K-pop has become increasingly popular outside of Asia over the last 5-10 years. Whether you want to join the craze, or just discover some sick new beats, here are 5 iconic K-pop bands you need to check out.
Ngl, I’m loving the fact that Asian staples like anime and Korean pop are becoming hugely popular across the globe. In fact, I’m pretty sure the world consists of two kinds of people: those who love K-pop, and those who will eventually.
If you’re not yet in the K-pop fan camp, now is the time. Just give yourself over. It’s gonna happen eventually anyway.
But if you’re still resisting, this list is bound to make you think twice.
Here are some incredible bands to get you into this one-of-a-kind music genre.
This is one of my all-time favourite K-pop groups: specifically during the time of its original members, Jo Bin and Lee Hyuk. Although they may be less well known than some of the other big-hitters on this list, once you dip your toes into the world of Norazo, there ain’t no going back.
The pair met accidentally when they started to use the same practice room. Lee’s physique and awesome voice caught Jo’s attention (can’t blame the guy, he’s only human). He decided to trick him into joining forces by telling Lee they would sing ballads (which makes sense if you’ve ever heard Lee’s insane vocal range).
Although they later decided to create music that was different from the usual K-pop sound, they became well known for their eccentricity and comical lyrics. The pair were together from 2005 to 2017 and made songs that still give me goosebumps.
2. Girls’ Generation
Originally a nine-piece group, yeah, you heard right: nine.. Jessica left in 2014 leaving Taeyeon, Tiffany, Hyoyeon, Sooyoung, Sunny, Seohyun, Yuri and Yoona. Their signature electro-bubblegum sound is hella infectious, and their videos are addictive to watch.
They’re nicknamed “The Nation’s Girl Group”. And, although they may look like a cutesy, butter-wouldn’t-melt gang, they squabble like siblings and have had a few major bust-ups. Some that almost resulted in their performances being cancelled.
Crazily, they also all used to live together in a dorm-type arrangement. They agreed on rules to keep their household running smoothly. This included playing rock, paper, scissors to decide the order of showers, and writing their initials in their underwear to keep them separate. They also had a quirky agreement where the first to wake up had to make breakfast, and the last had to clean everything up.
Although they’re not performing as a group anymore, their music is undoubtedly a hit.
Even if you’re not into K-pop bands, if you haven’t heard of these guys in our list of 5 then… where the hell’ve you been for the last seven years?! Heck, even John Cena’s a fan – counting RM and J-Hope as his favs.
BTS has seven members: RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jung Kook. They produce most of their music, and have managed to become the highest-ranked Korean act on the Billboard 200.
These guys defy borders, and are one of few Korean bands to garner worldwide recognition. One of the reasons for their insane popularity is because their songs often have strong social messages. They’ve touched on everything from bullying to mental health issues.
They also love Twitter. Aside from competing between themselves to see who can get the most amount of re-tweets, they were also the first K-pop group to get their own Twitter emojis.
It’s taken just four years for BLACKPINK to become one of the biggest girl bands in the world. With members Jennie, Jisoo, Rosé and Lisa smashing records all over the place.
These girls are edgy, quirky, and have insane amounts of sass. Every song they release becomes a hit, and they’ve also collabed with the likes of Dua Lipa, Selena Gomez, and Lady Gaga.
They were the first K-pop girl group to play at Coachella, and to reach 1 billion YouTube views. Now, they’re the most-subscribed-to music group on the platform, and count Jake Gyllenhaal as a fan.
Does anyone miss S Club 7’s TV shows? Just me? K. But on a related note, these guys also have their own TV show: BLACKPINK House. You can watch them go about their daily lives doing everything from laundry to cooking (it’s way cooler than that it sounds ok).
5. Monsta X
K-pop’s bad boys defo deserve a spot on your playlist.
Breaking records and hearts all over the place, their hip-hop/EDM/pop style will grab you by the eardrums and immerse you in K-pop heaven.
Unlike many K-pop groups who keep their true selves away from the media spotlight, these guys have larger-than-life personalities and they ain’t afraid to show ‘em.
Their fierce vocals and catchy tunes give them a spot on my list any day. In fact, if you don’t put “Hero” on repeat after your first ever listen, you have more willpower than John Wick.
What did you think of our list of 5 K-pop bands to check out? Are there any K-pop bands you’d have liked to see up here? Let us know your thoughts below.
Check out our Anime for newcomers article HERE.
7 Underrated Rock Albums That Defined the Noughties
One thing comes to mind when you think of bands from the first decade of the new millennium. Indie bands that started with ‘The’. But the decade offered more musical delights than just indie. Here are seven underrated rock albums that defined the noughties.
