The Most Popular Kpop Groups: Chart-topping Korean Pop Bands

by Alex Harris

22nd April, 2024

The Most Popular Kpop Groups: Chart-topping Korean Pop Bands

K-Pop’s meteoric rise continues to blaze across the international music scene.

From chart-topping hits and record-breaking views on music videos to sold-out world tours and dedicated fandoms, these talented Kpop groups are not just dominating the Korean music industry; they’re capturing hearts worldwide.

Veterans Still Rule

For new K-Pop fans, the names BTS and BLACKPINK might be the first to come up. 

BTS: The Revolutionary K-pop Titans


BTS, a seven-member boy group that debuted in 2013 under Big Hit Entertainment (now HYBE Labels), is often credited with spearheading the global K-Pop phenomenon.

BTS, also known as the Bangtan Boys, is undoubtedly the most popular Kpop group that has revolutionised the global music scene.

Formed in 2010 and making their official debut in 2013 under Big Hit Entertainment, this seven-member boy band, consisting of Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V, and Jungkook, has been making waves with their unique blend of hip-hop, pop, EDM, and rap.

In 2021, BTS made history by becoming the first Asian act to win the prestigious ‘Artist of the Year’ award at the American Music Awards.

They’ve also achieved impressive feats, such as having three music videos with over one billion views on YouTube and selling more albums in 2020 than Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, and Ariana Grande combined.

Their hit singles like “Dynamite,” “Butter,” and “I Need U” have made their mark on the global music charts, making BTS synonymous with the term K-pop.

While currently on a well-deserved hiatus, focusing on individual endeavours, their influence remains unmatched.

BLACKPINK: The Global Sensations

Fellow titans, the girl group BLACKPINK, show no signs of slowing down. This powerhouse quartet was formed in 2016 under YG Entertainment.

Comprising the talented quartet of Lisa, Rose, Jennie, and Jisoo, BLACKPINK has gained global fame with their unmatched charm and musical prowess.

Their defining moment came with the chart-topping hit ‘Ddu-Du Ddu-Du’, which debuted at No. 55 on the Billboard Hot 100, securing the highest chart position ever for a K-pop girl group.

With an impressive tally of over 100 wins and more than 300 nominations across various awards, they are indeed trendsetters and record-breakers in the world of K-pop.

Second-generation Generation Powerhouses

Beyond these titans, the second generation of kpop groups, who debuted roughly between 2011 and 2014, continues to be a force to be reckoned with.

EXO: The New-age Heartthrobs

EXO, also known as 엑소 in Korean, is a prominent South Korean-Chinese boy band that has made significant strides in the K-pop industry. 

Formed by SM Entertainment in 2011 and debuting in 2012, EXO originally consisted of twelve members divided into two subgroups, EXO-K and EXO-M, catering to the Korean and Mandarin-speaking markets, respectively.

The group’s current lineup includes Suho, Xiumin, Lay, Baekhyun, Chen, Chanyeol, D.O., Kai, and Sehun, with former members Kris, Tao, and Luhan having departed. 

EXO is known for their musical versatility, releasing songs in Korean, Mandarin, and Japanese, and for their synchronised and complex dance routines.

EXO Mama Album Cover
EXO Mama Album Cover

EXO’s debut mini-album “Mama” was released in April 2012, and they quickly rose to fame with their first studio album “XOXO” and its breakout hit “Growl,” which garnered widespread attention and numerous awards. 

The group has since become one of the best-selling artists in South Korea and has been recognised with numerous accolades, including winning the prestigious ‘Album of the Year’ at the Mnet Asian Music Awards for five consecutive years.

Their music videos, such as “Call Me Baby,” “Monster,” and “Ko Ko Bop,” have amassed hundreds of millions of views, showcasing their global popularity. 

With a dedicated fanbase known as EXO-L and a reputation for their powerful stage presence, EXO continues to be a leading force in the K-pop scene.

TWICE: K-pop’s Sweethearts

TWICE (트와이스) is a South Korean girl group formed by JYP Entertainment. 

