The Fourth Generation of K-Pop: The Next Level

Chhavi Sharma, Surat, Gujarat

Roughly starting from 2018, the K-pop industry saw the emergence of the fourth generation of K-Pop. Being influenced by their seniors, the fourth generation artists have not disappointed either. Instead, they have left no stone unturned to prove themselves in terms of singing, choreography and concepts. Groups like Ateez, Stray Kids, TXT, Treasure, ENHYPEN, CRAVITY and The Boyz have already climbed their way up to become one of the top boy groups of this generation. ITZY, Loona, (G)I-DLE, and Everglow are some of the top girl groups dominating this generation along with Aespa and Weeekly.

Starting with ITZY who is known as one of the most popular 4th generation K-pop artists today, had their debut in 2019 with their single album, ‘It’z Different’ with ‘Dalla Dalla’ as their song which peaked at number 1 in the World Digital Song Sales Chart. ‘Dalla Dalla’ also became the second most popular song on YouTube with Billboard’s confirmation of it surpassing 17.1 million views within 24 hours.

Video Credits: JYP Entertainment

Similarly, Tomorrow by Together (TXT) also had their debut in 2019 with the EP: The Dream Chapter: Star, which peaked number 1 on the GAON Album Chart and Billboard World Albums Chart, becoming the highest-charting album by any rookie male K-pop group by entering US Billboard 200 at number 140. 

HYBE Labels

Dubbed as “4th Generation Leaders” by the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Ateeza boy group formed in 2018, became global ambassadors for Korean Culture and Tourism. A very early success for them. This shows how much impact K-pop presently has, not only in the music industry but in other fields as well. Giving such a title to a group of people in the music industry who are just into their career, shows just how much K-pop has evolved in past years.

Video Credits: KQ Entertainment

Compared to the past generations of K-pop, the 4th generation has been a blast on a different level (inserts NEXT LEVEL by Aespa!). This generation has all the hard choreography, the aesthetics, and the dark concept seems to be a signature this time. And it’s all thanks to modern technology, the internet, and applications such as Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, that the fans are able to access all this in an instant. This technology has helped artists get an international platform and increase their fame even more. Due to this, artists these days sometimes get an international audience first even before the Korean audience. Artists make use of their SNS to promote themselves, gaining a fair amount of audience almost instantly.

Video Credits: SM Entertainment

Adding more, artists create a catchy dance challenge with each release which are usually introduced on TikTok or Instagram Reels. Furthermore, with the gain of popularity, companies such as HYBE, SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, JYP Entertainment, etc., have started to unite with western/International companies which gives a great boost to rookies and upcoming artists to have a worldwide platform.

Video Credits: JYP Entertainment

If you thought that only K-pop groups make concepts for themselves, well, not anymore! Companies like SM Entertainment have started to make a whole AI concept for their artists, like Aespa. It’s a really modern thought of using it in K-pop by making AI versions of the artists and making them sing and dance along with the real artists. Definitely feels like the new generation, doesn’t it?

Video Credits: HYBE Labels

Due to the success of K-pop in the past decade, many people have started to invest their time and money in the K-pop industry as well. With many new companies and idols at present, it has become a big competition to survive in this industry. Compared to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd generations where only 7-8 groups used to debut in a year, the 4th generation has greater competition with at least 3-4 groups having their debut almost every month. 

Video Credits: THE BOYZ

Due to the popularity of K-pop in the present time around the world, just like western artists, K-pop artists as well are now welcomed on national and international variety-talk shows. Korean variety shows such as Knowing Brothers, M Countdown, King of Masked Singers, Amazing Saturday, etc., are especially dedicated to such artists to showcase their talent.

Video Credits: (G)I-DLE

Whereas international shows such as The Late Late Show, Zoom, Good Morning America, etc., have also started to get into the vibe of K-pop. This, in the past, would have been a big achievement, but now, due to the hard work of the earlier 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation idols who have led the popularity of the K-pop largely, the idols from the 4th Generation can face a great amount of popularity and fame at the beginning of their careers itself. And yet with all this fame already, it is just beginning. Beginning of the new era, new faces and new records by these 4th generation artists. 

