Curious about the top K-pop groups?
If you know what K-pop is, you probably know some of the popular groups. These groups are famous in Korea and globally, but which one is the top group these days?
K-pop artists are often grouped, forming K-pop groups or bands. In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the current best K-pop groups. Also, we have listed the most popular K-pop groups of all time.
Read on, and don’t be afraid to dance a little while you check out these sensational groups!
Below is a free PDF guide that you can download and take with you:
One of the best parts about K-pop songs is when you start to understand what the lyrics are about. That’s when it comes in handy to know a bit about the language.
Also, learning Korean means tap into an entirely new culture that you previously did not have full access to. Korean music and television can be fun for everyone — even for people who cannot speak the language.
As you begin to understand different words and phrases as you continue on your journey to learn to speak Korean, songs, movies, and TV shows take on a whole new level of meaning and become infinitely more enjoyable.
Top K-pop Groups Now
Here’s a list of the most popular K-pop boy groups and girl groups now. Most of these groups had their debut on and after the year 2013. They are considered to be the 3rd generation South Korean K-pop groups.
K-pop Boy Groups
This South Korean boy band list will show you the top K-pop groups rocking the K-pop scene in 2021. If you’re into K-pop, or even if you’re not, their names may still ring a bell as these K-pop boy groups managed to make a name for themselves even outside South Korea.
BTS or Bangtan Sonyeon Dan is a South Korean boy group with seven members under Big Hit Entertainment. They’re one of the most successful K-pop boy bands of all time. Considering they came from a then not-so-big entertainment agency (Big Hit Entertainment), they captured the attention of many overseas fanatics. The fan base of these Bangtan boys is enormous, and they snagged the win for Top Social Artist for 2 straight years in the Billboard Music Awards with more than 300 million votes.
Their songs have reached the Billboard Hot 100, and their album Love Yourself: Tear debuted at number one, making them the first South Korean group to reach the top of U.S album charts. BTS is also set apart from most K-pop boy bands because they produce their own songs.
iKon is a seven-member group formed through a survival competition called WIN. As soon as the group debuted, their 1st studio album topped the charts in South Korea.
They are known for many popular singles since then and writing and producing their own songs. Their single entitled Love Scenario 사랑을 했다 (sarangeul haetda) was a hit early in 2018.
Seventeen is a 13-member group and is one of the biggest South Korean boy bands in the K-Pop industry. This puts them on par with the Super Junior in terms of size. The group is signed under Pledis Entertainment who originally planned to have 17 members. However, 4 of them left even before the group had their debut.
They are made up of 3 sub-units performing according to their specialization; hip-hop, vocals, and entertainment. They are still living up to Seventeen as a 13-member group plus 3 units, making them 1 group. The group made a name for themselves as they wrote, produced their songs, and created their own choreography all by themselves. This has earned them the moniker of the self-producing idol group.
Got7 is another South Korean boy band with seven members made from JYP Entertainment. The group made its debut in January 2014 and became known for its choreography that often has martial arts and street dancing elements.
Their debut album called Got It? reached number 2 on Gaon Album Chart and number one on Billboard’s World Albums Chart. The group also entered the Japanese market with their single “Around the World.” From their debut until today, the group has always dominated music charts and sales whenever they make a “comeback.” They never fail to deliver quality songs that they compose and produce themselves.
NCT is an acronym for “Neo Culture Technology” and is one of the K-pop boy bands on this list with the most members as a 23-member group. This goes beyond the number of Super Junior had at their peak. NCT has four subunits, namely NCT U, NCT 127, NCT Dream, and WayV. They have several genres: K-pop, Mandopop J pop, hip hop, R&B, and EDM.
This K-pop band under SM Entertainment made their debut last 2016 with their first unit, NCT U (Unite). The next subunit, NCT 127, was added in the same year with a member count of 10. The number 127 is actually the longitude coordinate for Seoul, thus the name NCT 127. NCT has a subunit specifically for their teenage members, called NCT Dream, which made its debut last August 2016. Lastly, we have NCT WayV, which is their subunit in China. That seems a lot, but NCT is still continuously growing as they might be adding another unit within this year. There’s definitely a lot to look forward to with South Korean K-pop bands!
MONSTA X (몬스타엑스)
This 6-member K-pop boy band was created through the survival program NO.MERCY. MONSTA X in May 2015, under Starship Entertainment. MONSTA X is also under the US label Maverick Agency as of February 2019. In October 2019, former group member Wonho announced his departure from the group.
They’re one of the South Korean boy bands that also released singles in Japan. They have had four Japanese singles certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of Japan since 2018. Three of their South Korean albums have been certified platinum by the Korea Music Content Association in 2019. In February 2020, MONSTA X’s first English album, All About Luv, ranked number five on the US Billboard 200.
