11 K-Pop Boy Groups To Watch In 2023: Cravity, Tempest, Verivery & More
(Back) TEMPEST, VERIVERY (Front) Kim Min-Seo and Hwang Yun-Seong of DRIPPIN, Intak of P1Harmony, CRAVITY

Photos: JUNG YEON-JEAFP via Getty Images; Jun Sato/WireImage;The Chosunilbo/JNSImazins via Getty Images; Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images; John Lamparski/Getty Images for Empire State Realty Trust


11 K-Pop Boy Groups To Watch In 2023: Cravity, Tempest, Verivery & More

From rookies to more established acts, guys are taking the K-pop world by storm this year. Read on to learn about 11 boy groups whose recent successes have made them artists to watch in 2023.

GRAMMYs/May 24, 2023 - 01:59 pm

The complexity of Korean pop music is akin to an ocean of changing tides. Every year brings a stream of new elements that, in due course, become part of the fabric of the genre. That’s the part of the magic of K-pop: a guaranteed churning of trends and influences that continue to mesmerize millions.

While last year saw an awakening of girl groups, the current landscape of boy groups is reaching an interesting phase. Well-established ensembles are growing more soloists than ever, and different generations of performers exist side-by-side in a way previously unseen. At the same time, survival television shows (those similar to “American Idol” or “The Voice”) remain a cultural phenomenon in Korean music, serving as a vault for trainees and many in this new wave of boy groups.

Within this new wave, K-pop acts such as VERIVERY and ONEUS are experiencing long-awaited recognition, while the groups who debuted during the pandemic are finally performing in front of live audiences. Meanwhile, rookies like xikers are raising their hands with a desire to conquer, and yet-to-debut acts like ZEROBASEONE are hotly anticipated.

Here, get to know 11 rising boy groups
in order of debut consolidating their position under the bright lights of K-pop’s dominion.


Energy and precision are integral parts of Verivery’s identity. The group seems to flip a switch in the audience with their impeccable coordination and lively dance-pop sound. But they also embrace dualities in their music exploring the emotional highs and lows of life.

Hailing from Jellyfish Entertainment, the septet debuted in January 2019 with the new jack swing single "Ring Ring Ring," and continually sharpened their skills to drive impact. Verivery’s third single album, Liminality - EP. Love, and its title track, "Tap Tap," opened a new chapter, and the group captured their first-ever wins in MBC’s "Show Champion" and KBS’s "Music Bank."


If there’s one group that thrives on defying creative limits and building timeless narratives, it’s ONEUS. They’re called "stage geniuses" for a reason. 

Formed by music label RBW in 2019, the quintet have established themselves as versatile performers with intricate choreographies and vocal prowess. Each record reveals a new soundscape, and with it, there’s a seamless unpredictability that increases their public acknowledgement. 

Their eighth mini-album, Malus, released last September, proved to be a breakthrough. ONEUS earned four trophies from South Korean music shows, and they crossed the barrier of one million accumulated sales on the Circle Chart, one of the most notable music charts in their home country.


CRAVITY combines the words "Creativity" and "Gravity" to state their aura can draw you in like a magnet. They’re joie de vivre personified and may switch gears from "monster rookies" to K-pop dynamos at any moment.  

Since debuting in 2020 under Starship Entertainment, the group has displayed great adaptability when tackling different musical colors. But the arrival of Liberty: In Our Cosmos, the second part of their first full-length album, in March 2022, channeled a youthful approach that’s become their signature sound. This conceptual glow-up fully fleshed out CRAVITY’s abilities that shine the most in feel-good pop terrains, crafting a unique niche as a result. 


Backed by YG Entertainment (Blackpink, BIGBANG), TREASURE burst onto the scene in the summer of 2020 with the hard-hitting single "Boy." It was the crowning of sky-high expectations since they came together a year prior through the challenging survival show YG Treasure Box. However, in November 2022, vocalists Bang Yedam and Mashiho left, and TREASURE had to redirect their trek with 10 members.

TREASURE aren’t only known for their blistering levels of performance, as they also flaunt a diverse sonic palette and self-written material. Take, for example, the potent "JIKJIN," which contrasts with the zestful charisma surrounding "Hello," or the enchanting (and viral) "DARARI," composed by former member Bang Yedam. They’re creative powerhouses and this is just the beginning for them.


