10 most popular K-pop groups right now

BTS Busan Concert
Image via BIGHIT

South Korean pop music has been completely revolutionized in the past decade as a result of the globalization induced by the biggest acts in the K-pop stratosphere. This jarring success and immersive acts, on par with their ginormous fanbases, have marked K-Pop as one of the most profitable musical industries to have ever existed to date, only rivaled by the Western music scene.

Despite its grand success, K-pop has existed for decades with the first K-pop group dating back to the 1950s. Nonetheless, it wasn’t until the early 2000s that the Hallyu wave, also known as the Korean wave, brought a new light to the South Korean pop scene. Alongside the rising of EXO, BTS, and BLACKPINK in the mid-2000s, K-pop garnered an even wider influence over western countries. Nowadays, this genre is so widely popular and institutionalized in every single part of the globe, that the new wave of artists is reaching overwhelming new highs right after its debut. If you’re curious about the current K-pop scene and its most popular acts, We Got This Covered has garnered a list widely based on Spotify’s monthly listeners, and here’s the list.

BTS

Unsurprisingly, BTS remains the most popular K-pop group of all time. While constantly setting new records on top of their own unparalleled achievements, consistently attaining new highs never before seen in this industry, BTS’ influence is still unmeasurable. In spite of its longevity — as the group heads towards its 10th year actively working together — BTS’ popularity has not once wavered, even as the members take a break from group activities in order to enlist in the mandatory conscription.

BTS debuted in 2013 with three rappers — RM, SUGA, and J-Hope — and four vocalists — Jungkook, Jimin, Jin, and V. Currently, each member has been closely working on their own individual identity through music. In 2022, BTS released their anthology album Proof, comprised of their biggest hits to date, with four new songs. In spite of not releasing a full studio album made up of entirely new discography, BTS still managed to garner over 44 million monthly listeners in the past 28 days — according to Spotify’s data — thus proving their unequaled popularity and solidifying their place as the current most popular K-pop group.

BLACKPINK

Following promptly behind, BLACKPINK gathered an equally impressive number. In spite of having only two studio albums, the four-member girl group earned 22 million monthly listeners in the past month alone. BLACKPINK, similarly to BTS, solidified K-pop’s presence from a global perspective. From the get-go, Lisa, Rosé, Jisoo, and Jennie brought an entirely new sound to a previously bubble-gum pop-studded scene, winning the hearts of millions of fans worldwide with their unique take on the K-pop industry.

BLACKPINK received its kickstart in 2016 via its debut stage with “BOOMBAYAH.” Their career start is, to this day, considered one of the strongest debuts in K-pop history. Just recently, the girl group also released their second studio album Born Pink, ensuring their place as the largest female-led K-pop act on a global scale, and achieving unprecedented numbers never before seen in a girl group, only rivaled by BTS’ own achievements. For this reason, BLACKPINK remains the most popular girl group at the moment.

TWICE

One of the most popular K-Pop groups currently gathering a larger fanbase day by day is TWICE. Responsible for some of K-Pop’s most popular songs, like “Alcohol-Free,” and “FANCY,” TWICE became a huge sensation in the industry in the last couple of years. While this group may seem like a staple in the current girl group scene, on par with fourth-generation groups, TWICE actually debuted in 2015, and in recent years, they completely started revolutionizing the south Korean music industry with their fun and enthralling beats.

The group is composed of nine members — Nayeon, Jeongyeon, Momo, Sana, Jihyo, Mina, Dahyun, Chaeyoung, and Tzuyu — who have all dominated and revolutionized the industry through their tunes and unparalleled moves. Often connected to the so-called ‘bubble gum pop,’ TWICE’s discography was previously dominated by cute concepts and girly fashion choices. While the group has continued on with similar concepts over the years, they never once became repetitive. As masters at their craft, the group’s unrivaled talent in this music genre has won over the hearts of over 10 million monthly listeners.

NewJeans

The hottest up-and-coming girl group, which had its debut just back in July of 2022, has had its popularity skyrocketing to the top of the charts. With just a four-song EP out and a single, NewJeans has managed to achieve experienced numbers in spite of being rookies in the world of K-pop. This girl group, as of December, gathered over nine million monthly listeners — a more than impressive feat when taking into consideration their short career.

NewJeans is comprised of five members — Minji, Hanni, Danielle, Haerin, and Hyein. This increasingly popular girl group is also known for its young members. The oldest member — Minji — is 18 years old, while the youngest — Hyein — is four years younger in comparison and still in middle school. Regardless the group has still conquered the new era of K-pop in a never-before-seen way. This popularity may take root for several reasons, but most of all, it all comes down to their unique take on the genre, easy-listening production, and immense talent.

LE SSERAFIM

Another girl group that has been receiving all the buzz in the last couple of months is none other than HYBE’s latest trick, LE SSERAFIM. The group, which had a rocky start due to Kim Garam’s sudden contract termination, has managed to persevere in spite of its foreboding downfall — which never came to be. The group debuted in May, and in spite of its short discography comprised of two EPs and a single, LE SSERAFIM’s monthly listeners exceed nine million listeners.

