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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

Although K-pop has been around for decades, the music genre has recently garnered a lot of popularity. It started with PSY whose “Gangnam Style” music video on Youtube was the first video on the internet ever to reach 1 billion views and is followed by artists like BTS and BlackPink who now perform all over America. Recently, these groups have performed at include Coachella, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Billboard Music Awards and Saturday Night Live. If you like what BTS and Blackpink have to offer, time to fall down the K-pop rabbit hole with these 6 sensational, OG K-pop groups.

Big Bang

With the swagger of heartthrob G-Dragon and angelic voice of Taeyang, who couldn’t fall for these boys. Other members include T.O.P. and Daseung who are also very talented as rapper and singer in their own ways. These boys are closer to the bad boy side than good boys, which is maybe why they have had a handful of scandals, but nevertheless their music is amazing. Some bangers of theirs you should check out: “Fantastic Baby,” an infectious dance number, “Fxxk It“, a fitting Big-Bang-esque single heralding the band’s hiatus with the military enlistment of their oldest member and my personal favorite, “Tonight.” 


During their more active days, I often felt like f(x) was overshadowed by Girls Generation, but f(x) has so much to offer given the group’s diversity including a Chinese, a Taiwanese American, a Korean American and a South Korean native. They don’t portray themselves as cute girls chasing after boys, but instead as bad ass females with electronic music. What could go wrong honestly? All their songs are incredibly catchy and addictive and have just the right amount of synth to them such as “Four Walls,” “Electric Shock,” and the super cute “Rum Pum Pum Pum.”


I can only define these girls as fierce. Since they are labelmates and were rose to success around the same time, they are Big Bang’s sister group, often dubbed “The Female Big Bang,” even collaborating with each other at some times. On their own and at their best, 2NE1 was one of the few girl groups who was unapologetically themselves and refused to be tied down by anyone. They are full of energy and took over the world with their sound. Their best songs include “I Am the Best,” which won “Song of the Year” at the Mnet Asian Music Awards. I also love “Lonely,” a lovely departure from their more hard-hitting songs to highlight their killer vocals and “Gotta Be You,” their last title song before member Minzy left in 2016. 


Crowned the “Princes of K-pop” at one point, SHINee is full of outrageously cool choreographies as well as different aesthetics to the pretty-boy stereotype of K-pop boy groups. Every singer in the group can sing their hearts out and the group always have entertaining videos. SHINee is known for its variable and fluid style from the driven, beat-heavy “Sherlock,” to their signature R&B sound with “Married to the Music” to the more electro-pop bop “Lucifer.” 


Another girl group that didn’t want to be cutesy, 4Minute debuted in 2009 under Cube Entertainment. The best way to describe 4Minute: sauve. Also filled with great choreographies and catchy songs, this girl group distinguished themselves with members like HyunA who impressed all of Korea through her beauty and rap skills. Though they too disbanded, such is the way of the constantly shifting K-pop industry, all K-pop fans, hardcore 4Minute stans and not, still know their hit songs, “Crazy” and “Hate.”


Originally labelmates to 4Minute, these boys also had a fun sound to their music that would make you want to dance all night. They were like chameleons who could sing any genre of music and make it sound beautiful. My favorite songs “Beautiful Night,” “Fiction” and “Butterfly” are so easy to like with their lovely melodies and powerful vocals. Eventually they had to leave Cube and lost a member, but they managed to establish their own company Around Us Entertainment, rebranding themselves with a new group name, Highlight. 

There have been many generations of K-pop singers that have come and gone. With the disbandment of most of these groups, there’s a lot that I still miss, but with groups like BlackPink and BTS my hope in K-pop has been reignited. 

Allison is a feature writer at UCLA who loves hanging out at the beach and eating any kind of dessert.
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