This seven-member group assembled by Woollim Entertainment demonstrates how it’s possible to mature a career without compromising brilliance. DRIPPIN boasts one of the most solid repertoires in the fourth generation of K-pop. 

When DRIPPIN debuted in 2020 with their EP, Boyager, their musical compass signaled lightness, but as time passed, the course steered towards a darker route. It was an organic and smooth transformation, exemplified by their fantastic Villain album series released throughout 2022.


The start of P1Harmony’s journey in October 2020 was literally a cinematic experience that laid the foundation for their exciting artistry. They’re adventurous and fun, so better be prepared every time they take the stage — because you’re in for a ride.

Of course, nothing of this would be possible without having a mesh of talents working in tandem. The voices of Keeho and Theo balance out the fierceness of rappers Intak and Jongseob, while Soul and Jiung are proven all-rounders. This blend and a penchant for electrifying tracks are the main propulsors behind P1Harmony’s international popularity.


Living up to the essence of their group’s name, up-and-coming stars TEMPEST are a force to be reckoned with. And contrary to the title of their debut song, "Bad News," their entrance into the K-pop realm was a harbinger of potential.

The septet comes from Yuehua Entertainment, home to Iz*One alum Choi Yena and girl group EVERGLOW. Several members participated in competition programs like "Produce 101" and "I-LAND" so their perspective, along with their collective strengths, indicates that these newcomers wield the confidence of veterans. Last year, the group won accolades across different South Korean music ceremonies as best new artists – including the New Wave Award from the Asia Artist Awards.


When exploring the vastness of K-pop, it’s always a pleasant surprise to discover captivating hidden gems. This is the case of TAN, a septet formed through MBC’s survival show "Extreme Debut: Wild Idol.

What makes TAN such an alluring act is its musical nostalgia, which is reminiscent of one of the most brilliant eras of K-pop. Press play on their first single "Du Du Du," and you’ll find yourself immersed in a second-generation revival layered with stunning vocals. Fortunately, the group is holding the line, and their latest record, "FIX YOU," continues with this evocative quality even a year after their debut.


Xikers are the freshest (and youngest) idols on this list, yet they’re threading a path that has many paying close attention. 

Formerly known as KQ Fellaz 2, the world witnessed the group’s onstage verve when they opened for labelmates ATEEZ during their 2022 North American tour. In March, they debuted with the double-punch "TRICKY HOUSE" and "ROCKSTAR," both singles from their first mini-album, HOUSE OF TRICKY: Doorbell Ringing. The seven-track project has sold more than 140,000 copies in South Korea. With their vibrant teamwork, aural intensity, and rapidly growing recognition, xikers are certainly a bunch to keep your eyes on.


At the end of 2020, K-pop giant HYBE announced the acquisition of KOZ Entertainment, a music label spearheaded by Block B’s leader Zico. The news was received with surprise, and fans wondered what kind of endeavors this business alliance could offer.

What followed has been a series of revelations that have created enthusiasm about their first project together: A group called BOYNEXTDOOR. The six members – Sungho, Riwoo, Jaehyun, Taesan, Leehan and Woonhak – were officially presented on May 12, and the concept is already striking as bright and juvenile. We will get the whole picture once BOYNEXTDOOR debuts on May 30 with their first single album, WHO!    


Although the story of ZEROBASEONE (shortened as ZB1) is yet to unfold, a promise of success is darting their presence in the industry. Word on the street says they will inaugurate K-pop’s fifth generation, but that will be a topic of discussion when they step into the spotlight next summer. In the meantime, we’ll see how many records go down before that happens.

This nine-member, multinational ensemble emerged from Mnet’s reality competition Boys Planet – a spin-off of 2021’s Girls Planet 999, which created their sister group Kep1er. It’s a well-rounded lineup that will allow for artistic agility and breathtaking stages, the same characteristics that attracted hundreds of thousands of viewers during ZB1’s formation process week after week. Worth mentioning that Zhang Hao, a music prodigy from Fujian, China, made history as the first foreigner to win a Korean survival show of this kind, and he will be the group’s center.

