The Most Popular K-Pop Subgenre: Exploring the Global Appeal

Choose the subgenre you think is the most popular!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Nov 26, 2023 08:22
Welcome to StrawPoll, where your opinions matter! We're excited to present our latest ranking extravaganza: "What is the most popular K-Pop subgenre?" As the K-Pop phenomenon continues to take the world by storm, it's time for you to weigh in on the subgenres that make you dance, sing, and fan-girl (or fan-boy) like there's no tomorrow. From the catchy tunes of Bubblegum Pop to the fierce beats of Hip Hop, our list offers a diverse range of K-Pop styles for you to choose from. So, whether you're a dedicated fan or just dipping your toes into the world of K-Pop, cast your vote now and make your voice heard! And remember, if your favorite subgenre is missing, don't hesitate to suggest it - because, at StrawPoll, every vote counts! Let's get the party started and discover the ultimate K-Pop subgenre that reigns supreme!

What Is the Most Popular K-Pop Subgenre?

  1. 1
    Ballads are often emotional and heartfelt, which can resonate with a lot of people. They are also commonly used in soundtracks for K-dramas.
    K-Pop Ballad is a subgenre of K-Pop that focuses on emotional and heartfelt melodies, often showcasing the vocal abilities of the artists. It is known for its soothing and mellow sound, capturing a wide range of emotions such as love, heartbreak, longing, and reflection.
    • Emotional Themes: Love, heartbreak, longing, reflection
    • Slow Tempo: Generally characterized by slower, relaxed beats and tempo
    • Vocal Focus: Places emphasis on the vocal abilities of the artists
    • Melodic: Known for its catchy and memorable tunes
    • Lyrical: Often features meaningful and introspective lyrics
  2. 2

    K-Pop Dance-Pop

    Lee Soo-man
    This subgenre is characterized by upbeat, catchy tunes with strong electronic beats and often accompanied by choreographed dance routines.
    K-Pop Dance-Pop is a subgenre of K-Pop that combines elements of electronic dance music with catchy pop melodies and energetic choreography. It is known for its upbeat and infectious hooks, accompanied by intricate dance routines performed by K-Pop idols. The genre rose to prominence in the late 2000s and has since become one of the most popular and internationally recognized styles within the K-Pop industry.
    • Influences: Electronic dance music, Pop, Hip-hop
    • Vibrant Visuals: Bold and colorful music videos, elaborate stage designs
    • Catchy Melodies: Infectious hooks and memorable choruses
    • Energetic Choreography: Highly synchronized and complex dance routines
    • Performance Focus: Emphasis on live performances and music shows
  3. 3

    K-Pop Hip-hop

    SM Entertainment
    Hip-hop has been a popular subgenre in K-Pop since the early 2000s. It blends elements of traditional hip-hop with Korean pop music to create a unique sound.
    K-Pop Hip-hop is a subgenre of K-pop music that incorporates elements of hip-hop, rap, and R&B into its sound. It brings a unique fusion of Korean and Western influences, resulting in catchy beats, rap verses, and powerful performances.
    • Influences: K-Pop Hip-hop is heavily influenced by American hip-hop, R&B, and rap music.
    • Rap Verses: It prominently features rap verses, often delivered by one or more members of the K-pop groups.
    • Catchy Beats: The subgenre is characterized by infectious and trendy beats that make it popular among listeners.
    • Collaborations: K-Pop Hip-hop often involves collaborations between K-pop idols and prominent hip-hop artists.
    • Visual Aesthetics: Artists in this subgenre tend to showcase edgy fashion, dynamic choreography, and strong stage presence.
  4. 4

