13 best 2nd generation K-pop girl groups; SNSD, 2NE1, and more

Check out the 13 best 2nd generation K-pop girl groups including Girls’ Generation, 2NE1, f(x), and more.

Published on Mar 01, 2024  |  07:47 PM IST |  433K
SNSD (credit: SM Entertainment), 2NE1 (credit: YG Entertainment)
SNSD (credit: SM Entertainment), 2NE1 (credit: YG Entertainment)

There has always been a discussion about which generation of K-pop has the best groups, and 2nd generation K-pop groups have the most votes, earning the title, Golden Age of K-pop. With iconic choreographies to super-hit tracks and extraordinary stage presences, 2nd gen girl groups like 2NE1, SNSD, Apink, After School, f(x), and more have paved the way for the future globalization of the Korean entertainment industry.

Mostly, from around 2003 to 2012 is considered 2nd gen K-pop years. While at this time, South Korea itself was facing an economic crisis, K-pop became hugely commercialized, with idols going on world tours and marking the beginning of the Hallyu wave. As the fan community says, “2NE1 walked so BLACKPINK could run.”

So, today, let’s check out the top 13 iconic 2nd-gen K-pop girl groups, who once dominated the industry.

 

List of 13 best 2nd generation K-pop girl groups


1. Girls’ Generation

Debut year: 2007

Members: 9

Girls’ Generation, also known as SNSD, was originally formed with 9 members (Taeyeon, Tiffany, Hyoyeon, Seohyun, Sunny, Sooyoung, Yuna, and Jessica), under the renowned SM Entertainment. However, Jessica parted ways with the group in 2014. Over the span of their career, SNSD explored many genres of music, but their signature style was known as electro-pop. With over 100 million YouTube views on tracks like I Got a Boy, Gee, Mr. Taxi, Oh!, and The Boys, they became the first Asian girl group to achieve the feat. 

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Being a prominent figure of the Korean wave, Girls’ Generation earned the title of The Nation’s Girl Group. Today, most of the members have ventured into individual activities and continue to create pivotal impacts in their respective fields, proving why SNSD is one of the best girl groups of 2nd-generation K-pop.


2. 2NE1

Debut year: 2009

Members: 4

The four-membered girl group 2NE1, formed by YG Entertainment, is considered one of the best girl groups in the history of K-pop. With two eponymic Extended Plays titled 2NE1 (2009) and 2NE1(2011), the group rose to enormous fame. The 2nd generation K-pop group’s hit tracks such as I Am the Best, Try to Follow Me, Ugly, Go Away, Lonely, Falling in Love, and more made their way to the top positions in some of the prominent music charts like Hanteo and Circle.

The four iconic members including CL, Park Sandara, Bom, and Minzy continue to charm the K-pop fan community with their magnificent presence as soloists.

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3. Wonder Girls

Debut year: 2007

Members: 5

Debuting with Sunmi, HyunA, Sohee, Sunye, and Yeeun, the JYP Entertainment group soon emerged as one of the best girl groups of second-generation K-pop. Their debut album The Wonder Years produced a hit single track titled Tell Me, which claimed significant places in multiple offline and online music charts of South Korea.

The members’ irresistible visuals combined with distinctive music characterized by retro elements, Wonder Girls earned the title of South Korea’s Retro Queens. After the group disbanded in 2017, Billboard ranked them third on their Top K-pop Girl Groups of the Past Decade.


4. SISTAR

Debut year: 2010

Members: 4

Formed under Starship Entertainment, SISTAR is undeniably a prominent group from the K-pop second generation. The group’s debut studio album titled So Cool was released on August 9, 2011, and the title track hit the top position on Billboard Korea K-pop Hot 100 Singles Chart, spawning significant fame for SISTAR. Formed with Hyolyn, Bora, Dasom, and Soyou, the group eventually disbanded in 2017. 

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However, their hit tracks like So Cool, Touch My Body, Alone, Give It to Me, Loving U, and more are still recognized as some of the best songs to come out from second-gen K-pop groups. In 2011, SISTAR member Hyolyun and Bora formed a sub-unit group named SISTAR19, which is still producing some popular tracks in the K-pop industry.


5. Apink

Debut year: 2011

Members: 7

Debuting with the hot EP Seven Springs of Apink, this IST Entertainment group garnered remarkable popularity, shortly after its debut. Initially, Apink was formed with seven charming members including Yoon Bomi, Park Cho Rong, Jeong Eun Ji, Oh Ha Young, Kim Nam Joo, Son Na Eun, and Hong Yoo Kyung. In 2013, Hong Yoo Kyung left Apink and the group continued as a sextet, until in 2022, Son Na Eun also parted ways.

