Time moves on and trends change and people change with them. While I can understand this fact, I refuse to accept it (for now) and I just can’t move on and completely forget about all these amazing groups that have either disbanded or have been inactive for a long time.
With that out of the way, I would like to introduce you to this guide I created, to help new K-pop fans who may be interested to check out a few of the older groups that were around for the 2007-2015 era of K-pop.
(Note: Some groups underwent line-up changes along the way of their careers, so I will be using the line-up that was more recently active to present each group)
Girls’ Generation (2007-Present)
Taeyeon - Leader, Main Vocalist
Sunny - Lead Vocalist
Tiffany - Lead Vocalist
Hyoyeon - Vocalist, Main Dancer
Yuri - Vocalist, Lead Dancer
Sooyoung - Vocalist, Lead Dancer
Yoona - Vocalist, Lead Dancer, Face of the Group
Seohyun - Lead Vocalist, Maknae
Girls’ Generation debuted in 2007 with the single “Into the New World”. Their musical style relies heavily on electropop and bubblegum pop as well as dance music and their image focuses on carefree and cheerful themes but they have tackled other musical and visual styles as well. While they were relatively well-received since debut, their big hit “Gee” is what boosted their way to the top and has made them a household name in South Korea and most of East Asia, with K-pop fans referring to them as “The Nation’s Girl Group” and other similar titles. Their 2010 Japanese debut with a translated version of their 2009 hit “Genie” was largely succesful and they have met further popularity and success in their neighbouring country ever since.
Minzy - Lead Vocalist, Lead Rapper, Main Dancer, Maknae
2NE1 debuted in 2009 with their hit single “Fire”. Known for their electronic-based sound and bold, in-your-face type of image, 2NE1 was loved for their fierce style and for daring to stand out, refusing to fit into any mold. Their best-selling hit “I Don’t Care” solidified their position as a top-tier group right after their debut and their follow-up hits allowed them to remain on top for the next six years after their debut.
SISTAR debuted in 2010 with the single “Push Push”. They worked closely with producer Brave Sound for the better part of their career and released extremely catchy dance singles which they accompanied with their sexy image and choreographies. Their rise to stardom started in 2011 with their best-selling hit “So Cool” and for the following six years they dominated the digital singles charts with their subsequent releases, a feat which earned them the nickname “Digital Monsters” for their astonishing digital sales and helped them solidify their position as a top group and form what Korean fans call “The Unbreakable Wall” along with Girls’ Generation and 2NE1.
Hara (2008-2016) - Vocalist, Rapper, Main Daner, Face of the Group
Youngji (2014-2016) - Vocalist, Main Rapper, Maknae
KARA debuted in 2007 with their first studio album “The First Blooming” and used “Break It” as the lead single to promote it. After failing to reach the expected ammount of sales and recognition they had hoped to achieve, the group underwent a complete image change one year after debut, switching from R&B/Hip-Hop influenced sound and style, to a cute and bubbly image that was well-received by the public. Their first number-one hit, “Honey” (2009) soon followed and the group continued to gain more and more popularity with follow-up singles “Mister” (2009) and “Lupin”(2010), among others . Debuting in Japan with a translated version of their Korean hit “Mister” in 2010, KARA received further love and fame in Japan, making them one of the most-succeful Korean acts promoting in the Japanese market, with some members still working in Japan after the group’s disbandment.
Yeeun (2007-2017) - Leader, Main Vocalist, Keyboardist
Sunmi (2007-2010, 2015-2017) - Lead Vocalist, Main Dancer, Face of the Group, Bassist
Yubin (2007-2017) - Vocalist, Main Rapper, Drummer
Hyerim (2010-2017) - Vocalist, Lead Rapper, Lead Dancer, Guitarist, Maknae
Wonder Girls debuted in 2007 with the maxi single “The Wonder Begins” and “Irony” as their debut single. The Wonder Girls are known as the “Retro Queens” of Korea thanks to their musical style that draws inspiration from the 60s, 70s and 80s and a fashion sense and visual style to match. In the later years of their career, the dance group learned how to play musical instruments, and made it a core part of their revamped image. Their rise to fame followed soon after their debut with their singles “Tell Me” which took their home country by storm and “Nobody” which followed the next year. Following the huge domestic success of “Nobody”, the group released an English version of the song the next year, specifically-made to target the American music market. The song was a hit and the group was the first Korean act to enter the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. They went on to appear on TV and radio shows and even tour with the Jonas Brothers as their opening act and star in their own Nickelodeon-produced movie while working even harder to polish their musical style and skills during their stay in the United States.
