Seven rising K-pop acts to watch in 2020

(G) I-IDLE, formed in 2018, is one of seven K-pop groups to look out for in 2020. (Photo from (G) I-DLE Facebook account)

After a decade in which K-pop achieved unprecedented global success, 2020 has begun with a bunch of newcomers, all looking to make an impact around the world. From rising acts on the cusp of greatness to rookies about to make their debut, these seven new acts are likely to make a lot of noise this year.


The boy band whose name will be on everyone's lips in 2020 is likely to be Ateez. As an underdog outfit signed by the relatively small agency KQ Entertainment, the eight-member act can't rely on help from senior groups or affiliated artists to gain exposure. Instead, they are receiving recognition for their explosive performances and a hard hip-hop/electronic sound heard on stand-out tracks such as like Say My Name and Wonderland.

Less than a year after they came together, Ateez sold out concerts on otheir first North American, European and Australian tours in 2019, and will return overseas for arena and stadium shows this year. With three Korean releases, as well as a Japanese album, all out in 2019, Ateez have been on a mission to quickly serve their growing fan base, and they're looking to make 2020 theirs by dropping the highly anticipated single Answer in the first week of the year.


If Ateez are the new boy band primed for global success, (G) I-DLE are the female equivalent. After securing both management and PR with an eye on overseas markets, the sextet seem ready to take things to the next level. Having made their debut in spring 2018, (G) I-DLE quickly stand out for being a rare female group who are the main producers and writers of their songs.

The most notable contributions come from leader Soyeon, who has had a hand in almost every (G) I-DLE track. The group ended the year with Lion, a savage and regal pop single on which they sang about their mission to break barriers and stereotypes. It's a powerful message that should appeal to young people looking to find their place in the world.


While South Korea's sensational singing competition show Produce 101 found itself in hot water over a vote-rigging scandal in 2019, another programme stood out for the unique way it puts together an A-list music group. World Klass brought together more than 20 K-pop hopefuls who hadn't signed with a record agencies, and released weekly rankings based not only on fan votes but expert evaluations.

Entertainment executives and experts from America and Korea, legends in the fields of songwriting, producing and choreography, as well as fellow idols, were brought in throughout the show to evaluate the contestants. Their votes resulted in the eventual 10-member line-up for boy band Too. Fans have been watching the guys hone their skills for months on World Klass and on social media, and their debut is expected to reveal a more refined side to them than they showed on TV. Just check out their cover of Billie Eilish's Bad Guy, with revamped verses and added rap.


The year is looking likely to be dominated by new girl groups, and Everglow are another must-see act. The group's six members have earned comparisons to Blackpink for their fierce attitudes and powerful sound. Everglow's debut single, Bon Bon Chocolat, became an unexpected hit internationally, with a strong Billboard chart performance, and the music video received more than 50 million views.

The follow-up, Adios, fared even better, with more than 85 million views by the end of 2019. If Everglow can maintain the momentum, they could easily become significant players in the top ranks of K-pop.


Formed by gigantic K-pop company YG Entertainment, Treasure's expected 2019 debut was delayed after the firm became embroiled in sex, drug and gambling controversies. This year should be a better one not for only YG, but also for Treasure.

The company has announced the group is taking more creative ownership of their music, and has abandoned a confusing plan to split the band into two groups that would also occasionally appear as a full team.


With the release of their debut single Dalla Dalla, Itzy won the hearts of K-pop fans and found themselves with one of the biggest songs of 2019. Now they're ready to show their potential for world domination. After visiting countries around Asia last year, the girls start 2020 holding fan meetings in America, which will give an indication of their potential for international success.

So far, their strong attitudes and quirky musical style have connected with fans, and all that's left is making a solid impression by showing more of their personalities through new media opportunities.

SM Entertainment's new girl group

While we don't know much about them at this stage, SM Entertainment's upcoming girl group are definitely ones to watch. SM manages groups such as Girls' Generation, f (x) and Red Velvet, meaning this new group will have some big shoes to fill. While little is known about the group, some female singers have been introduced via the company's "SM Rookies" programme. The above video shows some of the potential members joining in a performance that also features a young Mark and Haechan, who later made their debut with NCT 127.