When it comes to Korean music, it's common for us to think of Kpop right away. However, Korean bands exist too, and over the years, they have captured the interests of many people worldwide.
A few years back, I discovered these artists who hold instruments and sing their hearts out to captivate me with their music. You might have heard some of them already and liked their songs unknowingly. But if you have yet to become a fan, let me introduce you to some well-known K-Bands that you must listen to.
FTISLAND, or Five Treasure Island, is a South Korean rock band that debuted in 2007 with their single "Love Sick." There have been member changes in the past 16 years, but the band has remained active with currently three members: Lee Hong-gi, Lee Jae-jin, and Choi Min-hwan. Since their debut, they have been going back and forth to Korea since they also made a name and are successful in Japan. Their music has a recognizable rock sound emphasized by Hong-gi's powerful and versatile vocals, the vibrant strings, and the heart-thumping drums. My favorite FTISLAND songs are “Love Sick”, “Unthinkable”, “Summer Night's Dream”, and the song from their recent album, “Sage”.
Fun fact: FTISLAND is affectionately dubbed "Korea's first idol band" by the Korean media? Imagine releasing an album even after 16 years? It shows how legendary they are despite the years that passed by.
CNBLUE, or Code Name Blue, comprises members Jung Yong-hwa, Kang Min-hyuk, and Lee Jung-shin. The former bassist, Lee Jong-hyun, departed the group. CNBLUE first debuted in Japan, and then in Korea with the single "I'm a Loner" in 2010. Through the years, they have continued success in Korea and Japan. CNBLUE showcases pop and funk-influenced style and upbeat take on their music. When they play, you will mostly hear the drums and electric guitar. What I like about them is that they are fun and captivating on stage. Also, Yong-hwa has impressive vocals and rapping skills! He recently released an album and you should check it out.
Their songs that caught my attention are “I'm a Loner”, “I'm Sorry”, “Love Cut”, “Can't Stop”, and “Cinderella”.
A fun fact: FTISLAND Lee Hong-gi and CNBLUE Jung Yong-hwa had a drama called “You're Beautiful”. They formed a fictional band called A.N.JELL and have promoted songs like "Promise" and "Still" which might be familiar to you if you are a Kdrama fan. Two legendary band vocalists in one frame? *covers mouth* That is daebak!
N.Flying, which means New Flying, debuted in 2015 with members Lee Seung-hyub, Cha Hun, Kim Jae-hyun, Yoo Hwe-seung, and Seo Dong-sung. N.Flying also came from FNC Entertainment, like their former senior labelmates. The group's music gives off bright and carefree vibes in most of their songs. And since their leader Seung-hyub, is a rapper, you will undoubtedly hear a lot of rapping. They also produce pieces for Kdrama OSTs, and main vocalist Hwe-seung is the most active one in singing OSTs in Korean dramas like "Another Day" from Criminal Minds, and “Still Love You" from Tomorrow. His voice is also one of the prominent strengths of the group. If you want to hear their charming pieces, I recommend “Rooftop”, “Starlight”, and “I Like You”. They also have powerful rock ballads like “Flashback” and “Firefly” that would blow your mind away. Why? Find it out in their live band performances.
Day6 is a pop rock band comprising Sungjin, Young K, Wonpil, and Dowoon. Member Jae recently left the band. The group has been in the industry since 2015. Their debut single, "Congratulations" topped the music charts and became one of their notable songs. “You Were Beautiful”, “Shoot Me”, “Sweet Chaos”, “Zombie”, “I Loved You”, and “Time of Our Life” are the best songs that showcase their diverse and exceptional music. These pieces incorporate the emotions of a soft ballad and powerful rock. One noticeable and admirable fact about the group is that almost all band members sing. Each one of them can also play more than one instrument!
Day6 is known for their lyrics, primarily written by their main lyricist, Young K, which hold much meaning about everyday life and are relatable to everyone who listens to their songs. If you are a non-Korean speaker, they have English versions of some of their songs that you can sing along to.
Additionally, the group has a sub-unit called Day6 Even of Day. They also promote solo activities like Young K’s recent comeback.
The Rose is a South Korean indie-rock band with Kim Woo-sung, Park Do-joon, Lee Ha-joon, and Lee Jae-hyeong. Before their debut, they posted musical covers on Youtube and performed in the streets. They debuted with their single “Sorry” in 2016. The Rose has a soft-rock vibe, and most of their songs are sentimental and profound, highlighting elements of human emotion. They write great lyrics that touch one's soul. The band makes songs in Korean and English and many of their songs topped the Korean and US charts. I first knew them from hearing "Back To Me" and "Sorry," and then came to love their other songs, “You're Beautiful”, “Sour” and “Beauty and the Beast”. They have an upcoming album entitled Dual, which you should look forward to!
ONEWE is an alternative rock band composed of Yonghoon, Harin, Kanghyun, Dongmyeong, and Giuk members. The group evolved from years of friendship, playing music together since their early years. ONEWE originally debuted as M.A.S 0094 in 2015 under a different label. In 2017, they moved to RBW, re-debuted under the current band name, and dropped the single album "1/4" in 2019.
ONEWE is a brother group of the kpop idol group, ONEUS, also from the same company. In fact, ONEUS's Xion & ONEWE's Dongmyeong are twins. Isn't it that cute? Their music reminded me of a play when I first heard it. Most of their songs have distinct theatrical vibes, emphasized by the outstanding harmonies created by the vocalists. Hearing their pieces feels like they are telling stories through their music. They also venture into other musical influences. You can also notice that most of their songs can make you feel like you are watching a Kdrama as some of their songs make good OSTs. Songs I like from this group are “Star”, “Rain To Be”, “Parting”, and “Regulus”. ONEWE had a comeback with their album XOXO last August 30.
These Korean bands shine with exceptional talents that span different musical influences. Renowned for their powerful vocals and proficiency in playing instruments, these bands captivate Korean fans and global audiences. Indeed, they leave an enduring mark on the music world. If you have yet to hear them, do it now! Be captivated with these gems. You might turn into their avid fan, like me.