Stray Kids (스트레이 키즈)
Stray Kids is one of the South Korean boy groups under JYP Entertainment. This 8-member K-pop band had one former member, Woojin, who left the group in October 2019. Stray Kids was created through the survival program with the same name, Stray Kids, and the South Korean boy group made their debut on March 25, 2018.
On March 18, 2020, Stray Kids made an official Japanese debut with the compilation album SKZ2020 in Japan and South Korea, with the new record of previous songs and including the Japanese version of “My Pace,” “Double Knot,” and “Levanter.” The genre that Stray Kids mostly have on their songs are K-pop, hip hop, and electronica.
K-pop Girl Groups
If you’re new to Kpop, specifically with South Korean girl groups, you might describe them as cute and talented, but they’re definitely more than that! These popular K-pop girl groups deliver and show their versatility since their debut.
Twice is one of the K-pop girl groups that debuted in 2015 through a program called Sixteen. The 9-member group has different nationalities coming from places like Japan and Taiwan.
They rose to popularity with their single “Cheer Up,” giving them awards such as Song of the Year and Best Performing Single. Since then, the group has been releasing singles and albums that always top the music charts and sales with their catchy lyrics and tunes.
Blackpink is not your ordinary girl group. They give off a different vibe from the rest of the K-pop girl groups. This diverse four-member girl group has one member coming from Thailand and good at speaking English. They were formed by YG Entertainment, who also formed the legendary girl group 2ne1.
Within two years of being active in the musical industry, they have become the highest-charting K-Pop girl group on Billboard Hot 100. They are also the first K-Pop girl group to have four number 1 singles on Billboard’s World Digital Song Sales chart. Definitely, a group to keep an eye on!
Red Velvet (레드벨벳)
Red Velvet is a 5-member South Korean girl group made by SM Entertainment. They made their debut in August 2014 as a 4-member group and later in 2015 became 5-member. Since their debut, all their singles have dominated the music charts as soon as they’re released.
They’re known for having catchy songs that give off a sensual, colorful, and sophisticated vibe. They’ve also won numerous awards from distinguished music awards in Korea. This is one reason they are considered one of the most popular K-pop girl groups by Time and Billboard.
(G)I-DLE is a 6-member K-pop girl group under Cube Entertainment from different countries, specifically Korea, China, Taiwan, and Thailand. This group made its debut on May 2, 2018.
(G)I-DLE is pronounced as “idle,” which sounds similar to “idol.” The “G” is silent, but it stands for “girl,” which is one of Korea’s girl groups. In 2018, the group was recognized as one of the most successful South Korean girl groups that do not hail from the “big three” record labels in the industry. Since their debut in 2018, they have released six extended plays and eight singles, and because of this, they were dubbed as “monster rookies” of that year.
MAMAMOO (마마무) is a 4-member group that consists of Solar, Moonbyul, Wheein, and Hwasa. They made their debut on June 18, 2014, with their single “Mr. Ambiguous” under RBW Entertainment.
The girl group named themselves MAMAMOO because it sounds like what babies say, “MAMA,” which means mother, and wanted to approach their listeners instinctively with their songs. The South Korean girl group is famous for their retro, jazz, R&B concepts matched with their strong vocal performances.
Momoland is one of the K-pop girl groups that MLD Entertainment formed. They’ve gotten together through the 2016 reality show Finding Momoland. The show’s winners Hyebin, Yeonwoo, Jane, Nayun, JooE, Ahin, and Nancy, served as the then 7-member group members. Their debut mini-album Welcome to Momoland was released in November 2016. In 2017, Daisy and Taeha joined the group. In total, three members left the girl group, which currently makes them a 6-member group.
The South Korean girl group has won and has been nominated for several awards. The most recent awards in 2020 were the Korean Wave Idol Award and Group Singer Award for Korean Arts and Culture Awards, and Korean Entertainment Arts Awards.
You don’t have to speak Korean to enjoy K-Pop, but learning Korean words and phrases makes listening to the songs much more fun. All of a sudden you start to enjoy the music and understand what the songs are saying! That’s why we recommend learning Korean with K-Pop as a great way to make learning interesting.
Even learning a few phrases (like on this page) can make the songs feel more familiar.
Now that we’ve covered the current top K-pop groups, let’s cover the best groups of all time.
Top K-pop Groups of All Time
We’ve compiled a list of some of the most popular K-pop groups of all time for you to get a taste of what the hype is all about. These groups are called the 2nd generation Kpop groups. Most of these groups have begun the Hallyu wave (Korean wave), especially in Asia. Check out some of the South Korean boy groups and girl groups below, and be sure to let us know what you think of these groups in the comments section!
Top K-pop Boy Groups
Super Junior (슈퍼주니어)
Super Junior is a prime example of a South Korean boy band making waves in the K-pop scene.