    K-Pop R&B

    Brown Eyed Soul
    R&B is a subgenre of K-Pop that tends to focus on slower, more melodic tunes that showcase the vocal talent of the artist.
    K-Pop R&B is a subgenre of K-Pop that combines elements of rhythm and blues with Korean pop music. It is known for its smooth and soulful melodies, heartfelt lyrics, and high-quality vocal performances. The genre emerged in the early 2000s and has since gained immense popularity both in South Korea and internationally.
    • Influences: Rhythm and blues
    • Emphasis: Smooth and soulful melodies
    • Lyrics: Heartfelt and emotional
    • Vocal Performance: High-quality and emotive
    • Production: Slick and polished
  5. 5

    K-Pop EDM

    Teddy Park
    Electronic dance music has become increasingly popular in K-Pop, with artists adding EDM beats and synths to their music.
    K-Pop EDM is a subgenre of Korean popular music that blends electronic dance music (EDM) elements with the catchy melodies and energetic performances of K-Pop. It combines the vibrant sounds of EDM genres such as progressive house, trap, and future bass with the distinct K-Pop production style and vocal performances. The genre is known for its high-energy beats, infectious hooks, and production techniques that create a fusion of electronic and pop elements.
    • Dominant BPM: 120-130 BPM
    • Energetic Vocals: Powerful and dynamic vocal performances
    • Catchy Melodies: Infectious and memorable hooks
    • Electronic Instrumentation: Synthesizers, drum machines, and electronic sound effects
    • EDM Genres Influence: Progressive house, trap, future bass, etc.
  6. 6

    K-Pop Rock

    Rock music has been present in K-Pop since the 1990s. It often features heavy guitars and drums, combined with Korean lyrics.
    K-Pop Rock is a subgenre of K-Pop that fuses rock music elements with the catchy and upbeat sounds of Korean pop music. It features a blend of electric guitars, bass, drums, and occasionally other rock instruments, combined with the energetic vocals and harmonies commonly found in K-Pop. This genre often includes powerful and high-energy performances, incorporating elements of rock stage presence and choreography.
    • Origin: South Korea
    • Influenced by: Western rock music and K-Pop
    • Founding year: 2009
    • Popular bands: CNBLUE, FTISLAND, DAY6, N.Flying
    • Instrumentation: Electric guitars, bass, drums, keyboards
  7. 7
    K-Pop Indie
    Dominic Alves · CC BY 2.0
    Indie music in Korea is characterized by its small-scale, independent production and unique sound. It often features acoustic instruments and unconventional song structures.
    K-Pop Indie is a subgenre within the larger K-Pop industry that focuses on independent artists and their unique musical style. It offers a refreshing departure from the mainstream K-Pop sound, showcasing a variety of genres and experimental sounds. K-Pop Indie often features emotional and introspective lyrics, creating a more intimate connection between the artists and the audience.
    • Genre Diversity: K-Pop Indie incorporates a wide range of musical genres including pop, rock, folk, electronic, and more.
    • Emphasis on Live Performances: Artists in this subgenre often prioritize live performances, showcasing their talent and creating an intimate connection with their audience.
    • DIY Ethic: K-Pop Indie artists frequently take control of their own music production, composition, and promotion, reflecting a strong do-it-yourself ethos.
    • Focus on Emotional Lyrics: Lyrics in K-Pop Indie songs often explore deeper emotions, personal experiences, and societal issues, fostering an emotional connection with listeners.
    • Non-conventional Image: K-Pop Indie artists often express themselves through individualistic and non-conventional styles, setting themselves apart from mainstream K-Pop idols.
  8. 8
    Trot is a genre of Korean music that originated in the early 20th century. It is characterized by its fast tempo and lively rhythms.
  9. 9
    Jazz music has been present in K-Pop since the 1990s. It often features live instrumentation and a focus on improvisation.
    K-Pop Jazz is a subgenre of K-Pop music that incorporates elements of traditional jazz with modern Korean pop influences. It combines the smooth and sophisticated sounds of jazz with catchy melodies and vibrant production styles of K-Pop. The genre gained popularity in the late 2000s and has since become a prevalent and distinct subgenre within the K-Pop industry.
    • Instrumentation: K-Pop Jazz often features a rich instrumental arrangement with instruments commonly found in jazz, such as piano, saxophone, trumpet, and double bass. However, it still incorporates electronic elements and modern production techniques.
    • Melodies: Melodies in K-Pop Jazz typically have a smooth and mellow feel, often emphasizing vocal performances alongside instrumental solos.
    • Harmony: K-Pop Jazz embraces complex harmonies, often utilizing extended chords and intricate chord progressions to create a sophisticated and engaging listening experience.
    • Rhythm: The rhythm in K-Pop Jazz can vary, but it generally incorporates swing rhythms, syncopation, and grooves reminiscent of traditional jazz.
    • Lyrics: The lyrics in K-Pop Jazz cover various themes, including love, personal growth, and introspection, often with poetic and introspective undertones.
  10. 10
    K-Pop Classical
    ПрохорКутепов · CC BY-SA 4.0