Eunjung (2009-Present) - Lead Vocalist, Lead Rapper
Hyomin (2009-Present) - Lead Vocalist, Main Rapper, Lead Dancer
Jiyeon (2009-Present) - Vocalist, Main Dancer, Face of the Group, Maknae
Dani (Predebut) [2012-2014]
T-ara debuted in 2009 with the single “Lie”. Known as “K-pop’s Chameleons”, T-ara constantly redefine their musical and visual image while at the same time mainting their trademark hook-heavy dance style. Their first hit was “Bo Peep Bo Peep”, released in 2009. They continued to release hit songs for the three following years, and went on to debut in Japan in 2011 with a Japanese version of “Bo Peep Bo Peep” and then China, with their collaboration single “Little Apple” (2014) with Chinese duo Chopstick Brothers, making them one of the most succesful groups in South Korea, Japan and China. Their public image in South Korea suffered a big hit in 2012 after fabricated rumours arouse, claiming that the original members of the group were bullying a member who was removed from the group and company at that time. The group continued to release music in their home country, but were mostly supported by their international fans. Said rumours were finally proven false five years later, restoring the group’s image and ceasing all of the unjust accusations made against them.
HyunA - Vocalist, Main Rapper, Main Dancer, Face of the Group
Sohyun - Vocalist, Rapper, Lead Dancer, Maknae
4Minute debuted in 2009 with their best-selling hit single “Hot Issue” which helped them gain fame and recognition at the start of their careers. The group focused on dance, electronic and EDM music and sported a sexy but bold and independent image. They maintained their sound and style as well as the popularity they acquired with their debut and never failed to release music each year during the entirety of their career, making them one of the most consistent groups when it comes to hiatus periods between each of their comebacks.
Krystal - Lead Vocalist, Face of the Group, Maknae
f(x) made their debut with single “LA chA TA” in 2009. Their style is a perfect mix of cute and soft vocals with an alternative visual and artistic style, often experimenting with new sounds and styles. Their big breakthrough came in 2011 with their single “Pinocchio” and the follow-up and best-selling single “Hot Summer”, receiving much love and adoration from K-pop fans worldwide.
Jia (2010-2016) - Vocalist, Main Rapper, Lead Dancer
Min (2010-Present) - Lead Vocalist, Rapper, Main Dancer
Suzy (2010-Present) - Main Vocalist, Rapper, Face of the Group, Maknae
miss A debuted in 2010 with hit single “Bad Girl Good Girl” from their debut EP “Bad but Good”. Adapting a sexy but also strong and independent public image right from the start of their career, miss A are famous for their dance-heavy title tracks and R&B-influenced b-sides and songs that promote female sexuality (”Touch”, “Hush”) but also independence and feminism (”Good Bye Baby”, “I Don’t Need a Man”). miss A’s songs never fail to impress and capture audiences.
Gain - Lead Vocalist, Main Dancer, Face of the Group, Maknae
Brown Eyed Girls debuted as an R&B/Ballad vocal group with “Come Closer” in 2006. Brown Eyed Girls are what one would call the ultimate feminist icons in the K-pop industry. Mature, bold, brave, sexy, strong, independent, unapologetic are all words that perfectly describe the core concepts that the group’s music and image revolve around. They started gaining popularity in 2008 with their song “L.O.V.E” and then captivated their home country with “Abracadabra” the following year. The Brown Eyed Girls are also notable for the relatively big age gap they have compared to their contemporary colleagues, and for staying together for eleven (and counting!) years, without any member changes too.