The group consists of nine members: Nayeon, Jeongyeon, Momo, Sana, Jihyo, Mina, Dahyun, Chaeyoung, and Tzuyu.

They made their official debut on October 20, 2015, with the extended play (EP) titled “The Story Begins.”

TWICE The Story Begins EP Cover
TWICE The Story Begins EP Cover

They’re known for their infectious energy, bright concepts, and catchy tunes that have topped music charts worldwide.

Twice rose to domestic fame in 2016 with their single “Cheer Up,” which became the best-performing single of the year in South Korea.

Their next single, “TT,” topped the Gaon charts for four consecutive weeks.

As of 2022, the group has sold over 15 million albums cumulatively in South Korea and Japan.

TWICE’s fandom name is ONCE, and their fandom colours are Apricot and Neon Magenta.

SEVENTEEN: Kings of Performance


SEVENTEEN (세븐틴) is a thirteen-member boy group under Pledis Entertainment. 

They officially debuted on May 26, 2015, with their mini album “17 Carat.” 

SEVENTEEN mini album 17 Carat 
SEVENTEEN mini album 17 Carat 

Known for their signature music and performances, SEVENTEEN has grown into an internationally recognised K-pop sensation.

Nicknamed the “kings of performance,” they consistently wow audiences with intricate choreography, synchronised dance moves, and captivating stage presence.

Their extensive discography caters to various tastes, from the powerful “Mansae” to the sentimental “Don’t Wanna Cry.”

SEVENTEEN’s debut album “17 Carat” became the longest-charting K-pop album of the year in the US and appeared on Billboard’s “10 Best K-Pop Albums of 2015” list.

Expanding the K-Pop Universe: Second Generation Continued

GOT7: The Dynamic Septet

GOT7 (갓세븐) is a South Korean boy band formed by JYP Entertainment. The group consists of seven members: Jay B, Mark, Jackson, Jinyoung, Youngjae, BamBam, and Yugyeom.

They officially debuted on January 16th, 2014, under JYP Entertainment.

GOT7 Got It Album Cover
GOT7 Got It Album Cover

GOT7 debuted with their first EP, “Got It?” which peaked at number two on the Gaon Album Chart and number one on Billboard’s World Albums Chart.

Their live performances often include elements of martial arts tricking and street dancing.

In 2015, they released the EPs “Just Right” and “Mad,” with the latter yielding their most commercially successful single, “Just Right.”

The group departed from JYP Entertainment in January 2021, following the expiration of their contract with the agency.

MONSTA X: The Bad Boys of K-pop

MONSTA X (몬스타엑스) is a South Korean boy group formed through the reality survival program No.Mercy under Starship Entertainment. 

The group is currently composed of six members: Shownu, Minhyuk, Kihyun, Hyungwon, Joohoney, and I.M., with former member Wonho having left the group in October 2019. 

Since their debut, they’ve been known for their powerful tracks and captivating performances.

They have broken gender norms and obtained the modifier “Next Generation Beast Idol.’’ With hits like “Trespass” and “Shoot Out,” remains active with new releases.

Red Velvet: The Perfect Blend of Sweet and Bold

Red Velvet (레드벨벳) is a South Korean girl group formed by SM Entertainment. 

The group debuted on August 1, 2014, with the digital single “Happiness” and originally consisted of four members: Irene, Seulgi, Wendy, and Joy.

In March 2015, a fifth member, Yeri, was added to the group following the release of their first extended play, “Ice Cream Cake.”

Red Velvet’s music is characterised by their “red” side, which is their brighter and more pop-oriented sound, and their “velvet” side, which showcases more mature and R&B-influenced styles.

They have received numerous accolades, including the Golden Disc New Artist Award, the Mnet Asian Music Award for Best Female Group, and the Korean Music Award for Best Pop Song.

Internationally, they have been recognised as one of the most popular K-pop groups by Time and Billboard.

Third-generation Gems

The third generation of Kpop groups, which debuted roughly between 2015 and 2018, has also left its mark. 

NCT, a large boy group under SM Entertainment with multiple sub-units like NCT 127 and NCT Dream, is known for their experimental sound, impressive dance skills, and strong rap verses.

