K-pop’s Next Big Things: 10 Acts You Can’t Afford to Ignore

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K-pop's Next Big Things: 10 Acts You Can't Afford to Ignore

Now that you know what the greatest K-pop song of all time is, shouldn't you find out who the up-and-coming K-poppers are? These 10 acts have the talent, looks and backing to suggest that they're about to make the jump from underappreciated to inescapable. Read on so you're not left behind. —Jessica Oak

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“Most Incredible Busters” might be an odd name for a hip-hop foursome (a "buster," according to Urban Dictionary, is a rap "poseur"), but 5zic, Kangnam, Sims and Cream produce their own music and write their own raps. And unlike most idol groups, M.I.B (who were brought together by Jungle Entertainment, one of the most prominent hip-hop labels in Korea) eschews precise, military-like choreography. With their feel-good, electro/hip-hop tracks “GDM” and “Celebrate,” the boys are going head-to-head with Far East Movement as the next body shakers.
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This seven-member boy band—who trained with Cube Entertainment (the conglomerate that produced B2ST, 4Minute and G.NA) and released their debut, “Insane,” on March and an EP, “Press Play,” in September—distinguish themselves with their talents on guitar, keyboard, drums and turntables, plus their collective fluency in Japanese and English. And they've got a bead on global fame: When they headlined “K-pop Night Out” at Asia's paramount music event “Music Matters” in Singapore early this year, BTOB devotees immobilized the airport on the band's arrival.
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This duo were a sensation even before releasing their debut. Park Jimin, the youngest-ever winner of the music show K-pop Star, won praiseworthy tweets from Ashton Kutcher and Eric Benet for her flawless rendition of Adele's “Rolling In The Deep.” Park Yerin, who appeared on Star King at age 10, became known as the show's “genius ballad singer.” These young ladies aren't only a fine musical fit—they also share a birthplace and blood type! Fans of the female duo Davichi are well advised to check out these talented upstarts, who finally debuted in October with the piano ballad “I Dream.”
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D-Unit may owe a debt to 2NE1—Kush, the mastermind behind some of 2NE1 and Big Bang's biggest hits, co-produced the trio's debut track, “Missing You”—but they aren't your typical girl group, with edgy outfits, confidence, and dare we say swag setting them apart. Unlike many female performers, Ram—the younger sister of T-ara's Boram—flaunts her songwriting skills. (She contributed to four tracks on D-Unit's first album, “Welcome To Business.”) The girls release their next track, “Luv Me,” on November 3.
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My Name

These five boys—the first K-Pop group to sign with Japan's most influential entertainment agency, Yoshimoto Kogyo—are poised to take TVXQ's crown as the leading five-man boy band. They made an impressive debut on Japan's charts, knocking out some of the biggest names in K-pop with their track “Message,” and their album sold out within hours of its release at the Shibuya Tower Records, subsequently rocketing to a top spot on the Oricon.
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The sexy quintet failed to make an impression when they debuted last year with six members and the Teddy Riley production “Dr. Feel Good.” But the group, who take their inspiration from After School and the Pussycat Dolls, recently made a comeback with the single "Style," which was produced by YG Entertainment CEO Yang Hyuksuk—his first ever song for a group outside his company. The girls recently announced their plans to cross over to the States under Empire Records and with Fireworks as their management.
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The 23-year-old twins Dae Ryong and So Ryong trained at JYP Entertainment's U.S. office for nearly six years—watching label peers 2PM, 2AM and Miss A all debut—before jumping ship to Woolim Entertainment in August. Their reputation as a top live act is well-established: They've worked with choreographers for Beyonce and Chris Brown, and honed their stage experience as J.Y. Park dancers. Check out “Do You Know Me,” their first Woolim release, a slick electro-rap mashup.
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Shinsa-dong Tiger, the famed producer behind B2ST, 4Minute and T-ara, first brought together six members to form this AB Entertainment girl group, but after their early 2012 singles, “Holla” and “Who's That Girl,” failed to take off, he cut three of the girls, added two others, and shook up the group's image. Leader LE wrote their latest single and first genuine hit, “Every Night.”
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Joo Yeong

The sexy 21-year-old singer-songwriter—who will release his debut later this year under Real Collabo, which is run by one of the industry's most prolific producers, Ra.D—could have easily parlayed his looks, not to mention talents, into a contract with one of the big conglomerate agencies, but says he'd rather have artistic freedom. Not that he refuses to work with, or take inspiration from, others: He built his base with guest spots in hip-hop duo Supreme Team's “Then Then Then,” Kim Jin Pyo's “Shouldn't of Have Left” and Eluphant's “Aquarius,” and his cover of George Benson's “Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You” was a YouTube hit.
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Jinbo, sometimes called a "prodigy," produced and wrote his debut album, Afterwork, which went on to win R&B/Soul Album of the Year at the 2010 Korea Music Awards. He also launched his own record label, Superfreak Records, and has worked with top hip-hoppers like Drunken Tiger, Epik High and Dynamic Duo. His mixtape KRNB reinvents his favorite K-pop tracks in his groovy, throwback style.
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