July 8, 2016
Love ’em or hate ’em, boy bands have been around for decades. While we can debate all day about their origins and what exactly defines a true “boy band”, there’s no denying that South Korea has played a huge part in the boy band phenomenon, and it doesn’t look like they’ll be letting go of the trend any time soon. Shallow critics of the K-Pop boy band movement usually have criticism that’s along the lines of “they wear makeup”, “they’re manufactured”, “they can’t actually sing”, etc. But you’ll be surprised at the pool of talent when it comes to K-Pop Boy Bands, you just have to know where to look. To get you started, we bring you 5 up & coming groups, with a variety of styles and sounds.
It’s no surprise that Pledis, the company behind groups like After School, has ambitiously debuted this 13-member boy group. Yes, contrary to their name, there aren’t 17 members, so you won’t take that long to memorise names and faces. Don’t let their numbers scare you away, though, Seventeen have been putting up some really good, self-produced (yes!) music ever since their debut. Their sound leans pretty heavily on an upbeat, youthful sound, but the instrumentals on their tracks really take the cake; whether it’s brass or base, those musicians know how to play. Tie everything together with some Seventeen rap flair and super-sharp dance moves, and you get one of the youngest and biggest rising boy bands of this year.
Monsta X (몬스타엑스)
While they haven’t exactly found mainstream success just yet, Monsta X have found a pretty solid following with the consistency with their hip hop concepts, and it definitely helps that their leader Jooheon is the younger brother of Block B’s leader and big-name producer, Zico. Don’t let their “bad boy” snarls fool you, though, they’ve proven time and time again on various variety programmes that they’re actually just a bunch of lovable dorks. Sound-wise, their singles are definite club bangers, but their albums also feature a couple slower tracks like Blue Moon. They’re still trying to figure out their signature sound a little more, but we can’t say we’re not rooting for them already. After all, they came out of a survival programme literally called ‘NO MERCY’, so we don’t expect them to back down any time soon.
If the more the merrier is your basic principle in your pursuit of happiness, then NCT is the group for you. Their acronym stands for “Neo Culture Technology”, which, we’ll admit, we don’t understand. But back to the number of members: we don’t know. Yup, the group has been marketed as one that has a unlimited/infinite number of members, otherwise known as ka-ching for their agency S.M. Entertainment. Is it any wonder that the company behind groups like Super Junior is intent on world domination with possible the biggest boy band ever? At present, the group currently debuts/shuffles members around according to units, so the track above is by NCT U, but they’ve also recently debuted NCT 127. In terms of the songs they put out, the vagueness of their marketing means that they technically have the power to experiment with whatever sound they want, so we can’t quite nail a genre to their name. So far, we’ve heard a hypnotic, super-low bass-heavy track, something a little more like an indie pop band, and a really weird club banger. But hey, you do you, NCT.
Survival programmes seem to be all the rage these days, although it makes sense from a marketing perspective: you basically generate hype and gain fans even without having to form the actual group just yet. Winner are no exception to this rule – thus their name – emerging from YG Entertainment’s ‘WHO IS NEXT’. For a YG group, they definitely display a flair for music that’s a little different from their boombox-blaring, bling-wearing counterparts, but we like that. Their sound is undeniably hip-hop, although it’s intelligent enough not to lean too heavily on growling raps and overdone bass drops, presenting a more nuanced sound that can definitely be enjoyed by everyone.
While they’re a little older than the other bands on this list, we couldn’t leave DAY6 out for the very reason that they’re an actual band. It’s interesting to note that JYP – their agency/CEO/head producer – have chosen to steer their marketing away from being labelled as “idols” to just being there for the music, which is undeniably refreshing, although we’d love to hear more from them in general. The talent of this group is overwhelming at best; all of them can sing, which can be pretty rare when you already have a frontman. The music they put up is straight-up pop rock or alternative rock, and their self-written tracks are typically bittersweet songs about romance. The rap in their music rolls a little more like speak-singing, probably because JYP tends to have a pretty fixed idea of how rap should sound like in pop music, but it melds together with the rest of the song pretty well instead of drawing too much attention to itself. All in all, we just want more DAY6!
Featured Image: Winner – Sentimental (YouTube)