K-Pop is an immensely popular genre of music, and when it comes to these awesome Korean groups, the more the merrier! So let’s count down the best K-Pop groups with 9 members, discuss what makes them so great, and I’ll even share my favorite song by each band.
The Best K-Pop Groups with 9 Members
I’m starting with a new boy group formed just this year through Mnet’s reality competition Boy’s Planet. As someone who watched Boy’s Planet from the first episode, it was thrilling to watch the contestants vie for a spot in Zerobaseone, and it made me really appreciate those who did get into the group.
Boy’s Planet also broke new ground by including foreign idols; Zhang Hao is the first Chinese trainee in history to debut as the center. Among the 98 competitors, there were contestants flown in from the United States, Canada, Japan, and China.
Although the show pit the K-group and the G-group against each other in the first episode, they quickly dropped this for a more individual-focused competition. Two Chinese and one Canadian member made it into the final group, giving it a refreshing diversity that you don’t often see in K-pop groups.
The show may have earned them many fans before they started releasing music, but their first album, “YOUTH IN THE SHADE”, did not disappoint! For many in the fan club, called “Zerose”, it’s a strong contender for the best boy group album of the year. It’s not just the dedicated fans who are enjoying the music; their debut single “In Bloom” made it onto Billboard’s charts!
My favorite Zerobaseone song, aside from the fan favorite “In Bloom,” is their aptly-named b-side “New Kidz on the Block.” It’s energetic, fun, and I love Ricky’s part in the middle! The whole album is impressively cohesive and establishes a sound that I’m excited to hear more of as they make more music!
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The second group on our list is a well-established, globally recognized girl group that any K-pop fan will recognize. Twice is one of the best-selling K-pop girl groups of all time, becoming the first K-pop girl group to headline MLB and NFL stadiums on their “READY TO BE” tour.
They’ve grown a lot since their inception, experimenting with different genres and becoming involved in the creative process when discussing concerts, albums, and writing their own songs. It gives their songs energy when you can tell that they love what they do and are enjoying themselves!
If you’re just getting into Twice, you’re in for a treat, because you have 8 years of music to catch up on! Although they have a lot of peppy, cute music, they also have an energetic sound that includes tropical music, electronic music, sentimental music, and even a Christmas song.
With the band going strong, Twice promises to continue delivering new music, and it’s members continue to branch off and try new things. This year MiSaMo, an offshoot group of Mina, Sana, and Momo, released their first EP “Masterpiece,” and Jihyo released a solo album “ZONE.”
My favorite Twice album is “Fancy You.” It was difficult to pick between this and “Celebrate,” which I love because Sana’s strong, resonant voice shone through so well, but “Fancy You” ultimately wins out because every song on that album is so strong they all feel like they could be title tracks. My favorite song is “Hot”, a criminally underrated song on the album and in general, which I love for Momo’s lines.
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Cravity is another recent boy band that formed in 2020. I absolutely adore the lead singer and rapper, Park Serim. I was really worried about the fate of this group when 7 out of the 9 members tested positive for Covid-19 in 2022, but they pushed through and are currently finishing up their first world tour!
Their albums have a refreshing genre diversity, from a traditional K-pop sound to Korean dance to R&B and even a Korean ballad “Master: Piece.” Their rap breaks are an electric display of Serim and Allan’s talent, as they write their own raps for their section of every song.
For a beginning band, their discography is truly impressive and their sound is incredibly promising. In only three years they have 5 mini albums, 2 full albums including a studio album and a Japanese version of “Groovy”, and 3 singles.
My favorite Cravity song is “Ohh Ahh”, the rap break is incredible, the vocals are so charming, and I fell in love with the song as soon as I watched the performance video. The dancing is so satisfying to watch, with every member perfectly synchronized! This song is so catchy I find myself singing it randomly throughout the day.
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EXO is a boy band known for releasing music not only in Korean, but also in Mandarin and Japanese! I love their hip-hop and trap songs like “What a Life” by Chanyeol and Sehun. But they don’t only have angsty hardcore music; they also have several lovely Christmas-themed songs, including “Christmas Day” and “What I Want for Christmas.”