TXT, Blackpink, Aespa & More: Here Are All The K-Pop Tours And Events You Can Catch This Summer

TXT, Blackpink, Aespa & More: Here Are All The K-Pop Tours And Events You Can Catch This Summer
K-pop girl group aespa

Photo: The Chosunilbo JNS/Imazins via Getty Images


TXT, Blackpink, Aespa & More: Here Are All The K-Pop Tours And Events You Can Catch This Summer

Whether you want to put your Head in the Clouds, free yourself at Outside Lands or be (re)born pink, plan out your summer with these K-pop events and tours in mind.

GRAMMYs/May 15, 2023 - 01:51 pm

2023 started off strong for K-pop events in the U.S. Household names like NCT 127, Kang Daniel, and Stray Kids all toured the country, while the Empire State Building was lit up in honor of TWICE's latest EP, Ready to Be. In April, BLACKPINK made history as the first K-pop group to headline Coachella, while  BTS' Suga (under the alias Agust D) began his first solo tour — the first out of all BTS members.

As summer starts to bloom, so do even more tours, festivals and conventions for lovers of Korean music and culture to rejoice. From mid-May to the end of August, almost every week will be busy with affairs that range from concerts by rising groups like WEi, to weekend-long celebrations like KCON, to trailblazing performances like Tomorrow X Together (TXT) headlining Lollapalooza, or aespa becoming the first K-pop group to play at New York’s Governors Ball.

To add some color to your summer, assembled a list of all the K-pop concerts and events happening in the next few months so you can enjoy the season at its fullest.


Suga: Agust D Tour

April 26 - May 17

The first BTS member to headline his own solo tour, Suga kicked off a string of performances in the U.S. on April 26 in Belmont Park, New York. The setlist included hits from his two mixtapes, August D and D-2, new tracks from his first solo studio album, D-Day, and even some BTS classics. Before heading to the Asian leg of the tour, Suga will play in Los Angeles and in Oakland, California.

Head in the Clouds Festival

Forest Hills, New York

May 20-21

88rising continues its mission of spreading the talents of Asian diaspora artists through their Head in the Clouds Festival. In addition to their usual Los Angeles edition, 2023 sees Head in the Clouds Festival expand to New York for the first time. The lineup includes returning acts such as DPR IAN and DPR LIVE, while K-pop sensation ITZY, global girl group XG, and rising rockstar LØREN will make their HITC debuts.

Tomorrow X Together (TXT): ACT : SWEET MIRAGE World Tour

May 5-27

Dazzling boy group Tomorrow X Together (TXT) grow bigger with each new release and their international tours follow suit. After last year’s ACT : LOVESICK, they return for a six-city stint in the U.S. with ACT : SWEET MIRAGE, kicking it off on May 5 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Members Soobin, Yeonjun, Beomgyu, Taehyun, and Huening Kai perform hits like "0x1=LOVESONG (I Know I Loved You)," "Good Boy Gone Bad" and their latest single, "Sugar Rush Ride."


May 16 - June 4

Vocal queens MAMAMOO will soon begin their first-ever U.S. tour. Hwasa, Solar, Moonbyul, and Wheein are set to perform in nine cities, starting with New York on May 16 and ending in Los Angeles on June 4. With almost a decade of classics under their belts, the quartet will likely perform songs such as "Um Oh Ah Yeh," solo songs by each member, and a slew of hits like "HIP" and "Egotistic."

WEi: PASSION World Tour

May 24-31

Boy group WEi also returns to the U.S. for their second world tour, PASSION. Each of its six members — Daehyeon, Donghan, Yongha, Yohan, Seokhwa, and Junseo — are known for competing in different survival shows, with Yohan finishing in first place on Mnet’s "Produce X 101" in 2019. Although Yohan himself will be absent from this tour due to conflicting schedules, the remaining quintet promises to have a blast from coast to coast.

Bang Yongguk: The Colors of Bang Yongguk US Tour

May 31 - June 16

As a singer/songwriter, record producer, and former leader of boy group B.A.P, Bang Yongguk is one of K-pop’s most wide-ranging artists. Through honest lyrics and a voice deeper than the Mariana Trench, Yongguk’s work is immediately identifiable and always innovative. After releasing a brand new album this month, The Colors of Love, he is set to perform 10 concerts across the U.S., beginning in Joliet, Illinois on May 31.



