Korean pop or K-pop has become a wildly popular music genre not just in South Korea but all around the globe. Some of the most popular videos have achieved hundreds of millions—or even billions—of views, plays, and downloads, making them some of the top-performing talents on YouTube.
The all-girl groups are some of the most successful artists in K-pop. Though they are often overshadowed by male groups such as BTS, they are also gaining prominence. Whether you are new to K-pop or a long-term fan, here are 11 K-pop girl groups you need to listen to:
1. Girls’ Generation
Girls’ Generation or SNSD is an eight-member group that started in 2007. Until 2014, they had nine members; singer Jessica left after performing for seven years. SNSD is one of the longest-running groups in K-pop history with a career spanning 13 years. Throughout the 2010s, they reached new heights of popularity across Asia. This isn’t to say they’ve lost their relevance—far from it. Despite no longer touring together, they continue to heavily influence the genre.
Together, members Yoona, Sunny, Taeyeon, Hyoyeon, Sooyoung, Yuri, Seohyun, and Tiffany, were named “The Nation’s Girl Group” by the South Korean government. Billboard has listed them as one of the “Best K-pop Girl Groups of the Past Decade.” They also have the distinction of being the first non-Japanese girl group certified for a million album sales.
Each member has since grown up and moved on to other projects. Their last record was released in 2019. Members now work on independent musical projects, K-dramas, films, TV, and more. They have more than 200 million views on YouTube and maintain a strong presence on social media.
(G)I-DLE is a girl group that came together in 2018. The five members, Soyeon, Miyeon, Yuqi, Shuhua, and Minnie, have contributed significant work to wider K-pop music and songwriting. Originally there was a sixth member, Soojin, who left in 2021. They hold great respect in the industry for their skill and originality. They are young even for K-pop girl groups, but they quickly gained nearly universal acclaim.
They are significant for intentionally appealing to female listeners rather than men. Their emphasis is more on what their intended audience enjoys than whether they are attractive to male fans. Their first studio album, I Never Die, was released in March 2022. They have almost 1.5 billion views on YouTube. Their brand recognition and marketing prowess are highly commended across the industry.
Many also recognize them as important and effective advocates of feminism through their music. Seoul appointed (G)I-DLE as the city’s goodwill ambassador in 2018, and they were made ambassadors for the Korean Children’s Diabetes Association in 2019. In April 2020, they donated 30,000 bottles of hand sanitizer to families in South Korea affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The members are usually directly involved in the creation of their music. This is a big difference from many other mainstream K-pop girl groups. Soyeon has helped write and produce most of the group’s songs. Yuqi and Minnie have co-written a number of songs as well. They are widely considered the most successful K-pop girl group outside of the “big three” record labels. (G)I-DLE is quite new but one to keep an eye on!
GFRIEND was formed in 2015 and quickly gained multiple female rookie awards. Their 2016 extended play Snowflake’s single Rough won first place on a number of music award shows. They were the first girl group interviewed for the Grammy Museum’s Mini Masterclass. Shopee Indonesia also named them their Global K-Market Ambassador in 2019.
Before they finished their run, they amassed more than 500 million views on YouTube. Their popularity spread so quickly that, by their third year, their fourth EP garnered more than 100,000 early orders. In addition to their regular Korean-language music, they also appeared extensively on reality television and released several of their songs in Japanese as well.
Members Yerin, Yuju, Sowon, Umji, SinB, and Eunha are no longer performing together as a group. They disbanded in 2021 after the studio declined to renew its contract. Nevertheless, Umji, SinB, and Eunha have joined together as a new girl group, VIVIZ. While their music and fan base are different from GFRIEND, there is much overlap.
Loona (or stylized, LOOΠΔ) is a massive girl group of 12 members. This is large even for K-pop, which tends to focus on ensembles over solo acts. The members are HeeJin, HaSeul, HyunJin, YeoJin, Kim Lip, ViVi, Yves, Choerry, JinSoul, Olivia Hye, Go Won, and Chuu.
The group is highly talented and has almost 700 million views on YouTube. In May 2021, the members of Loona were named ambassadors of Korean culture by the South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism. This designates them as official ambassadors of Hallyu and Korean culture around the globe.
5. OH MY GIRL
OH MY GIRL was formed in 2015 and now has almost 500 million views on YouTube. They are widely known for tracks such as Dun Dun Dance, Liar Liar, and Cupid. Mimi, Hyojung, Seunghee, YooA, Arin, and Yubin make up this popular K-pop girl group. They continued even after the departure of two members, JinE in 2017 and Jiho in 2022, both due to health reasons.