Hits like “Boss” and “Cherry Bomb” showcase their diverse musicality.

SHINee, a now-five-member boy group under SM Entertainment known for their smooth vocals, intricate choreography, and genre-blending sound with hits like “Lucifer” and “Ring Ding Dong,” remains a beloved act despite the tragic passing of member Jonghyun in 2017. 

Super Junior, a veteran boy group under SM Entertainment known for their catchy tunes, energetic performances, and longevity with hits like “Sorry, Sorry” and “Mr. Simple,” continues to entertain fans.

Fourth Generation Frontrunners

The K-Pop landscape continues to evolve with the rise of the fourth generation of kpop groups, which debuted after 2018. 

Stray Kids, an eight-member boy group formed by JYP Entertainment through the survival show “Stray Kids,” has carved a unique niche within the genre.

Known for their powerful rap verses, innovative sound that blends hip-hop and electronica, and captivating music videos, they’ve garnered a strong fanbase with hits like “God’s Menu” and “MANIAC.”

ITZY, a five-member girl group formed by JYP Entertainment in 2019, has taken the K-Pop world by storm.

A powerhouse group with impressive dance skills and strong vocals, they continue to break records with each release.

Their debut single “ELEVEN” became a viral sensation, showcasing their girl-crush concept and fierce attitude.

Subsequent releases, like the powerful “Mafia in the Morning” and the emotional “LOCO,” cemented their position as a top contender in the fourth generation.

TREASURE, a twelve-member boy group formed by YG Entertainment in 2020 through the survival show “YG Treasure Box,” is another act to watch closely.

Brimming with charisma and stage presence, they’ve captured hearts with their youthful energy, catchy tunes, and well-rounded talents.

Hits like “JIKJIN” and “DARARI” showcase their bright sound and energetic performances.

Broadening the Horizon: Fourth Generation Blossoms

This generation is rich with diverse talent. 

ATEEZ, an eight-member boy group known for their powerful performances, intricate storylines woven into their music videos, and genre-bending sound with hits like “Wonderland” and “Guerilla,” has established a dedicated international fanbase.

STAYC, a six-member girl group known for their “teen fresh” concept, catchy melodies, and impressive vocal skills with hits like “ASAP” and “Stereotype,” brings a youthful and bright energy to the scene.

aespa, a four-member girl group under SM Entertainment known for their unique AI concept and futuristic sound with hits like “Black Mamba” and “Savage,” continues to captivate with their innovative approach.

Fourth Generation’s Global Appeal

The global reach of K-Pop extends far beyond Korea. 

ENHYPEN, a multinational boy group formed through the survival show “I-LAND,” boasts members from Korea, Japan, and Canada.

Their debut single, “Given-Taken,” shattered records, showcasing their impressive talent and global appeal.

Lesserafim, a six-member girl group formed by HYBE Labels in collaboration with Source Music, features former members of the disbanded group GFRIEND alongside new faces.

Their debut single, “Fearless,” garnered much attention, solidifying their place in the competitive landscape.

NMIXX, a seven-member girl group formed by JYP Entertainment, debuted in February 2023 with the single “O.O.”

Their unique concept and powerful vocals mark them as a group to watch in the coming years.

KEP1ER, a nine-member girl group formed through the survival show “Girls Planet 999,” boasts members from Korea, Japan, and China.

Their debut single, “WA DA DA,” showcased their diverse talents and international appeal.

The Future of K-Pop: Bright and Boundless

With a continuous influx of talented K-pop groups, innovative concepts, and a dedicated global fanbase, K-Pop shows no signs of slowing down.

From the established veterans to the rising stars, these Korean pop bands are not just hitmakers; they’re cultural ambassadors, breaking down barriers and spreading the magic of K-Pop worldwide.

Whether you’re a seasoned K-Pop fan or a curious newcomer, there’s a group (or ten!) out there waiting to capture your heart with their music, performances, and infectious energy.

So dive in, explore the diverse sounds and styles, and discover the magic of K-Pop for yourself!

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