The Most Popular K-Pop Groups of 2021
The competition of the K-pop world is increasing as the genre grows exponentially every day. The popularity of the idol groups has grown along with their music expansion due to the charm and connection the fandoms offer. It can be hard keeping up with the ever-evolving genre. The most popular K-pop groups of this yearare BTS, NCT, SEVENTEEN, EXO, and BLACKPINK. Below, we will go over the brief history of the sensational groups and why they have taken center stage of the world.
The group BTS has earned their place at number one due to their constant record-breaking successes. BTS, or the Bangtan Boys, consists of the sensational idols Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V, and Jungkook. The seven members co-write and co-produces a majority of their music and have never been afraid to experiment with their sound – and it has not failed them yet.
BTS was formed in 2010 and debuted in 2013 with the beginning of their “school trilogy” series. In their first year, the new boy band received a few New Artist of the Year awards during the televised award season and by 2014, they took their place on the Billboard’s World Albums Chart with the EP, Skool Luv Affair. Over the next years of their musical career, BTS would dominate the Korean music charts and plunge into the global industry, gaining a foothold in the United States.
The global center stage was taken by storm by BTS due to a few different reasons. The main reason the boy band earned the hearts of the world was their dedication and genuine love for their fans. The group is very hands on with their music creation, experimentation of sounds, fashion, and their one-on-one time with their fans. Band member, Suga has stated “We started to tell the stories that people wanted to hear and were ready to hear, stories that other people could not or would not tell. We said what other people were feeling—like pain, anxieties and worries. That was our goal, to create this empathy that people can relate to.”
The influence BTS has had across the globe is truly unprecedented. A simple single released from the boy band caused a scramble of other idols and producers to expand the amount of Korean instrumental sounds that are available. President Moon Jae-in has praised the group and stated that BTS has pioneered the innovative business models that are being used to communicated directly with fans. The rise of celebrating and promoting self-love also stemmed from BTS due to RM’s speech at the United Nations and their “Love Yourself” era. The cultural influence this boy band has had is impressive.
2021 started off with BTS being chosen for the 2020 Global Recording Artist of the Yearby IFPI – the first Asian and non-English speaking act to top this ranking. On July 9, the group released their third English single “Permission to Dance” and ten days later, the single becametheir fifth consecutive No. 1 on the Hot 100 Chart in less than eleven months. BTS fans and music buffs should brace themselves for the band’s wild future.
The second biggest K-pop fanbase is easily the South Korean group, NCT. The formation of NCT began in 2013 and it was not until 2016 when the sixteen members were finally announced. The units that were introduced in 2016 consisted of the NCT U, NCT 127, and NCT Dream. By 2018, the groups had grown to 18 members and the fourth unit called WayV was added on New Years Eve of 2018.
NCT is a well-rounded musical group with top tier skills and choreography skills. The vast number of members they have grown also provides a lot of options for any fan to find their favorite bias. The NCT twitter fandom has also supported and pushed these K-pop groups to the forefront.
A new unit named NCT-Hollywood was announced in May of 2021 after being teased in January. This unit will be a US-based NCT unit, chosen from a competition series, K-POP goes Hollywood. NCT and SM Entertainment have no intention of slowing down this runaway train to stardom in Hollywood.
Seventeen is among the K-pop groups taking over the world. The boy band consists of thirteen members - S.Coups, Jeonghan, Joshua, Jun, Hoshi, Wonwoo, Woozi, DK, Mingyu, The8, Seungkwan, Vernon, and Dino. This self-producing idol group preforms together but is separated into three sub-units of specialties, one for hip-hop, one for vocals, and one for performance. The group formed in 2013 and debuted in 2015, appearing on Billboard’s “10 Best K-Pop Albums of 2015” chart as rookies.
Only two years after their debut, Seventeen’s fourth EP hit No. 1 in Korea and the group took on their first world tour. The success of the group did not stop there and continued to exponentially grow, allowing the group to continuously hit top charts and break records. These dedicated, talented idols continue to become fan’s favorite bias through their incredible music but also their magnetic, relatable personalities.
In May of 2021, Seventeen solidified their position as a global top-tier group when “Not Alone” went double platinum and charted 1st on the Global iTunes Song Chart in 10 regions. The group continues to dominate Japan’s top billboard charts and has not slowed down the pace of their releases. Seventeen and its thirteen members are here to stay.
EXO has rightfully kept their place among the big players of K-pop. The Seoul based boy band consists of nine members: Xiumin, Suho, Lay, Baekhyun, Chen, Chanyeol, D.O., Kai and Sehun. The Chinese-Korean hybrid group was formed in 2011 and debuted shortly after in 2012.
This K-pop group was divided into two sub-units, Exo-K and Exo-M. This was so the same music could be promoted simultaneously in both Korean and Mandarin. This benefitted the group exponentially due to it doubling the group’s potential audience. This effort did not fail and enabled the group to be able to receive the Most Popular Group Award at the 2013 Top Chinese Music Awards and achieve the most pre-ordered Korean EP albums in history in the same year. Since 2015, Exo has exclusively preformed as one group, still continuing to release and preform music in different languages.
For 2020 and into 2021, EXO members prioritized solo and unit releases due to several members serving their military enlistments. Despite this group pause, the solo artists of the group did not hold back and did not disappoint. Lay’s two-part EP, titled Lit, sold 2.5 million records, landing the solo artist at No. 1 on the iTunes charts in twenty-one countries and made Lay the best-selling artist in China for 2020. The group is preparing for their next album release which will include Xiumin, D.O., and Lay.
BLACKPINK is taking the world by storm and is leaving no fans behind. The girl group is comprised of Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa. Formed in 2011, the group did not debut until 2016 and when it did, BLACKPINK became the first girl group to debut under YG Entertainment in seven years.
The group’s first standalone digital single “As If It’s Your Last” debuted a No. 1 on Billboard’s World Digital Song Sales chart one day after it’s release, making it their third number one hit on the chart. This K-pop girl group shattered ceilings with their collaboration with Lady Gaga on the track “Sour Candy”. The song debuted at No. 33 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, making it BLACKPINK’s first Top 40 Hit. This became the group’s highest charting song in the United States at the time ad by a K-pop girl group.
BLACKPINK’s fifth song to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 was “How You Like That” which also broke three Guinness World Records and was heavily promoted and teased online before it’s release. This single’s music video was also where the group’s member’s re-interpreted the Hanbok style with a modern take and drew international attention to the traditional dress.
The powerhouse girl group continued to release chart-rocking singles, their first album, and even a documentary. “Ice Cream” featuring Selena Gomez debuted and peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it BLACKPINK’s highest-charting song on the chart yet. BLACKPINK became the first-ever million selling K-pop girl group with The Album. The group’s very first Korean studio album peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and the UK Album Chart, making BLACKPINK the highest-charting Korean female act on each chart. YG Entertainment has already announced “4+1”, BLACKPINK’s newest project that is meant to celebrate the group’s 5th anniversary of their debut.
The crazy competition of the K-pop world is ever-evolving and the groups that have become the most popular in 2021 consists of BTS, NCT, SEVENTEEN, EXO, and BLACKPINK. The popularity of the idol groups has grown along with the expansion of the music due to the charm and connection the fandoms offer. This is not the end of the K-pop Revolution; Idols are about to take over the world.