5 K-pop Girl Groups Who Can Break into the Western Market

Their music displays powerful messages that the Gen Z kids are discussing on social media.

Photo by Saveliy Bobov on Unsplash

There are so many talented girl groups in South Korea.

Seriously, I’ve been listening to K-pop for 10 years and I can tell you that some groups don’t get half of the recognition that they deserve.

You would think that K-pop is easy to break into since it’s more well-known these days. You would also assume that the western market is open to international music since Latin pop and Reggaetón skyrocketed in America.

However, that’s not exactly the case. The western music market is incredibly difficult to break into. Sadly, not every international artist can attract a western audience.

So, this got me wondering which girl groups (besides BLACKPINK) can potentially do well in the western market.

Let’s say they have a chance to showcase their work to a broader audience outside of K-pop, which ones would succeed like BLACKPINK?

I had many groups in mind but 5 of them struck out to me because of their unique styles. Even though these girl groups are already popular in K-pop or at least have a good reputation in South Korea, that doesn’t mean they’re well-known in America.

In general, I feel these girl groups can add a new flavor to the western market and potentially open more doors for the K-pop industry.

1. GFRIEND

This six-member girl group is feminine, cute, and fresh. I like to think of them as the classic K-pop group that’s girly and full of life. They’re one of the first groups that I think of who has a “K-pop sound.”

In 2019–2020, we saw a shift in their music style. They’re experimenting more with mature music and fashion. Which I think is great because every group has to evolve at some point in their career.

With those minor changes to the group, we see some western influence in GFRIEND’s concepts.

In my opinion, the western market is missing a group like GFRIEND. The closest artist that I can think of who has a “similar” style to them is Carly Rae Jepsen. Other than her, you don’t see a lot of artists on the Billboard Top 100 who have a similar music style to GFRIEND.

2. RED VELVET

One of the reasons why I think Red Velvet will do well in the western market is because of its edgy style. They’re not afraid to experiment with their music and do things that other artists haven’t done before in the market. For instance, “Rookie” and “Zimzalabim” is not the average song that you would hear on the radio.

On the other hand, Red Velvet has a knack for R&B songs. Their music has charted very well on iTunes, Spotify, and many more music charts. For example, “Bad Boy” and “Psycho” has the 90s and early 2000s R&B sound.

It’s fair to say that the music industry is bringing back the old school sound to the market. So, it wouldn’t surprise me if Red Velvet performed well on the western charts if they continued to release similar songs that sound like “Bad Boy” and “Psycho.”

Now, I want to emphasize that Red Velvet has established a bit of a reputation in America. However, SM can do a better job of promoting their work in the western market and try to get them on TV. I feel that one TV exposure can do wonders for this girl group.

3. DREAMCATCHER

This is a unique group that I feel can bridge multiple genres together in the western market.

DREAMCATCHER’s music has a J-pop and K-pop rock feel. It’s almost factual that the Asian and Western market doesn’t have many groups like DREAMCATCHER.

Because they have a dark, edgy, and “not-your-stereotypical” K-pop style, they’ll most likely stand out in the crowd.

However, I don’t picture this group having a similar road map like other K-pop artists who try to break into the western market. Rather, I see them succeeding in a very specific market in Hollywood, which is the TV and film industry.

Specifically, their song “You and I” give me major Hollywood movies vibes. Honestly, I’m ready to hear more K-pop music on television and the big screen.

4. MAMAMOO

Mamamoo reminds me of “Destiny’s Child” and “Little Mix.” From their strong vocals to their choreography, they have what it takes to break into the western market. In my opinion, all they need is more TV exposure and interviews overseas.

Also, I think their natural talents will speak for themselves and it’s great to see that so many international fans are already enjoying Mamamoo’s songs.

I’m fairly optimistic that they’ll break into the western market and leave a strong impression on their fans. Even if it’s not in America, at the least the UK, Canada, or Australia will give Mamamoo some recognition as a powerful K-pop group.

5. ITZY

From girl power music to motivate people to be themselves, this is a strong message that ITZY has been preaching since their debut.

I feel the younger audience will enjoy ITZY’s music because they’re part of the Gen Z crowd. Their music displays powerful messages that the Gen Z kids are discussing on social media.

So, the western market needs a group like ITZY who’s actively promoting self-love, being an outcast, and focusing on becoming a free-spirited individual.

With that being said, ITZY doesn’t release a lot of romantic-themed songs and I can’t help but feel like JYP purposely created a girl group that focused on girl power music. So, because of their music and the message behind it, it gives them leverage to do well in the western market.

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