meta-script9 Thrilling Moments From KCON 2023 L.A.: Stray Kids, RIIZE, Taemin & More | GRAMMY.com
KCON 2023 LA stage
KCON 2023 L.A.

Photo: CJ ENM

list

9 Thrilling Moments From KCON 2023 L.A.: Stray Kids, RIIZE, Taemin & More

KCON’s lineup featured over 20 acts over three nights, drawing legions of dedicated fans who experienced some of K-pop's biggest acts for the first time in the States.

GRAMMYs/Aug 22, 2023 - 07:24 pm

For over a decade, KCON has regularly touched down in Los Angeles to create a weekend festival dedicated to all things Korean pop culture. 

With a convention floor highlighting everything from K-dramas to K-beauty, the real stars of the show were, of course, K-pop idols. Along with meet-and-greets and special performances throughout the weekend, three nights of concerts brought some of the most popular K-pop stars to the U.S., including headliners Taemin, ATEEZ, and Stray Kids.

Performances at KCON festival were a display of old and new, with rising stars and more senior talent performing alongside one another. Covers of the hits of a decade ago and a variety of "name that song" games in-between sets drew the K-pop generations together, creating an environment that both older and newer fans of Korean popular music could revel in.

Headlining performances were livestreamed from the Crypto.com Arena, and by South Korean TV channel Mnet (operated by the same company, CJ ENM, as KCON). 

KCON’s lineup featured over 20 acts, including Cravity, IVE, NMIXX, Taemin, Taeyong, Ateez, INI, Verivery, Kep1er, Xikers, Zerobaseone, and JO1. From groups to solo acts, read on for 10 of the most exciting moments from KCON 2023. 

All photos by CJ ENM.

IVE Show Off Their "It Girl" Energy 

IVE kcon 2023

Known for their fashionable, charming demeanor and rousing dance-pop songs that often feel better suited for stadiums than headphones, IVE’s dynamism and energetic, vocal freewheeling throughout each of their performances made it very clear why they are one of the leader’s of this generation’s K-pop "It" girls. 

The six-member IVE took to the stage twice on Friday night, first to perform the nostalgia-fueled "Kitsch'' and the exuberant "Love Dive." They then came back later to perform the unique "Dream Stage," a KCON highlight where concert attendees get the chance to perform on-stage with their favorite K-pop stars. Following a competition held during the KCON convention, tens of amateur dancers joined the members of IVE in a rousing rendition of their most recent single, "I Am." 

Bringing the songs off of the streaming apps and into a 20,000-arena capacity made them, and IVE’s success, feel like the sort of pop grandeur that doesn’t happen everyday.  

Taemin Moved The Crowd With His Legendary Aura

taemin kcon 2023

Taemin and his group SHINee have rarely appeared in the U.S. and never toured as solo artists, making his appearance at KCON a rarity. 

But it wasn’t just diehard fans — known as Shawol (short for "SHINee World") — there to see Taemin. Younger performers were seen coming from backstage to witness the three-song set by the now 30-year-old icon who debuted in SHINee when he was just 14 years old.

Taemin’s distinct brand of seductive alt R&B and darker contemporary dance numbers was front-and-center as he performed "Advice," "Criminal," and "Move." Known for his genderfluid performances that push the boundaries of what male pop idols and boy band members are typified by, Taemin’s powerful set confidently and skillfully showed the thousands of fans at KCON why he is known as one of the best.  

WayV & Taeyong Showcased NCT'S Sonic Diversity  

taeyoung kcon 2023

Taeyong

Boy band Wayv performed in the U.S. for the first time at KCON 2023 L.A., opening the weekend’s concerts with the official KCON theme song "Poppia." Later, the sextet performed sensual fan favorite, "Love Talk," followed by their most recent single, December’s dramatic, pulsating  "Phantom." 

Though the act’s leader Kun was MIA, the remaining members’ first appearance in the U.S. was eagerly anticipated by their fans, known as Wayzennies, who came out in droves, passionately cheering and waving along their glowing green, leek-shaped lightsticks. 

As the Chinese contingent of the larger SM Entertainment boy band brand NCT, WayV’s Ten was joined by fellow NCT member Taeyong. The pair performed their alluring 2018 duet "Baby Don’t Stop," which captivated fans with its hypnotic beats and come-hither verses. The duo are also part of cross-label boy band SuperM, and their reunion was one of the highlights of KCON’s day one concert. 

The penultimate act of the night was NCT 127’s charismatic leader, with Taeyong’s two-song set giving him his chance to shine. his recent single, the groovy, funky hip-hop swagger of "Shalala" and the breezy, summertime "Gwando," a b-side on the Shalala album. 

ATEEZ’s Warrior Theatrics Struck A Chord 

ateez kcon 2023

One of the biggest draws of the weekend was boy band ATEEZ, who have become one most dedicatedly theatrical world-building teams since their debut in 2018. With lyrics and related content positioning them as some sort of Peter Pan-esque Lost Boys but also pirates (it’s complicated!), the eight-member act are fittingly bombastic, bringing their riotous tunes to stage in the most theatrical of ways, with weapons raised and flags hoisted to herald the grandeur of ATEEZ’s reign.

Declaring their presence with a wide array of songs from throughout their discography, including their debut single "Pirate King" as part of a special "Hi My First" segment, ATEEZ brought the KCON crowd into their "Wonderland" before spicing things up with "Bouncy (K-Hot Chilli Peppers)" before ending things with "From" and "Guerrilla."

