K-pop’s Shift in Popularity: Is the Mainstream Now Focused on Bands over Groups?

Despite being previously labeled as “non-mainstream”and “outdated”, rock music is experiencing a resurgence in popularity. This is evident in the adoption of band concepts by K-pop idol groups, as well as the growing international fan base for rock bands who have shed their “indie”labels. Additionally, K-pop groups with band structures are also seeing success on the charts.

Changing K-pop to Korean Pop

Increasing number of Korean Pop groups adopting band concepts


RIIZE, the boy group under SM Entertainment, first released “Get a Guitar”followed by “Talk Saxy,”which was inspired by the saxophone, and then “Boom Boom Bass,”with the bass guitar as the title track. In May, Suho of EXO, who is also under SM, released a solo album filled with rock music. During his military service, he studied rock music and stated, “I wanted to showcase that Suho is dedicated to rock.”

(G)I-DLE’s hit song “Allergy”also achieved immense success, showcasing a distinct Japanese pop band vibe.

K-pop bands like Day6 and QWER rising to the top of the charts

Day6, a band under JYP Entertainment, has been gaining popularity in the style of K-pop. Despite making their debut in 2015, the band is currently experiencing their peak. Unlike most K-pop boy groups that face a decline in popularity after returning from military service, Day6’s popularity has been steadily increasing, with their previous songs making a resurgence on the charts.


In April, the group attracted a crowd of 34,000 people over the course of three days at the Jamsil Indoor Stadium in Seoul. When discussing the resurgence of their older songs, Young K remarked, “The essence of band music, with its use of real instruments, has remained unchanged, making it timeless and enjoyable to listen to.”

At the same time, Xdinary Heroes, who are also managed by the same agency as Day6, have successfully sold out three solo concerts for July 5-7. They will soon be meeting their fans in Los Angeles and New York starting July 17. Additionally, the girl band QWER, made up of popular social media personalities, has maintained a spot in the top 10 of Melon’s weekly chart for almost three months with their hit song “T.B.H”. ONEWE, the boy band under RBW, is also steadily rising in popularity.

Korean rock bands are expanding their reach to the global music scene. Silica Gel, a renowned band in Korea, graced the stages of “Primavera Sound”in Spain and “Vivid Sydney”in Australia. In 2019, Wave to Earth made their debut and has since performed in more than 30 cities across the world. Additionally, The Rose broke new ground as the first Korean rock band to achieve chart success on the US Billboard album chart.


The demand for band music is clearly evident. Seo Hyun-kyu, the director of MPMG, a company that represents various independent bands, stated that with the rise of music festivals, there has been a surge in the need for bands to perform. As a result, bands with a loyal fan base have experienced an increase in their performance fees compared to the previous year.

The increasing popularity of band music is said to be a result of exhaustion from the stagnant nature of the fan-focused K-pop industry. Kim Jakga, a music critic, stated, “As K-pop, particularly with boy groups, has become a market driven by fans, the feeling of fatigue has grown. It seems that some of the desire for catchy, familiar melody-driven music is now turning towards band music.”

The source of the article is Naver, which can be found at //n.news.naver.com/mnews/article/469/0000811050?sid=103.

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