Apink’s music style perfectly fits the bubblegum pop genre with many popular tracks NoNoNo, My My, % %, Love, and more soaring as the best tracks produced from 2nd generation K-pop groups. Since their debut, Apink still captivates their fans with their latest album PINK CHRISTMAS being released in 2023.


6. Miss A

Debut year: 2010

Members: 4

Miss A was formed under JYP Entertainment with four original members Bae Suzy, Fei, Min, and Jia. In 2017, the group officially disbanded followed by Min and Jia’s departure in 2016 and 2017, respectively. However, their debut track Bad Girl Good Girl was helmed as the best single of 2010 and even topped the Gaon Singles chart, proving why Miss A is considered one of the most influential in 2nd generation K-pop groups list.

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7. f(x)

Debut year: 2009

Members: 5

Formed under SM Entertainment, f(x) earns a prominent place in the 2nd generation K-pop list. Originally formed with five members Sulli, Victoria, Amber, Krystal, and Luna, this group produced some best K-pop albums characterized by Electro-pop and EDM pop genres.

f(x)’s debut studio album Pinocchio (2011) and two Extended plays respectively titled Electric Shock, and Nu Abo delivered three singles to top the Gaon Digital Chart. Furthermore, their second studio album Pink Tape (2013) claimed the sole position in US music channel Fuse’s 41 Best Albums of 2013.

Since 2015, after Sulli left, f(x) continued as a four-piece group. However, soon after the group went through a brief hiatus, and what followed was an unofficial disbandment with the members venturing into solo activities.


8. 4Minute

Debut year: 2009

Members: 5

This CUBE Entertainment group soon rose to popularity with its groundbreaking Girl Crush concept and edgy dance-pop genre. Formed with Heo Ga Youn, Nam Ji Hyun, Kim Hyun A, Jeon Ji Yoon, and Kwon So Hyun, 4MInute bagged many prestigious music awards throughout their active career, furthering their position in the K-pop 2nd generation.


9. KARA

Debut year: 2009

Members: 7

Originally formed with seven members including Han Seungyeon, Park Gyuri, Heo Youngji, Goo Hara, Kim Sung-hee, Nicole Jung, and Kang Ji-young, KARA was known for its pretty but natural concept. The melodious group continued producing hit songs like STEP, Mister, Mamma Mia, and more until their disbandment in 2016. Some of the members didn’t renew their contracts with their agency DSP Media, and the members parted ways into solo ventures.

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10. After School

Debut year: 2009

Members: 11

After School is renowned for its distinctive concept which depicts the real timeline of a school as the members are divided into students and graduates. Originally, the group debuted as a quintet, but eventually, some members were withdrawn as part of being graduates, and some more were added as students.

Their unique style along with charismatic visuals and pop music combined with trap and reggae beats earned remarkable fame throughout their career. Amongst all the second-generation K-pop groups, during their active period, After School pulled in most fans in the K-pop community.


11. T-ara

Debut year: 2009

Members: 4

Shortly after its debut, T-ara soared to popularity with its signature hook-heavy dance-pop music style. They rose in nationwide recognition after releasing the single Roly-Poly in 2011, which went on to claim the best-selling single of the year position in the Gaon chart. Their collaborative tracks with late producer Shinsadong Tiger are still recognized as some popular hits from the 2nd generation K-pop girl groups.


12. Girls’ Day

Debut year: 2009

Members: 7

Formed with 7 members, the group sold more than one million digital copies of their biggest hits including Hug Me Once, Twinkle Twinkle, Darling, Ring My Bell, Expectation, and Something.  Throughout their career, ranking in multiple significant positions in Korea’s power celebrity list, Girls’ Day rose to be one of the best 2nd generation K-pop groups.


13. Brown Eyed Girls

Debut year: 2006

Members: 4

Brown Eyed Girls debuted with four members (Miryo, Narsha, Gain, and JeA) and the first studio album Your Story. They garnered popularity with the 2008 track L.O.V.E from the album With L.O.V.E. The group earned a notable stance in the realm of 2nd generation K-pop with their retro-dance numbers like How Come, electronic-based music Abracadabra, and more tracks characterized by R&B AND Ballad genres.

Notably, girl groups like Dal Shabet, Brave Girls, Rainbow, Nine Muses, Stellar, and more cemented their significance as the 2nd gen K-pop girl groups. With groundbreaking music style, iconic choreographies, oh-so-perfect vocal lineups, and breathtaking visuals, girl groups from this generation paved the way for the future of K-pop, making the 2nd generation arguably the best era of the Korean music industry.

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About The Author

An entertainment junkie and a big cinephile. She has a passion for cultivating compelling and impactful stories for her

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Credits: SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, CUBE Entertainment
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