Zerobaseone Excite As The "New Kidz on the Block"

zerobase1 kcon2023

Fans camped out for days to be front row for Zerobaseone's first stateside performance, creating one of the biggest draws at KCON. Also known as ZB1, were formed during this year’s competition show "Boys Planet 999" and released their first album, Youth In the Shade in July. Security had to turn people away after two members made a last-minute appearance during KCON’s convention portion. 

During the show itself, ZB1 showcased their bright, rookie energy on the ebullient "In Bloom'' and "New Kidz on the block." The group later performed a "Dream Stage" version of "Here I Am," the theme song for "Boys Planet 999." In a bit of a nod to the competitive nature of ZB1’s formation, the group were joined by fan dancers who competed over their weekend for the spot on the KCON stage along with fellow performers from the competition TV show. 

XG Prove That They’re Truly "Xtraordinary Girls"

xg kcon2023

Since March of last year, the girl group XG have been impressing with their fierce hip-pop anthems and sleek dance numbers. A Japanese girl group made with K-pop know-how and a rising star at music festivals, XG performed several times throughout the weekend. The group won over the convention floor on Sunday, as a sizable crowd watched XG talk to the audience and play some games. 

While the majority of their formal concert set was spent putting the spotlight on their song "TGIF" and "Girl GVNG" off of September’s upcoming New DNA EP, XG performed the popular songs "Shooting Stars" and "Left Right." However, a surprise performance of 2NE1’s 2011 hit "I am the Best" remixed with elements of "TGIF" exemplified their star power. 

Covers and nostalgia in general are a popular element of KCON. 2000s R&B-pop icon RAIN performed, and Kep1er — the female counterparts of ZB1 who were produced during 2021’s "Girl Planet 999" — thrilled with their own set and a cover of Girls’ Generation’s 2014 hit "Mr. Mr." JO1, a Japanese boy band produced in collaboration with CJ ENM, covered Seventeen’s hit "Super" from this year. 

RIIZE Preview Their Rising Power

RIIZE kcon 2023

ON the third day of KCON, all eyes were on SM Entertainment’s forthcoming new boy band, RIIZE. Set to drop their first single album Get a Guitar on Sept. 4, the seven-member team performed singles from the album twice — first on the convention stage and then later during the final concert’s pre-show. 

While a rare hurricane delaying the final night’s concert, the propulsive "Siren" and the synth-pop "Memories" gave a taste of the skill this septet have to offer, whetting appetites for SM Entertainment’s first non-NCT-associated boy band since 2016. 

EVERGLOW Return To "Slay" 

everglow kcon 2023

Not heard from since 2021’s Pirate, Everglow’s latest song "Slay" arrived on the first day of KCON. Known for their energetic, EDM-flavored songs, the girl group’s anthemic, girl power dance tracks engendered diehard fans. Anticipation was high to see what they’d perform at KCON. 

While the new song "Slay" and longtime favorite "Dun Dun" thrilled, it was their finale of 2020’s hit "La Di Da" that felt truly like it heralded the return of the group; the entire arena was sing-cheering along to the rousing "Everglow, forever let’s go" chant. 

Stray Kids Are Clearly At The Top Of The Class 

stray kids kcon 2023

Stray Kids debuted in 2018 with their first single "District 9" after a series of preview releases, and quickly earned a reputation for being rambunctious, self-produced and unafraid to hype themselves. Within five years, Stray Kids became one of the biggest acts in the game, selling out stadiums regularly. As the finale closers at KCON 2023, they revisited their roots, most recent hits, and long term faves to give their fans (known as "Stays") a night to remember.

Kicking things off with their recent single "S-Class" and its braggadocios declarations and creative choreography, Stray Kids then brought it back to "District 9" as part of the "Hi My First" KCON segment, pairing their recent successes with their earliest days. 

The remainder of their set was full of the unrestrained renditions of "Super Bowl," "God’s Menu" and "Topline," more recent songs that roused the crowd - and the members of Stray Kids themselves — ending KCON 2023 Los Angeles on a major high, filling Crypto.com arena roaring with cheer and dancing in approval to the S-class superstars that are Stray Kids. 

What's Next For K-Pop? A Roundtable Unpacks The Genre's Past, Present And Future

RIIZE press photo
RIIZE

Photo: SM Entertainment

interview

K-Pop Group RIIZE Detail Every Track On New Compilation 'RIIZING – The 1st Mini Album'

In an interview, the rising K-pop boy group discuss the creative process behind each track on their brand new EP — including the album's new song, "Boom Boom Bass."

GRAMMYs/Jun 18, 2024 - 01:37 pm

While RIIZE might be a more recent addition to the K-pop scene, you wouldn’t be able to tell. 

The sextet of Sungchan, Anton, Wonbin, Sohee, Eunseok and Shotaro took the industry by storm last September with their debut single "Get A Guitar." The catchy, retro-synth pop song sold over a million copies in the first week of its release.  

From their debut in 2023, RIIZE was determined to carve out a space for themselves in the expansive K-pop landscape by performing "emo pop" — emotional ballads that still manage to be danceable, evoking the sounds of older gen groups like Got 7 and Super Junior — while also experimenting with other genres. The brightly alluring "Love 119" and disco whirlwind "Talk Saxy" allowed RIIZE to continue their ascent, and netted the group Favorite New Artist and Rookie Of The Year honors at multiple Korean award ceremonies last year.  

On June 17, they'll release RIIZING - The 1st Mini Album. The compilation record features all of the rookie group's releases plus an additional song "Boom Boom Bass," and demonstrates their versatility and willingness to experiment with genres. With their output compiled, it's easy to see that RIIZE's youthful energy and distinct personalities truly shine. 

