The two “God Mothers” of Kpop girl groups come down to Fin.K.L. (1998) and S.E.S (1997). Kpop Entertainment companies did a good job of training some of the top talents in Korea in both vocals and dancing before debuting the group. Kpop Girl Groups always had a disadvantage in the industry. Many looked and sounded the same, however, there were also many that went against tradition and really exploded on a global scale.
Each Kpop Girl Group has its own style and story. Many have been able to take advantage of social media to really expand their audience and let fans into their personal lives. For example, Blackpink’s’ Lisa is the top Kpop Instagram influencer of all time, bigger than any Kpop star including the men. For those interested in our article on the best Kpop Boy Groups, check it out after reading this.
Blackpink was formed by YG Entertainment and debuted back in 2016. It has been less than 5 years but Blackpink is clearly the greatest Kpop girl group of all time. They continue to break records on YouTube with every new release. In fact, they are the first Kpop girl group to get over 1 billion views for a music video on YouTube. Also, Blackpink is the highest-charting female Kpop Group on the Billboard Hot 100 with their collaboration with Selena Gomez called Ice Cream. They even have their own documentary on Netflix called Blackpink: Light up the Sky.
Currently, Blackpink has the most subscribers on YouTube and the numbers continue to grow. They were the first Kpop girl group to perform at Coachella. Not only are they major players in the Kpop industry, but they are also major players in the fashion industry. The 4 members are all faces for some of the top luxury fashion brands such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Dior.
Girl’s Generation (SNSD)
Girl’s Generation (SNSD) was formed by SM Entertainment. It has been 14 years since Girl’s Generation broke out in the Kpop scene. The 9 member group was able to be one of the first Kpop groups to break out onto the global stage. They had a very innocent image and their performances onstage were both fun and colorful. They are called ‘The Nation’s Girl Group” and many have gone on to have successful solo careers. Their biggest hit was Gee from their first mini-album which became a YouTube phenomenon.
In 2010, they became the first Kpop girl group to win the Disk Daesang, which is the biggest award at the Golden Disc Awards in South Korea. The Golden Disc Awards is pretty much the Grammy’s of South Korea. In addition, they were very popular in Japan and regularly sold-out concerts. For example, their 3 Japanese concert tours brought in a total of 550,000 fans.
Twice was formed by JYP Entertainment after being on the Korean TV program Sixteen. They exploded onto the Kpop scene with their hit single Cheer Up in 2016. If you ask most male Kpop fans, most would favor Twice over Blackpink. Many don’t realize this but TWICE is the highest-selling girl group in South Korea in regards to physical sales. The reason for this is that Twice has 3 times more singles compared to Blackpink. In addition, Twice is very popular in Japan as well. They became the first Kpop girl group to embark on a Japanese dome tour. Therefore in regards to the most profitable markets (South Korea and Japan), Twice outranks Blackpink. The big question is, will Twice pass Blackpink on a global scale? We will have to wait and see.
In their prime 2NE1 was the most successful Kpop girl group in Korea. The group was formed by YG Entertainment back in 2009. However in 2016, Minzy left the group, and the band disbanded. If they had all stayed together, it could be argued that 2NE1 would have ranked #1 for the greatest Kpop girl group. They have sold over 66 million records and Billboard magazine ranked 2NE1 as one of the best Kpop girl groups of the past decade. All have gone on to have solo careers but none were able to capture the magic that 2NE1 brought.
Their biggest hit is probably I am the Best. It is surprising that 2NE1 didn’t hit it big like BTS in America. CL and Park Bom both lived in America for many years before moving to Korea. CL especially speaks perfect English and it seems they missed a golden opportunity to create music solely for the global audience.
JYP Entertainment found a winner in this 5 member Kpop girl group back in 2007. Their hit Nobody was the first every Korean Kpop song to appear on Billboard’s Hot 100. They were one of the first Kpop groups to break into the American market by being the opening act for the Jonas Brothers. They contributed greatly to the rise of the first wave of iconic Hallyu stars like Girls Generation and 2NE1.
Red Velvet is known for trying new concepts and experimenting. They were formed by SM Entertainment. Their sounds are always new and unique. Their vocals and range are amazing. The only criticism Red Velvet gets is their stage performance which has improved considerably over time. They were named one of the most popular Kpop groups by both Time Magazine and Billboard. In addition, they were the 5th most-streamed Kpop group worldwide on Spotify as of early 2020.
The most popular Kpop girl group to come out of Mnet reality Kpop competition show Produce 48 is IZ*ONE. The Kpop girl group has 12 members and is managed by Off the Record and Swing Entertainment. They made their debut back in late 2018 and won many awards in 2019 for new artist of the year categories. The group has released albums for both Korea and Japan. Many wonder what their name stands for and it is pretty simple. The IZ stands for 12 and ONE stands for being one as a group.
Mamamoo brings its own style of music to Kpop. They really put RBW on the map. Many experts in the Kpop industry feel that their debut back in 2014 is considered as one of the best Kpop debuts that year. Their fame has come organically in Korea but has yet to break out internationally. This could change in 2021.
Oh My Girl
WM Entertainment’s top group is Oh My Girl. They are a 7 member Kpop girl group that made their debut in 2015. The group has a massive following in Japan as they released their 3rd Japanese album back in 2020. In addition at the 2020 Soribada Best K-Music Awards, Oh My Girl received a Bonsang Award.
The most successful group to come out of DSP Media has to be Kara. Kara really has it all for a Kpop girl group. They first started out with 4 members when they made their debut back in 2007. They have stunning visuals, great stage presence, and fun choreography. KARA was one of the first Kpop groups that really broke out in the Japanese market, paving the way for other Kpop Girl Groups later on. The group had an amazing 9-year run which allows them to make this top 10 list.