What I mean:
Girl groups are held to a higher standard than their male counterparts and they are expected to always maintain a spotless public image. One "scandal" is more likely to ruin a female idol's career than a male's. And girl group songs ALWAYS have a higher dislike to like ratio than boy groups on music videos because people will search to the ends of the universe for one tiny flaw in whatever girl groups are doing.
Support girl groups who do cute concepts.
Support girl groups who do sexy concepts.
Support girl groups who do girl crush concepts.
Support girl groups who do fierce concepts.
Support girl groups who do horror concepts.
Support girl groups who do retro concepts.
Support girl groups who do funny/silly concepts.
Support girl groups who do various kinds of concepts.
Support all girl groups.
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.
1. I remember when I first got I to K-pop and I tried to remember their names by remembering their hair color…. I was mistaken. Don’t. Save yourself the confusion.
2. Look up their ages. You might be in for a shock.
3. There is a thing called ‘Korean age’ and basically that means your favorites are going to have 2 ages. There actual age and then their Korean age. For Korean age you automatically turn one on the day you’re born and then gain another year on new year. So you basically add 1 to two years depending on if it’s before or after new year. So when you hear something like “they’re a 94 liner” that means that they were born in 1994..simple right.
4. They aren’t gay. Well logically speaking some of them probably are, but most are straight. Idols are affectionate with each other. You will see them sleeping and cuddling in the same bed, always touching one another, and always getting jealous over one of their members *cough * Jungkook *cough* They aren’t afraid of ‘skinship’ and that doesn’t make them gay.
5. Aegyo. Aegyo is basically just acting overly cute and it can take some getting used too especially if you’re from a country where 'cute’ isn’t really standard. Yeah grown men and women acting overly cute is still something I can’t handle a lot of.
6. V-live. V-live is basically video instagram for Korean artists. That is where they go live, post fun videos, and etc. You can download it completely free from your app store. There are some channels/content that you have to pay for if you want to watch it though. Most of the big names in K-pop will have subtitles on their content because of the lovely translators in the fandom, but a lot of the small or newer groups won’t. 😔
Oh and if you download vlive and your watching a solo live from one of your favorites and they aren’t your bias *favorite* DON’T ASK FOR OTHER MEMBERS!!!!!! It makes them feel bad… K… Thanks.
7. There is a dark side to K-pop. Most trainees get treated horribly, some idols don’t eat enough, Scandal on top of Scandal and etc but I’m going to all of that. You can dive into the tell of darkness on your own. Or you can message me or another K-pop fan with any questions.
8. Music shows. Music shows usually happen every week and if your face just had a comeback *aka released new music* then they will likely be on soon. The music shows have winners and those winners are chosen by sales, votes, and I believe views.. IDK. So if you want to vote you can go and make free accounts and vote. Accounts will also help you with voting for the end of the year music shows. MAMA is one of the major ones in case you’ve seen the phrase 'vote bts or vote exo or vote got7 for mama’ it’s not talking about voting for their mother.
9. Variety shows. Oh god variety shows. They will be the best and worst thing to happen to you because one you see your favorites on a variety program *which is kinda like a game show/interview* and you see how adorkable they truly are you are in that fandom for life. Sorry. Not sorry. No way out. K-pop is not a revolving door. Welcome.
Variety shows often involve punishments. Like being spanked by your fellow members or being hit on the head really hard with a toy hammer or flicked in the forehead. It’s weird but you’ll love it. Oh and the K-pop dances are amazing and scary complicated as is, but wait until you see it 2x faster. Not sure idols are human TBH.
10. Whiplash. What I mean by this is you are going to pick a favorite and they are going to be adorable and cute and you are going to want to protect them and their innocence and then they are going to get on stage or start dancing and they change into this rude creature and you’re not sure what just happened …i call it whiplash. The transition from fluffy to rude within .0000001 of a second. You get whiplash.
11. You have to go to YouTube and look up K-pop crack videos. Just look up 'K-pop crack’ or 'K-pop on crack’ they are so funny. Also the K-pop try not to laugh videos.
12. K-pop fandom. Each fandom has a name for their fans, like bts’ fans are called 'Army’ And each fandom either has or will at some point have a unique lightstick to represent their fandom. Fan chants are also a thing. You will often hear these at music shows and concerts. They are quite easy to pick up ion their own, but if you need assistance then you can google “ *group name* fan chants”
13. You don’t speak Korean. That is perfectly okay. Most of the big groups have amazing translators in their fandoms and they sub everything..mostly into English.. But I’ve seen some in Spanish and German too. You do not have to speak the language to be able to love K-pop. Music doesn’t need lyrics to be understood. But more power to you if you want to learn Korean it is a beautiful language and has amazing tradition and heritage that is so fun to learn about.
14. K-dramas. They are a thing and they are amazing. A lot of your favs have probably made an appearance if not had a leading role. Even if they don’t have your favs I do recommend downloading 'Drama Fever’ and binge watching. Again there are sub titles and most of the content is free, but there is some you have to pay for.
15. Military enlistment. It is law in Korea that every able-bodied man must serve at least 2 years in the military before they are 32. Idols from Thailand such as 2pm’s Nichkhun and Got7’s BamBam can either take the full 2 years or enter the draft. If they enter the draft and don’t draw a red card then they don’t have to go, but if they enter the draft and draw the red card then they have to serve the full 2 years. Idols from America and other countries are exempt I do believe.
Let me or another K-pop Stan know if you have any more questions and we’ll do our best to answer and if anyone has something else to add feel free ☺
Girls’ Generation has been the top Korean girl group ever since 2009, no one will replace them
2NE1 were the second most popular group for about seven years despite inconsistent releases and poor management, no one will replace them
SISTAR made millions in digital sales and were considered equal to two groups from two of the biggest Korean entertainment companies, no one will replace them
KARA were a sensation in South Korea, but more importantly Japan, the world’s 2nd largest music market, to the point were some members are still able to promote and work there; Seungyeon’s , Nicole’s and Jiyoung’s singles all place within the top-twnety spots of the Japanese charts, no one will replace them
The Wonder Girls were number one in Korea for the first two years after their debut, and remained relevant and popular even after their hiatus. They also achieved mainstream success in the United States with little to no help at all from the internet. No one will replace them
T-ara have conquered Korea, Japan and China at various points in their career. Their popularity and resilience is much stronger than many would like to admit. No one will replace them
4Minute were never HyunA’s back-up dancers and were never promoted as such. They were a fully-functioning group, and their initial huge success with “Hot Issue” and “Muzik” and subsequent regain of popularity during their 2013-2015 period are proof enough of that. No one will replace them
f(x) are not as underrated and unsuccesful as some make them out to be. They were always pretty high up among the most popular K-pop groups, both in terms of popularity and success. No one will replace them
miss A were pretty popular in their first two largely succesful years of activity and even after those. Most of their songs were hits of varying success, they simply didn’t get to release more music while still in their prime. No one will replace them
The Brown Eyed Girls are the longest-running, still active, Korean girl group. Their albums are all well-polished and extremely satisfying to listen to. No one will replace them
After School are not flops. “Because of You” , “Bang!” and Orange Caramel are the reasons NU’EST, SEVENTEEN and PRISTIN even exist. They are all extremely skilled dancers and charismatic, hard-working women. No one will replace them
No one can and no one will~ These women left behind a legacy more important than more people even realize. Other groups may get all the YouTube views and likes, but not the sales to match..