Learn more: 11 Rookie K-Pop Acts To Know In 2024: NCT Wish, RIIZE, Kiss Of Life & More

"We wanted to reflect on how far we’ve come from our debut days and growing as artists," Anton tells GRAMMY.com over a video call from L.A. "[The album is] a culmination of our journey and experiences as young adults who are pursuing their dreams."

It’s clear that RIIZE are enjoying the ride they're on together. They laugh at each other's jokes and finish each other's sentences, demonstrating that there's deep friendship behind their already tight harmonious connection. The group is in the midst of an international fan-con tour that runs through the summer — an experience that will, likely, deepen their already close bond. 

In an interview, they offer a track-by-track breakdown of RIIZING - The 1st Mini Album, including the creative process behind each song, how they keep themselves motivated, and their musical dreams for the future. 

"Siren" is your pre-debut song and was one of your most anticipated releases. Can you share a bit about the creation process and how it felt to release this song to the world? 

Shotaro: We have a lot of fond memories when we think of "Siren" as it reminds us of our trainee days. We recorded the song while we were still rookies and shot the video in L.A. I remember being in the studio and encouraging each other to give our best deep voices to make our voices shine. 

Eunseok: I think a large part of why people like "Siren" so much is the rhythmic drum beats and soft piano riffs that creates this high rush vibe. The chorus is my favorite, and was the most fun to sing as it’s very addictive to sing along to.

Your most recent song, "Impossible" is a house track about being determined and never  giving up. Were you nervous at all venturing into a new genre? 

Anton: Growth and youth is a huge part of our music, and that’s something we sought to achieve with "Impossible." House music is a genre that is not usually seen in K-pop, but this is something we wanted to experiment with. So we learned firsthand from long-time house music creatives and input their suggestions into the recording. It was a new experience that allowed us to deep dive into a genre we wouldn’t normally be familiar with.

Sohee: The recording was a little difficult at first, because the vocal keys were a bit higher than our usual pitch. But I feel like we successfully encapsulated the genre very well.

Your new song — the special addition to the EP — is called "Boom Boom Bass." It's a disco-influenced track about playing bass guitar; does anyone in RIIZE have experience playing that instrument?  

Wonbin: We do have experience playing the bass guitar. Getting to recreate those moments in the studio was awesome, and you can hear the excitement in our voices. The song also showcases a totally different side of us that fans haven’t seen before: it’s disco but funk and still pop.

"Love 119" is one of your most successful songs. Can you take me back to the day you recorded it? 

Sungchan: "Love 119" captures the feeling of falling in love for the first time in a dreamy and melancholic manner. We decided to recreate that in the studio and put a lot of our emotions into it by channeling good energy. 

Wonbin: The song samples a beloved Korean song, "Emergency Room," released by the band called IZI in 2005. The song captures the distinct charm of emotional pop, offering a different appeal compared to "Get A Guitar," "Memories," and "Talk Saxy."

Shotaro: We aimed to create choreography that many people could follow. While brainstorming in the practice room with Wonbin, he and I came up with dance moves like the "1-1-9" gesture, that you see in the video. The song has a really bright vibe, making it fun for us to perform. 

Can you detail the creative process behind "Talk Saxy"?  

Sohee: We started creating "Talk Saxy" right after performing at KCON L.A. in July last year and we learned the choreography almost immediately.

We wanted to embody a more confident and breezy sound but still within our niche genre of emotional pop. It took a few weeks of practice to get the perfect take and I think the song helped expand our musical sound by a large mile.

Read more: 9 Thrilling Moments From KCON 2023 L.A.: Stray Kids, RIIZE, Taemin & More 

One of your more recent singles, "9 Days," focuses on your journey as a band. Did you find yourselves feeling nostalgic in the studio?   

Sungchan: "9 days" has a more natural feel because while we were making the song, we had to reference back to our trainee days in practice. The lyrics are a very detailed description of our trainee days and who we were before debuting.  

Anton: I would say we had a fun time in the studio because it felt like we were finally telling our story ourselves and being able to share that with our fans is the best.  

"Honestly" reminisces about past love. What, or who, were you thinking about while recording it? 

Wonbin: I think we really aimed to capture the theme of putting yourself first and saying a final goodbye to someone you thought the world of. That resonates throughout the song, especially in the lyrics. It’s an emo pop ballad at its core.

"One Kiss" was RIIZE's first foray into emo pop and sets you apart from other groups as you highlight your vulnerability. How did you go about finding that sound?  

Anton: I see "One Kiss" as a song made with our fans in mind, we had a hands on approach with making the video as we wanted it to come from our hearts. 

Sohee: I would not say we have found our sound yet as we are still growing and experimenting. We hope to create more good songs like "One Kiss" in the future.

You’re in the midst of a fan-con tour, what has been your favorite city to tour so far?

Shotaro: We love every city equally, we started off in Korea and felt right at home. In Japan, we had so much eye contact with the crowd as they were very hands on. Previously, in Mexico, the crowd's energy was infectious and awesome.

What are your plans for the second half of this year?

Sungchan: We plan on finishing off our fan-con tour by the end of August. Our fans can expect to see us at end of the year award shows with bigger and better performances from last year.

11 Rookie K-Pop Acts To Know In 2024: NCT Wish, RIIZE, Kiss Of Life & More 

 

ATEEZ perform at Coachella Weekend 1

Photo: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella

list

K-Pop Summer 2024 Guide: ATEEZ, IU, TXT & More Live In Concert & On Tour

Whether you want to have your Head in the Clouds, go over the moon at KCON or head Towards the Light, plan out your summer with these K-pop events and tours featuring TWICE, LE SSERAFIM, Stray Kids and more.

