Are you a Kpop fan like me? Do you also want to know about the old-school K-pop groups that came before Blackpink of BTS? Well, this article answers your queries perfectly as we will walk you through the top first-gen Korean idols that took the country by storm! If you are ready for that and more, then keep reading below!
Old-school k-pop groups
K-pop has recently become popular outside South Korea and has rattled every area in the globe. Currently worth several billion dollars, K-pop companies are constantly training and releasing new Korean pop bands that’ll keep everyone interested! Historically speaking, the oldest group on this list debuted in the late 1980s, but all of these K-pop groups credit their popularity to their forebears, who initially appeared in the 1990s.
These pioneering K-pop bands paved the path for today’s well-known stars and created many of their distinguishing characteristics. While most of the K-pop bands on this list have split up, a handful of K-pop girl groups and boy bands have lasted as a band for many years or have come back together recently.
One original pop girl group, S.E.S., was named for its members (Sea, Eugene, and Shoo). The S.M. group launched their career with the song “I’m You Girl,” which remains a retro favorite amongst fans these days. They were seen as the feminine equivalent of their labelmates, H.O.T.
Despite beginning with the idea of an “innocent girl,” the band underwent multiple changes and released Korean music in various genres, including Rhythm and blues, pop, and jazz. Many others also admired their style, and many adolescent females of the 1990s imitated it. The band split up in December 2002, although each singer enjoyed and started to pursue solo careers in acting and music.
One of the earliest popular K-Pop rap/singing groups was Turbo. They had exemplary performance between 1995 and 2001. The high-pitched voice of Kim Jong Kook was unmatched in the music business.
The group’s first album, 280 km/h Speed, was released in August 1995 and sold over 300,000 copies within a month. They released their first mini-album Turbo Splash on July 25, 2017, with the song “Hot Sugar” acting as the album’s lead single. Yoo Jae-suk is featured on their single title track, “Again,” while Lee Kwang-soo and Cha Tae-Hyun are among the numerous celebrities who make cameos in the music video.
Eun Ji-won and Kang Sung-hoon were discovered in a nightclub by the C.E.O. of D.S.P. Entertainment. Sechs Kies made their debut on April 15, 1997. Their first album, School Anthem, was released on May 15. Over 1,800,000 copies of the CD were sold. Sechs Kies’ third studio album Road Fighter was released on July 15.
This was the first dance group to perform at the Sejong Center, tickets were sold out in less than five hours. They co-starred with singer Jinjoo in the kids’ musical Alibaba and the 40 Thieves. Sechs Kies won the ninth Seoul Music Awards Daesang because of the enormous popularity of the song “Couple.” They were one of the first South Korean dance groups to perform in North Korea. In 1999, they returned to the studio to create their fourth album Com’Back.
H.O.T. was formed by producer Lee Soo-man, the brains behind S.M. Entertainment, and Kangta, Moon Hee-Joon, and Lee Jae-won. Their first album, We Hate All Kinds of Violence, was a hit, selling 1.5 million copies. Their second album, Wolf and Sheep, was released in July 1997 and sold 1 million copies in 10 days. The group’s hits were “Wolf and Sheep,” “Happiness,” and “We Are the Future,” the first of which was banned from radio broadcast owing to foul language. In April 1999, H.O.T. issued a live greatest hits CD.
H.O.T. was the first first-generation idol group K-pop fans most want to see again after the successful reunions of g.o.d and Fly to the Sky in 2014. It was said in 2016 that the members had spoken with one another and met with Lee Soo-man to explore the prospect of coming back together for the 20th anniversary of their debut.
Fly To The Sky
The South Korean R&B duet Fly to the Sky (Brian Joo and Hwanhee) was created by S.M. Entertainment in late 1998. Since their debut in 1999, nine studio albums have been released. They eschewed lively techno and dance music in favor of mid-tempo ballads. Fly to the Sky’s second album peaked at #2 and had more varied genres than their debut. Their third album, Sea of Love, was published in April 2002 when Joo was a student in New Jersey.
Critics have noted that Fly to the Sky hasn’t developed their own style as its career has progressed. The pair has come under fire for leaning too heavily on composers whose distinctive styles dominate their voices. They were criticized for using comedic performances on variety shows to promote their albums.
Groove Over Dose was formed in 1999 and rose to fame in the early 2000s. The group is recognized for its distinctive fusion of R&B and rap. G.o.d made its television debut on S.B.S.’s One Night of T.V. Entertainment in January 1999. In 2000, the group took care of a baby boy for a reality T.V. show, also showing their acting skills. Their third album sold more than a million copies a year after their debut.
In 2016, they took a hiatus while the members resumed their separate pursuits. G.o.d will perform at the Olympic Park Gymnastics Stadium in Seoul in 2022, marking their first performance in four years. The album Then & Now was released on January 10, 2019. It combines remixed and re-recorded tracks from earlier albums along with some new original tracks.
The debut of the first female group from D.S.P. Media was a huge success. They entered the K-pop industry a year after S.E.S. by SM Entertainment and built a name for themselves with their Rhythm and blues melodies and vocals skills. In their prime, they published four albums, including Blue Rain (1998), White (1999), Now (2000), and Eternity (2002).
In their prime time, they published four albums, including Blue Rain (1998), White (1999), Now (2000), and Eternity (2002). They took up the top honor at the 1998 Seoul Music Awards, the New Artist of the Year award at the 1998 Golden Disc Awards, and the Best Female Group award at the 2000 Mnet Music Video Festival.
N.R.G. (New Radiancy Group), which formerly consisted of five members, made a spectacular entrance with the song “I Can Do It.” Due to their challenging dance skills and athletic moves, some H.O.T. members even saw them as competitors. The band persisted in jumping on the bandwagon, even performing abroad in China and Japan.
After singer Kim Hwan-sung unexpectedly died from a viral illness in 2000, the band took a one-year break. The following year, N.R.G. issued its fourth studio album, Sorrow, in honor of the late Hwan-sung. N.R.G. decided to disband in 2005 after being unable to build on its early triumphs over time.
DJ DOC, one of the most well-known groups in Korean music, had its beginnings in the underground hip-hop community. After becoming well-known, they recorded other family-friendly songs, including “Dance with DOC” and “Summer Story.”
Their colors and clothing were truly iconic. The trio/k-pop idol group was a contentious lot that often drew flak for its provocative lyrics and excessive use of swearing, which frequently denounced societal inequities. DJ DOC was one of the fifteen performers during the medal ceremony aftershow at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Their 2000 dance single “Run to You” is still one of the most well-liked karaoke tracks, even though their previous albums haven’t been as well-received.
Since 1994, the mixed-gender K-pop group COOL has been performing. Rapper Kim Sung-soo, male lead singer Lee Jae-hoon, and female vocal artists Yu Chae-young and Choi Jun-Myung made up the initial lineup of COOL. It was one of the pioneers of a mix of k pop girl and boy groups. The two former female vocalists for COOL’s first record quit a year later and were substituted by Yuri.
Over the following decade, COOL released several albums until they reached their breaking point in 2005. Nevertheless, COOL (Kim Sung-soo, Lee Jae-hoon, and Yuri) reunited in 2008 and have intermittently continued to produce music since then. Since COOL has been active for so long, the band has produced Seventeen records in all, counting “half albums.”
That’s it for this blog post. If you are also interested in knowing more about the most popular Korean girl and boy bands. If you wish to know more about Korean culture and media, check out the Ling App, which has everything you need. Want to try it out? Download the Ling App now from Google Playstore or App Store and start learning the Korean language like a pro!