June 6 - July 3

Girl group TRI.BE have graced K-pop with effervescent singles and boundless energy since 2021, when they debuted with "Doom Doom Ta." This year, members Songsun, Kelly, Jinha, Hyunbin, Jia, Soeun, and Mire will embark on their first U.S. tour. The septet will play a massive round of 17 shows throughout the country, starting in Orlando, Florida and concluding in L.A.

aespa: Governors Ball Music Festival

June 10

In less than three years since their debut, aespa are already making history. The quartet — formed by Karina, Giselle, Winter, and Ningning — will be the first K-pop group to perform at NYC outdoor festival Governors Ball, held June 9-11. SM Entertainment’s latest girl group became known for their AI-filled lore that includes avatars and an avant-garde sound in the likes of popular singles "Next Level” and “Savage."

TWICE: 5th World Tour Ready to Be

June 10 - July 9

Unrelenting girl group TWICE return to the U.S. for their 5th World Tour Ready to Be. Named after their latest album, the performances will feature hits from their 8-year spanning discography, as well as solo performances from each of its nine members. After performances in Asia and Australia, they will kick off a 13-stop North American leg of the tour at the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California on June 10, and wrap it up at Truist Park in Atlanta on July 9.

CRAVITY: The First World Tour Masterpiece

June 16-25

Last year, rising boy group CRAVITY toured the U.S. as one of the representatives of KCON 2022 Rookies — a series of concerts organized by the All Things Hallyu festival with up-and-coming names in the industry. In 2023, the nine-member group are proving their growth as they headline their own tour through New York, Chicago, San Juan, Atlanta, Dallas, and Los Angeles.


JUST B: Otakon

July 28-30

Held in Washington, D.C., Otakon is the place to be for lovers of Asian pop culture. After bringing names like AleXa and PIXY last year, this year’s edition of the festival will bring rookie boy group JUST B — Lim Jimin, Geonu, Bain, JM, DY, and Sangwoo — for a performance and some VIP experiences to get to know them better.

Lee Youngji K-PLAY! FEST

San Mateo, California

July 29-30

Rapper Lee Youngji rose to fame by being the first woman to win survival shows "High School Rapper 3" and "Show Me the Money 11." However, she gathered an even bigger fandom through the YouTube variety show "My Alcohol Diary," where she invites other K-pop idols to her home for drinks and hilarious conversations. On July 30, she will headline the Bay Area edition of K-PLAY! FEST, the "first ever K-pop festival for fans, by fans." Besides spitting fiery bars, she will also do a hi-touch event, a fansign, and take some selfies with fans who purchase VIP packages.


Tomorrow X Together, NewJeans, DRP IAN, DPR LIVE: Lollapalooza


Aug. 3-6

After last year’s success with performances from Tomorrow x Together and BTS’ j-hope, the Lolla 2023 features even more K-pop. For the first time in history, TXT will headline the festival on August 5, while fellow labelmates and current sensation NewJeans will perform on Thursday, August 3. DPR IAN, 6 and DPR LIVE bring their R&B, rock, and rap fusion to the last day of the festival on Sunday.

(G)I-dle: I am FREE-TY World Tour

Aug. 4-17

K-pop’s resident tomboys will bring their flair and authenticity stateside. After last year’s Just Me ( )I-dle World Tour, the quintet formed by Soyeon, Miyeon, Minnie, Yuqi, and Shuhua will perform in six cities throughout the first half of August. In addition to their attitude-filled setlist, fans can expect new songs from their upcoming sixth EP, I Feel.

Head in the Clouds Festival

Pasadena, California

Aug. 5-6

After their New York edition in May, HITC heads to the West Coast for another weekend celebrating Asian talents. While the lineup is yet to be announced, fans can expect it to hold some of the names who performed in past editions, as well as exciting newcomers. HITC will happen at Brookside at the Rose Bowl on Aug. 5 and 6.


