As many of us might know, K-pop can be categorized into “generations.” And in today’s article, I’m going to be sharing my top picks for the best 2nd gen K-pop groups! So kick back and relax, and let’s talk a walk down the Korean Pop memory lane.
The Best 2nd Generation K-Pop Groups
Arguably one of the biggest most well known K-pop groups in the world, BigBang made a name for themselves in the early 2000s. Debuting in 2006, they have released many recognizable songs through the K-pop generations. Some of their most famous and recognizable songs being Fantastic Baby, Haru Haru and Bang Bang Bang.
BigBang was also home to some of the most well known artists, ambassadors and fashion icons in K-pop— G-Dragon and Taeyang. G-Dragon the rapper of the group, has produced a multitude of BigBang’s tracks and even sold out his solo tour. Check out some Hypebeast’s article on G-Dragon here. Though GD isn’t as active anymore, he will always be a prevalent name in the industry.
Taeyang, one of the lead vocals of BigBang just released his latest album Down to Earth, in April of 2023! His songs Shoong! featuring Lisa of BLACKPINK and VIBE featuring Jimin of BTS went viral this year. It’s always amazing to see the different generations of K-pop colliding.
My favorite song by BigBang is Monster off of their 2012 album Still Alive. I remember seeing this music video and being absolutely enthralled with the dramatics, the make up, the costumes, the CGI, and the song itself. Everything brought this song together.
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Girls’ Generation (SNSD)
Girls’ Generation are a prominent figure in the second generation of K-pop, as they took all of South Korea by storm and set many of the standards in the K-pop industry today. Girls’ Generation are one of the reasons K-pop is taken seriously today and have many songs that even 5th gen fans might recognize, such as Gee, Gee, The Boys, and Lion Heart.
The members of Girls’ Generation have made quite the name for themselves as well! Taeyon is a very famous solo artist in South Korea and also partakes in the subunit of Girls’ Generation, Girls’ Generation-TTS.
TTS features members Taeyon, Tiffany and Seohyun! TTS’s songs are popular as well! Listen to TTS’s Twinkle! Check out vocalist Tiffany’s interview below, talking about her solo album on the news a few years back:
My favorite song by Girls’ Generation, or SNSD is The Boys. I love this song because I recall hearing it before I was a fan of K-pop and was amazed at how global K-pop had been before the internet made it even bigger. I love how Girl Power the song is, and it never fails to make you dance and sing at the top of your lungs!
SHINee is a huge name in the K-pop world. If there’s one song, any K-pop fan knows, it’s Replay by SHINee. SHINee’s debut took the world by storm and stole many hearts. SHINee became known for their smooth R&B tracks, musical variety in their albums and difficult choreography!
SHINee was also unique because their youngest member was only thirteen when they debuted. Taemin was only thirteen but had so much talent when it came to dancing!
The SHINee members have all gone on to do solo activities, whether it be releasing albums or starring in dramas. The boys have also recently dropped an album this past June!
SHINee’s popularity remains steady through the many generations of K-pop!
My favorite song by SHINee is Clear Umbrella, also known as Don’t Let Me Go. This song never fails to make me emotional. This song is quite bitter sweet, it’s about saying final goodbyes to the person you love and seeing that person’s back through the clear umbrella as they walk away. Apart from this song being emotional, it is beautifully written and beautifully sung.
f(x) is a popular 2nd generation group, formed by SM Entertainment. f(x) debuted in 2009 with their single LA chA TA! But the girls, my most be known for Electric Shock which was released a year later. f(x) went on to win various music awards all around the world.
f(x) was quite the unique group, full of amazing and talented singers. Amber the rapper was unique because she donned short hair and had a more tomboyish style, which was almost unheard of in the past for female idols! Many of the members also had solo debuts, this proves just how talented they are!
My favorite song by f(x) is Airplane. Around Gen 2.5 is when you could hear kpop using a lot of dubstep beats and collaborations! Honestly, I miss those times! It definitely signifies the end of an era. I love this song because it’s very danceable and kind of epic.
B2ST, often stylized as Beast and later rebranded to Highlight— is yet another iconic second generation K-pop group. They are well known for their famous songs Beautiful Night, Shock, Fiction and many others. Highlight was popular amongst females and males alike!
Highlight has won many awards and kept up with the K-pop scene for various years. Unfortunately, after a falling out with their company and one member leaving the group, they were forced to give up their original name. Fortunately, Highlight did not let anything set them back from making music together and continued on under their new name and label, which they opened themselves.
