K-pop seemingly overtook the world’s popular music scene overnight. From catchy melodies to angelic voices, their boy bands are all the rage, and it’s unlikely to fade out soon. As new releases from the best K-pop boy groups continue to rise, we’ll take a closer look at which of these bands reign supreme.
While K-pop kicked off in the 90s, it’s fair to say it’s currently having a moment. You can’t leave any pop culture-friendly store without your eyes landing on something K-pop-related. From lunch boxes to T-shirts, all the major groups have their faces plastered everywhere, and Astro is no exception to the rule.
Formed in 2016, this group has six members who have officially toured almost every major country, traveling to the likes of Hong Kong and the United States. In 2016, Astro made the Billboard list for Best New K-Pop Bands, and they continue to please their fans with new songs, videos, and merch.
They managed to rack up close to a million Spotify listeners every month and have award nominations from various award shows. With a heavy social presence, Astro ensures they won’t lose touch with their fans, bringing them straight into the recording studio and on tour.
If you’re familiar with K-pop, chances are you’ve heard of Astro. If not, we heavily recommend looking them up and having a listen as soon as possible!
Is it just us, or do K-pop boy groups love to utilize acronyms and abbreviations in the band name? GOT7, also known as the band that managed to incorporate martial arts into their live performances, is one of the world’s most prominent K-pop boy groups, and they show zero signs of slowing down.
With a debut in 2014 under South Korean music giant JYP Entertainment, GOT7 is one of the first K-pop boy bands to jump onto the global scene and succeed in taking a firm hold on listeners. With upbeat pop songs and the occasional swoon-worthy love ballad, they prove that music is a universal language.
In late 2014, they signed with Sony Entertainment in Japan, having gained traction for their acrobatic live performances and street dancing, which makes it difficult to turn away. The band is mesmerizing to watch, and they have the vocal talent to back it up.
If you’re a fan of K-pop, GOT7 is a great way to expand your music collection. Over two million Spotify listeners will agree!
K-pop boy groups are typically much larger than the four members that make up Winner, but that hasn’t stopped them from racking up almost two million Spotify account listeners monthly. They shot to popularity due to the 2014 season of the South Korean reality talent game show WIN: Who is Next.
They reached what we can only describe as an unprecedented success following the release of their debut album after the show. In fact, the band found fans far beyond the reach of their home in South Korea, expanding to Japan and China. No wonder they reached the top of the Billboard World Albums Chart.
So, what do fans love so much about Winner? Besides sheer talent, the band members are heavily involved in everything that goes into their production, from songwriting to choreography. The members also like to be involved in their marketing deals, and their fan appeal helped them score spots with significant retailers like Adidas and Kiehl’s.
This band is the definition of K-pop, making it big. They’ve continued to evolve and grow as a group as the years passed.
We’re honestly a bit surprised if you’ve never heard of the K-pop sensation ATEEZ. This talented boy group sold over 3 million albums worldwide and boasts two and a half million monthly Spotify listeners. While this number might not sound like much compared to other artists or boy bands, it’s crucial to remember that three million is outstanding in a world where streaming is so prevalent.
ATEEZ is a must-have on any K-pop boy group fan’s playlist, picking up global awards like the 2019 MTV European Video Awards. Known for making hearts throb around the world, they put on a spectacular live show. As of today, the band has three major album releases in two different languages, one in Korean and two sung in Japanese.
The global appeal of ATEEZ is undeniable. With eight members, the band formed in 2018 and hasn’t looked back. They continue to perform live, working hard on studio albums and new music in the meantime. Check out the linked video, as they’re absolutely fantastic in an acoustic setting.
Oh, look, more abbreviations! The acronyms are plentiful but well worth figuring out what they might mean regarding K-pop boy groups. NCT has over three million monthly Spotify listeners, which is a whopping amount for a music movement that hasn’t yet reached its peak.
They differ from some of your more traditional K-pop boy groups because the band exists in subunits. Once having 23 members, NCT was divided into NCT U, NCT 127, NCT Dream, and WayV. Regardless of how large the band once was—it was pretty much a choir—the subunits of NCT have found global recognition and an incredible level of regional success.
After the band debuted and split into four in 2016, they acquired a slew of fans and many awards for their talent and K-pop originality. The band hit it big in South Korea, and while the makeup of each subunit tends to change regularly, it hasn’t stopped NCT from releasing and performing music for their dedicated fanbase.
This band is what K-pop is all about. Fun, poppy, and member-heavy, and we highly recommend adding them to your playlist.
6. Monsta X
If you’re into boy K-pop groups that found success on reality shows, you’ve probably heard of Monsta X. Their single “Who Do U Love” made them huge around the globe. Almost three million Spotify listeners tune in monthly to see what’s new and listen to their old favorites.
After appearing on the show No Mercy, it didn’t take long for Monsta X to shoot to fame. The band has six members, and they give K-pop lovers a little break from the constant stream of polished pop hits to focus on raw lyrics and EDM beats. They infuse their vocals with hip hop and rapping, making them stand out from other competing K-pop bands.
There’s no doubt that Monsta X has a global appeal, as their first English language album ranked fifth on the Billboard 200 and seventh on the Rolling Stone 200. The success in the states prompted nine U.S. tour dates, which can be somewhat unheard of for K-pop bands. Nonetheless, millions of excited United States K-pop fans were dying to get their hands on tickets to see Monsta X live.
You might know Seventeen as the “performance kings of K-pop,” as they’re often called among critics and global K-pop fans. Numbers can attest to their popularity, as they see over five million visitors to their Spotify page monthly. Though it seems counterintuitive, Seventeen boasts thirteen members, and they’ve established themselves both in their home country and around the world.