Aug. 12-26

Headlining Coachella in April wasn’t enough for the unstoppable girl group BLACKPINK. Jennie, Rosé, Lisa, and Jisoo have just announced four stadium concerts in August as an extension of their ongoing BORN PINK World Tour, which also included U.S. dates in 2022. The quartet will perform at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. on Aug. 12, then follow to Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Oracle Park in San Francisco, and wrap it up at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Aug. 26.

aespa: Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival

San Francisco

Aug. 11-13

Once again, the groundbreaking aespa hit the U.S. for another milestone: they will be the first K-pop group to perform at San Francisco’s Outside Lands. The quartet will play their futuristic set on Friday, August 11, along Kendrick Lamar, Janelle Monaé and WILLOW, among others.


Los Angeles

Aug. 18-20

Known as the largest Korean culture and music festival in North America, KCON has a decade-long legacy of serving as a bridge for "all things Hallyu." Held at the Los Angeles Convention Center and Arena, the festival includes a two-night concert, fan signings, food and merch stalls, panels with professionals in the industry, and many other attractions. KCON hasn’t announced its official lineup yet, but attendees can expect it to maintain the same excellence of past years.

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Press Play At Home: K-Pop Group CRAVITY Captures Youthful Exuberance In Their High-Octane "Adrenaline" Performance


Press Play At Home: K-Pop Group CRAVITY Captures Youthful Exuberance In Their High-Octane "Adrenaline" Performance

In this episode of Press Play At Home, K-pop group CRAVITY blend the styles and personalities of their nine members — with high-energy results — in their performance of "Adrenaline."

GRAMMYs/May 20, 2022 - 02:02 pm

With nine members in their group, K-pop boy band CRAVITY certainly have a bounty of various influences and creative leanings to juggle. Still, they pull those diverse interests together gracefully in their performance of their new song, "Adrenaline."

In this episode of Press Play at Home, CRAVITY bring funk, future house, moombahton and trap together in their irrepressible performance of "Adrenaline," which captures the youthful exuberance of young love.

Band member Minhee recently told The Korea Times that he's proud of the way the song accomplished their goal of evoking youthful excitement. "I felt like I was in high school again when I was recording this song," he expressed.

Therein, the group evoke memories of younger days — which especially goes for this performance. All members wear prep-school uniforms and perform in front of banners emblazoned with an emblem that reads "Luvity High School."

CRAVITY not only display some serious choreographic skills, but they bounce the lead-vocalist role from member to member — including a colorful rap breakdown by band members Serim and Allen.

That diversity isn't just for the sake of giving every member his time to shine: It also adds stylistic texture to the song, keeping the proceedings uptempo and high-energy.

"Adrenaline" is the lead single off of CRAVITY's first full-length studio album, which they released in two segments. The first, The Awakening: Written in the Stars, came out in mid-2021; the second, Liberty: In Our Cosmos (whose track list includes "Adrenaline"), in spring 2022.

Overcoming release delays and a group-wide bout with COVID-19 in February, CRAVITY propel forward with "Adrenaline," toward a new creative phase propelled by stylistic freedom and giddy, youthful exuberance.

Enjoy their euphoric performance of "Adrenaline" above, and keep checking for more episodes of Press Play at Home.

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Farewell CNCO: The Latin Boy Band Shares Career Highlights, From Their First Show To Jumping Out Of A Plane
CNCO performs at The Forum in Los Angeles in June 2022.

Photo: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images


Farewell CNCO: The Latin Boy Band Shares Career Highlights, From Their First Show To Jumping Out Of A Plane

As CNCO play their final shows on the Ultima Cita Tour, the quartet look back on some of their favorite memories from their time together.

GRAMMYs/May 31, 2023 - 05:09 pm

After nearly a decade together, CNCO are parting ways — but not without leaving behind a legacy. The beloved Latin boy band released four albums and three EPs in their time together, scoring several multi-platinum international hits and collaborating with the likes of Wisin & Yandel, Ozuna, and Becky G. They've headlined stages around the world, and they'll do it one last time on the Ultima Cita Tour.

Translating to The Last Date in English, the tour kicked off in Lima, Peru on May 12 and will hit multiple U.S. cities in June, South America in July, and two final dates in El Salvador and Guatemala in October. It's a celebration of the mark they've made since 2015, when Christopher Vélez, Zabdiel De Jesús, Erick Brian Colón, Richard Camacho, and Joel Pimentel formed CNCO on the finale of Ricky Martin and Simon Cowell's competition show La Banda.

