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7 Korean musicians you need to know

Lisa, Jisoo, Rosé and Jennie from ’Blackpink- Light Up the Sky’. Picture: Netflix

Lisa, Jisoo, Rosé and Jennie from ’Blackpink- Light Up the Sky’. Picture: Netflix

Published Dec 5, 2021

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When it comes to music, language is no barrier.

That’s because, as clichéd as it might sound, music really is a universal language.

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This is why Korean music, aka K-pop, has become so popular.

Thanks to toe-tapping techno beats, crazy-colourful aesthetic, trend-defining fashion and perfectly choreographed videos, K-pop has become something of a global phenomenon and its stars are smashing records.

From BTS winning Artist of the Year at this years American Music Awards to Blackpink being the first K-pop group to perform at Coachella in 2019, these stars are shining bright.

K-pop is part of what is called “Hallyu”, which means 'Korean wave'. It is refers to the colossal and ever-growing impact of South Korean culture, shown in the popularity of everything from K-dramas on Netflix to the rise of K-beauty.

As such, we’ve picked out favourite K-pop artists you should listen to.

BTS

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This seven-member boy band has taken the world by storm and they are definitely the biggest name in K-pop right now.

They have performed sell-out arena shows across the US and UK and have achieved two No. 1 albums in the US, boast 16 million monthly listeners on Spotify and have sold 16 million albums.

The seven members are rappers Suga, RM and J-hope, and vocalists Jimin, V, Jin and Jungkook.

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In August 2020, BTS released the track “Dynamite”, their first song entirely in English, which topped the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and stayed there for three weeks.

Shortly after, they became the first K-pop musicians to receive a Grammy nomination, with “Dynamite” up for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.

Blackpink

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Consisting of members Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa, Blackpink is another hugely successful Seoul-born girl group.

In November 2019, they became the first-ever K-pop band to join YouTube's 'billion views club' when their single “Ddu-Du Ddu-Du” was played more than a billion times on the site.

The only other Korean act to join the club is Psy with “Gangnam Style”.

They have a Netflix special which documents their musical journey and their performance at Coachella.

They have collaborated with stars like Selena Gomez and Cardi B. Once you listen to their hit single How You Like That, it’s hard to get it out of your mind.

Twice

Formed by JYP Entertainment, the group is composed of nine members: Nayeon, Jeongyeon, Momo, Sana, Jihyo, Mina, Dahyun, Chaeyoung, and Tzuyu.

Twice is the first female Korean act to simultaneously top both Billboard's World Albums and World Digital Song Sales charts with the release of their first studio album “Twicetagram” and its lead single “Likey” in 2017.

This year, Twice's tenth extended play, “Taste of Love”, peaked at number-one on the Billboard Top Album Sales chart, making it the first EP from a girl group to do so. It was also the first EP from a girl group to enter the top 10 of the Billboard 200.

Seventeen

Seventeen consists of 13 members. While it might seem like an excessive number for a group, it’s normal for K-pop bands. Each member is assigned to a specific sub-unit: 'Hip-Hop Unit', 'Vocal Unit', and 'Performance Unit'. Seventeen released their sixth EP, “You Made My Dawn”, in January 2019, from which the song Home is considered one of their best tracks.

They released this latest offering, “Power of Love”, in November this year.

GroovyRoom

Not a week goes by without me listening to this duo. Korea’s answer to Masego, this music producing and composing duo consisting of Park Gyu-jung and Lee Hwi-min, really do have more hits than I can count.

GroovyRoom released their debut single “Loyalty” in 2016 and their first EP “Everywhere” in 2017.

In 2019, they released their first collaboration project album with Ambition Musik's Leellamarz titled Room Service.

They have received several music awards, including Producer of the Year at the Korean Hip-hop Awards and Best Hip-hop Maker Award at the Soribada Best K-Music Awards.

In March 2021, the duo announced they had launched AREA, a new label in partnership with their current label, H1ghr Music.

They have signed singer Gemini and rapper Mirani.

Heize

Born Jang Da-hye but better known by her stage name Heize, this singer, rapper, songwriter, composer and producer is currently signed to P Nation.

Heize released her first full-length studio album, “She's Fine”, on March 19, 2019. The album contains 11 songs and features appearances from Simon Dominic, Colde, Sunwoo Jung-a, Jooyoung, Nafla and DAVII.

She reportedly chose the title of the album because she "wanted to tell people that it's all fine."

Billboard ranked the album as number 11 on its list of the "25 Best K-pop Albums of 2019", commenting, "Satin-soft sensitivity wraps the album in warm comfort, drawing one into Heize's heart and proving why she is one of the most colourful and exciting artists of her generation."

Jamie

She is best known as the winner of the first season of K-pop Star and as a former member of the vocal duo 15& and the project group M.O.L.A.

On August 23, 2016, Park released her first EP “19 to 20” with the lead single, “Try”. On September 4, 2018, Park released her second EP, “Jiminxjamie”.

Following the expiration of her seven-year contract with JYP Entertainment, Park left the company on August 6, 2019.

On April 21, 2020, it was announced that Park has signed an exclusive contract with Warner Music Korea, and will continue to promote as Jamie.

On September 3, 2020, Park made her first comeback under her new agency Warner Music Korea with single “Numbers” feat Changmo (29).

Her second song “Apollo 11”, featuring Jay Park released on November 11, 2020.

This year, she went on to feature on the remix of Saweetie’s hit track “Best Friend” alongside Doja Cat.

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