K-pop and K-dramas: Bands to Check Out That Aren’t BTS

Photo of Blackpink from a photoshoot featuring (from left) Lisa, Jisoo, Jennie, and Rose`. Copyright goes to YG Entertainment.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I know we talk a lot about BTS on this blog. We’re proud ARMY. There’s really nothing for it. But, obviously, there are so many more talented artists in the K-pop industry. BTS may be the most popular, but they are not all that there is. They are also not all that I listen to. I am still learning so I’m definitely not the be-all end-all of K-pop knowledge. I really do apologize if your favorite band isn’t on this list and I promise I’ll try to get to as many as I can eventually! But I do notice that a lot of people are nervous getting into K-pop because it’s such a large world in music now. I know I was definitely one of those people. So hopefully, if you are one of those people and you haven’t broadened your horizons too much yet, this will give you at least a few recommendations that you might enjoy. Both new and old (but none of it is really all that old).

Blackpink:

I think this is an obvious one. Blackpink is probably the band just behind BTS in terms of popularity and it isn’t difficult to see why. Firstly, when it comes to overseas fans they have some of the most English content because three of the four of them can very fluently speak English. While I don’t think this should be the criteria for liking a band, I can’t deny that it seems to help. But mostly, their music is amazing. They have now surpassed many American artists with their quality of music. You don’t hear many rappers like Jennie or Lisa or many singers like Rose` or Jisoo anywhere else. They also now have a documentary on Netflix that I keep meaning to get around to watching. If you’re looking for a starter song, I would probably recommend ‘Ddu-ddu-ddu-ddu’. This was the song that solidified their popularity and introduced me to them and I love it.

Shinee:

Most of the popular stuff from this band came out a while back, but that doesn’t make it any less good. I was obsessed with this group before I even really knew what K-pop was. Shinee immediately drew attention when they began to make the most-watched page on Youtube, specifically with their success from their song ‘Sherlock’. That was also the song that introduced me to them. The vocals in this band are amazing and it’s difficult to find any artist that even mildly sounds like any of them. My recommendation for this band is actually ‘Lucifer’. Though I really love ‘Sherlock’ and I would recommend you check out that one as well, ‘Lucifer’ is what stole my heart.

BIGBANG:

It is really difficult to get into the K-pop world and not hear the name of this group. They are not only a classic, but also music that is still listened to on repeat. If you look at interviews for many of the more up and coming K-pop acts, many of them will list G-Dragon as an influence. There is no better word to describe their songs than ‘fun’. They are fun as hell. These are the type of songs that will get stuck in your head all day and will refuse to go away. My recommendation song here is probably the obvious; ‘Fantastic Baby’. It’s one of those songs that makes me smile very time I listen to it.

ATEEZ:

I was introduced to them when they covered ‘Blood, Sweat, and Tears’ among many other songs at an event where BTS was present. The boys’ reactions to hearing a cover of their own song was beyond adorable. But putting that aside, what I liked most about that performance was the beginning and the chorus. None of the videos that I watched really explained what the music they were using was, and the piece was a medley, so I ended up scouring the internet to try and find what song they covered for those parts of it. Only to find out that it’s their own song. I am now absolutely obsessed with ‘Wonderland’ and yes, this is your song recommendation from them. They are a younger band, and they are already killing it.

Apink:

Yay! Another girl group! Apink is quite possibly the most aesthetically pleasing group I have seen in my entire life. The pastels that fill their music videos and fashion are always a delight. Their most recent stuff is definitely my favorite, but what really drew me to them was how good and unique the vocals from this group is. I really do like sweeter voices, but I do find that finding richer voices in K-pop can be a little bit of a struggle. Hayeong has a deeper, richer, voice that I just love listening to. And that’s just one of them; they all sound fantastic. My recommendation for this group is ‘Dumdurum’. And I highly recommend watching the music video when you listen to it for the first time, it’s just so eye-catching.

TWICE:

Another popular girl group that there is no escaping from in the K-pop world. They are mostly known for their songs being upbeat and pretty adorable on top of that. This is one of those groups to listen to if you need cheering up, because may of their songs are known for being lighthearted and cute. The members of this band also equally feel cute and approachable. If you want a song guaranteed to put a smile on your face, I would try looking at them. My recommendation here would, again, be the obvious ‘Fancy’ but I have also been listening to ‘Yes or Yes’ so much lately that it’s hard to not put that one here too.

EVERGLOW:

This is another girl group that more recently gained a sudden mass of recognition overseas. Even if you don’t think you have heard them, you have most definitely heard them if you own a TikTok account. Their popularity spurned most recently from their song ‘Dun Dun’ making it’s rounds on the app. They are really really new, so it’s absolutely insane that they’ve gotten so much popularity this fast. So far it seems as though their aesthetic is a bit darker than other girl groups; think black and leather. But who knows what will happen since we haven’t seen too much of them yet! All but one of them is younger than me, which is insane to think about. But anyways, my recommendation here is ‘La Di Da’. I like the other ones, but this song is the one that gets stuck in my head almost every day.

There you go! Hopefully some of these recommendations will pan out in showing you some music you might be interested in. There are so many other groups out there to explore as well that I didn’t get to, many of which I wanted to include here. A few months ago I know I would have included Mamamoo, but there’s a lot of controversy there over black face that I haven’t gotten into as much yet. But I also didn’t want to overwhelm anyone who’s newer to all of this. I’m still pretty much a newbie too, so if you are, I know how you feel. But as you are testing the uncertain waters, make sure that you aren’t just listening to one band. I know that’s tempting. I have over a hundred songs from BTS on my phone now. But there’s an entire world to explore here! Just remember to take your time.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

3 thoughts on “K-pop and K-dramas: Bands to Check Out That Aren’t BTS

  1. I also have some recommendations!

    -BOL4 (My favorite song’s Galaxy. I think you guys might like it too)
    -Tomorrow X Together (They’re also in Big Hit, and the ‘X’ is read as ‘By’)
    -ITZY (I love their song ‘ICY’)
    Have a wonderful day!

    Like

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