Jung-A (2009-2016) - Leader, Main Vocalist, Main Dancer
Juyeon (2009-2015) - Vocalist, Dancer
U-ie (2009-2017) - Vocalist, Rapper, Lead Dancer, Face of the Group
Raina (2009-Present) - Main Vocalist, Dancer
Nana (2009-Present) - Lead Vocalist, Rapper, Lead Dancer
Lizzy (2010-Present) - Lead Vocalist, Main Rapper, Dancer
E-Young (2011-Present) - Vocalist, Lead Dancer
Kaeun (2012-Present) - Lead Vocalist, Lead Rapper, Dancer, Maknae
After School debuted in 2009 with maxi single “New Schoolgirl” and used “Ah” to promote it. After School are notable for their admission-graduation system, but most importantly, for their complex choreographies; from drum-marching, to tap dancing, to pole dancing, they’ve trained for months to perfect said choreographies and have succeeded with much grace and efficiency. Their best-selling hit “Because of You” is their best-known hit and its success enabled them to continue releasing great music for the next six years after it’s release.
[!!!!! IMPORTANT TRANSLATION !!!!!] WHY PEOPLE SHOULD STOP TALKING SHIT ABOUT SHINee? Here are the answers. PLEASE GIVE MORE RESPECT AND LOVE TO SHINee BECAUSE THEY CLEARLY DESERVE THE WORLD
2008 ✨Debuted in 2008, oldest member was 18, youngest was 14 (not korean age) ✨Known to be a secret project so there were no rumours or public appearances before debut yet they became extremely popular with their debut song and brought ‘skinny jeans’ to men in the fashion world ✨They received their first win less than 4 months after debut along with an official Fanclub name, the same year they received newcomer awards grand slam and there were tons of other groups that were nominees.
2009 ✨Tough, sexy concepts were trendy but they made a cb with a completely opposite concept (Juliette), at the same time as their comeback stage they were nominated as first place along with suju & davichi, SHINee won. ✨Ring Ding dong is still picked as a 'song you shouldn’t listen to for year 12 final exams’ bc it’s so addicting, the song also achieved triple crowns, a fake SHINee group was created in Cambodia after the song was released.
2010 ✨Lucifer was released and it still remains to be well known today, the 'buffering dance’ was also famous. They held their first ever concert 2 years after debut, at the time it was going to be held at the 88 Gymnasium but people complained that the venue was too small so it was changed to the Olympic gymnasium, they also had a solo concert in Japan (before their Japanese debut) and all tickets were sold out.
2011 ✨Debuted in Japan and basically killed the charts, they set the best record out of all loop groups. The number of albums they sold was incredible to the point where the Japanese records association gave recognition to SHINee’s album as a golden album. ✨They performed at London’s last square, for the first time their website went down from the crowded ticket reservation system.
2012 ✨Sherlock was released in Korea after 1year&6months even after the long period of no cb THEY still managed to win triple crowns along with giving the public/Kpop world a huge impact with their choreography and vocals. ✨Japanese arena tours happened, along with continuous tours around Asia
2013 ✨MoY, MoM, MoU became another success ✨Their mr removed performance of everybody became a hot topic as their live skills were perfect even from the tough choreography, ✨Received a daesang award ✨The only group that won 3 awards each at Seoul music awards and golden disk awards
2014 ✨Taemin became one of the very first sm artists to release a solo album his album Ace made it to 2nd place in Bilboard world album charts ✨Short SHINee world tour ✨SHINee fandom in Japan grew bigger with their album releases
2015 ✨Performed at Tokyo dome for the first time, gathering 100 000 fans. ✨Jonghyun’s first solo album became the first ever album in Korea to chart no.1 on Billboard world album charts ✨Their comeback 'Odd’ brought a trend of contact lenses and wide pants to other idol groups and the public. They became the first group in Korea that released a song in the deep house genre, married to the music also showed good results
2016 ✨For the first time after GD’s 'Heartbreaker,’ Taemin became first (high quality artist) in 'Male solos’ His prerecordings gathered many fans, up to 1000 ✨Jonghyun’s solo album received a compliment about musical quality from Billboard ✨1of1, which many people call a 'failure’ wasn’t a failure they became the first idols to attempt a full 90s concept, from music video to clothes and their widened vocal range was shown through Tell Me What To Do, in addition, 1of1 member parts were divided almost equally which gave a strong indication of all members’ strong vocals ✨In terms of awards (the main ones): Newcomer Award in 2008 AT GDA and SMA Popularity award from 2009 to 2015 at GDA (2014 was Taemin) Popularity award in 2010, 2012-2015 at SMA ✨not a single member has left the group and there has been no changes