    K-Pop Classical

    Lee Joohyun
    Classical music has been incorporated into K-Pop in various ways, such as using orchestral arrangements and operatic vocals.
    K-Pop Classical is a subgenre of K-Pop that combines elements of classical music with contemporary pop sounds. It is characterized by its fusion of symphonic orchestration and traditional K-Pop production techniques, resulting in a unique and modern twist on classical music.
    • Blend of Genres: Brings together classical music and contemporary K-Pop sounds.
    • Orchestration: Incorporates symphonic orchestration, including strings, woodwinds, and brass instruments.
    • Vocal Techniques: Utilizes various vocal techniques commonly found in both classical and K-Pop music.
    • Complex Arrangements: Features intricate and layered arrangements, with a focus on harmonies and counterpoint.
    • Fusion of Instruments: Combines traditional classical instruments with modern electronic instruments.

Missing your favorite subgenre?


Ranking factors for popular subgenre

  1. Music style and sound
    The specific musical elements that define each subgenre, such as electronic, hip-hop, R&B, rock, and ballad influences, as well as the common instruments, beats, and production techniques used.
  2. Social media presence
    The popularity of the subgenre's artists and their music on major social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. This includes the number of followers, likes, shares, and mentions.
  3. Music video views
    The number of views each subgenre's music videos receive on platforms like YouTube, which can be an indicator of the subgenre's overall popularity.
  4. Chart success
    The performance of the subgenre's songs and albums on local and international music charts, such as the Gaon Chart, Melon, and Billboard.
  5. Album sales
    The number of physical and digital albums sold by the artists representing the subgenre. This can help to estimate the commercial success and demand for the subgenre among fans.
  6. Fan base size and engagement
    The number of fans (or fandoms) dedicated to different subgenres and the level of fan engagement, such as concert attendance, fan projects, and fan clubs.
  7. Awards and accolades
    The number of music awards and achievements won by artists within the subgenre, which can act as a measure of recognition and quality.
  8. Cultural impact and influence
    The influence each subgenre has on the local and international music scenes, fashion trends, and pop culture in general, as well as the number of artists or groups that emerge within each subgenre.
  9. Longevity and staying power
    The ability of the subgenre to sustain its popularity over time and maintain a strong presence in the music industry.
  10. Critical reception
    The reviews and opinions of music critics and experts on the subgenre's overall quality, originality, and contribution to the K-Pop industry.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most popular K-Pop subgenre. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or subgenre is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 207 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each subgenre once every 24 hours. The rank of each subgenre is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

More information on most popular k-pop subgenre

K-Pop or Korean Pop has become a global phenomenon, with millions of fans around the world. K-Pop is known for its catchy tunes, synchronized dance moves, and glamorous music videos. However, K-Pop is not a single genre. It is a broad term that encompasses various subgenres such as bubblegum pop, hip-hop, R&B, ballad, and more. Each subgenre has its unique style, sound, and fan following. In recent years, K-Pop has gained massive popularity, and many subgenres have emerged, making it difficult to determine the most popular one. In this article, we will explore the different K-Pop subgenres and find out which one reigns supreme among the fans.