My favorite song by Highlight is Fiction. The lyrics to Fiction are absolutely heartbreaking! This song is about how you can be with the one you love, but only in fiction. I think in high school I was a little dramatic, so this was and is my favorite song because I felt I could relate… haha. Aside from the lyrics, the choreography is iconic!
Infinite is a group who debuted in 2010, this is the latter, half of the second generation of K-pop, also sometimes noted as 2.5 generation. Infinite was a very popular boy group, gaining a huge following, especially in Japan!
Infinite has won over 30 awards and got pretty famous internationally for their song Bad. One of the members, L, broke into the acting scene; you can find him as one of the main characters in the popular drama Shut Up Flower Boy Band!
My favorite song by Infinite is Back. This song was so cool to me. I loved the intense choreography, the EDM beat, and the music video. Everything about this song was really awesome and dramatic! K-pop was more dramatic back in the day, so as a theatre kid, this was awesome.
Teen Top is still around and kicking today. They are an awesome second GEN group with memorable music. You might know they’re famous song Supa Luv or Rocking!
Teen Top, got pretty famous for their intense choreography, and their songs Rocking and To You you can see the boys shuffling. If those Teen Top songs had come out today, I think the TikTok challenges would be far more interesting.
Though Teen Top’s name is forever young, their music matured very well overtime. They went from an electric pop auto tuned sound to smooth, R&B and ballads!
My favorite song by Teen Top is No More Perfume On You. Now this song is 100% questionable, but finding out the true meaning behind the song was so shocking that it made me love it even more.
Years later, I found out that this song was about trying to impress an older woman, but not wanting their (current) girlfriend to find out. Had I just watched the music video, I would’ve known way sooner…
I always felt this was quite an interesting song for TeenTop to debut with. The song sounded so cute and happy and bright but the lyrics were… trifling to say the least. At least the choreography was fun? This debut definitely turned heads. What an interesting way of marketing…
MBLAQ are an iconic group for many reasons! One of the biggest reasons, is because they were created by the infamous Rain. They also came from a time frame where showing skin was some what of a norm in K-pop… so there were a lot of abs back in the days of MBLAQ!
MBLAQ was a mature K-pop group and had many fans from their start. They also became very big in variety shows, as hosts on music shows and actors in dramas! Former singer aka Honey Abs, Lee Joon is now a full time actor!
My favorite song by MBLAQ is Y. When I first saw Y I fell in love. This song had a very basic beat, and it was pretty quiet overall, but the music video, the outfits, the plot line… everything came together to make this, my number one K-pop song of all time. I loved how back in the day K-pop was a lot more dramatic! It only makes sense that Lee Joon is a famous actor now!
Super Junior is yet another iconic second generation K-pop group! Most known for their many members and exciting catchy songs, their names have gone down in history! Debuting in 2005, 12 members and winning over 150 awards as a group, they are unforgettable.
Super Junior not only has iconic songs, but music videos as well. Every video they released was extremely creative and high energy! Their choreography is also a huge favorite amongst fans and non fans! You can find many people, even in 2023 dancing the original choreography to Mr. Simple, Mamacita and most famously Sorry, Sorry!
Super Junior was the best selling artist in South Korea consecutively for four years in a row back in the day. Along with their fame in South Korea, they also gained a massive following internationally.
My favorite song by Super Junior is Mr. Simple. Call me old, but this is the song of the century. This song had everything; from vocals to rap to the awesome dance breaks. This song will be remembered for ages!
TVXQ, though many members left to find their own careers, as a group one might say they were an idol’s idol! Apart from the real OG’s like H.O.T and Sechs Kies (some 1st gen K-pop groups), TVXQ is a big starter of fan girl culture. The fan culture in South Korea, much like in every other country is huge!
An unknown fact is that TVXQ made their debut at Boa and Brittney Spears’ showcase in 2003! They have won over 50 music awards. TVXQ is a name that will never be forgotten, as K-pop groups today still cover their songs. Though TVXQ now only consists of two members, they are still active and holding out for their fans!
My favorite song by TVXQ is Rising Sun. This song was so epic. From the IDM beat, the rock aspects, the vocals and the overall performance! Everything was amazingly executed. This song is also a staple of second generation of K-pop!
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This article was written by Morgan and edited by Michael.