The ‘Y2K’ explosion has finally hit the music scene, with TikTok steadily revitalising our love for 90s rock and 00s pop-punk. Tracks from the likes of Avril Lavigne, Willow Smith and even Olivia Rodrigo are racking up millions of listens and videos, swiftly taking us back to a simpler time of adolescent angst. In keeping with this trend, many musicians have begun to inject electric guitar and deep bass into their regular sound–decidedly making pop-punk the new ear-worm genre for the summer.
K-pop artists are no strangers to this occurrence. Leading the Korean pop-punk charge is Billboard charting boy band TXT, known for hits like Good boy Gone bad and Loser = Lover. Hard-hitting beats and crunchy electric guitar riffs form the foundation of their track-list, laying the grounds for a style distinct to the band.
Within the myriad of sub-genres and blends in the Korean music industry, pop-punk tracks like TXT’s remains underrated. And given the vast and ever-growing sea of talent that flocks to K-pop, it is easy to see why several talented Korean pop-punk artists and bands have slipped under the radar. If you are looking for bands with the same vibe as TXT or are just keen on a switch in sound, here are the best Korean pop-punk artists to listen to for a much-needed hit of noughties nostalgia.
Breakout solo artist Jo Seung Youn, better known as WOODZ, is familiar to fans of South Korean-Chinese boy band Uniq. Following his departure from the group, WOODZ has built a promising discography under his new moniker with chart-topping hits like Love Me Harder and Different. His latest mini-album, Colourful Trauma, takes on a more energetic sound and faster pace compared to previous releases. Laced with a relatable angst, WOODZ shares the most intimate memories of his life in the album—including reflections on a past relationship in the addictive title track, I hate you.
LØREN’s notable rise to fame began from his time as a producer for YG Entertainment, when he made his mystifying appearance in the music video for Blackpink’s Lovesick Girls and immediately captured the industry’s attention. Leaning towards grungier melodies and rhythmic beats, the gifted musician’s track-list is reminiscent of bands like Green Day, who have been called the blueprint of pop-punk.
Up and coming artist Song SooWoo is a force to be reckoned with despite being the newest on this list. Best known as the winner of the competition show CAP-TEEN, SooWoo broke into the music industry with her single Love Me or Hate Me. It comes as no surprise that she is a fan of Nirvana, as the track is heavily influenced by the iconic band’s rhythms, and clearly just a first taste of bangers yet to come.
While Korean boy bands typically perform captivating choreography while belting out their verses, The Rose are more often seen behind their instruments. But make no mistake—the group is hardly short of talent. The band’s complex sound boasts of guitar riffs, symphonic keyboards, booming drums and deep bass, creating an unmistakable euphony that leans on the mellower side of pop-punk.
Rolling Quartz is the perfect band to add to your playlist if you are looking to transition into enjoying harder sounds. The group came into the spotlight in 2020, establishing a strong social media presence when the pandemic hit. Don’t be fooled by the many covers on their Instagram page as they have plenty of original tracks—from their hit debut single Blaze to their recent release Delight.