4 Under-the-Radar K-Pop Groups Perfect for Alternative Tastes

K-pop is great, but some variety certainly wouldn't hurt.
April 23, 2019
5 mins read

It’s no surprise that K-pop is slowly taking over the world. With titans like BTS and Blackpink making huge headlines in Western media, from talk-show appearances and award shows, to Billboard interviews and even Coachella performances, K-pop is gathering a newer, larger and more curious fanbase by the day.

Having such popular groups blowing up like this is huge on its own, but it can leave fans curious as to what else the K-pop world has to offer. So, for those who are searching for a new group or artist to stan, here are a few that stand out.

1. Dreamcatcher

Dreamcatcher is no run-of-the-mill K-pop girl group. Instead, the seven-member group, which was assembled by Happyface Entertainment and released their debut single, “Chase Me,” in 2017, is an enigma to many listeners because of their unexpected genre of choice: rock.

And, the surprises don’t stop there. Indeed, because of the “nightmare” concept the band has adopted, fans have dubbed the singers K-pop’s most horrifying girl group. The storyline of their music videos weaves an intricate web of events together, involving the girls being trapped in a never-ending nightmare from one location to the next. The videos feature everything you’d need for a spooky time, including spiders, fire and a one-way portal that will trap you on the other side.

Dreamcatcher is also known for their sharp choreography, which they have amped up to match the intensity of their music. To skeptics, their decision to pair high-energy dancing with rock music might feel like overkill, but Dreamcatcher has managed to make the combination into a fascinating blend that has their fans hooked.

Their latest single, “Piri,” is the alleged end of their nightmare series, but don’t fret: The girls are not looking to drop their unique sound anytime soon, even as they venture forward into different concepts.

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Talk about a family business. AKMU, otherwise known as Akdong Musician, is a brother-sister duo who is rocking the charts with their lovely vocals and addicting melodies. It’s not common for siblings to pair up like this, but after winning “K-pop Star 2,” Korea’s spin on “American Idol,” it was clear these two had something special to share with the world.

Debuting under YG Entertainment with their hit album “Play,” AKMU saw immediate success with their title track, “200%,” which stayed firmly atop Billboard’s K-pop Hot 100 chart. What makes the duo even more impressive is how young they were when they began; at only 18-years-old, the consanguineous singers blew the judges away with their self-composed songs.

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Lee Chan Hyuk is the mastermind behind the soothing guitar and lyrics, while his sister Lee Su Hyun entrances audiences with her sweet vocals. Now, the affectionately termed “Nation’s Siblings” have their fans waiting with baited breath for the group’s next single, which unfortunately will not be released until Chan Hyuk returns from his compulsory military service.

3. CLC

If you crave versatility, look no further than CLC. The girl group has been around since 2015, though they tweaked their lineup a number of times before emerging as fully formed seven-member group in 2016. Like a chameleon, the K-pop group has been able to adapt to a variety of concepts, from cutesy to cut throat. For instance, their song “High Heels” is a fun little dance number about feeling spunky with some cute shoes on.

But when you look at their latest release, “No,” the message and intensity changes drastically. The latter is more empowering, as the song exhorts its fans to stand up and say “no” to social conformity and to express self-love.

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CLC has covered a number of concepts, from EDM tracks like “Black Dress” to softer ballads like “Where Are You?” and the majority of their songs underscore the importance of self-expression and empowerment. Catering to their ever-growing international fanbase, CLC is sure to pump out even more catchy bops in the future.

4. The Rose

The first picture that comes to mind when thinking about K-pop is dancing girls, but what about guys and actual instruments? The Rose, a quartet, was formed in early 2015 but only officially signed to J&Star Company in 2016. The first two members, Lee Hajoon and Lee Jaehyeong, met each other while busking, and other members Park Dojoon and Kim Woosung came later to round out the lineup.

Being a pop-rock band amongst idol K-pop groups is quite a challenge, as the band doesn’t embellish their performances with dance moves and choreography. Instead, they rely on powerful vocals and instrumental skill set to hook audiences.

The Rose’s debut song, “Sorry,” peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard’s Best of K-pop list for 2017, marking the start of their upward climb. The group’s last release was the album “Dawn,” which they dropped last year.

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The band’s songs feel intimate, raw and are great for the sentimental listeners. If you’re looking for a break from the cutesy dances and fast-paced beats, consider giving The Rose a listen.

Grace John, Rutgers University

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Grace John

Rutgers University

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