GRAMMYs/May 8, 2024 - 12:31 pm

2024 has had a handful of memorable K-pop moments in North America so far. From boy group ONEUS's La Dolce Vita tour to TWICE's one-night-only show at Las Vegas' Allegiant Stadium in March, the industry has kept a steady flow of entertainment for lovers of Korean music and culture. Last month, ATEEZ, LE SSERAFIM, and indie band The Rose also left their mark at Coachella Festival in California, proving that K-pop acts at major festivals are a rising trend.

With summer right around the corner, even more tours, festivals, and conventions are set to pop up across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. From mid-May to September, whether on weekdays or weekends, there will always be something to do or someone to see. Among the most-awaited events are singer IU's first world tour and ATEEZ's massive trek in July, as well as Stray Kids, IVE, and VCHA's performances at Chicago's Lollapalooza Festival.

To help you enjoy the most out of this busy season, GRAMMY.com assembled a list of all the K-pop concerts and events happening in the next few months below.

May

CIX: 0 or 1 in North America

May 10-26

Boy group CIX will be back in North America for their third tour this May. Named after single album 0 or 1, the stint will cover eight cities across the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, starting in Chicago, IL and wrapping it up in Los Angeles, CA. The quintet will likely perform hits like "Cinema" and "Movie Star," as well as their latest single, "Lovers or Enemies," and celebrate their upcoming fifth anniversary.

Head in the Clouds Festival

Forest Hills, New York

May 11-12

Following the success of last year's edition in Queens, New York, Head in the Clouds Festival returns to the big apple in 2024. In their mission to spread Asian diaspora talent, the lineup for this year enlists (G)I-DLE to headline on Saturday and singer BIBI on Sunday, along other names like ATARASHII GAKKO! and Joji. Korean acts Balming Tiger, Wave to Earth, and newcomer girl group Young Posse will also join them. HITC Festival is usually based in Los Angeles, but this year's L.A. edition has yet to be announced.

BM (KARD): After the After Party Tour

May 14-25

Hailing from co-ed group KARD, Korean-American singer BM will kick off his first U.S. solo tour in mid-May. After the After Party Tour was inspired by the track "ATAP (After the After Party)," off his December single album, Lowkey. BM will perform in six cities across the country, including Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. He also teased an EP soon, and stated that he will be "taking new music on this tour."

P1Harmony: P1ustage H : UTOP1A Tour

May 14 - Jun. 16

Boy band P1Harmony is also returning to North America with their third tour, P1ustage H: UTOP1A. Beginning in Houston, TX, on May 14, it will follow with shows in Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, and more — including a prestigious performance on June 8 at New York City's Governors Ball Music Festival 2024. The sextet released their first studio album, Killin' It, in February of this year.

Tomorrow X Together (TXT): ACT : PROMISE World Tour

May 14 - Jun. 8

A TXT tour in the U.S. has become an annual event: following 2022's ACT : LOVESICK and 2023's ACT : SWEET MIRAGE, 2024 welcomes ACT : PROMISE. Featuring 11 shows across the country, the boy group will play in Houston, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and more. They will also perform two nights at New York's legendary Madison Square Garden before heading to the Japanese leg of the tour in July.

Wheein (MAMAMOO): Whee In The Mood [Beyond] World Tour

May 17 - Jun. 4

Powerhouse vocalists MAMAMOO hit stateside last year with their MY CON World Tour, a first for the group. Now, it's member Wheein's turn to celebrate her solo career with Whee In The Mood [Beyond] World Tour, inspired by her first LP, 2023's In The Mood. After a slew of shows in Asia and Europe, the singer will head to San Francisco, CA, for the first out of eight concerts in the U.S. Other cities include Dallas, Orlando, Los Angeles, and New York.

RIIZE: RIIZING Day Fan-Con World Tour

Los Angeles, California

May 20

SM Entertainment's freshest rookies RIIZE announced their first fan-con, RIIZING Day, to take place from May to August in various cities across the globe. After playing in Seoul, Tokyo, and Mexico City, the boyband will come to Los Angeles for a single performance at the Peacock Theater on May 20. RIIZE are expected to play their compact yet dynamic discography, including singles "Get A Guitar," "Talk Saxy," and "Impossible."

June

Purple Kiss: 2024 BXX Tour

June 2 - July 2

It's not even been a year since Purple Kiss toured the U.S. with their The Festa Tour in fall 2023, but they're already gearing to come back. Starting June 2 in Oceanside, CA, the 2024 BXX Tour will take the girl group to seven cities in the U.S. and nine cities in Canada, closing it off in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on July 2. This is a big chance for fans who missed their performances last year, or simply to those who want to see singles like "Zombie" and "Sweet Juice" live again.

ITZY: Born to Be World Tour

June 6-28

Girl group ITZY has spent the majority of 2024 bringing their second world tour, Born to Be, across Oceania, Asia, Latin America, and Europe. In June, they will finally step in North America for a 10-stop stint, including cities like Seattle, Los Angeles, Newark, Fairfax, Toronto, and more. Despite featuring only four out of five members while vocalist Lia is currently on hiatus due to health reasons, they promise to set the stages on fire with their high-energy discography.

VERIVERY: Go On Fan-meeting Tour

Jun. 14-23

Starting June 14, boyband VERIVERY will kick off their Go On Fan-meeting Tour in New York at Brooklyn Steel. Then, they will head to Chicago, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Fort Worth, and finally Los Angeles for a last performance at Vermont Hollywood. The seven-member group is currently a quartet, as member Dongheon is currently enlisted in the military, and members Minchan and Hoyoung are on hiatus due to health concerns. VERIVERY's latest release was 2023's EP, Liminality.

