‘New’ K-Pop Groups ‘Old’ Fans Can Love

As someone born in the early 90’s, I’ve been through the disco music era, peaks of Mandopop, J-Pop and then K-Pop. But as my generation progresses from students to working adults, they seem to be less connected with K-Pop. As they fondly put it, they are still in the TVXQ, Big Bang (Yes they are still current and relevant la), SNSD and Super Junior era.

With so many talents debut every now and then, I thought I’d round up a list of relatively new K-Pop groups that are easily likeable and relatable. You know, just to refresh things for my peers.

But I have to be honest – I am also taking my own preferences into consideration. There are some undeniably talented/popular groups out there that I would never take a second look at, not to mention recommending them. But I’m just a random writer on the net, don’t waste your time preaching to me about your stans, yeah? 😉 To each his own.

So here are things I take into consideration – 

  • Likeable Factor
    To put it bluntly, members who look friendly, down-to-earth and um… relatively natural. Like at first sight!
  •  Talent
    Ability to sing. (Yes I do google their MR Remove performances every now and then)
  • Personality
    Entertaining persona on variety shows, making every LIVE performance unique
  • Teamwork
    Level of harmony as a team, also taking into consideration their chemistry during shows
  • Unique Selling Points
    How different they are compared to the stereotypical K-Pop image

 

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The following are my favourite 10 singers/groups in recent months, not ranked in order.

AKMU

They are refreshing in many senses – not the typical skinny idols, don’t sing typical pop music, and they don’t have politically right answers. Instead, you get a rare but familiar glimpse of siblings rivalry and chemistry, coupled with their untainted cheekiness.

Suhyun’s voice gives me goosebumps every so often, be it on music show performances or just random acoustic snippets. Chanhyuk is severely underrated for his music talent and his unabashed variety sense is hilariously cringe-worthy, but entertaining nonetheless. In an industry where people place much emphasis on body and look, he is kinda like the anchor to help Suhyun stay true to self.

But some “seasoned” Kpop fans may not like AKMU. Afterall, they are not exactly mainstream and you may need a certain kind of “acquired taste” to appreciate their charm. Then again, it’s absolutely refreshing for me.

MONSTA X

To be honest, I don’t know much about Monsta X. What caught my attention was Jooheon making his entry into Weekly Idol, doing a 23-second dance of Twice’s Ooh Ahh. It’s a simple dance, but his dance ability and variety sense caught my attention.

And from there, I have to say that their music is what I’d call classic K-pop with their own unique dose of humour and positivity. Great for early mornings before work to get your energy level up with their huge BURST of energy!

KNK

Indoor geometric set? Check.
All-white and all-black outfits? Check.
Random bathroom scene? Check.
Classic looking around in desolated building? Check.
Standing against the wall with running spotlight? Check.

KNK is another group with classic K-pop charisma and great look but there’s something special about their personalities and music – it almost seems like everything goes so well together that they generate and amplify a powerful energy field – and pulls you right in.

Have to give credit for Hwang Seong-je (ButterFly) for the great song composition too. FYI, Tell Me Your Wish (Genie) by SNSD, Atlantis Princess (BoA) are also Hwang’s masterpieces (or part thereof).

iKon

Had my hopes up for iKon when Bobby was featured alongside Hi Suhyun, then taken aback when their lyrics sparked controversy for being disrespectful to the seniors in the K-Pop scene. I don’t know if they just happen to be media target or if they are really a little bratty IRL, either way, I wasn’t keen to know them further.

…until recently, when they appeared on Heroes of Remix performing 《周大侠》and Rhythm Ta mashup. Their attitude may not be a grade A in mainstream, but you have to admit that they are definitely hardworking and truly cherish the stage. And for that, I think they are worth a spot on my list!

GOT7

One of my all-time favourite K-pop group because of their personalities and dance discipline. They do something called martial arts tricking and it’s always fun to see the members flipping around on stage, haha.

What I like about GOT7 is their constant evolution, from the initial bad funky boys to high difficulty shuffling dance choreography, they often surprise the fans with something entirely different.

Their strict leader, evil maknae and rebellious foreigner member personalities also clash and shine in variety shows. But thanks to the leader, the members get all serious during performances once again, which shows how much respect they have for their work. But before you applaud their hardwork – they are out of control again. Always fun to watch them in action!

TWICE

Finally a girl group aye? TWICE is great with cute and funk music numbers, and many members are extremely outstanding dancers.

The greatest factor behind their success is in the marketing though – from choosing disqualified Momo to join the final 9, Jihyo’s 10-year hardship before debut, Zombie-themed MV and Sana’s iconic Shy Shy Shy, the company has done a great job creating hype and addictive music.

That being said, the group has a plenty of room for improvement, such as live singing ability and presence in variety shows. They often end up as backdrop in variety shows unless cued, which can be a deadly flaw when their freshness wears off and rookies with bigger personalities arise.

ELO

ELO is a singer under Jay Park and Simon Dominic’s record label AOMG. He debuted early last year but not much is known about him. But if I have to describe his music, I’d say it’s the kind of masterpieces you hear in malls and immediately whip out your phone to search on SoundHound.

His songs are great on their own without music videos, but his most recent release ‘Rose’ is exceptionally captivating with the retro-inspired MV.

If you’re the kind of person who just likes great music to groove to, and have no interest in knowing more about them, well, then give ELO’s music a chance!

EXID

Wee ah rae, wee wee ah rae~

If you know what I’m talking about, you’ve probably heard EXID’s iconic song “Up & Down”, that’s super popular in Korea and even in Taiwan.