Video Credits: 1theK

Do you have a favourite 4th generation K-pop group? Tell us about them in the comments below!

17 Comments Add yours

  1. I like many 4th gen groups… Their concepts are very good ❤️

  2. shwets007 says:

    4th gen groups are so young and cool! Legit so motivating to see so many talented youngsters

  3. Seems Sharma says:

    Well done for such a fantabulous work..Keep up keep going..

  4. Anonymous says:

    Wow that’s amazing.. Keep it up🙂

  5. anishanath says:

    The 4th gen bands are lit, I get hyped whenever I listen to their songs, they really are amazing. I myself stan so many 4th gen and they r just so awesome. Loved the article, perfect for people who want to know about 4th gen bands.

  6. The fourth generation shows k-pop at an unprecedented scale that we have never seen before. This new generation are showcasing their individual talents through k-pop to the world while showing there are no barriers and their possibilities of success are endless.

  7. PrazyGJ says:

    4th gen is really leaving an impact…the biggest one is groups from small companies like Ateez and Oneus are leaving massive impact…proud of the very inclusive new generation 🔥

    1. khiroda06 says:

      one thing I’m loving about 4th gen is, more groups from small companies are getting exposure they deserve making people know there are other unique groups too with great and unique music and concepts🙌🏽

  8. The 4th generation is amazing…especially with the fact that artists from smaller companies are making it big like Ateez and Oneus
    Love the inclusiveness

  9. suhasini17 says:

    I just realised I am more of gen 4 Stan 😅😅 from Skz to tbz to txt , ateez, enhypen and treasure ❤️❤️ I guess cause I have been seeing them since debut so I can relate more❤️❤️ thankyou so much for penning this down 🥺

  10. Smriti. L says:

    I love listening to songs made by 4th Gen a lot🙌❤️❤️

  11. From discovering Kpop from 2nd Gen and seeing 4th Gen now makes me realise how K-pop is evolved a lot. Seeing the young idols achieving big makes me happy as a fan of them. I love ever group/idol but if I pick one then I’ll pick ATEEZ coz I saw their growth, coming from a small agency and how they achieved good things with their talent.

  12. TXT, stray kids, itzy and g-idle are some of my fav 4th gen Kpop😍

  13. Mo Beenie says:

    I’m proud of Ateez growth and kpop has evolved with the work of previous idols however access is still limited to U.S. shows. In the past those shows would only invite artists who are charting high on the Hot 100 but now kpop groups or moreso newer groups associated with Big Korean labels tend to get an invite. Ateez has done well on some BB charts like other groups yet still has not received an invite thus it isn’t simply doors open for everyone. Still, their growth is amazing and being named the Global Ambassadors for Korean Culture and Ministry just proves how much faith Korea has that they will be a leading force despite coming from a smaller label. One thing I do hope is that labels stop putting out so many groups. Fans tend to think many groups are doing well when the truth is the labels are getting the money first and many idols can go months to years without pay. If kpop wasn’t so saturated, maybe labels would really focus on helping those groups succeed so that their artists actually reap the benefits too.

  14. Sobhana says:

    This generation was highly popularised during the pandemic. The big 4 started to debut many groups and soloists. Many groups were debuting which brought in a lot of competition between the groups and the companies. The MVs and the songs started to look more polished and the genres per album started to become more diverse to reach a much bigger audience .
    The idols in the later half of this generation have started to debut very young and talented , or I should say very well trained. The fans service became a MUST and the content produced as “behind the scenes” s so highly scripted. Due to the increase in the social media platforms, we saw the rise in the work of an Idol. During the pandemic we saw the scandals of the Young idols which made me think is this the right age for a person to be exposed to this immense load of work and this amount of Criticism / hate.

    At the end I would like to say if you only take in the music that the musicians/ artists are creating then, we would get to see much creative and original music. And I feel like there should be an age restriction for the debut of an Idol

  15. Mondal Mondal says:

    So 4th generation is also doing a great job . I really like how they are giving their all efforts in this young age like txt,ateez,stray kids,enhypen,aespa,itzy and many more are there. Really appreciate this article for writing each of their work so beautifully.

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