A.C.E: 2024 REWIND_US U.S. Tour

Jun. 19 - July 18

February marked the much-anticipated comeback of boy group A.C.E with the EP My Girl: My Choice. It was their first release in three years, and to rejoice further, the quintet announced an extensive 14-date tour throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Starting June 19 in Madison, WI and closing off on July 18 in San Juan, PR, A.C.E will also perform in Los Angeles, Nashville, New York, and more.

HYO: Milwaukee Summerfest

Milwaukee, WI

Jun. 28

HYO, also known as Hyoyeon from Girls' Generation, will be showcasing her DJ chops on June 28 at Milwaukee Summerfest. The performance will happen just months after HYO held her 2024 Spring U.S. Tour, Cherry Blossom, which spanned seven cities across the country. In the setlist, fans can expect hits like "Dessert" and "Deep," but also some innovative remixes of other artists' songs, like GALA's "Freed From Desire" and Girls' Generation's "Gee."

July

AB6IX: Find You Fan Concert Tour

Jul. 3-21

Another boy group to embark on a North American tour this year, AB6IX will bring their Find You Fan Concert across nine stops in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. Starting off in the cities of Toronto and Montreal, they will then head to New York, Mexico City, Miami, Denver, and more, before wrapping it up in Los Angeles. The tour title was inspired by their latest release, January's EP The Future is Ours: Found.

ATEEZ: Towards the Light: Will to Power 2024 World Tour

Jul. 14 - Aug. 11

Performance kings ATEEZ never stop. After the release of their EP, Golden Hour: Part. 1 on May 31, the eight-member group will head to North America for their Towards the Light: Will to Power 2024 World Tour. Kicking off on July 14 in Tacoma, Washington, the boyband will also play in the cities of Los Angeles, Arlington, Washington, D.C., Toronto, New York, and more. The tour supports ATEEZ's December 2023 LP, The World EP.Fin: Will, but hopefully the setlist will include surprises as new music comes out.

IU: HEREH World Tour

Jul. 15 - Aug. 2

One of the most important artists to come from South Korea, IU (born Lee Ji-eun) has been shaping the country's music industry since 2008 with her unique voice, sensitive songwriting, and sharp mind. Given her journey, it's almost absurd that her first world tour is only happening in 2024 — but better late than never. After stops in Asia and Europe, IU will head to the U.S. for six sold-out concerts, beginning on July 15 at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, and concluding on August 2 at Kia Forum in Los Angeles, CA.

The Boyz: Zeneration II World Tour

Jul. 19-28

Following their 2023 Zeneration Tour, which featured 24 stops across Asia, 11-member group The Boyz are now bringing its sequel worldwide. After a 3-day July stint in Seoul, South Korea, the Zeneration II tour will head to the U.S. for five shows in New York, Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, and San Jose. Throughout August, The Boyz will segue onto the Asian leg of the tour, wrapping it up with a few European dates in September.

KCON Los Angeles 2024

Jul. 26-28

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 Crypto.com 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.

Secret Number: The 1st U.S. Tour 2024 Unlock

Jul. 26 - Aug. 10

Girl group Secret Number debuted amidst the chaos of 2020's COVID-19 pandemic, therefore falling short of live experiences with their fans. As they enter their fourth year together, they will finally meet North American fans with their 2024 Unlock tour this summer. Kicking off on July 26 in Chicago, the sextet will then head to Minneapolis, Charlotte, Houston, Denver, Phoenix, Seattle, and Los Angeles for a final show on August 10.

August

Stray Kids, IVE, VCHA: Lollapalooza Chicago 2024

Aug. 1-4

K-pop's presence on Lollapalooza continues to expand. This year, Stray Kids is set to headline on Friday, Aug. 2, alongside singer SZA. It's the boyband's second appearance at the festival, following their 2023 show at Lollapalooza Paris. On that same day, U.S.-based, K-pop-trained girl group VCHA, formed by JYP Entertainment in partnership with Republic Records, will also make their first performance at the festival. To close it off, Saturday will feature the captivating girl group IVE.

I.M (Monsta X): Off The Beat 2024 World Tour

Aug. 8-31

Monsta X's maknae (youngest member) I.M has been building a prolific solo career while his teammates are enlisted in the military. Accompanying his third EP, Off The Beat, the singer announced an eponymous world tour, featuring 19 stops in Asia, North America, and Europe. He will play seven dates In the U.S. and two in Canada, including New York, Boston, Toronto, and more.

ARTMS: 2024 Moonshot World Tour

Aug. 16 - Sept. 10

Formed by five LOONA members (Kim Lip, Choerry, JinSoul, HaSeul, and HeeJin), girl group ARTMS was one of 2023's most-awaited debuts. Their first studio album, Devine All Love & Live, is set to drop on May 31, and the quintet will celebrate with a string of concerts across South Korea, Japan, and the U.S. Starting August 16 in New York, the tour will cross Atlanta, Orlando, Los Angeles, and more cities before wrapping up on September 10 in Chicago.

11 Rookie K-Pop Acts To Know In 2024: NCT Wish, RIIZE, Kiss Of Life & More

Megan Thee Stallion (Center) and (from L to R:) J-Hope, Jin, Jungkook, V, RM, Suga, and Jimin of BTS attend the 64th Annual GRAMMY Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 03, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Megan Thee Stallion (Center) and (from L to R:) J-Hope, Jin, Jungkook, V, RM, Suga, and Jimin of BTS attend the 64th Annual GRAMMY Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on April 03, 2022.

Photo: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

news

9 Essential K-Pop/Western Collabs: From BTS And Megan Thee Stallion, To IVE And Saweetie

From Jungkook and Usher's tribute to their shared musical idol, to BLACKPINK and Selena Gomez' sugary sweet collab, K-pop and Western artists of all genres are joining forces to create killer hits.