7. At the Drive-in – Relationship of Command (2000)
The noughties rock albums were partly defined by a healthy post-hardcore scene. One of the pioneers of the scene were At the Drive-in. The American quintet saw in the new millennium with their third album, Relationship of Command. Ironically, the band split twelve months after the release of this album. They were riding a wave of success and acclaim, but exhaustion caused them to call it quits. Although they have reformed in recent years, this album was one of the best. Their first two efforts may have defined that aggressive post-hardcore sound they are known for. But this release showed that they were more than a one-trick pony. It was also the album that influenced a slew of post-hardcore bands in their wake.
6. Taking Back Sunday – Where You Want to Be (2004)
Where You Want to Be was the second album from American rockers Taking Back Sunday. Formed in New York in 1999, they have released seven albums to date. Where You Want to Be was the band’s second release from 2004. Their debut two years earlier gained good reviews and created a buzz for the band. This effort brought the band into a more mainstream route, but without losing their edge. It was 2006’s major-label follow-up that propelled them into the stratosphere but forget that. Where You Want to Be is stuffed full of edgy yet melodic anthems that feature vocals from both heaven and hell. Standout tracks such as A Decade Under the Influence and The Union showcase that meeting of styles perfectly. This album defined the alt-rock-hardcore scene of the 2000s. It was also one of the best-selling independent releases of the year.
5. System of a Down – Steal This Album! (2002)
Often considered as a collection of B-sides that never made it on to Toxicity, Steal This Album! is a cracker. It is true that the songs were unfinished works from the Toxicity sessions, but they are musical gems. There’s no doubt that Toxicity transported System of a Down to dizzy heights. And that regular airplay on MTV helped hugely as Chop Suey became a massive hit. But Steal This Album! snuck in the back door a year later and features the band at their best.
There are still political themes running through the songs, as you would expect. But the brilliance of the songwriting really shines through. Innervision and I-E-A-I-E-I-O are beautifully bonkers. It’s like they took Toxicity and raised the crazy factor by a thousand. Yes, the former is more well-known and successful. But Steal This Album! showcases what System of a Down do best – make music that batters, inspires, confuses, but ultimately leaves a huge grin on your face. The album that defined the band.
4. Blink-182 – Blink-182 (2003)
This was the fifth album from the pop-punk titans. It was 1999’s Enema of the State and 2001’s Take Off Your Pants and Jacket that made Blink-182 one of the biggest pop-punk bands on the planet. MTV and radio had played the songs constantly for a few years and the albums influenced many an outfit in their wake. It was 2003’s self-titled effort that really saw the band evolve into mature songwriters. There are so many gems to pick, but Miss You and Always are obvious examples. Gone is the toilet humour, and it is the clever, experimental and mature songwriting. They still have that sharp melodic edge and superb vocal interplays that are inexplicably Blink. Give it another listen and it shows a band at the peak of their creativity.
3. The Hives – Tyrannosaurus Hives (2004)
Tyrannosaurus Hives was the third offering from Swedish garage rockers The Hives. Known for their smart stage suits and glistening hair, their brand of raucous rock hit the big time with 2000’s Veni Vidi Vicious. That album gave us Hate to Say I Told You So and received universal acclaim from critics. This follow-up from 2004 is an even better album in my opinion. It still has that bouncing scratchy sound that the band are known for, but with a constant flow of dance floor anthems. Walk Idiot Walk and A Little More for A Little You are sun-kissed rock gems. This is a noughties offering that rises above all the other indie rock bands albums from this decade. Quality, timeless songs that remind you of the good times.
2. Radiohead – Hail to the Thief (2003)
Radiohead is a band that often divides opinion. Hail to the Thief was the sixth offering from the Oxfordshire-based experimentalists. It was the late 90s that brought the band critical acclaim and success. Mostly due to the success of OK Computer. Hail to the Thief took the bands musical experimentation on to the next leave. Dabbling with orchestral sequences with synths it creates quite the aural experience. Lyrically, Thom Yorke is addressing the so-called war on terror with titles like A Wolf at the Door and We Suck Young Blood. There is a lot of electronic tinkering on this album and any more would probably send it into self-absorbed twaddle. But with this album, they’ve nailed it to perfection.
1. The Black Keys – Attack & Release (2008)
Hailing from Ohio in the US, The Black Keys have been on the scene since 2001. Attack & Release was the band’s fifth album and released in 2008. Interestingly, this was the first album they recorded in a professional studio with an outside producer. It’s certainly has a polish to it that makes it stand out. Not only that, but it also has some rather brilliant garage rock songs on it. I Got Mine in particular makes you want to pour a Jack Daniels. In a decade that was littered with sound-a-like indie bands, The Black Keys wound up the decade with something rather special. It’s an album that takes a few listens but when you get it, you really get it.
That’s our list of seven underrated rock albums of the noughties. Did we miss any? Which is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below.
Read about musicians who nearly died on stage HERE.
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