Though the quintet is now a foursome (Pimentel left the group in 2021 to pursue a solo career), the remaining members released their final album, XOXO, in 2022 and a number of singles earlier this year. Ahead of the farewell tour, CNCO delivered an emotional ballad titled "La Última Canción" ("The Last Song"), a final gift to their fans that ends with a heartfelt declaration: "I will not forget that singing to you for me was the best."

To celebrate the end of an era, Vélez, De Jesús, Colón, and Camacho discussed their favorite memories from the fast-paced, but deep-rooted time as CNCO.

Playing Their First Concert As CNCO

De Jesús: When we started our band, we were with Ricky Martin, opening his tour. And you know, it's Ricky Martin, he [fills] stadiums for 40,000 people. That was our first concert, so it was really crazy to be in our homes, and then, on the next day, in a stadium with a lot of people. It was magical.

Vélez: It was like diving into the ocean with sharks, without knowing how to swim.

Colón: It was pretty crazy. We didn't even have our own songs, so we sang a lot of covers from the reality show that we did. We just had two songs, "Devuélveme Mi Corazón" and "Tan Fácil." That first concert was super special, and on top of that, our families were there too. We also recorded our first video clip. It was a really fun night.

Making Memorable Music

Vélez: I would say that our first album was very special, Primera Cita. Pretty surreal moment, to be honest. And "Reggaetón Lento" [was] a song that opened a lot of doors for us, in every single part of the world. Because of that song, I think we are who we are.

De Jesús: The fact that we did our first album with Wisin was crazy. I lived in Puerto Rico, so I used to listen to him a lot on the radio, and I think I never even dreamed of being able to work with him. We spent a lot of time in the studio, [with him] coaching us, that was pretty wild.

Colón: We have an EP called Que Quiénes Somos, and in there is a song called "Tóxica." It basically doesn't have music, it's just our voices, so it was pretty cool to record. It's a really sad and emotional song.

Camacho: I like "No Apagues la Luz," and "Miami" is cool too.

Performing At Altos de Chavón In La Romana, Dominican Republic

Camacho: It was very special to be in my country. And it was super cool to see my family there in the crowd. I remember my grandma came through, so it was surreal. To bring the boys to the DR and have them experience the culture too, it felt special.

Vélez: It was such a beautiful experience. Altos de Chavón is beautiful. We enjoyed it a lot. Every day was a fun experience. I think we arrived like three or two days before the show, so we had a little party.

De Jesús: That was the time we went go-karting, right? That was fun.

Vélez: Yeah, we raced around the whole village.

Playing The Choli (Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot) In San Juan, Puerto Rico

De Jesús: In the Choli, I used to watch my favorite artists — Yandel, Daddy Yankee, Ricky Martin. To be able to be there, in a sold-out [concert], and also to see my family and friends in the crowd, it was like living a dream. 

I feel like the words fall short for the experience, but it was amazing. Actually, we were singing a ballad, and when it was my part, I wasn't able to sing because I was crying. And I was seeing my mom crying [in the crowd] too.

Touring Asia In 2018

Colón: [It] was one of the best experiences we ever had. We saw all these fans that didn't speak Spanish singing our songs. Like, they knew the whole [setlist], and that was really, really crazy. I think it was just amazing to see people from literally another continent, another culture, sing our songs and receive us with brazos abiertos, with their open arms. It impacted us a lot, and for that, we are always going to be super grateful.

Vélez: It was such a surreal moment. [When] we got to the airport [in Japan], there were so many people. This guy told us, like, "this crowd is super quiet, they're super respectful, blah, blah, blah." And when we went out, they all went crazy. 

It was a controlled-crazy type of vibe, because they were in a square, super lined-up and everything. But when we came out, everybody started screaming. And there were people who were telling us that they literally learned how to say in Spanish, "Can I hug you?" or "Can I have a picture?" for that moment, and some others told us that they learned Spanish from our songs. It was super cute.

Celebrating CNCO's Fifth Anniversary In Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Vélez: We went there celebrating. We did a little promo and stuff, but it was mostly just having fun — and we jumped out of a plane. It was my first time doing that, and the guys too. It was a highlight in my life. It was one of my dreams.