GRAMMYs/Feb 27, 2024 - 02:12 pm

It’s impossible to ignore the growing global popularity of K-pop. Although Korean pop has been around for decades, the genre's meteoric worldwide success over the past 10 years is reminiscent of Beatlemania and the early 2000s American boy band craze. With a steady increase year-over-year in album sales and K-pop groups touring the U.S. and Europe, interest in K-pop shows no signs of slowing down.

Initially launched in South Korea as a music subgenre with Western pop, R&B and hip-hop influences in the '90s, the K-pop industry is valued at around $10 billion.

Given the worldwide appetite for K-pop, several Western musicians are keen to partner with K-pop acts crossing over into more international markets, often with songs sung partially or entirely in English. While K-pop artists do not need Western artists to be successful — BTS sold out London’s Wembley stadium in under 90 minutes back in 2019, and BLACKPINK made Coachella history twice with performances in 2019 and 2023 — K-pop's massive fanbase and multi-genre influence make it an ideal collaboration for everyone from rappers and singers to electronic DJs.

But don’t take our word for it. Here are nine of the most iconic K-Pop/Western collaborations (not in any order; they are all great songs!).

Usher and Jungkook - "Standing Next to You (Usher Remix)" (2024)

The maknae (the youngest member of the group) of global K-pop superstars BTS and the King of R&B are both having banner years: Jungkook released his debut solo album, and Usher just performed at the Super Bowl

The Bangtan Boys have cited Usher as a significant influence (even singing a callback to his 2001 hit "U Got It Bad" in their No. 1 song, "Butter"), so BTS fans were delighted when the Jungkook tapped Usher for a remix of "Standing Next to You." The song marks the fourth single from his Billboard 200 chart-topping debut album, Golden

Both singers count Michael Jackson as a major influence. In their collaboration video, Usher and Jungkook pay tribute to the King of Pop as they slide, pop, and lock across the slick floor of an abandoned warehouse. 

John Legend and Wendy of Red Velvet - "Written in the Stars" (2018)

R&B singer/pianist John Legend was the perfect choice for an R&B ballad with Wendy, the main vocalist of K-pop quintet Red Velvet. The final song on the five-track SM Station x 0, a digital music project, "Written in the Stars," is a beautiful, mid-tempo love song. A bit of a departure from K-pop’s typical upbeat sound, Wendy and Legend are in perfect harmony over a warm yet melancholic rhythm.

As Red Velvet’s main vocalist, Wendy was the ideal voice for this collaboration. Additionally, she split her childhood between Canada and the U.S., and has been comfortable singing in English since Red Velvet debuted in 2014. This wasn't her first collab with a Western artist: In 2017, she released an English-language version of the pop ballad "Vente Pa’Ca" with Ricky Martin

BLACKPINK and Selena Gomez - "Ice Cream" (2020)

A powerhouse debut single, BLACKPINK collaborated with pop royalty Selena Gomez on the massive 2020 hit "Ice Cream."

An electropop-bubblegum fusion filled with dairy double entendres, "Ice Cream" was an enormous success for both Gomez and the BLACKPINK girls. The track peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has racked up nearly 900 million YouTube views to date. 

Written by a consortium of hitmakers, including Ariana Grande and BLACKPINK’s longtime songwriter and producer Teddy Park (a former K-pop idol himself), "Ice Cream" shows that YG Entertainment’s golden foursome and Gomez were the correct partnership for this track. The pop-trap bop marked the first time a K-pop girl group broke the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and immediately solidified BLACKPINK as global superstars. 

Snoop Dogg and Monsta X - "How We Do" (2022)

West Coast rap godfather Snoop Dogg has quietly become one of the go-to Western acts for K-pop collabs, working with Psy, BTS, Girls’ Generation and 2NE1. K-pop is the Dogg Father's "guilty pleasure," and he performed at the Mnet Asian Music Awards with Dr. Dre in 2011. Without Snoop's love of K-pop, the world might not have gotten this fun and energetic collaboration with Snoop and Monsta X, a five-member boy group under Starship Entertainment.

The song appears in The Spongebob Movie: Sponge On The Run in a dance segment where Snoop, decked out in a pink and purple Western suit, is accompanied by zombie dancers. Though we do not see the members of Monsta X, their harmonious crooning is the perfect accent to Snoop Dogg’s trademark casual West Coast flow.

BTS and Steven Aoki - "MIC Drop (Steve Aoki remix)" (2017)

No K-pop list is complete with a nod to the magnificent seven, and "MIC Drop" is one of their catchiest Western collabs to date. 

"Mic Drop" is quintessential BTS: a nod to hip-hop with a heavy bass line and fun choreography. While the original version of "MIC Drop" is excellent, the remix with EDM superstar DJ Steve Aoki and rapper Desiigner cracked the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 — the first of many hits for the Bulletproof Boy Scouts. 

Released at a time when BTS were just starting their ascent to chart-topping Western dominance, the track's boastful lyrics and tension-building electro-trap production offered an excellent introduction to the group that would soon become international superstars. 

JYJ, Kanye West and Malik Yusef - "Ayyy Girl" (2010)

A truly deep K-pop cut, you’d be hard-pressed to find many people who know that Kanye West collaborated with a first-generation K-pop group over 13 years ago. Released as the lead single on JYJ’s English-language album The Beginning, West’s signature bravado and wordplay are on full display over a track that sounds like the Neptunes produced it.

The song garnered attention in the U.S., but after a string of bad luck (including a severely delayed U.S. visa process and issues with their management company, SM Entertainment), JYJ could not capitalize on their American success. The group continued to see success in Korea and Japan in the early 2010s but never made a splash in the Western market again.

