful DJs, actresses and variety show hosts.
13. Red Velvet
This four-member K-pop girl group released their debut single “Happiness” in 2014. After adding a new member to the group in 2015, Red Velvet’s Ice Cream Cake became the most popular album sold from South Korea’s Hanteo chart. Their album The Red Flavor debuted at number one on the Billboard World Albums chart in 2017, marking the band’s third album to top the charts. They made history as the first K-pop girl group to have three No. 1 albums on the World Albums Chart. The members of the group are proud to be ambassadors for Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo Global and Tod’s. They also secured sponsorship deals with Converse Korea.