9 K-pop Artists To Know 2021: BTS, EXO, Jay Park, And More
The world has no doubt been fixated with all things K-pop nowadays. With groups like BTS and Blackpink topping the charts in multiple countries across the globe, it comes as no surprise that in effect, fans have begun to listen to more Korean music as a whole.
"K-pop" as a term has become a vague nomenclature for all popular Korean music; its true definition as a genre can prove elusive and ever-changing. As many may associate it with mostly idol groups, extravagant choreography, colourful outfits and whatnot, a deeper dive into the scene easily proves just how rich and diverse it truly is.
If you're looking to begin your foray into K music or simply want to check out more artists, here are a few groups and musicians you might want to add to your playlist:
This one's a no brainer. As the most visible K-pop group today (and in history), you wouldn't want to miss out on their A+ tracks. If you've become familiar with them through their Grammy-nominated bop, Dynamite, you might want to check out their entire discography too. With a total of 16 albums under their belt as of writing, there's a lot to unravel if you're a new fan. The good news? Their music is so diverse, there's something for everybody. From pop, hip-hop, rap, ballads, rock, R&B, EDM, and even dubstep—name it, they've probably done it.
They're not only in your area—they've practically dominated the world. This girl group shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. With irresistible dance anthems like How You Like That and Kill This Love, there's no denying that Jennie, Lisa, Jisoo, and Rosé have become global icons. Make sure to check out their collabs with Selena Gomez (Ice Cream) and Lady Gaga (Sour Candy) and each member's solo tracks. Lisa also has dance covers on Youtube that will give you serious talent envy!
Read More: Blackpink's Rosé Reflects on Her Journey to Fame with 'On The Ground'
Stream: Blackpink on Spotify
This group is considered by many as one of the OG's in K-pop. Having debuted in 2012, the 9-member idol group has produced a plethora of excellent music that pushed the music scene forward. They recently announced their upcoming comeback which had EXO-L's (the moniker for their fandom) excited. The group shared a short video on Twitter from the set of their upcoming release entitled L-1485.
L-1485 🚨SPOILER🚨#엑소 #EXO #weareoneEXO pic.twitter.com/rBToReriRM— EXO (@weareoneEXO) April 7, 2021
With hits like Love Shot, Monster, Obsession, Ko Ko Bop, and more—there's no shortage of tracks to explore.
Stream: EXO on Spotify
4/9 Epik High
"I paved the way—for everyone that is paving the way," Tablo sings in Epik High's 2021 comeback, Rosario. Featuring ZICO and CL, the track practically brings the phrase "legends supporting legends" to life. Born in 2001, the hip-hop group Epik High has produced 10 albums to date, including the 2021 release titled Epik High is Here (Part 1).
Members Tablo, DJ Tukutz, and Mithra have been giants in the South Korean hip-hop scene for their groundbreaking music since the group's inception. Check out some of their well-known tracks like Born Hater, HOME IS FAR AWAY, and Can You Hear My Heart.
Stream: epik high on spotify
The baddest noona around. Hailing from Queens, New York, this South Korean rapper and singer gained popularity for her unapologetic and confident personality. Psy, of Gangnam Style fame, signed her under his label, P Nation, where she released chart-topping tracks like Who Dat B, Drip (featuring Jay Park), and her iconic song, Nu Nu Na Na. Check out her guest appearances on multiple variety shows and you'll probably end up loving her for her wily and sassy antics.
See Also: 9 Of The Highest Paid K-Drama Actors This 2021
Stream: Jessi on Spotify
6/9 H1GHER Music
If you're a fan of Jay Park, then you might have already been tuning in to H1GHER Music. Started by Jay with childhood friend and producer Cha Cha Malone in 2017, this label was born to "bridge the gap" between American and South Korean artists. The label released two compilation albums in late 2020, namely H1GHER : Red Tape and H1GHER : Blue Tape. Both albums feature collabs between different artists under the label (including Jay Park himself), showcasing unique sounds and an abundance of talent. Check them out and see for yourself which of the two suits your taste best!
Stream: H1gher Music on Spotify
Tatler Trivia: Jay Park was once the leader for idol group 2PM, which also includes everyone's favourite K Drama villain of 2021, OK Taecyeon, who plays the megalomaniac Jang Jun-woo in Vincenzo.
7/9 Eric Nam
With around 1.5M monthly listeners on Spotify, Eric Nam is one of the most well-known solo artists in K-pop. His 2019 album, Before We Begin, features several hits like Love Die Young and You're Sexy I'm Sexy. Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Eric broke into the music scene in Korea in 2013 while also gaining popularity as an interviewer and host. You can also catch Eric's podcast titled K-Pop Daebak produced by the DIVE Studios, where he speaks to fellow artists and reviews the latest comebacks; it just recently released its 106th episode.
In light of the recent Stop AAPI Hate movement following the devastating Anti-Asian shootings in his hometown, Eric wrote a moving piece for Time magazine about the need for more representation and awareness on this issue. We definitely stan an artist who isn't afraid to speak up!
Stream: Eric Nam on Spotify Stream: K-Pop Daebak
SHINee debuted in 2008 as a group of five and have since dominated the charts with their edgy music and albums like Lucifer and Sherlock. The group embarked on a global tour early on in their career with showcases like Shinee World and the SM Town World Tour which was held in monumental venues like the Zénith Paris, Tokyo Dome, and Madison Square Garden. Their popularity skyrocketed, making them one of the most desired idol groups in Korea.
In 2017, however, tragedy struck as one of their members Kim Jong-hyung died from an apparent suicide. This brought to the fore the pressures facing idols and subsequently challenged the incredibly high standards for K-pop stars.
This and the rest of the members enlisting for military service left SHINee fans missing their favourite group for more than two years. Early this year, the band released their comeback, Don't Call Me, which has now garnered 40M views.
Stream: Shinee on Spotify
Lee Ji-eun, more commonly known as IU, is a multifaceted performer. A staple in Hallyu dramas, you may know her from shows like Hotel De Luna, My Mister, or Dream High. She released her first solo album in 2009 at the age of 15. Essentially a child star, IU grew up under the limelight and has become a formidable icon in K-pop. She recently released her fifth full-length album last 25 March entitled Lilac which has since topped the charts. She also has several collabs with industry giants like G-Dragon, and Suga of BTS. Check out her music and find out exactly why she's beloved by so many!
Stream: IU on spotify
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