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.
I’ve realized something about our generation. We do not have leaders. When one emerges, then we write about something problematic that they did. We like to talk about our heroes, who died long before we lived, why? Because they cannot betray us by speaking. We provide them the words, by interpreting theirs to suit our interests.
We never ask: isn’t there a value to someone who recovered from making a mistake? More importantly, who hasn’t made a mistake?