As popular as K-Pop boy groups are today, they didn’t start the boyband trend, by quite a long shot! The trend could be traced back to the 1950s, where young men would form musical groups together and greatly appealed to mostly young, swooning female audiences. While these groups, such as the Jackson 5 and The Osmonds, didn’t call themselves boybands back in the day, they certainly had the same successful formula that today’s popular groups still follow.
Rolling Stone magazine recently released their list of the “75 Greatest Boyband Songs Of All Time”, which includes groups from the very first era of boybands until now. Among the iconic groups on the list such as The Monkees, New Kids on the Block, Backstreet Boys, and One Direction, several K-Pop artists also were listed! These are the 9 songs that made the list, along with where they placed among the 75 spots.
#56: “Fake Love” by BTS
Released in May of 2018, “Fake Love” was a song that really helped propel BTS into even greater stardom. Though their popularity had been growing before its release, “Fake Love” was their first song to make the Top 10 on the U.S. Billboard charts, showing their growing international appeal. It’s still one of their most well-loved music videos, with its views well past 700 million.
#55: “The Chaser” by INFINITE
“The Chaser”, one of INFINITE’s most well-known songs, came out in 2012 and was produced by Sweetune, a producer duo who are known for adding retro sounds to the boyband genre, which is what INFINITE is well-known for. “The Chaser” is a great song with an appealing sound, but it’s also praised for the incredibly choreography that the members performed with it!
#43: “Nan Arayo (I Know)” by Seo Taiji and Boys
Seo Taiji and Boys were one of the earliest boybands in K-Pop that helped pave the way for all other groups after them. “Nan Arayo (I Know)” was their debut song, released in 1992. It took after popular American boybands of the time, following a similar new jack swing sound mixed with Korean lyrics to produce the iconic K-Pop boyband formula fans know today.
#39: “Mirotic” by TVXQ
“Mirotic”, released in 2008, was the single that helped TVXQ (then a 5-member group) rocket into greater fame, both in Korea as well as Japan. It also won them the Album of the Year award that year’s Golden Disc Awards, which is similar to the Grammys in the U.S. Even though it faced some controversy with the Korean Commission of Youth Protection due to the lyrics “I got you under my skin” for being too “lewd”, SM Entertainment actually filed an injunction lawsuit against them and won!
#34: “Euphoria” by BTS
“Euphoria”, sung by Jungkook with songwriting help from RM, came out in 2018, during a time when BTS was growing even more in popularity but more well-known for their hard-hitting singles with heavy influences of hip hop, EDM, and trap. This song hit differently, with its gentle melody and soulful sound, proving that the group had a high level of versatility with their music.
#31: “Fantastic Baby” by BIGBANG
BIGBANG’s “Fantastic Baby” was their first song, and one of the first songs in K-Pop as a whole, to really break into the American market in a big way. Released in 2012, the iconic song has even been used in the trailers for Pitch Perfect 2, paving the way for other K-Pop songs to be used in U.S. media. It’s also extremely popular as a party hit in Korea, and the group has performed it numerously at the Mnet Asian Music Awards.
#19: “Spring Day” by BTS
“Spring Day”, released in 2017, was iconic for a number of reasons, but it is often spoken about due to its break-away from the typical romantic or love-sick lyrics that most boyband songs are known for. The song speaks heavily on grief, inspired by and made for the tragic Sewol Ferry accident of 2014, with lyrics that pretty much anyone can relate to with loss in some way or another. And the sound of the song, just on its own, is beautiful in its thoughtful, melancholy style.
#14: “Sherlock” by SHINee
“Sherlock”, released in 2012, was extremely experimental. It wasn’t an original song, but actually a combination of two other SHINee songs: “Note” and “Clue”, both with much different sounds from each other. Thus, the song was considered K-Pop’s first “hybrid remix” single, and did remarkably well for how experimental it was!
#5: “Moon” by BTS
And finally, this 2020 hit sang by Jin is basically a love song to ARMYs all over the world. A classic style of song for a boyband, “Moon” perfectly explains what BTS’s fans mean to the group, and is a great example of just how and why the K-Pop boyband has become so massive in the music industry.