IVE and Saweetie - "All Night" (2024)

A reimagining of Icona Pop’s 2013 song of the same name, "All Night," sees fourth-generation K-pop girl group IVE partner with rap’s resident glamor girl Saweetie for a funky, electronic-infused pop song that’s perfect for dancing from dusk till dawn. 

"All Night" is the first English song for the Starship Entertainment-backed group. Interestingly, none of the members of IVE have individual lines in the song, choosing instead to sing the lyrics in a six-part harmony. This choice is exciting but fun, giving listeners the feeling that they are more than welcome to sing along. 

The girl group embarked on their first 24-date world tour in January 2024, with stops in the U.S., Asia, Europe and South America. Given their quest for global dominance, there’s a good chance "All Night" won’t be IVE's last English-language release.

BTS and Megan Thee Stallion - "Butter (Remix)" (2021)

BTS’ "Butter" had already spent three weeks atop the Billboard charts and was declared the "song of the summer" when the group’s label announced Houston rapper Megan Thee Stallion as the guest star for the song’s remix in late August 2021. The GRAMMY-nominated septet is no stranger to collaborating with Western musicians, having worked with Halsey, Jason Derulo, and Coldplay

Though only slightly altered from the original (Megan’s verse was added in place of the song’s second original verse, along with several ad-libs), the remix was praised by both fans and critics alike, catapulting the song’s return back to the No. 1. Although the collaborators did not release a new music video featuring the group and the self-proclaimed "Hot Girl Coach," three members of BTS’ "dance line" (members J-Hope, Jungkook and Jimin) released a specially choreographed dance video. Additionally, Megan was a surprise guest during BTS’ record-breaking Permission to Dance LA concert in November of the same year.

LE SSERAFIM and Niles Rodgers - "Unforgiven" (2023)

GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Nile Rodgers' first foray into K-pop was a partnership with LE SSERAFIM, a fourth-gen girl group from the same parent company behind BTS. "Unforgiven" was released earlier this year as the lead single from the group’s debut album of the same name. 

A darker take on the familiar K-pop formula with A Western feel and look (the young quintuplet dons cowboy hats, boots and bolo ties in the song’s accompanying music video), "Unforgiven" is about rebellion and being a fierce, strong and independent risk taker. That riskiness drew Rodgers' ear. 

"It seems like a lot of the K-pop that I'm hearing lately, the…chord changes are a lot more interesting than what's been happening [in other music fields] over the last few years," he told GRAMMY.com in 2023. "I come from a jazz background, so to hear chord changes like that is really cool. They’re not afraid, which is great to me."

15 K-Pop Songs That Took 2023 By Storm: From Seventeen’s "Super (손오공)" to NewJeans' "Super Shy"

K-pop groups Kiss of Life, RIIZE and NiziU
(From top) K-pop groups Kiss of Life, RIIZE and NiziU

Photos: JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images; The Chosunilbo JNS/Imazins via Getty Images; Christopher Jue/Getty Images

list

11 Rookie K-Pop Acts To Know In 2024: NCT Wish, RIIZE, Kiss Of Life & More

A new class of K-pop talent is set to take the stage in 2024, including acts designed to reach international audiences and fans. From SM Entertainment's final NCT subunit to the fully immersive TripleS universe, here are the K-pop acts to watch this year.

GRAMMYs/Jan 26, 2024 - 02:19 pm

Each year brings new artists to any scene, and 2023 was no exception. After a busy year, 2024 has a new crew of rising teams that bring a sense of freshness to the wide-ranging world of K-pop.

Last year, several new acts arrived with major buzz, produced by industry stalwarts. Others arrived seemingly from nowhere, impressing with their ability to stand up to the giants. This new class steadily offered up releases — some of which were simply a single teasing a vibrant 2024, while others shared albums. All made their names as burgeoning stars, and readied themselves to stand out in the crowd this year. 

A few of these newcomers are aiming to bring K-pop energy into different regions. Non-Korea-oriented teams are especially a big trend in 2024, as last year saw many Seoul-based South Korean companies launching K-pop-inspired groups for the U.S. and Japan. 

While they still have a lot to show, GRAMMMY.COM spotlighted 11 K-pop acts to keep an eye on in 2024. 

BABYMONSTER

The first girl group to follow under BLACKPINK’s label since the iconic act debuted in 2016, BABYMONSTER premiered their single "Batter Up" in November after a nearly year-long lead-up. After the group's name was revealed in January 2023 came a competition show, Last Evaluation, where the group's lineup was finalized from among YG Entertainment trainees. 

Following in the brash, girl crush lineage of BLACKPINK and their fierce forebears 2NE1, "Batter Up" introduced six members of BabyMonster with a trap-inflected, hip-pop confection heralding the act’s arrival to the K-pop scene. (A seventh member, Ahyeon, did not appear for their debut.) They’re reported to release their second song, "Stuck in the Middle," on Feb. 1, and drop their first album in early April.  

BOYNEXTDOOR

BOYNEXTDOOR are the first boy band produced by rapper-producer Zico under his own label K’Oz Entertainment, a subsidiary of Hybe, the company best known as home to BTS. 

The group arrived in May with a three-track album, Who! and quickly followed up with their second album, Why..., in September. Across both albums, the group’s lyrics evoke a laid back, peppy feeling reflecting the experience of youth. Musically, they exude quirky-indie-band-energy as they profess their love with rollicking tracks that blend effusive verses and playful raps. As the name suggests, there’s an affable, relatable sense to the six member team, feeling all at once invigorating and familiar, as if they could live in the next house over.