With a member count fluctuating between twelve and thirteen, Super Junior occasionally breaks into smaller subgroups to make music tailored to various audiences. There were five subgroups: Super Junior -K.R.Y, Super Junior -T, Super Junior -M, Super Junior-H, and Super Junior-D&E.
Check out their hit single “Sorry, Sorry” – the best-selling single of Super Junior and definitely something that you can dance around to!
Shinee is a South Korean boy group that has been releasing music in South Korean and Japanese markets since 2008. Though their music is undeniably catchy, they are best known for being fashion pioneers and starting trends with their intricate performance outfits and intense, rhythmic dance routines.
Because they’re famous for multiple reasons, it’s no surprise that Shinee has created their own reality show and won a slew of impressive awards. I recommend listening to “Replay,” the single that began the Shinee craze. Be warned — I guarantee you’ll feel like listening to it more than once!
Big Bang (빅뱅)
Big Bang is best known for its unique blend of Kpop and hip-hop. A South Korean boy group formed in 2006, they are veterans of the K-pop scene and have won multiple awards at Japan’s MTV Video Awards and a South Korean music festival called Mnet.
Several members have branched out and released solo albums, allowing them to explore their own musical goals and release music with Big Bang. Check out their breakout single “Lies,” and you’ll understand why this group is known as South Korea’s national boy band!
2PM is a critically-acclaimed South Korean boy band that split off from a larger group called One Day. 2 AM contains the remaining members of the original group. 2PM’s music is undeniably impressive, but their dance techniques incorporating acrobatic moves are even more impressive.
Check out one of their music videos for their single “Go Crazy” and see for yourself how this band can move!
EXO is on a mission to make their songs accessible to as many people as possible – they are so dedicated to this mission that the group splits into two subgroups, EXO-M and EXO-K “m” and the “k” standing for Mandarin and South Korean, respectively.
This technique allows the group to focus on Chinese and South Korean audiences, which means speakers of Mandarin can be part of the K-pop sensation as well! Check out EXO’s 2013 hit single “Growl” to see why this twelve-member group is not your average South Korean boy band.
Top K-pop Girl Groups
Girls’ Generation (소녀시대)
Girls’ Generation is an 8-member girl group backed by S.M. Entertainment. The girl group Girls’ Generation became mega-successful in 2009 with their single “Gee,” a chart-topper for over two months and named the best song of the 2000s decade.
Girls’ Generation is best known for their cross-cultural appeal (they signed with a Japanese label in 2010 to make their songs more accessible to Japanese listeners) and their own special brand of bubblegum pop. Watch the music video for “I Got a Boy” by Girls’ Generation to get a feel for this award-winning group that you won’t want to miss!
Wonder Girls (원더걸스)
Wonder Girls are a four-piece girl group that had an interesting start to their musical career – their first big performance feat was joining the Jonas Brothers on tour and performing a version of their first hit single, “Nobody” in English. This launched the girls into international markets as it rose on the Billboard Hot 100.
Wonder Girls have also made an effort to appeal to Chinese and Japanese audiences so that even more listeners can join in on the fun! Listen to “Nobody,” and you’ll quickly realize why this girl group was the first South Korean girl group to skyrocket into the Billboard Hot 100.
2NE1 – first made a splash in the K-pop scene with a single that they wrote for an LG advertising campaign, making their songs instantly accessible to millions. This all-girl quartet has already received multiple “Song of the Year” awards and has been very well-received by critics, making them one of the best K-pop girl groups performing today.
You don’t make a great girl group overnight. T-ara is well-aware of this reality and trained together for three years before they got their start!
This girl group started releasing the soundtrack of the drama Cinderella Man, and they quickly progressed to producing award-winning singles like “Roly-Poly,” which became a top song on the 2001 charts. Give “Roly-Poly” a listen, and you’ll hear what three years of perfecting the art of K-pop sound like!
Kara is another girl group that has been around the block, so to speak – the band originally got together in 2007. They’re also the all-girl group chose a name indicative of a Greek word that means “sweet melody.” Kara got off to a bit of a rocky start – their first album, The First Blooming, was not well-received by critics or fans.
However, the girl group acquired some new members and released Rock U, an album with a much more polished R&B sound. Kara is now one of the best-known K-pop girl groups in South Korea. Listen to their album Pretty Girl which features their first number-one single, “Honey.” This is almost soothing to the soul!
Have you listened to any of these groups’ songs before? Very catchy, right? You can also appreciate their songs even more if you know their meaning. This is when learning the words, phrases, and Korean sentence structure comes in handy!
Do you like and agree with the groups we have on the list? Or are there South Korean boy bands or girl groups that you believe should be considered one of the best K-pop groups of all time that we’ve overlooked? Let us know what you think in the comments below!