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What Is K-Pop?
The term "K-pop" refers to South Korean popular music, typically of hip-hop, dance, rap, and R&B styles. Though the lyrics are primarily Korean, K-pop music is heavily influenced by American popular music.
The K-pop genre emerged in the early 1990s and quickly took Korea by storm. By the late 90s, the major K-pop music labels such as SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, and JYP Entertainment were producing tons of wildly successful popular music.
Unlike Western artists, K-pop artists are not just musicians. They are all-around performers. Once discovered (typically at a very young age, and often for their extremely good looks), Korean artists undergo a rigorous training program in which they study dancing, choreography, foreign languages, and other necessary entertainment skills.
Basically, they are trained and sculpted (sometimes literally—plastic surgery is pervasive in the K-pop scene) to be perfect, successful media personalities. Many K-pop stars have wide-ranging careers that include television hosting, film acting, and backup dancing, as well as singing. They are incredibly driven and hard-working individuals!
K-Pop Solo Artists
Idol groups (studio boy bands and girl groups such as Girls' Generation and Super Junior) are extremely popular right now in the K-pop music scene, which means that the solo artists are often overlooked. But solo artists (such as Drunken Tiger) were some of the earliest genre-defining acts, and they remain some of the longest-running popular stars.
If you haven't heard of them yet, these are a few fantastic K-pop solo artists you won't want to miss!
- Stage Name: G.NA
- Real Name: Gina Jane Choi
- Debut: 2010
- Entertainment Label: Cube Entertainment
- Fun Fact: Before her debut, G.NA performed as a backup dancer for Hyun-Ah of 4Minute in her solo music video "Change." Also, G.NA's debut song was a duet with K-pop superstar Rain. She was the first female singer to perform with him in a duet since 2006.
4. Jay Park
- Stage Name: Jay Park
- Real Name: Park Jaebeom
- Debut: 2008
- Entertainment Label: SidusHQ
- Fun Fact: Jay Park is Korean-American, having been born in the United States. He is the former leader of the K-Pop idol group 2PM and his blood type is A.
- Stage Name: Rain
- Real Name: Jung Ji-Hoon
- Debut: 1996
- Entertainment Label: Cube Entertainment
- Fun Fact: Rain has won the TIME Magazine poll of the world's 100 most influential people four times. He was voted the winner in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2011, and he has been listed as one of the top 100 people by TIME itself. Before beginning his career, Rain was rejected in multiple auditions because he did not have a fashionable Western-style eyelid crease (a look that many K-pop stars undergo plastic surgery to achieve).
- Stage Name: BoA (Beat of Angel)
- Real Name: Kwon Boa
- Debut: 2000
- Entertainment Label: SM Entertainment
- Fun Fact: BoA was the first Korean artist to rank #1 in the Oricon charts (the Japanese popular music ranking charts). She produced her first album at just 13 years of age and has since released albums in the Korean, Japanese, and English languages. BoA is a practicing Catholic.
- Stage Name: Psy
- Real Name: Park Jae-sang
- Debut: 1999
- Entertainment Label: YG Entertainment
- Fun Fact: Psy was the first Korean performer to top the U.S. music video charts with his video "Gangman Style," which became a viral internet sensation worldwide. The lyrics "Oppan Gangnam Style" (translation: your big brother's got Gangnam style) were named the 9th most famous quotation of 2012 by the Yale Book of Quotations. Psy was a class clown growing up, and one former teacher even told the media that he disrupted her class by frequently making overly-sexual jokes.
K-Pop Idol Groups
- 10 K-Pop Korean Boy Bands You Should Know
If you liked reading about the great solo artists of K-Pop, check out the top 10 K-Pop boy bands.
- 10 K-Pop Korean Girl Groups You Should Know
Don't forget the ladies! These 10 K-Pop girl groups are some of the best.
K-Pop Solo Artist Quick Reference
Gina Jane Choi
luna on August 31, 2018:
ummm you kinda forgot about Taemin
HOW CAN YOU FORGET TAEMIN OF SHINEE! on July 31, 2018:
HOW CAN YOU FORGET TAEMIN OF SHINEE!
titi on December 23, 2017:
It's weird how they forget to mention the KING of kpop himself G-dragon lol
Adam on June 04, 2017:
Where is Park Hyo Shin????
wellboyt on May 17, 2016:
no IU ? are youuuu mad?
Oh Leizel on April 20, 2015:
You forget Oh Sehun from EXO
Mei Rong on January 29, 2015:
you forgot Ailee! that girl is a queen
China Abarquez on December 14, 2014:
You forgot Baek Ji-young. She's considered as the queen of ost. And she wins different awards. Well, from your own list I voted for G.NA
kpopmusic.. on November 16, 2014:
where is IU???
Ireno Alcala from Bicol, Philippines on September 15, 2014:
What a tribute to Korean solo singers.
My cousin, Grace Eve is also making waves as Filipina singer (who looks like Korean) in South Korea. You might as try to know her or feature her in the future.
swilliams on July 24, 2014:
My step-mom is Korean I watch some of these singing shows with her. I also watch the Korean Soap Opera "The Heirs." Good Stuff! Voted up Tweeted out!
hlwar on July 31, 2013:
Rain is so over-rated. I only enjoyed maybe three of his songs, and as an actor he always manages to come across pretentious. Of course, he's popular so everyone should, and will, know him. Whether it's deserving is all matter of opinion.
2NE1 on July 09, 2013:
You forgot the queen of kpop! Lee Hyori! ^.^
Firoz from India on June 27, 2013:
I know Park Jae-sang as psy.
Phoebe Pike on June 27, 2013:
Psy became popular so quickly it makes my head spin. You couldn't go anywhere without hearing that song!