Discovering Kpop Bands (and What Sets Them Apart)

Kpop groups come in many styles, but they often include individuals who sing, rap, and dance to produced music. Today, I’d like to focus on a rarer kind of Kpop group: Kpop bands, where the members are instrumentalists who collaborate to create their own music as well as perform it.

Although there are certainly fewer of these types of groups, they are no less beloved than other Kpop stars. Kpop bands have devoted fans who they interact with regularly, and perform on music shows and variety shows just like other Kpop artists. They engage in Korean entertainment – fashion, acting, hosting, etc. – to the same degree. To me, this is a beautiful example of how artists with different musical influences and styles can exist harmoniously in the same greater industry.

By engaging in the creative process and playing their own instruments, Kpop bands do cultivate a different sound, and exploring this sub-genre of Kpop to discover that feeling is worth your while! As you might expect, each band has a different combination of instruments and sensibilities; there are great variations between each group, and therein lies the joy of the journey.

To get you started, I’d like to share five Kpop bands – new and old – that I enjoy, and a little about what makes them special.


This four-member band introduced themselves rather memorably with their single I’m a Loner, in which each member was given a poetic defining trait that tied into their name: Burning, Lovely, Untouchable, and Emotional. In the years that followed, they developed a signature airy sound, ensuring that any CNBLUE song you heard was easily recognizable as theirs. Although consistent, CNBLUE is by no means boring – they can go from upbeat melodies to soft and sentimental ones with ease – and much like the four qualities they chose early on form a balanced whole, each of the four members contribute equally to the band’s success.

Featured Song – I’m Sorry


N.Flying is a group that knows how to catch your attention, and has recently been garnering more interest in the Kpop world. By combining garage-band sincerity with top quality music and vocals, they adeptly bring a playful, friendly atmosphere to the stage, and can easily connect with an audience. Their single Hot Potato, released early in 2018, is a perfect example of this mischievous tone. However, you will also find that N.Flying is a group with layers that might surprise you. Their leader Seunghyub is a skillful rapper, with an emotional depth that allows you to resonate with the lyrics, and last year they broadened their range by adding a new member, vocalist Hweseung.

Featured Song – How R U Today

The Rose

With some members who started out as buskers, The Rose comes from indie origins but has quickly been adopted by critics and fans alike since their debut with the captivating Sorry. Though they only have one mini-album out at the moment, their creative approach shines through each song, and it is easy to see why they decided to form a group: they have undeniable chemistry. If you watch even one of their personal broadcasts, you will notice that The Rose has an all-encompassing love for music, and is not afraid to push the boundaries of the genre.

Featured Song – Baby


Having recently celebrated their 11-year anniversary, FTISLAND is a giant in the Kpop band hierarchy. With a robust discography – including numerous Japanese albums – this five-member ensemble led the way for bands in the industry by challenging the status quo. Comprised of a guitarist, pianist, bassist, drummer, and main vocalist, FTISLAND took what some might see as the typical band format and transformed it into something magical. Led by the powerful Hongki, they excel at ballads, but have also ventured down other paths to create songs with a rock edge, like Pray.

Featured Song – Wind


Bright and compelling, DAY6 has the chameleon-like ability to adapt to whatever situation they find themselves in. This versatility comes from the fact that each member plays an instrument and four of the five participate actively in vocals. Their all-in approach gives them a unique flavor that has met with success, and they continue to release strong singles such as their recent title track, Shoot Me. Although they are incredibly hard working, DAY6 is also a lot of fun – they tease each other and joke around comfortably, like old friends – and this familiarity seems to infuse their music, welcoming the listener into their circle.

Featured Song – I Wait (아 왜)

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