5 K-Pop Korean Solo Artists You Should Know
What is K-Pop?
The term "K-Pop" refers to South Korean popular music, typically of the 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 extreme 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
Entertainment Label: Cube Entertainment
Studio Albums: 2
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.
"Oops!" - G.NA
#4: Jay Park
Stage Name: Jay Park
Real Name: Park Jaebeom
Entertainment Label: SidusHQ
Studio Albums: 1
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.
"Demon" - Jay Park
Stage Name: Rain
Real Name: Jung Ji-Hoon
Entertainment Label: Cube Entertainment
Studio Albums: 7
Fun Fact: Rain has won the TIME Magazine poll of the world's 100 most influential people 4 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).
"Rainism" - Rain
Stage Name: BoA (Beat of Angel)
Real Name: Kwon Boa
Entertainment Label: SM Entertainment
Studio Albums: 15
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.
"Eat You Up" - BoA
Stage Name: Psy
Real Name: Park Jae-sang
Entertainment Label: YG Entertainment
Studio Albums: 5
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.
"Gentleman" - Psy
Vote for Your Favorite
Which K-Pop solo artist do you like most?
K-Pop Idol Groups
K-Pop Solo Artist Quick Reference
Gina Jane Choi