I am not a fan of groups with sexy concept, so I only noticed them when Hani co-host Weekly Idol with DefConn and Heechul. I like how she’s one of those who don’t care a lot about image and goes all out for variety.

I like their recent release “L.I.E” and grew to like their group chemistry even better. Every performance they put up is slightly different, beginning with the MV style and then evolving into their own playful and cheerful personalities. It’s also easy to see that the members get along pretty well, and even make eye contact when they are not the focus.

It’s surprising and sad how some members in pop groups don’t make eye contact throughout their performance and/or appearances, and it isn’t just in K-Pop. So yeah, EXID is one to watch their interesting friendships.

Let’s just hope the company allows every member to shine because we know how selective development usually breaks the group.

Dal Shabet

Earlier this year when people said that the retro trend is coming back, one of the earliest groups I thought nailed the concept perfectly was Dal Shabet. The group has had their share of unfortunate events and member change but I’m glad they pulled through.

Now that they have done the music and dance parts right, I just hope they’d show more of their personalities and loosen up on shows! (I watched their fan meet on Taiwan show and while they were friendly and sweet, it felt a little forced, cliche and uh, politically correct.)

Lucky J

I knew Jessie from Lucky J’s “No Love” before her appearance on Sisters’ Slam Dunk, but I have to admit, I like her talent more than her personality, maybe because she’s competitive like I am, haha.

Anyway, “No Love” is one of the most hauntingly beautiful song I’ve heard this year and the song intro gives me goosebumps. As strong as Jessie’s voice is, I feel like the rappers did a good job of balancing things out. Worth keeping a lookout for their music!

And Jessie’s going to be forming a group on the Sisters’Slam Dunk show, am curious how things would turn out!

BlackPink

One of YG Entertainment’s newest international group BlackPink debut not long ago, featuring four members from Korea, New Zealand, Thailand and Australia. They have one of the strongest dance foundation and skills in rookie groups and their live singing skills are pretty impressive too.

BUT!!! I’m not a fan of the song choices and some dance choreography, but I do think that the hint of tribal style is uniquely BlackPink. As for their songs, fans are divided between Whistle and Boombayah. I prefer the latter!

Baek Yerin

Baek Ye-rin caught my attention last month because it’s Chandelier, aye? I’d gladly click to watch any (serious) cover of the song! But something about Baek Ye-rin… Is extremely charming?

I am not a fan of 15& because it’s too niche but this performance left a deep impression on me. So much so that I’d forgotten her name when it comes to writing this post, and I spent an hour to track this video down.

It seems like her style to sing the songs extra slowly, and you can actually take the time to appreciate every note she hits and the way her voice fills the room. Awesomeness!

If you like her performance, do check out her live rendition of Halo and A Thousand Miles too!

Special mentions

  1. I.O.I

    Was not a fan of Somi when she was in the competition to form TWICE. Was not a fan of their debut ‘Dream Girls’ because it made me cringe (forcefully aegyo when it obviously isn’t their element).

    Having said that, their latest “Whatta Man” shows greaaat improvement and their effort is commendable. That being said, they are still pretty weak in terms of acting skills, which is apparent in their music video. Also, I do believe that coming from a talent show, the girls are capable and should attempt tougher dance choreography.

    Whatta Man song is like 9/10 but the choreography is 6/10, and makes the performance feel rather hollow, if you know what I mean.

  2. B.A.P

    B.A.P is not a rookie group anymore. They have “One Shot”, the best music video in K-Pop history as far as I have seen.  But I’ve not been as big a fan since their contract dispute, and I hope their new bubbly style is a one-time attempt.

    B.A.P, high notes, combat scenes and black leather fashion are a tried-and-tested awesome combination I hope they’d go back to soon!

  3. Lee Hi

    Lee Hi has got a great voice, yeah. But “Rose” was so bland in terms of performance that I had never successfully finish watching one rendition before. Her voice is great, but it’s like looking at a still photo sing.

    But it’s nice to see that she has improved by leaps and bounds since Hi Suhyun debut, acting out different characters in “My Star” and showing her real charm on Weekly Idol.

    At least there’s something I’ll remember her by – dropping a candy on a show and putting it right in her mouth, making Heechul force her to spit it out. Haha.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9y7EpApd0Bg

  4. MAP6

    After A-Prince disbanded, some of the members went on to form MAP6. While their new names are a little cringy, it seems like the members are finally in their element – playful, sunshine with a little bit of swag. Hopefully they’ll stay on the right path and build up their fanbase with this style!

  5. Jessica Jung

    Is it evil if I say I like Jessica more after she left SNSD? Back when she was part of the group, all I knew was that she’s the cool one, the ice princess. But I feel like she’s getting more exposure and warming up to the fans now as a solo artist.

    Of course I agree that SNSD will never be the same again, just like any other idol groups when one more more member leaves. But so far so good, I like the new Jessica! And can I just say, the production of the live performance is so sincere and awesome?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4FAT3Ux4uI

  6. NCT

    For those who like MandoPop idols like TFBoys, do check out NCT. The craziest thing about NCT is that there is no exact number of members. Instead, they are grouped to promote in sub-units. NCT Dream’s Chewing Gum is a blend of the rookie SHINee and youthful TFBoys, so if you like them, give NCT a shot!

 

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This post took one whole day to complete. What are some of your favourite idol groups/singers in recent months? 🙂

P.S.: Every K-Pop idol has gone through months and years of tough training to get to where they are and that itself means they deserve support and respect, rookies or sunbaes. The things I mentioned about disliking are hopes that they would get even better, so don’t get defensive about your stans! I wouldn’t put them in my list of favourites if I hate them. Cheers!

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