Women in K-pop Who Deserve Your Undivided Attention

The music industry is a vast and open place where many different artists can come together and collaborate to create music. As K-pop is finally being marketed more throughout western countries, people are starting to realize that music isn’t something that can only be popularized if it’s in English. Not every song on the radio has to be in English, and it's possible for people that possess the talent to become a star to not be from an English speaking country. The Korean music industry, just like most work fields, also continues to be a male dominated industry, where women struggle to be equal to their male counterparts. If you are someone who frequently keeps up with K-pop, then you would have very easily recognized this issue by now. We've seen women like Lee Hi cry on national television, stating that "I wasn’t able to do what I wanted to do. I really wanted to sing, but I couldn’t do that freely" while discussing the hard times she went through during the creative process of her latest single "Breathe." 

Due to the stigma behind music needing to be in English, on top of sexism, women in the Korean music industry tend to be thrown behind the scenes, where they usually don't get the recognition they deserve for their work. That being said, I believe that these bad*ss, talented women deserve more recognition for their music, their it-factor, their impact, their hard-work and their immense success.

1. BLACKPINK

Even though Blackpink isn’t considered a rookie group anymore, they’re still fairly new to the scene. Within the first year of them being a girl group, two of their  music videos have surpassed 200 million views on YouTube, they’ve sold an estimated 6 million records with only five songs to their name. Their song was even featured in a "Justice League" movie. Blackpink is a group that never fails to deliver you the music, edgy yet girly style and stage presence that you’d search for in any artist you’d want to support.

Notable songs: Whistle, As If It’s Your Last, Playing With Fire.

2. CL 

CL is one of my favorite artists out of them all - she writes, she sings, she dances, she performs, she produces. She does it all. CL has made it a mission since the formation of 2NE1 in 2009 to create music that uplifted women. She's Korea's baddest female, and the former leader of Korea's most successful girl group of all time. Even though CL is currently preparing for her debut in the U.S., she's no stranger to the American music market. 2NE1's most recognizable song, "I Am The Best," sent 2NE1 into a realm of international fame that was barely seen among women in the K-pop scene. From Nicki Minaj, Justin Bieber, A$ap Rocky, Madonna and others, she has already solidified her position in this market before the release of her debut album. While staring on Korean reality TV show, "Double Life," a TV show where they show the day by day lives of many popular Korean idols, CL talks about her troubles with debuting in the U.S., stating how it's hard because no K-pop artist has ever successfully broke the U.S. market as an American artist with English music, and how that uncertainty of future success keeps her from releasing music. Since coming to the U.S. 

Notable CL and 2NE1 songs: Come Back Home, Crush, Hello Bitches.

3. HyunA

If I could choose one word to describe the artist HyunA is, I'd chose "daring." HyunA is the former leader of K-pop girl group 4minute, and continues to see great success as a solo artist. HyunA always delivers when it comes to a club banger, or a pop song to blast while you're doing cardio. 

Notable HyunA and 4minute songs: Babe, Bubble Pop, Hate.

4. IU

IU is the more grounded, and personal artist out of the bunch. She can go from making pop music with jazz influenced instrumentals, to making slow jams inspired by house. 

Notable songs: YOU&I, Palette, Twenty-three

5. BoA

BoA has been in the game for quite a while. She debuted in 2000, and 18 years later she's still putting out great music. She's also a well-rounded artist, who sings, dances, and even writes and produces some of her own music. 

Notable songs: Kiss My Lips, One Shot Two Shot.

6. Sunmi

Sunmi is a former member of the legendary girl group Wonder Girls, but since they've disbanded, Sunmi is now a solo artist who continues on the legacy of Wonder Girls by creating and releasing energizing pop music. 

Notable Sunmi and Wonder Girls songs: Gashina, Why So Lonely, I Feel You.

7. f(x)

I don't think any artist out there has better incorporated synthpop and house into mainstream pop music the way f(x) was able to. Their flawless discography is full of bangers. Even though they haven't released music within the past two years as a group, members Luna (on the left) and Amber (on the right of Luna) have both released solo music, including a S.M. Station collaboration, "Lower."

Notable songs: 4 Walls, Red Light, Electric Shock

8. Lee Hi 

Lee Hi is one of my favorite vocalists in the K-pop. Her unique yet versatile voice could fit on any beat, whether it's pop, jazz, or hip hop, Lee Hi has shown that she can basically do any genre she puts her mind to. 

Notable songs: Breathe, Hold My Hand, My Star 

Photo credits: Cover photo, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.