Their vocal range also includes tear-jerkers like “My Turn to Cry”, which features the most gorgeous harmonies in any K-pop song I’ve ever heard from Baekhyun, Chen and D.O.
For a while, it was not looking good for the future of this group, as this summer several members announced that they were planning on terminating their contracts with SM Entertainment due to unjustly long contracts and lack of proper payment. However, it looks like everything contract-wise has been resolved, and Chen, Baekhyun & Xiumin will remain in EXO.
My favorite EXO song is “Full Moon”. The rapping is fiery and I love the horns and the hip-hop bounce! It has a ton of energy and I love the attitude that the boys put into the song.
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Although NCT itself is an enormous group with 18 members, the subunit NCT 127 makes it onto the list of K-pop groups with 9 members. It’s considered to be the most active subunit of NCT, and also the one you’ve probably heard the most about! I love this group because all their songs have at least one really interesting musical element. If you like bass-heavy K-pop songs, this is the group for you.
Many fans refer to NCT 127’s music as “slow poison” because it takes you a while to get used to it, but once you do, you fall in love. Their songs like “Punch” and “Cherry Bomb” have an unconventional structure, but they’re very well produced and get stuck in your brain.
NCT as a whole has a very distinct sound, but NCT 127 is even more distinct. They also have a lot of musically complicated songs, rather than having many songs with simple chords as is common in the pop genre.
My favorite NCT 127 song has to be “Limitless.” It never fails to make me emotional when I hear the chorus, it’s so good it could be in a movie soundtrack.
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Pentagon is another group that formed from an Mnet survival show all the way back in 2016. It originally had 10 members, but E’Dawn was kicked from the group in 2018 and they’ve had 9 ever since.
They’ve become quite popular in that time, even reaching No. 1 on the Gaon Albums chart in 2022 with “In:vite U.” Although, the fan favorite album will always be “Love or Take” for the romantic themes.
What makes Pentagon stand out to me is their song “Naughty Boy” from “Universe: The History.” This music video is a must watch for any K-pop fans, it’s completely unique with washed-out coloring, adorable kids in raincoats, and giant frogs. Pentagon’s songs often have a childish, playful tone and this song exemplifies that.
My favorite Pentagon song is “Cosmo.” It was their first Japanese single and really showed off the group’s strong vocals. The music video is also masterfully shot, a whirlwind of confusion that highlights the choreography.
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Kep1er is yet another 9-member girl group formed from an Mnet survival show, Girls Planet 999. This is another international group, as Mashiro Sakamoto and Hikaru Ezaki are Japanese, and Shen Xiaoting is Chinese.
They also have quite an age range, which is unique for K-pop groups: the youngest member is 17 and the oldest is 26. This group has an incredible stage presence that will captivate K-pop fans!
While many K-pop girl groups have a very cutesy style, and Kep1er is no exception, the group sometimes takes on more of a punk rock aesthetic, as seen by their outfits in the “WA DA DA” music video. Although their music is still very much pop, I’m super excited to see if they take their upcoming music in a more punk rock direction!
My favorite Kep1er song is “Shine,” which is definitely also a fan favorite! It’s a song you have to get up and dance to, with a super catchy chorus. The song is cute and elegant at the same time and really embodies the girl group style.
The last group on my list is a boy band that is self-producing, which makes what they do even more impressive! DKB, which stands for Dark Brown Eyes, produces their own songs and choreographies. It’s a lesser-known group that I love for the passion you can see in every song. The fact that they’re self-producing only highlights the talents of the members: songwriting, choreography, DJing, and acrobatics.
Unfortunately, last year this group got caught up in the darker side of K-pop, where many K-pop “fans” were ridiculing the members for being “too ugly.” DKB got hate from both Korean and international fans for this, which is a ridiculous for many reasons.
First of all, the boys aren’t ugly at all! Their looks are comparable to the largest K-pop groups! Second of all, what really sets K-pop idols apart is their talent and hard work. DKB has since overcome this hate and have gone on to produce both a mini album and an EP this year.
My favorite DKB song is “Sober.” It’s incredibly catchy, and I can’t get enough of Yuku’s rapping. The piano really compliments the trap beat, and it has one of the best bridges in their entire discography.
This article was written by Fuller and edited by Michael.