I’ll It

Although they have yet to share any original music with the world, I’ll It is set to be another impressive girl group joining the growing Hybe roster with members from across their subsidiaries. Managed by BELIFT Lab (known best for boy band Enhypen) I’ll It stands for "I Will Be It.” 

The five member team is set up to join NewJeans and Le Sserafim as another of Hybe’s female powerhouses. The act gained a sizable following after coming together during the reality show R U Next, which began airing in June.  They’re currently preparing for their first release.

Kiss of Life

Kiss of Life, a quartet with a sense of femme fatality, is doing things a bit differently. Their self-titled debut album in July featured not only songs from the group, fronted by single “Shhh,” but also solo tracks from each of the four members. Natty’s smooth solo, "Sugarcoat," a Y2K R&B throwback, ended up being one of the biggest surprise hits in South Korea in 2023. 

It emphasizes part of what makes KIOF so intriguing: several members already had sizable experience in the industry, either as soloists, producers, or high-profile trainees. The individual members can stand on their own just as easily as they come together harmonically. Their dramatic Born to Be XX album in November, released with a series of music videos for singles "Bad News" and "Nobody Knows," cinematically relayed their fiery joie de vivre.  

KATSEYE

Targeting global audiences, Hybe is producing KATSEYE in collaboration with Geffen Records as a K-pop-inspired act. The girl group formed via the Dream Academy talent competition with six members that hail from the United States, Korea, Switzerland, and the Philippines and will be U.S. based, focusing on the American market. They represent a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds and are set to be featured in an upcoming Netflix docuseries highlighting their formation. They're expected to release a studio album in 2024. 

NiziU

While NiziU isn't exactly a new group, (they were formed in 2020 as a Japan-oriented girl group under JYP Entertainment) it wasn't until 2023 that they released their first official K-pop song. 

Since their debut in Japan, NiziU has been a major act there, one of the biggest girl groups in the market in recent years. Transitioning from the J-pop scene to integrate into the K-pop world, the digipop, Korean "Heartris" was a huge hit for the group, and showed their potential to continue to grow even as far as they’ve already come. 

RIIZE

Another busy major in the K-pop scene this year is SM Entertainment, with RIIZE, fittingly, rising.  Proving success with several chart hits in South Korea, including the wintery "Love 119," they made headlines last year for being the first boy band from the K-pop behemoth that isn’t part of its NCT multi team project since 2016. 

Featuring two former NCT members plus an otherwise all-new crew, they’ve leaned into old school sounds in their songs, with their first two singles. "Get a Guitar" and "Talk Saxy" thematically orient themselves with titular instruments while "Love 119" draws inspiration from a 2005 song, "Emergency Room." The act is expected to keep releasing new music this year, with at least one album likely forthcoming. A Japanese version of "Love 119" will be released on January 24.

NCT Wish

The latest and final NCT team from the supergroup is the Japanese subunit NCT Wish. The group is a collaboration between South Korea's SM and Japan's Avex Trax with six members introduced last year through a competition show called NCT Universe: LASTART. After the show aired in summer 2023, the group became known as NCT New Team temporarily. But in January it was announced that they’d officially be known as NCT Wish, joining NCT 127, NCT Dream, WayV, and NCT U as NCT’s official team brands.

While their formal debut as NCT Wish is impending, this new crew released "Hands Up" and "We Go" in October, giving a taste of their dynamic and bright energy to the world at the end of 2023.

TripleS

TripleS has something for everyone — a K-pop experience that is perhaps reminiscent of a pick your own adventure book. The collective boasts twenty current members and a series of different teams releasing albums under different names, chosen in part by fans who can fund a unique cryptocurrency to support their favorite members. With another four members forthcoming for an even two dozen members,  TripleS is more than a K-pop group, it's a fully immersive journey for fans.

Triple S is the brainchild of Jaden Jeong, who played an integral role in LOONA's early days. There have been several distinct subunits, all with a unique style, under the umbrella of the TripleS brand. One of these sub-groups, AAA (or Acid Angel from Asia,) released the first single, "Rising," in October 2022. Last year, five different TripleS teams released music: +(KR)ystal Eyes, Acid Eyes, LOVElution, EVOLution, and NXT. In early 2024, TripleS’s Aria kicked things off with their song "Door.” 

TWS

While they’re still newbies, TWS is one of this year’s most anticipated new K-pop groups, racking up millions of views with each music video . They are the first boy band from Pledis Entertainment, a Hybe subsidiary, since the company’s headlining act Seventeen arrived on the scene in 2015.

The six member TWS team rolled out their pre-album teaser, "Oh Mymy:7s,' during the first days of the new year, and followed up with their first album, Sparkling Blue, on Jan. 22. It leads with the perky "Plot Twist," which lives up to the title with topsy-turvy synthpop productions and effervescent vocals. Its Korean title is also a tongue-in-cheek reference to showing up on a new scene: "First Encounters are Always so Hard," TWS sings, charming upon their arrival. 

VCHA

An all-American girl group, VCHA, was put together by JYP Entertainment and Republic Records on last year’s competition series, A2K. Featuring members from the United States and Canada representing a variety of different backgrounds and lived experiences, the six member team’s name is a reference to the Korean word for shining light, mirroring their aim to brighten up the world.

In September, following their formation during A2K's finale that same month, the group released their first album, SeVit (New Light), featuring versions of competitor's original songs that were performed during the show. They're set to release their first VCHA original, "Girls of the Year," on Jan. 26, and will open for TWICE's upcoming concerts in Las Vegas, Mexico City, and Sao Paulo in February and March. 

What's Next For K-Pop? A Roundtable Unpacks The Genre's Past, Present And Future