The impact of K-pop has noticeably spread in the past few years, as it went from being a “new” genre to a global phenomenon in the music industry as a whole. In fact, many K-pop groups have reached impressive milestones thus far and have put their names on many domestic and worldwide popular music charts. This also played a huge role in the increase of world tours that are covering a lot of ground geographically, much to fans’ delight.
In order of seniority, here is a recap of significant moments when some groups carved their names in last decade’s K-pop timeline.
1. Epik High
Unless you’re a newcomer, Epik High needs no introduction. Although more hip hop than K-pop, the trio has been very active and has brought a rich and diverse discography to fans of K-pop and hip hop alike since their formation in 2003. Fast forward to 2016, Tablo, Mithra Jin, and DJ Tukutz received an invitation to play at Coachella, making them the first major Korean act to perform at this festival. Being their OG selves, they owned the stage as they entertained the crowd before them in a fun and groovy atmosphere.
Head on over to our Snapchat @kconusa to see live snaps from Epik High at Coachella! #epikhigh#coachellapic.twitter.com/14Kmg9Faju
— KCONUSA (@kconusa) April 17, 2016
The pioneers of second-generation idols proved to have earned their status time and time again, so it’s no surprise that their name is on the list. Perhaps Super Junior’s most momentous achievement to date is their smashing comeback with “Lo Siento” as they were the first Korean act to enter Billboard’s Latin Digital Song Sales chart at No. 13.
3. Girls’ Generation
Now, Girls’ Generation is not the first girl group to make a U.S. debut, but they definitely took the lead as the first Korean celebrity to make an appearance on three major U.S. network channels, which are CBS’s “The Late Show With David Letterman,” ABC’s “Live! With Kelly,” and NBC’s “Extra TV,” respectively. This also makes them the first Korean group musical guest on a late-night and morning U.S. talk show.
The group’s effect is as massive as the meaning of their name. Throughout their career, BIGBANG has showcased their musical talent via singing, rapping, songwriting, composing, and even producing. Their influence on spreading K-pop definitely didn’t go unnoticed. Plus, them being the first Korean artist to win Worldwide Act at the 2011 MTV Europe Music Awards says plenty about who exactly BIGBANG is.
5. Wonder Girls
The first-ever Billboard entry for a K-pop group took place with Wonder Girls’ “Nobody,” which charted at No. 76 on the Hot 100 chart. The single made quite the statement in 2009 as a revamped introduction to K-pop and is one of the genre’s most memorable achievements to date.
If you’re familiar with EXO, you know that they’re a force to reckon with in K-pop. The members keep a huge collection of trophies that they have garnered from various music and award shows, not to mention the many daesangs that vouch for their tremendous success. One outstanding event of theirs, in particular, is their meaningful performance at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics closing ceremony with “Growl” and Power.”
Surely BTS has earned many firsts under their belt in terms of nominations, wins, TV appearances and performances, and legendary music chart rankings, both in Korea and overseas. As the last decade reached its end, BTS made history once again as the first artist to sweep all Daesangs on Melon Music Awards and Mnet Asian Music Awards, respectively. Talk about an “all-kill!”
The lovely quintet is currently slaying the charts with their latest single “Psycho.” Almost two years ago, Red Velvet was the first girl group to perform in North Korea in over a decade. The group’s participation in this special concert warmed many hearts and their performances were met with fervent cheers. They even appealed to Kim Jong Un, who made time in his schedule to attend the concert. This moment will surely be engraved in both K-pop and Korea’s history!
MONSTA X has had their fair share of success upon debuting in the United States, with their main strategy focusing on releasing English songs and interesting collaborations. They joined iHeartRadio’s famous Jingle Ball U.S. concert tour in 2018 and were the first and only K-pop act to be part of the star-studded lineup. A few months later, they were announced as the first K-pop group to perform at the iHeart Radio Music Festival.
From ranking high on Billboard Japan and Oricon to earning gold and platinum certifications by the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ), TWICE has been thriving in Japan both in sales and on charts. Furthermore, they are the first foreign artist to accomplish this feat with four consecutive Japanese releases. It looks like the sky’s the limit for these queens!
K-pop has been dominating many other countries, and BLACKPINK had the chance to represent girl groups in the United Kingdom twice, the first one being on the Official Singles Chart with “DDU-DU DDU-DU” at No. 78 and the second one being on the Official Albums Chart with “Kill This Love” at No. 40. Also, let’s not forget that they’re ruling the K-pop genre on YouTube as a group when it comes to soaring views and breaking records.
(G)I-DLE is one of the most powerful girl groups to make a name for themselves from the start. Over the past 19 months, they won numerous awards and stunned everyone with their overflowing talent on variety and reality shows. This brings us to this one of a kind collaboration where Jeon Soyeon and Miyeon took part in the opening ceremony of the League of Legends’ 2018 World Championship Finals. Soyeon participated again in a second collaboration in 2019. Needless to say that these releases were positively received and significantly put (G)I-DLE on the map as rising idols.
Which historical K-pop moment is your favorite? Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments below!
Esmee L. is a Moroccan lively dreamer, writer, and Hallyu enthusiast.