SHINee rules. -The End-
THREE MORE THINGS ✨SHINee world fandom made 'cannon cameras’ trendy amongst fandoms ✨'let’s walk on a flower path’ became trendy after SHINee world made it a fan event banner at SWC4 ✨Only idols that have received both the prime minister’s award + ministry of culture award
it’s known that boa, tvxq, and big bang are korean artists who began the road and maintained their status in (the) japanese market. they developed this new market, spread the korean wave, and created the genre: k-pop. following these artists, who can we count on to lead the next generation of k-pop? five member group, shinee, is in the lead. shinee, a part of sm entertainment, will restart interest in this year’s korean wave. the top singers with the most fan activities in japan, tvxq, are currently enlisted and even big bang is starting to enlist this year. so, everyone is gathering anticipation to see what presence shinee will have in this recently emptied k-pop space.
something worthy of showing this presence, objectively, is their appearance last year on japan’s representative end of the year music program, fuji tv’s fns music festival. this festival, together with nhk’s kohaku uta gassen, are japan’s most important end of the year programs. at the peak of the korean wave, up until 2012, there were many korean guests like tvxq, girls generation, and big bang on these end of the year programs, but then, for awhile, you could not see korean artists. last year’s program finally changed with boa and shinee as the only two korean artist guests on fns.
shinee has already began an arena tour which started last month. the arena’s seating scales are 15,000 - 20,000 seats per auditorium. their arena tour last year drew more than 400,000 fans. the tour this year, lasting until april, plans to go to tokyo, osaka, shizuoka, nagoya, kobe, and more. up to twenty arenas with five more potentially added on, this could increase to twenty five arenas. even though the schedule after may isn’t decided, following the current fervor of the public, there is a high possibility of adding 50,000 seat capacity domes to their tour. the past two years shinee have succeeded with both tokyo dome and osaka dome concerts.
though many korean artists advance into the japanese market and are active, shinee’s success has a different meaning. after boa and tvxq’s success the popularity of k-pop spiked and japanese fans would flock around as soon as they heard the word. like a dream, groups like super junior, girls generation and kara all successfully carried out tokyo dome concerts, and even groups that had only just debuted would have hundreds or thousands of fans show up at fan meetings and concerts. but, when political relations between the two nations deteriorated and an anti-korean sentiment grew around 2012, the interest in the korean wave weakened substantially. when shinee debuted in japan in 2011 the mood of society and the press had completely changed. as they met these difficulties from the start the method they chose to overcome it was to focus their attention on growing close local fans. instead of big events or advertising they held smaller concerts in small cities and districts to create bonds with locals. aside from tvxq, who had a clear path from the beginning, no other top korean artist had used this method to connect with japanese fans. in 2015, shinee finally had their first tokyo dome concert after four years of activities in japan. a marketer of universal music said: “their attitude for a famous singer from a large company yet consistently shown has opened japanese fans’ hearts, and it seems like their fandom has grown strong and distinguished.”
shinee has released a total of fourteen single albums and four full albums in japan, maintaining an emphasis on high quality local activities. after their september 2014 release of their third full album, i’m your boy, they reached first place on oricon’s weekly album chart, and last year’s fourth full album, d×d×d, naturally also rose to first place on the weekly chart. they plan to release their fifth full album, five, on the 22nd of this month. in this new album they will have a quite different concept and mood, especially in their title track, “get the treasure”, which will be darker and more powerful than their usual image.
popular music critic hwang sun eup says: “the thing that differentiates shinee from other idol groups is they’re always creating new results and consistently pursuing perfection in high quality work. by maintaining the balance of a long relationship with their fandom shinee will continue to occupy a larger role at sm entertainment.”