10 K-Pop Groups You Should Listen to That Aren’t BTS

BTS. It’s the first group you think of nowadays when you hear about K-Pop, which stands for Korean Pop. BTS is a boy band from Korea that’s at the forefront of the Hallyu Wave in the west. It was through them that I got into K-Pop. I mostly listen to K-Pop now because of them, which introduced me to other great groups that deserve to be recognized as much as BTS.

There are so many K-Pop groups that I think should be on the following list, but I had to narrow it down. That’s why I enlisted the help of my K-Pop enthusiast friend, Lourdes, to help pick the contenders for the list. Here are some K-Pop groups you should add to your playlist today!

  1. 1. CLC

    In my opinion, this is one of the most underrated girl groups out there. CLC stands for “Crystal Clear,” and they call their fans Chesires. Shifting from the cute girl archetype to a badass girl crush type, they embody self-love and empowerment. Their “Black Dress” music video even featured group member Yeeun cutting off her hair to defy beauty standards, which was a shock to many. And their recent music are bops that you should give a listen.

  2. 2. Red Velvet

    Since debuting in 2014, Red Velvet became very popular in K-Pop. Their name comes from their versatility in being both playful (the “Red” in Red Velvet) and mature (the “Velvet” in Red Velvet). These girls are known for their experimentation with sound and looks, as seen through the playful song “Zimzalabim,” and their recent single “Psycho.” I love hearing a variety of music from them and expecting the unexpected with every release.

  3. 3. Twice

    Known as the girl group of Korea, Twice was formed from the Korean survival show Sixteen. Trainees of their record-label, JYP Entertainment, competed to be a part of the group. When they first debuted, they produced cute music, but matured with songs like “Fancy” and “Feel Special.” They might seem like a big group, but every member has an individual identity that comes together seamlessly. If you listen to Twice, you’ll find your favorite member too.

  4. 4. Exo

    Under SM Entertainment, Exo has been thriving since 2012. Currently a nine-piece boy band (some members are completing their mandatory military enlistment under Korean law), Exo just released “Obsession” this past winter, and it has me obsessed with them. Their singles are jams, and make me want to dance. They have good workout songs, performances and great dance skills.

  5. 5. Mamamoo

    “Mama, mama, moooooo” is this group’s iconic jingle. Mamamoo is a four-piece girl group who have some of the best vocal skills I’ve ever heard in a girl band. Each member would be a fantastic vocalist by themselves, but combined, they’re a threat. What I love about them most is that they’re unafraid to be themselves. An example is in their recent comeback, “Hip.”

    Recently, one of the group’s members, Hwasa, was criticized by the media for wearing a shirt without a bra. In their music video for “Hip,” she calls them out for their ridiculousness. It takes guts, which I respect.

  6. 6. LOONA

    LOONA has done something that no other group has before. Created in August 2016, LOONA embarked on a pre-debut project. They released a full production value music video for each girl, and they did this for 12 months, one for each member. It allowed for the public to be better acquainted with each girl and spark excitement. And what makes them unique is that they aren’t afraid to support the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalized groups, even referencing them in their works.

  7. 7. GOT7

    GOT7 is like the BTS of Southeast Asia, hands down. Before BTS debuted, GOT7 was the worldwide icon for K-Pop boy groups. Their iconic hands dance in “Eclipse” caught my attention. Their use of electronic music excites me, and I love music that makes me want to dance. They have catchy beats and good earworms, and that’s a winner in my book.

  8. 8. Itzy

    Itzy is known as a monster rookie group right now. What’s tricky with K-Pop rookie groups is that they really need to be successful in their first year or else they will flounder. Itzy managed to surpass the record for the most music show wins for a rookie group, had one of the biggest debuts with “Dalla Dalla” and have a consistent fanbase in-between comebacks. Additionally, they’re great dancers, which makes live performances all the more enjoyable.

  9. 9. Dreamcatcher

    It unique group incorporates a rock sound in their songs while also expressing elegance and visual beauty with their music videos and performances. Unlike the cutesy girl crush archetypes seen in K-Pop, Dreamcatcher explores a rock-driven style in their works, allowing them to display raw emotion that hasn’t been seen in the K-Pop genre. People around the world love them for breaking this barrier.

  10. 10. Iz*One

    Iz*One (pronounced eyes-one) was created through the reality show "Produce 48." In this show, 48 trainees from Korean record companies competed against 48 members of AKB48, the largest girl-group in Japan, for a spot in the girl group now known as Iz*One. Something unique about them is that they have expiration date, about two more years. Their debut even broke Twice’s physical album sales numbers, an impressive feat. The music videos’ visuals are amazing, and the members’ skills are superb because renowned members of the industry trained them during their time on "Produce 48."

Whether you're into K-Pop or not, I hope you found a new group you like!