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K-POP’s 4th Gen Leaders: How the new generation is taking the stage

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

With BTS announcing their break, you might be wondering, what’s next for the K-POP world?  

The answer is that Gen-Z is taking the stage!  

K-Pop generally works in what is called generations with roughly 7 years between each generation – there’s 1st, 2nd, 3rd and now, 4th generation!   

4th generation K-pop is something fresh with hints of retro sound and a style that tugs on those nostalgic heart strings.

Many K-POP boy groups are taking influence from the 2000s pop-punk era, with groups like Tomorrow X Together (stylized as TXT) curating a distinctly edgy pop-punk sound that even Avril Lavigne – the queen of 2000s pop-punk- is tuned in to!  

The 5 membered boy group under Bighit Entertainment, now known as HYBE (A name you might recognise if you’re an Army!), has been taking the world by storm since their debut, and it seems that it’s only up for this group. One of the band members, Yeonjun, has even been dubbed K-POP’s “4th Gen it-boy”.

TXT also recently performed at Lollapalooza – America’s largest music festival – this year. A performance that was something unique and had people singing and cheering along despite the language barrier. It’s definitely a must-watch and went viral on multiple social media platforms skyrocketing the boy group’s fame even higher than it already is!    

Now you can’t talk about the new generation of K-Pop taking over the world without talking about Stray Kids, as the group has been steadily gaining popularity ever since their debut in 2018. The 8-membered group has gone viral multiple times for many different things. From their insane stage presence in their cover of Blackpink’s iconic ‘DDU-DDU-DU’ with a distinctly Marvel-leous twist to the amazing numbers that their song God’s Menu’ has reached thanks to band member Felix and his TikTok-famous, crazy-deep voiced part in the song. The group has pioneered their own “Mala-taste” genre that has everyone (even Ryan Reynolds) proclaiming Stray Kids World Domination!  

Now, it’s not just the boys dominating the stage in this new generation of K-POP, girl groups like Aespa have taken centre stage at another big festival you might be familiar with! Aespa made their Coachella debut this year, delivering a performance that is sure to be remembered for years to come. The group has also gone viral multiple times for their songs: Savage, Next Level and now with their newer track – Girls.

The group has reached number on the iTunes World chart with their new album. The group has gained global acclaim and are on route to becoming one of the most iconic girl groups of this new generation, often being compared to the likes of uber popular group Blackpink. The similarities are definitely there in star power and style. Who doesn’t love a four-piece girl crush concept?!    

Another girl group that’s burgeoning on superstardom and definitely doesn’t stray away from a good girl crush concept is Itzy! The group recently collaborated with pop star Bebe Rexha on her song Break My Heart after group members, Yeji and Ryujin went viral on YouTube for their dance cover to the song (Another must-watch performance if you ask me, I’m just a little biased, I’ll be honest!).

The girl group is known for their insane choreography and catchy songs. You might be interested to know that their latest song, Sneakers was choreographed by none other than Cape Town’s very own Rudi Smit. A first for the South African choreographer and a first for K-POP too.   

There’s no denying how much of an impact K-POP has had on the music scene lately. The 4th generation of K-POP is well underway, and there’s so much more to be seen from this genre. It’s best to stay tuned for this new generation of K-POP and all the amazing music, unparalleled fashion looks and absolutely show-stopping performances that are sure to come from them! 

Nuhaa Isaacs is a Cape Town born and raised student at the University of Cape Town. She is currently studying toward a BA triple majoring in English Literary Studies, Media and Writing as well as Gender Studies. She has been a staff writer for Her Campus UCT since 2021, and a current member of the Social Media Sub-committee at Her Campus UCT. Sappy romantic fantasy novels and incredibly specific Spotify playlists are everything to her (as well as her three cats: Zuri, Shelley and Peanut). You can find her on Instagram (@nuhaa_i) or Tiktok (@nuhaaorwhatever) probably posting silly little outfit videos. Get in touch via email for any formal inquiries: nuhaa.isaacs@gmail.com.