The Top 10 K-Pop Artists of 2023

Now that I’ve taken a look at the new acts that colored 2023, it’s time to focus on their established counterparts. For me, most K-pop years are defined more by their rookies than older artists, and 2023 was no different. As usual, the criteria is built around these three facets:

Quality of work
Quantity of work
Influence of work on the industry

As usual, the first criteria far outweighs the next two, and is entirely subjective. This is not a countdown of the most successful or prolific acts in 2023. This is a celebration of the groups/artists that really shaped the year for me. Rookies are ineligible, as they have their own countdown.

In what must be a record, only one artist on this year’s list was also on 2022’s countdown. K-pop is proving to be a fickle, inconsistent industry…

Golden Child



Of all NCT’s many entities, Dream appealed to me most this year. They’re on this list mainly for the double punch of Broken Melodies and ISTJ — two of their strongest singles in years. I found the accompanying album pretty patchy, but after this year I have hope the group will continue to deliver music that can rival their biggest highlights.

Last Year: n/a

2023 Singles: Best Friend Ever, Broken Melodies, ISTJ

9. IVE

When it comes to musical output, IVE’s 2023 was a mixed bag. However, they released more songs than ever — including their first full album. Among these was the triumphant I Am, one of my favorite releases of the year. I can’t say I was as enamored with the music that followed, but I’m happy to see the group come into their own and lead the industry with a distinct sound.

Last Year: 1

2023 Singles: Kitsch, I Am, Wave, I Want, Either Way, Off The Record, Baddie


STAYC went bright and poppy this year, which is right within my wheelhouse. It’s a sonic shift I hadn’t expected, and is probably pretty polarizing among fans. But when it comes to upbeat girl group pop, songs like Teddy Bear and Bubble were right up there with the best.

Last Year: n/a

2023 Singles: Teddy Bear, Bubble, Lit

7. FROM20

As the years have gone on, I feel like I’ve leaned into smaller, less-known acts with their own specific vision as an artist. from20 isn’t a huge name in K-pop, but he should be. Over the past couple of years, he’s delivered a series of fantastic synth-fueled highlights. His work in 2023 was all killer, no filler (even though there wasn’t enough of it!)

Last Year: n/a

2023 Singles: Bad Revenge, Beat It


A year with a long-awaited comeback from Infinite should guarantee them a place at the top of my list, right? The fact that they’ve returned at all — under their own agency, no less! — earns them a spot in this ranking. I don’t think the music was up to par with their talent, but I’m so happy to have them active in K-pop again. Solo releases were icing on the cake, and I’m hoping some stellar group work will vault them to the top this time next year.

Last Year: n/a

2023 Singles: New Emotions

Solo Singles: Small Talk, Melody, Starting Over, Baby Baby


Another veteran act joins the countdown! SHINee hold a similar place in my heart as Infinite, though they haven’t been inactive as long. And though I didn’t think Hard was one of their best, it delivered the excellent The Feeling. Solo efforts from the members also stood out, proving that SHINee have no intention of slowing down. Long may they reign!

Last Year: n/a

2023 Singles: The Feeling, Hard

Solo Singles: Killer, O (Circle), Good & Great, Guilty 

4. TAN

What’s this here? TAN were ranked toward the bottom of my rookies list last year, but they impressed me all the way through 2023. First, a great comeback with the second-gen sounding Fix You. Then, an even better comeback with a very strong mini album. And finally, a Japanese version of one of the year’s most addicting b-sides. Musically, TAN are on a roll and it’s wonderful to see.

Last Year: n/a

2023 Singles: Fix You, Heartbeat, Violet

3. NINE.i

I guess 2023 was the year of unexpected triumphs. I thought NINE.i’s 2022 was fine, but with a single mini album this summer they’ve cemented themselves as one of my most anticipated acts. Member Vahn has proven a compelling songwriter, co-writing Golden Child’s excellent Feel Me as well as his own group’s output. And by hitching their wagons to the always-reliable Sweetune train, the guys have quickly carved out a niche that sets them apart in the industry.

Last Year: n/a

2023 Singles: Turn It Off, Neverland


Look, I’m as shocked as anyone to see Jungkook place so high. It’s not that I dislike him or BTS. I was an enthusiastic, early supporter. However, their transition to global hitmakers has not been without its sacrifices and I wasn’t putting much stock into Jungkook’s solo endeavors. But by proudly wearing its influences on its sleeve, his music ended up hitting so many points of nostalgia. Every single he released was a standout.

Last Year: n/a

2023 Singles: Seven, 3D, Standing Next To You


This has been a weird year for established acts, because even though The Boyz sit at the top of my list I really only liked some of their 2023 music. However, I can’t think of another non-rookie act that released two back-to-back title tracks I enjoyed as much as Lip Gloss and Watch It. Add a great summer mini album to the mix and we have an unusually consistent year (we’ll forget about their so-so February comeback). The Boyz have always been a group I’ve wanted to enjoy more than I actually did, but 2023 was the year I found myself playing their music more often than not.

Last Year: n/a

2023 Singles: Roar, Delicious, Lip Gloss, Watch It

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