Be honest: maybe you've been a K-pop stan for years, but maybe, just maybe, you’ve been hearing about K-pop all over the place lately and decided it's finally time to give yourself over. Well, you came to the right place.
In case you’re absolutely new to the concept, K-pop stands for Korean Pop and yes, it’s worldwide popular. This music category embraces many different genres, from pop to rap, R&B, EDM, rock, and more. But K-pop is not just about the music, and that’s why it’s so addictive: slick choreography and insane music videos are also part of Hallyu’s—the Korean cultural wave spreading around the world —most prominent factors.
My personal list of recommendations is infinite, but there are some names you should add to your playlist ASAP in order to get you started with some addictive jams. Here are the 11 bands you'll definitely want to check out first.
Can we really talk K-pop without mentioning BTS? Don’t think so. BTS is arguably *the* most popular K-pop group around the globe, and with good reasons. They’ve reached number one on iTunes in over 65 countries, have held first place on Billboard’s Social 50 chart for 114 weeks in a row, and are soon embarking on their first US stadium tour in May.
Wow, right? With three rappers (RM, Suga, and J-Hope) and four singers (Jin, Jimin, V and Jungkook) the group mixes Hip-hop, Pop, some EDM and rap into their body of work, addressing love and mental health issues with their music. It just takes watching one of their videos to understand why they became such a global phenomenon.
Once you welcome Jennie Kim, Lisa, Jisoo and Rosé into your life, it’ll be hard to let them go. Considered one of this generation's most popular K-pop acts, every song BLACKPINK releases becomes a hit—I challenge you to listen to any song and not let it get stuck in your head for days. They’ve made history in the music charts for the past two years with their dynamic and bold songs, plus amazing choreography you'll feel the imperious need to learn.
K-pop’s bad boys definitely deserve a spot on your playlist. Topping multiple music charts and breaking hearts all over the place, you'll understand Monsta X's popularity the minute you hit play. Bringing some hip-hop, EDM , and pop to the plate, every Monsta X song is a universe you’ll want to immerse yourself in. Layers and layers of fierce vocals meet a vehement rap line in each songs, which make you a Monbebe in a heartbeat.
K-pop sweethearts right here. TWICE's melodic tunes and mix of different styles make them one of the most addictive South Korean acts at the moment. With a sound as bubbly as their personalities, the nine queens of the bubblegum style were set for fame from their very debut in 2015. Since then it’s been hit, after hit, after hit.
Go ahead and pick any of their singles to get you started, but be prepared because you're going to need room to dance.
Meet your new boyfriends. With solid vocals, good-boy-gone-bad vibes, and music videos you won’t be able to stop replaying, EXO has reached the hearts of their fans for a reason…or a few. This group of nine has been on the market for almost seven years, and charting since the very beginning.
They’ve tried every concept you can imagine—sexy, cute, bad boy, bubbly, etc—and their capacity to reinvent themselves and always go a little further than the last time.
K-pop is not just about groups, you know? There are some soloists out there making history, too, and Chung Ha is one you should know about. As part of the reality series Produce 101, she was chosen to debut in girl group I.O.I., along with the other 10 contestants. After the group’s disbandment, she decided to jump onto the solo path and the rest is history. Effervescent dance tracks and vibrant vocals are Chung Ha’s speciality, and oh, just wait ‘till you see her moves. Once you do, that’s it. There’s no way back.
They’re young and new to the industry, but it truly feels like if ATEEZ has been doing this forever. Arguably one of the most powerful debuts in K-pop history, this group has taken the world by storm in a matter of four months. Featuring strong vocals, powerful rap and oh-so-intense choreography, the new kids in town are here to stay and no one can ignore them.
The eight-member boy group have released five music videos in this short period of time and broke viewership records with each one of them, making ATEEZ a strong contender for rookie of the year.
With Irene, Seulgi, Wendy, Joy and Yeri, you get the best of both worlds: the sweet and the bold, the sparkly and the sexy, the red and...the velvet? Trust me, they are addictive. Red Velvet has been shaking up the charts all over the world for the past two years, always surprising their fans with unexpected new sounds, concepts, and even English versions of their hits.
One the the largest K-pop groups, NCT features 21 members, but they do not perform all together. The group is divided into subunits NCT127, NCT U, NCT Dream and WayV. NCT Dream embraces more of a young, bright feel, while NCT U is kind of a special snowflake unit where members rotate based on specific concepts. NCT 127 is considered Seoul’s representative group, while WayV stands as the Chinese unit. It may be a bit confusing at the beginning, but once you deep dive into their powerful songs and outstanding videos you’ll become NCT-ed.
Wanna add some classics to your list? Girls' Generation is what you need. While they’re not performing as a group anymore, there’s a big chance they got you or someone you know into K-pop in the first place. Known as SNSD in Korea, the group of nine was considered the ultimate girl group, catching everyone’s soul with their youthful, vibrant and fun songs and videos. Their signature electro-bubblegum sound matured with time while their audience saw them turn from girls to women right in front of their eyes, stealing a spot on everyone’s heart for life.
On the lookout for some pop-rock jams? Look no further, because The Rose will satisfy that particular craving. In charge of the instruments, lyrics, and composition of every single one of their songs, the quartet stands out as one of South Korea’s most prominent bands.
Their music addresses heartbreak, love, mental health, and some of the darkest shades to human emotions, and you won't regret taking a listen.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.