De Jesús: It wasn't mine. [Laughs.] But I did it, and honestly, I'd recommend it. It's an amazing experience. I didn't want it in the beginning, but after it, I was like, "Oh my gosh, let's do it again!"

Vélez: We all got scared when we got on the plane and saw what we were going to do, but we had somebody else jumping with us. So they pushed us… literally [Laughs.] If there wasn't anybody on my back, I wouldn't do it.

Bonding Backstage

Vélez: I really like the after shows, when we celebrate, play Nintendo, drink; just us. Those moments are fire.

De Jesús: I also appreciate every time we prepare before a show. We used to get together, say a prayer, and then scream "C-N-C-O!" I feel the love we have for each other, you know?

Camacho: For me it would be [when we are] on stage. It's the moment where you feel more connected with each other, with the crowd, and with yourself as well.

Colón: I'm gonna share the same as Chris. When we go to an awards [ceremony] and win, or we do a show and everything goes well, I think it's pretty nice how we celebrate afterwards. It's a feeling of "I made it with my bros."

Leaving A Legacy

Vélez: We want to be remembered as the guys who pursued their dreams and made them come true. We are the example [for that]. 

CNCO personally changed my life from one day to another, so that's the message that we want to give. If you have passion and discipline for what you do, you will accomplish a lot of things, even things you didn't imagine.

De Jesús: Should I say something after that? [Laughs.] I [hope to] be in the memories of the people who listen to our music, and be able to listen to stories like "Oh, when I was depressed, I used to listen to CNCO and it helped me." I think that's pretty f—ing dope. It's the whole purpose.

Colón: What I want to say is so hard in English. I want us to be remembered as the boy band that marcó una etapa — that marked an era. It's kind of what [Christopher and Zabdiel] said. The fans that were with us since the beginning, I want them to tell their kids, like, "You know, when I was 15 or 16, there was this boy band, and they changed my life." Sometimes we hear these stories from fans, and that motivates me a lot.

Camacho: However they feel when they hear our music, when they see us in person and we spend time together, that's a good memory to just hone into. I can't control anybody's feelings, but what I felt with our music was always good.

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5 Emerging Pacific Islander Artists To Know: P-Lo, Kala’e Parish & More
(L-R) Iam Tongi, P-Lo, Kala’e Parish, Taimane Gardner

Photos (L-R): Stewart Cook/ABC via Getty Images, Scott Dudelson/Getty Images, Marian Lee, Paul Strouse

5 Emerging Pacific Islander Artists To Know: P-Lo, Kala’e Parish & More

From the latest "American Idol" winner to a Native Hawaiian country artist, musicians of Pacific Islander descent are shifting the aural landscape in profound ways.

GRAMMYs/May 31, 2023 - 03:03 pm

In the AAPI acronym, "AA" and "PI" are presented in parallel for a reason; it’s paramount to elevate those of Pacific Islander descent just as much as Asian American heritage. Yet, there’s sometimes been an imbalance — and an attendant fight to rebalance those scales.

Consisting of three ethnogeographic groupings — Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia — the Pacific Island region covers more than 300,000 square miles of land; as such, those two letters encompass a staggering array of cultures and peoples, from Hawaii and American Samoa to New Guinea and New Zealand.

Accordingly, the wellspring of musics that pours from these islands couldn’t be contained in one article — or a dozen. But a quick look at musicians of Pacific Islander descent currently getting their moment can act as a window into these worlds. 

Some, like Iam Tongi, are operating on a nationally broadcast stage. Others work in quieter, more localized spaces. What they share is profound connections to the Pacific Islands, which are founts of musical brilliance.

Read on for five of them, from vastly divergent genres and traditions.

Iam Tongi

Simon and Garfunkel’s "The Sound of Silence" has resonated far, far past the 1960s; its unflinching gaze into the void is for our time as much as any other. 

In 2016, Disturbed brought it back to television; Hawaiian high school senior Iam Tongi recently did the same thing — on "American Idol." In the process, he even made judge Katy Perry cry.

Tongi is a man who has known darkness well: he had lost his father, Rodney, a few years earlier to kidney disease. The cataclysm has informed his choices of tunes, like James Blunt’s father-son ballad "Monsters" and debut single "I’ll Be Seeing You."

