Introduction to the global phenomenon K-Pop

Kelsey Wilson, Writer for Lifestyle

What is K-Pop? A short and easy answer to the question many people are asking is that it stands for Korean Pop.  What about it intrigues so many people and draws in attention despite it being in a different language? Sandra Orozco says “It’s their Interaction With their fans” while Phoebe Jackson says “Their incredible synchronized dances” and James Thrash says “The catchy songs”. Although K-Pop idols are full of talent in each of those categories the most popular response from the fans is that they’re passionate about what they do. Most people think of K-Pop groups as manufactured and fake, but most groups these days write and produce their own songs and create their own choreographies. Besides being their creative sides, they are also very active with their fans online across almost any social media website you can think of. Especially Twitter, Instagram, and VLive, where each group has their own account and can start livestreams to chat with fans.

Although you may have only heard of the bigger boy groups there are girl groups with mainly a male following and even co-ed groups to fit anyone’s taste. There are also different genres within K-Pop. Some popular ones among the fans are K-Rock, K-Hip Hop, and K-R&B. The producers even fit more than one genre in a song. For example, in Hellevator by Stray Kids, the beginning is slow R&B, then it slowly moves into Hip Hop and then the chorus could be considered EDM. The groups are always experimenting with new sounds to fit and find new trends within the Korean industry.

The groups tend to have 6+ members with the largest K-Pop group, NCT,  having 18 (going on 21) members and each of the members have a position in the group. Whether it be the leader, main vocalist, main rapper, main dancer, being the most attractive, or the visual, and being the youngest, or the maknae. Even though K-Pop is in the Korean language and based on the likes of Korea, that doesn’t stop entertainment companies from scouting people from other countries. There are idols from the USA, China, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, and Malaysia all coming to try to make it in the industry.

If this seems frustrating and overwhelming, you’re not alone! Every K-Pop fan has felt like that at some point. But if you’re looking to get more into it, here are 15 songs that will give you a taste of what all the hype is about


  • Idol by BTS

The song has African beats layered with traditional Korean instruments. Sounds like a weird mix, but they oddly work perfectly together. It has an in your face vibe and it really shows you why BTS has gotten as much global attention as they have. If you liked this group I recommend you check out their songs Blood Sweat and Tears and Fake Love.

  • Look by Got7

The different tones of rapping and soothing vocals that the group is known for really shine throughout the entire song. It also has a very uplifting and energetic feeling that leaves you wanting to hear more. If you liked this group I recommend you check out If You Do and also their new song Lullaby.

  • Dance The Night Away by Twice

Although this song has a summer vibe, it is just so good and catchy that it could even work in the middle of winter. Unlike their other songs, it has a bouncy EDM style that just seems to work with them despite it being their first time with that style. If you liked this group I recommend you check out their most popular song TT and What is Love.

  • Oh My! by Seventeen

This group has always been known for their catchy pop songs with a bit of funk or retro influence that has always been constant. This song is laid back, but also bouncy and something you’d want to dance to. If you liked this group I recommend you check out Clap and Don’t Wanna Cry.

  • Jealousy by Monsta X

This is one of those songs with a mixture of genres. It has a more pop sounding chorus with a powerful trap-rap breakdown that suits the groups known hip hop image. If you liked this group I recommend you check out Dramarama and Beautiful.

  • Boss by Nct U

This song has a lot of attitude and heavy energy that makes you want to listen to it on repeat. With amazing vocals and hard-hitting raps, this is a song you’ll become obsessed with. If you liked this group I recommend you check out Cherry Bomb (Nct 127) and Baby Don’t Stop.

  • We Go Up by Nct Dream

This song has a very bright and playful tune. The song first breaks out into a very well-paced rap and then moves into a smooth chorus. Like their other songs, it’s very youthful. If you like this group I recommend you check out Go and We Young.

  • Shoot Me by Day6

This group is one of the few that play their own instruments and actually consider themselves a band. Unlike their other songs, this has more of an electric feeling with their usual rock sound. It is a very bold and dramatic song that you’ll like even if their style isn’t your taste. If you like this group I recommend you check out I Wait, What Can I Do, and also another band called The Rose.

  • Shine by Pentagon

Even though this song was released in April, it is still very popular within in Kpop fans. It’s very catchy and it has a beat and melody that will be stuck in your head for days. This song really shows how unique Pentagon is. If you like this group i recommend you check out Naughty Boy and Critical Beauty.

  • DDU-DU DDU-DU by BlackPink

This group barely has any songs, but everything they’ve released has been powerful and chart topping. It has a hip-hop and pop mixture that makes for a song unlike anything you’ve heard before. If you liked this group I recommend you check out Playing with Fire and Whistle.

  • Killing Me by iKon

This is a very hype and powerful song. It has a slow build up to the hard-hitting chorus with a heavy beat. If you liked this group I recommend you check out Love Scenario and Bling Bling.

  • Ko Ko Bop by EXO

This song has a reggae and a hip hop feel with an electronic/EDM breakdown after the bold chorus. It has a unique style that isn’t very heard of in the music industry and it feels fresh and new. If you liked this group I recommend you check out Monster and Universe.