Previously a sextet, LE SSERAFIM turned into a five-member group a mere month later. The members — Chaewon, Sakura, Yunjin, Kazuha, Eunchae — also comprise one of the youngest K-pop idols actively working: Eunchae at 16 years old. In spite of the age gap among members, the group has clearly proven their worth with their songs’ popularity, time and time again.

(G)I- dle

Since its debut in 2018, (G)I-dle has quickly harbored achievements under its belt. The girl group has stayed on par with some of the largest names in K-pop, exemplified by their impressive first-week numbers, which always exceed expectations by matching their numbers to groups like BLACKPINK and TWICE, that by comparison, have longevity by their side. Unlike most K-pop girl groups, (G)I-dle also gathered a lot of attention by being directly involved in the process making of their discography, thus becoming heavily praised by fans as one of the most successful groups outside of “the big three.”

The group consists of Miyeon, Minnie, Soyeon, Yuqi, and Shuhua, although they debuted as a sextet with former member Soojin, who left (G)I-dle after being at the receiving end of bullying allegations. Two of the members also debuted in a virtual girl group called K/DA, alongside Madison Beer and Jaira Burns, for the creation of a “League of Legends” single. With increasing popularity on a global scale, (G)I-dle has amounted to over eight million monthly listeners.

Red Velvet

Red Velvet took the world of K-Pop by storm after its debut in 2014. Quickly becoming one of the biggest girl groups of all time, their discography received acclaimed praise for their use of 90s R&B, with elements of ballads and hip hop. While juggling all the different music genres, including their mastering of the beloved bubblegum pop, Red Velvet became increasingly popular for its versatility, winning over eight million monthly listeners in December alone.

While the group debuted with a four-member line-up, Red Velvet welcomed its fifth member, Yeri, about a year later. The group is now composed of Irene, Seulgi, Wendy, Joy, and Yeri. In addition to their domestic popularity in their home country, Red Velvet has also been named one of the best K-pop artists by Time, and they were also the fifth most streamed K-pop artist worldwide on Spotify as of February 2020.

Stray Kids

Stray Kids, also known as SKZ in abbreviation, are a fourth-generation boy group that debuted in 2018 under JYP Entertainment, after taking part in the reality show led by the company. Gathering an already large group of fans who were following the boys as they auditioned for the company, Stray Kids quickly became one of the most coveted male groups in K-Pop — a particularly impressive accomplishment considering they were a relatively new group made up of rookie artists.

With two studio albums, and several EP and compilation works, Stray Kids’ successful journey starts with nine members, six vocalists — Bang Chan, Lee Know, Han, Seungmin, I.N and Woojin — and three rappers — Changbin, Felix, and Hyunjin. One of the vocalists, Woojin, however, terminated his contract and left the group for unknown reasons. Hyunjin was also inactive for a certain period. In spite of their rocky career, Stray Kids still managed to be one of the most popular K-pop groups to this day, with over eight million monthly listeners.

TXT

Tomorrow x Together, or TXT, received almost immediately a large following for being the second group under Bighit, which only managed BTS prior to venturing into other groups. This immediate connection to the world’s biggest K-pop stars made eagle-eyed fans keep an eye out for this fourth generational group. Their 2019 debut EP, The Dreamcatcher: Star, peaked at number one on the Billboard World Albums Chart and entered the US Billlboard 200 at number 140 — the highest-charting debut album by any male K-pop group at the time.

TXT debuted with five members, consisting of Yeonjun, Soobin, Beomgyu, Taehyun and HueningKai, and since 2019, the group has earned several accolades for their work in the South Korean pop industry. Besides their domestic success, TXT has also gathered plenty of attention internationally. As of December 2022, TXT had over seven million monthly listeners enthralled by their unique discography based on rhythm, blues and dance-pop.

IVE

IVE — as most entries on this list — is a fairly recent K-pop debut who started their musical career in 2021. The girl group has been increasingly earning more fans through their pop, dance-pop and EDM production. Although their popularity is undeniably large among K-Pop fans, the group has yet to have a comeback backed up by a studio album. With only six singles under their belt, the girl group still managed to reach the status as one of the most popular K-Pop groups, earning over seven million listeners in December, with their latest single released already in August.

The girl group is composed of six members, Gaeul, Yujin, Rei, Wonyoung, Liz and Leeseo. Prior to their debut, two of the members, Wonyoung and Yujin, were actually a part of the popular K-Pop girl group, Iz*One, which disbanded in 2021, right before IVE took the ropes of the girl group world. Although the girls have a relatively short career, they too have gathered a few accolades to their name, becoming an acclaimed group in the K-Pop world.

The vast world of K-Pop includes some of the best and most versatile artists in its midst. With their perfectionist mentality and demanding standards, every generation ought to surpass the previous one, and while BTS, BLACKPINK, TWICE and Red Velvet are definitely the most popular powerhouses in the current K-pop industry, the next era is definitely coming in strong, and better than ever.