In 2015, they released their first album, 7 Carat, and it made history almost immediately. The band scored a spot on the Billboard list of Top 10 K-pop bands for the same year. They also hold a record for being the longest K-pop spot holder on the music charts in the United States.
K-pop and Seventeen fans want those that aren’t too familiar with K-pop to know that this band isn’t just another run-of-the-mill K-pop boy band. The guys are heavily involved in their choreography and songwriting, which sets them apart from the crowd regarding authenticity. It’s seldom to find K-pop band members as involved as the boys in this group, and the world of K-pop fans has ensured their involvement hasn’t gone unnoticed.
EXO racks up around four million views every month on their Spotify channel, and they’re one of the longest-running boy bands in the existence of K-pop. That’s a pretty significant accomplishment. The group was formed in 2012, though the band has been shifting and changing since then.
Like NCT, EXO started with more members than usual—twelve, to be exact—and then separated into two subunits, now known as EXO-M and EXO-K. Other than different members, there is a stark difference between the two subunits. EXO-M performs in Mandarin, while EXO-K performs in Korean. The latter was the first South Korean artist to sell over one million copies of an album, which is a massive accomplishment.
EXO is still active in the K-pop universe. Still, the band is smaller than it used to be, as a few members had to depart to take on mandatory military service, and others decided it was time to pursue solo careers. Despite EXO lacking members, you can listen to their older music in all its glory on most major streaming services.
Kings in the K-pop boy group universe, Tomorrow x Together—or TXT—pulls in almost eight million monthly listeners on Spotify, which is beyond impressive for a K-pop group. In general, it shows how far K-pop has come and exists as proof that it’s currently taking over the spotlight. This group is signed with Big Hit Music, the record label that brought us the K-pop sensation, BTS.
The band launched with five members in 2019, and the release of their debut album resulted in near-overnight fame, as it shot to the top of the charts faster than anyone could have anticipated, entering the Billboard Top 200 in the United States at 140. This Billboard debut made TXT the first male K-pop band with a debut so high on the charts.
It didn’t take long for them to perform in front of over fifty thousand people in New York City’s Madison Square Garden, all while finding themselves nominated for an MTV Music Award. Their rise to fame continues to stun and impress K-pop bands and fans everywhere.
10. Stray Kids
Stay Kids is a male K-pop group with eight members, launched by the reputable JYP Entertainment in South Korea. They didn’t start as a band but as a reality show with the same name before evolving into a boy band, much like the Making The Band in the United States.
K-pop fans looking for a change in the classic pop sounds of the genre love Stray Kids, as their music flips back and forth between EDM and house genres. Though they don’t have the same sound as many K-pop bands, this plays in their favor, as they boast a little over six million Spotify listeners monthly.
As part of a strategic expansion on the part of their record label, Stray Kids has expanded beyond South Korea, signing deals in Japan and the United States. The band is set to go on their second world tour, and they show no signs of slowing down when it comes to creating social media content for their fans and making music. They are a testament that K-pop fans come from every corner of the planet.
If you’re currently into K-pop boy groups, or you’ve just discovered a few you like, you’ve probably been waiting for BTS to show up on this list. There’s no denying that they could be the kings of all K-pop as they’ve shot to global fame in very recent years.
They are the most successful boy band to come out of South Korea. With seven members existing as crooners, rappers, and dancers, there’s no question that they’re perfectly polished and the definition of triple threats. BTS is no longer encapsulated in the world of K-pop, as they’ve gone above and beyond to establish themselves as a global phenomenon, scoring plenty of brand advertisements and fans from around the world.
BTS is the first band from South Korea to have an album and a single debut at number one on the charts in the United States. A jaw-dropping performance at Dick Clark’s New Year’s Eve Party in 2021 sealed the deal as K-pop royalty and 44 million Spotify users will agree.
BTS is hard to follow, but ENHYPEN can hold its own. They have around seven million streams on most major streaming platforms, and today, they might be one of the most prominent up-and-comers in the K-pop universe. The group came together in 2020 on the reality television show I Land.
The K-pop band already has plenty of awards under its belt, including Best Artist at the Asia Artist Awards and World Rookie of the Year at the Gaon Chart Music Awards. With such prestigious awards backing them up, it’s safe to say that ENHYPEN is headed for world domination. The band has tour dates scheduled, so if you’re interested in seeing them live, now is the time.
13. Super Junior
Super Junior, also known to K-pop fans as SJ of SuJu, originally consisted of ten band members, but over the many years they’ve existed, there are now only seven. In 2009, before many of the other K-pop boy bands on this list evolved, the band made a name for itself.
They released a best-selling single entitled “Sorry, Sorry,” and it proved the band consisted of successful and well-rounded entertainers that could delight the world with their live shows and studio-recorded music. There’s no doubt that they paved the way for many of the K-pop artists we know today, proving there was more to the genre than heavily manufactured music and perfectly presented performers.
At the 2015 Teen Choice Awards, Super Junior took home more than one award. Today, most of the original band is still together, creating music to release to their excited fans and looking forward to taking it out on tour.
It’s incredible how far K-pop groups have come, from their inception in the 90s to massive successes like BTS and TXT. K-pop isn’t going anywhere, and it’s making a place for itself in various cultures around the world.
K-pop has an undeniably distinctive blend of melodies and cultural appeal. With catchy hooks and lyrics that make any music lover want to sing along, K-pop is on the brink of an explosion, and there’s nowhere to go but up!
As the Head Editor and Writer at Music Grotto, Liam helps write and edit content produced from professional music/media journalists and other contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.
Liam’s lifelong love for music makes his role at Music Grotto such a rewarding one. He loves researching, writing and editing music content for Music Grotto.