Like other K-pop groups, they have released several Japanese-language albums to reach out to their Japanese fanbase. They have an extensive network of fans in both South Korea and Japan, though they have toured extensively throughout the globe. They have done three tours in Japan as well as one in Brazil and the United States. The members are also promotional ambassadors for the Girl Scouts of South Korea.
Mamamoo is a highly awarded K-pop girl group that was formed in 2014. Many in the industry considered theirs the best K-pop debut of that year. Across Asia, and even Europe and the United States, they have been nominated for over 160 awards—and won 45 of them! The group, named after the sound of a baby babbling, is composed of members Hwasa, Solar, Wheein, and Moonbyul.
They have garnered over two billion views on YouTube. While they have not toured as a group in some time, in part due to the worldwide pandemic, individual members still perform solo acts. They are known for their combination of retro, R&B, and jazz. Their vocal performances are some of the strongest in K-pop. They are best known for their songs Mr. Ambiguous, I Miss You, and Rainy Season.
7. Red Velvet
Red Velvet members Wendy, Irene, Yeri, Joy, and Seulgi joined together in 2014. This group is known for their R&B style with influences of ballad and hip hop, combined with electronic and funk. Their name describes their music: light, fun, electric, and sometimes, dark and brooding.
Significantly, they have a larger age range (eight years) than usual for K-pop groups. They have made millions of fans with their skillful genre combos and hooks. It’s no wonder that Red Velvet has reached so close to a billion views on YouTube. Some of their best-known songs include Peek-A-Boo, Russian Roulette, Rookie, and Feel My Rhythm. Many of these tracks charted internationally, making waves outside of South Korea.
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ITZY is an all-girl K-pop group that came to prominence in 2019. They’re famous not only as high-energy performers but as TV show actors. Their YouTube channel features livestream cooking sessions and more with members Lia, Yuna, Yeji, Ryujin, and Chaeryeong. In just three years, they have amassed 1.5 billion views on the platform.
Their most recent high-profile project is working on a collaborative soundtrack for Pokémon Legends: Arceus for the Nintendo Switch. Significantly, they are the first K-pop girl group to achieve a Rookie Grand Slam from the Mnet Asian Music Awards. As their global fame has increased, they have released a number of Japanese- and English-language songs, including Boys Like You, Sneakers, and Blah Blah Blah.
TWICE arrived in 2015 during the survival TV competition, Sixteen. They have numerous internationally renowned singles including Cheer Up and OOH-AHH. The nine-member band was the first all-girl K-pop band to have two Top 3 albums on the Billboard 200. Members Tzuyu, Nayeon, Momo, Chaeyoung, Sana, Jihyo, Dahyun, Mina, and Jeongyeon are also the first K-pop girl group to top Billboard’s World Albums and World Digital Song Sales charts at the same time.
With almost three and a half billion YouTube views, they are one of the top groups in the industry. They have fans around the world, in part due to their mix of Japanese and English lyrics. They were the first Korean girl group to conduct a Japanese dome tour and to win a platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of Japan. And in December 2020, they became the best-selling K-pop girl group of all time with 10 million albums sold.
BLACKPINK may just be the top K-pop girl group in the world. Their name signifies synthesizing the seeming contradictions of being beautiful and talented. The four-member group was formed in 2016 and only includes one member, Jisoo, from South Korea. The other members hail from different parts of the globe: Lisa from Thailand, Jennie from New Zealand, and Rosé from Australia.
This top-charting K-pop girl group has received a Teen Choice Award, an MTV Video Music Award, and three People’s Choice Awards. They have innumerable awards and recognitions throughout Asia, too. At number 13, they are the highest-charting K-pop girl group on Billboard’s Hot 100.
In 2021, they broke their sixth Guinness World Record for the band with the most YouTube subscribers: more than 74 million. Their videos have been viewed almost 24 billion times. With almost one billion YouTube views and 200 million Spotify streams, their single DDU-DU DDU-DU is their most popular song while their most successful album is In Your Area. Lisa is also the most-followed female K-pop artist on Instagram with over 84 million followers, with the rest of the members right behind.
Apink’s five (originally seven) members joined up in 2011 and were significant in the global development of K-pop throughout the 2010s. Members Bomi, Chorong, Hayoung, Namjoo, and Eunji continue to entertain a massive fan base affectionately known as Pink Panda. In their debut year, they received the award for Best New Female Artist at the Mnet Asian Music Awards.
They are one of the top-performing K-pop girl groups in the world. They gained international attention for their carefree dance style combined with an upbeat bubblegum pop vibe. Their 2014 single Mr. Chu from the album Pink Blossom was their first appearance on the Billboard World Digital Song Sales list. In the United States, their most famous song is 2013’s NoNoNo from their mini-album, Secret Garden. They are also known for their singles Luv, Only One, and Good Morning Baby.
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.
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