Reaching New Limits With 3rd Generation K-pop!

by Michelle Li

It’s been a while since we’ve been through another generation of K-pop! This time we are bringing you the 3rd generation, an era from early 2012 to late 2015. It’s sure another era that is unforgettable and for most, considered the longest-lasting generation, with many K-pop groups beating the ‘seven-year curse.’ Countless K-pop groups have made the 3rd generation what it is now and of course, influenced the success of K-pop groups now, but with so many to talk about, we thought we would mention the top K-pop groups still going strong! 3rd generation K-pop is certainly one that I’ll never forget as this was when I was first exposed to K-pop so why not start with the group that first got me K-pop crazy?! 



A 3rd generation boy group none other than EXO! Considered the ‘King of K-pop’ by many, this group was formed by SM Entertainment in 2012 and we can’t argue that they were successful from the very moment they made their debut album with their unique title track, MAMA. With SM Entertainment continuing their unique k-pop group concepts, this 12 member group was divided into two subgroups, EXO-K and EXO-M as a way to promote the same music in both Korean and Chinese, being active in South Korea and China. EXO stood out with their multitude of talents with a high level of vocal and choreography talents and on-point coordination between all 12 members, and of course, their visuals were on point! Achieving success in Korea with hit singles like What is Love and History, they won big internationally, with Growl in 2013, a song that sure got stuck in the heads upon release. Though the majority of the EXO-M members have left, now being a 9-member group, they are still giving EXO-L’s their best with their latest comeback Don’t Fight the Feeling just last year. Currently, three members are inactive due to military enlistment however, there are five members that we can all support. EXO-L’s, are you ready for Suho's solo comeback next week?! 🤩



Another boy group that got us crazy is Bangtan Boys aka BTS 😍 They have truly paved the road for international success in the K-pop industry! BTS debuted in 2013 under Big Hit Entertainment, and the fact that they co-produced and wrote the majority of their songs with heartfelt and relatable lyrics made them stand out. BTS debuted with No More Dream and released several singles but it wasn’t until their song N.O, that they started to gain more attention. With their dark hip hop music, they started to shift in style with more diverse tracks leading to success with their lead single Blood, Sweat, and Tears, a music chart all-kill. With continued success in Korea, they hit it big internationally in 2018. BTS reached international stardom with Fake Love leading them to even collaborate with US artists like Nicki Minaj and Halsey. In 2021, BTS was nominated for a Grammy Award, an iconic moment in the K-pop industry, and they are continually topping worldwide charts even releasing English singles like Butter and Permission to Dance. BTS sure had a slow rise to stardom, but their success now is unmeasurable and they don’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. Let’s wish them the best of luck for this year’s Grammy nomination and performance!



The boy groups that make up 3rd gen are considered to be ‘Ex-Ban-Sev,’  Exo, Bangtan Boys, and Seventeen, an equivalent to 2nd gen boy groups Dong-Su-501. Seventeen is a 13-member group formed by Pledis Entertainment who hit stardom as soon as they debuted in 2015. Their debut EP, 17 Carat became US’ longest-charting Kpop album of that year. Being a self-producing group split into three units, the hip hop team, vocal team and performance team all participate in the creation of their albums. The vocal team’s leader, Woozi, composes and writes their songs in addition to the hip hop unit writing the rap verses. And for choreography, this is where the performance unit comes in to help. They are known for their in sync dance moves with various talents between all members, often being called ‘Performance Kings.’ In 2016, they released Pretty U along with their full-length album. Soon after their promotions ended, they started their international concert, proving their worldwide popularity not long after their debut. If you haven’t come across Seventeen’s talented vocals and synchronised choreography, check out their latest comeback, Rock with You and immerse yourself in their dance practice videos to see next level synchronisation just like this one!



We can’t mention 3rd generation girl groups without Twice! Twice came about through the survival show, ‘Sixteen’ where sixteen trainees competed to become the new girl group of JYP Entertainment. The finale ended with nine members debuting in 2015 with Like Ooh-Ahh. Their chart-topping success was deemed unusual by Korean music outlets as they topped charts in the first week before dropping down and going back up again due to word of mouth 😂 In 2016, Twice started to peak with their comeback Cheer Up. Who else had this song stuck in their head for weeks? They went on to release countless other hits like Knock Knock, Signal, and Likey which again, were just as catchy as the previous and had every K-pop fan knowing their point choreographies and addicting choruses. They went viral multiple times because of this, even having other K-pop idols imitating their choreography. Twice has been kept busy having multiple comebacks a year since debut giving ONCE fans the most and not to mention promoting in Japan too! Twice has definitely made the most out of this generation 👏🏻

Red Velvet


And of course, we have Red Velvet who debuted with Happiness in 2014. Debuting with a four-member line-up, Red Velvet doesn’t stick to just one genre and instead has multiple images. ‘Red’ being their youthful yet bold side and ‘Velvet’ is their more toned-down and mature image. After showing off their ‘Velvet’ side through their singles Be Natural and Automatic, they reached commercial success with their comeback song Ice-Cream Cake in which they also added a new member, Yeri. This was just the beginning of their success and they continued to release chart-topping singles with contrasting concepts like Dumb Dumb and One of these Nights proving to us that they have both the versatility and talent for opposing music styles. Seeing Red Velvet’s success in intertwining their concepts with Bad Boy, they started their ‘Reve Festival’ trilogy to show the combination of both ‘Red’ and ‘Velvet ’images. A group that can do it all makes them one unforgettable 3rd generation K-pop group! And they have proved this further with their ‘Feel My Rhythm’ comeback this year, taking classical music as inspiration, again another unique concept they have aced. So if you haven’t already checked it out, here’s the MV to watch.

A continual increase in international interest in K-pop from the 2nd generation meant the 3rd generation had to carry out the expectations, and they sure did! With countless point choreographies and addicting songs, let’s give a shoutout to all the other 3rd generation idols, AOA, EXID, Mamamoo, G-Friend, NU’EST, Winner, Got7, and of course, many others 🥰 We’re well into the fourth generation so let us know which groups you think are worth a mention in our 4th K-pop gen TMI 🧐

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