  • Bad Boy by Red Velvet

Red Velvet showed more of their mature side with this song. With their other songs being more pop influenced this song has a slower R&B feel with trap mixed in. It has a very silky and dangerous vibe. If you liked this group I recommend you check out Peek-A-Boo and Russian Roulette.

  • Good Evening by SHINee

There isn’t a more perfect word to describe this song than colorful. Yes, I know inanimate objects can’t be colorful, but if you listen to this song you’ll understand. Like most of the other songs, its main influence is electro-pop with those soothing vocals. If you liked this group, I recommend you check out View and Married to the Music.

  • Bang Bang Bang by Big Bang

This song is unlike any of the other songs on the list. It has been described as a party anthem by their music label and by many critics. It also sounds more like an old-school hip-hop song than anything in modern times. Also, this song was a big hit among other kpop groups and fans. If you like this group I recommend you check out Sober and Let’s Not Fall in Love.


And for the older or more experienced fans, here are 15 songs from smaller or newly debuted groups for you to check out if you’re looking for something new and fresh to listen to. (These still work for newer fans too! Look into all these incredible groups!)

  • My Pace by Stray Kids

The song starts out with guitar riffs and then transitions straight into a hard hitting rap verse along with smooth vocals that Stray Kids is known for. The song has a lot of different musical elements that surprisingly work well together. If you liked this group I recommend listening to Hellevator and District 9.

  • Sorry For My English by IN2IT

The newly debuted group came back with this disco inspired song less than two months ago. It has a colorful concept with a dancing beat and a song like this doesn’t come around in kpop a lot. If you liked this group I recommend you listen to Snapshot and Amazing.

  • Right Here – The Boyz

This song is heavily influenced by electro-funk and it is a really fun song to listen to. It’s also unique sounding compared to all the other songs that are being released right now. If you liked this group I recommend you listen to Giddy Up and Boy.

  • Retro Future by Triple H

Triple H consists of 2 members from Pentagon and the soloist Hyuna. This group is known for breaking stereotypes and showing that they’re not afraid of standing out. The song itself is very funk fused with some pop. If you liked this group I recommend you listen to 365 Fresh.

  • Complete by ONF

Right from the beginning this song feels refreshing. It is very upbeat and makes you feel even more energized as the song goes on. The song has different surprises throughout that you wouldn’t expect to hear. If you liked this group I recommend you listen to On/Off

  • Baby by The Rose

This group, like Day6, plays their own instruments and considers themselves a band with a modern rock sound. With unique vocals from the lead singer and the instruments building throughout the entire song, even if rock isn’t the genre of music you listen to, this song is definitely one you want to listen to. If you liked this group I recommend you listen to Sorry and Like We Used to.

  • Dejavu by Nu’est W

The song starts out with a slow guitar and slowly builds to the chorus where you hear the full potential of the song. It has been described to dive more into the Latin pop genre. If you liked this group I recommend you listen to Where You At and Love Paint.

  • Missing You by BTOB

This group is known for their strong vocals and that really shines in this song. It’s a sweet low tempo song, but instead of making you feel sad, it makes you feel more relaxed. It’s a very gentle song with a lot of emotion. If you liked this group I recommend you listen to I’ll Be Your Man and Movie.

  • Hi High by LOONA

If you’re active on K-Pop social media, I’m sure you’ve heard the term “Stan Loona” and now is your chance to do just that. The 12 membered group has finally debuted with this cute and catchy song. It’s a cliche and youthful song that really works for the group. If you liked this group I recommend you listen to Favorite and Heart Attack.

  • Crazy Sexy Cool by Astro

This is a very straightforward pop song which you may take as a bad thing, but when it’s coming from Astro it’s definitely not. It has a nice classic sound with a funky beat and with all the easy English lyrics in it, it’s a song you’ll sing along to. If you liked this song, I recommend you listen to Baby and Always You.

  • Pitapat by Fromis_9

The song has a cheerful and cute tone with a sense of innocence that is constant throughout the group’s discography. It’s a song that will always put you in a good mood. If you liked this group I recommend you listen to To Heart and Glass Shoes.

  • Take Me Higher by ACE

This song has a very upbeat yet subtle tone with lyrics that will make your heart flutter (if you care to look up translations). It’s a classic boy band pop song that you’d want to dance to. If you like this group I recommend you listen to Cactus and Callin’.

Black Heart by UNB

This song sounds very old school with a slight jazz influence. It’s an explosive dance track and it sounds like something that you might hear in a club. If you liked this song I recommend you listen to Feeling.

  • Honeymoon – B.A.P

This is a very easy-going song and it builds into an electro-pop dance track with a catchy chorus. It has a dramatic feel to it and an incredible melody that makes for an unforgettable song. Although this is a fairly old group, they still deserve more appreciation. If you liked this group I recommend you listen to Hands Up and Wake Me Up.

  • Latata – (G)I-dle

The newest girl group on the rise released this in your face and bold song that became a big hit and charted very well. It has a fierce style with a subtle, but strong chorus. It is a very attention-grabbing song. If you liked this I recommend you check out Hann and Black Dress by their lablemates CLC.


In the end, I know there is a lot to Kpop, but there will always be something out there that you like. And I promise that if you look more into it, you’ll be happy you did. If you have no biases towards music, you’ll realize even with the language barrier they have a lot to offer.