Clearly, Tongi’s emotionally incisive pipes and gripping story have gone a long way: on May 21, he beat out finalists Megan Danielle and Colin Stough, and became the next American Idol — the youngest male winner in the show’s history.

Taimane Gardner

If you didn’t know ukulele virtuosity is a thing, get on board. Taimane Gardner is not just in her own league on the instrument; she’s a captivating performer as well. And on top of that, she’s a masterful songwriter and interpreter. Ukulele, meet your triple threat.

Gardner was born in Honolulu and is of Samoan descent; in the Samoan language, her name translates to "diamond." Indeed, she’s a rare gem, as she can deftly move from Bach to rock to flamenco and back again, all while weaving in impressive original compositions.

In 2022, Gardner released HAWAIKI, an album steeped in her Polynesian heritage — with the loss of her mother in 2018 weighing heavily in the material. 

Therein, the protagonist embarks on a journey of self-discovery "as she goes through Hawaiki, this special island where the gods and goddesses live," Gardner has described. "it's a spiritual place where Polynesians come from and go after they pass."

HAWAIKI may specifically point its arrow at Polynesia, but if there’s one takeaway from Gardner’s artistry, it’s that Pacific Islander music readily perforates boundaries and boxes.

Try The Pie

Further representing Polynesia is the Bay Area downer-punk band Try The Pie, led by Tonga-American vocalist and guitarist Bean Tupou — who also happens to be queer and nonbinary. 

Not only do they kick up an enticing duststorm musically; their psychologically freighted yet economical lyrics truly connect.

"We are not built like walls To hold up structures, to be the glue," Tupou sings in "Every Week," the opening track on their 2015 album Domestication. "I wanna do it all/ I wanna let go and remember you."

Rounded out by guitarist Laine Barriga, bassist Bailey Lupo and drummer Nick Lopez, Try The Pie most recently released A Widening Burst of Forever; on tunes like "Shell," "New Dust" and "3 Swords," their sound and aesthetic bloom like time-lapse flowers. So does the influence of Tupou’s heritage. 

"As a child, I would often wake in the mornings to my father playing guitar and singing Westlian style hymns in Tongan — a ritual I’ve come to miss dearly," Tupou said this year. "As a part of our family’s legacy, I have chosen to write songs and archive my own experience through music."

Kala’e Parish

Native Hawaiian country music? Consider your horizons expanded. Just as American country music celebrates the contiguous U.S.’s working-class South and heartland, Native Hawaiian music is all about island pride. And Kala’e Parish is right at the vanguard of this form.

Parish didn’t start writing his own music, however, until he attended college in Oregon, pursuing a degree in Business Marketing. Upon moving back to Hawaii, his star rose by way of his band Eden Roc.

In 2016, he struck out solo to clamorous applause; his 2020 EP Where I Reside was nominated for EP Of The Year at the Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards, and he was featured on Kuha’o Maunakea, a compendium of tunes by Hawaii’s top performers.

Parish is still firing on all cylinders, while residing in Waimea. And considering the vitality of tunes like "These Islands," this terrific singer/songwriter has a lot more to say about the islands he hails from. 

"Crystal clear blue waters with a never-ending flow," he sings. "Here we go."


Despite being born and raised in a Filipino American household in the Bay Area, rapper and producer Paolo Rodriguez — better known as P-Lo — successfully transcends the confines of identity in his music.

"I never wanted to take that route and use that Asian thing as a crutch," Rodriguez, who's Filipino, once stated. "People are already going to identify with me 'cause I look like them. I never wanted to use that as a crutch to get where I wanted to be."

Disposing of that "crutch" hasn’t stymied P-Lo one iota. He’s worked with everyone from Wiz Khalifa to Iggy Azalea to Flo Rida; His songs have been featured in visual media from Space Jam: A New Legacy to "Insecure." the tour around his new album, Stunna, takes him across the U.S. until the end of June.

"Always adapt while bringing your own flavor," P-Lo has said, a sentiment which applies to everyone on this list, and emerging AAPI musicians of every stripe. They know and honor their roots. But their roots are just the beginning of the story.

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