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10 K-Pop Sleeper Hits That Climbed Up Music Charts

Written by Violet Tell a Friend

Every now and then, there's an older or previously overlooked song that suddenly breaks out and creates a buzz in the K-pop world, like the Rollin' craze this year. Let's take a look at ten of the most well-known K-pop sleeper hits that climbed up the charts!

1. Brave GirlsRollin'

Early in 2021, a Rollin' fever spread in Korea due to a viral video that shows the Korean army cheering and singing along to the Brave Girls song during their performance. Very close to disbandment at the time, Brave Girls suddenly swept the charts with the uptempo EDM song originally released in 2017. The Rollin' fever brought them numerous endorsement deals and appearances on TV programs – they transformed from lesser-known singers to household names in the blink of an eye. Rollin' has miraculously paved a new path for Brave Girls, and now their story continues.

2. Crayon PopBar Bar Bar

"Get, set, ready go! Jumping, yeah, jumping, yeah, everybody!" Even without big-budget promotions, Crayon Pop forged the super hit Bar Bar Bar with their attention-grabbing scooter helmet fashion during their guerrilla busking. Their peppy, quirky style and dance moves were one of a kind in K-pop in 2013, setting off a trend of dance covers on the internet. With their great success, Crayon Pop received several awards at year-end ceremonies, and even got to perform the banger with another viral act, Norwegian duo Ylvis, at the Mnet Asian Music Awards!

3. EXIDUp & Down

A viral video that saved a girl group. If Brave Girls' story sounds a bit familiar, it's because this miracle also happened to EXID in 2014. A fancam of member Hani dancing to "Up & Down" spread rapidly on the internet, and brought the group several #1 wins on music charts and shows for the first time since their debut. With the chart-topper, EXID magically turned from a nearly disbanded group to the most promising female artists of the year.

4. GFRIENDMe Gustas Tu

GFRIEND was famous for their "power pure" (powerful dance and pure looks) charms in their school trilogy, but they didn't just come out of nowhere. Their path didn't start off very smoothly until a legendary video of their first comeback song Me Gustas Tu went viral. In the video, the members were seen performing the song outdoor in heavy rain. Despite the bad weather, they persistently finished the performance, even after falling down several times on the slippery stage. The group was praised for their professionalism and perseverance as performers, and the song crept up the charts, staying in Melon's Top 100 for 63 weeks. Hard work paid off, as GFRIEND continued to receive love for their talents, effort and good music that made them one of the top third-generation girl groups.

5. MomolandBBoom BBoom

It's again a song from hitmaker Shinsadong Tiger (EXID's music producer) that changed the fate of another girl group! Momoland's BBoom BBoom took Korea and other Asian countries by storm in 2018 for its addictive, uplifting funky house beats mixed with a disco vibe. One of the best parts about BBoom BBoom performances was member JooE chanting "Great!" as ad libs in the chorus, which elevated spirits and pumped up audiences. The BBoom BBoom hype took Momoland to a career high, bringing them fame and a number of trophies at major music award ceremonies.

6. N.FlyingRooftop

One and a half months after its release, N.Flying's second digital single "Rooftop" started to gain recognition by word of mouth, and entered online streaming charts for the first time ever. Penned by leader Seung Hyub (J.DON), "Rooftop" is a heartbreaking song sung in a lighthearted and upbeat manner. Perhaps it’s the reverse charm that makes it so irresistible. Besides achieving #1 on music charts, the FNC Entertainment boy band got their first music show trophy four years after debut.

7. PentagonShine

A month after its release, Pentagon's hit "Shine" entered the Top 100 on Melon, their first song ever to do so since debut. Though it didn’t reach the top of the charts or garner wins on music shows, "Shine" was one of the most viral K-pop hits of 2018 for its addictive "jijiri jijiri" hooks and funky "hammer dance." It's also the song that defines Pentagon's playful, cheery and unique stage presence!

8. SG WannabeTimeless

SG Wannabe's Timeless is not like other K-pop sleeper hits. The vocal powerhouse trio's debut hit made a name for them in 2004. They were one of Korea's best groups of the 2000s, vocal-wise and popularity-wise, back in the days when mid-tempo ballads reigned supreme. SG Wannabe wasn't so active in the 2010s, but in 2021, they shone again in the variety show Hangout With Yoo. The group appeared as the inspiration of the program's new vocal project MSG Wannabe, moving audiences with sentimental K-ballads. Their hits from early releases quickly dominated charts again, with Timeless returning to #1 almost two decades after release.

9. Yoon Jong ShinLike It

Veteran ballad singer-songwriter Yoon Jong Shin has been working on his music project Monthly Yoon Jong Shin since 2010, but not every song released could be a nationwide hit. Through his company Mystic's Listen project in 2017, Yoon Jong Shin presented the signature-style breakup anthem "Like It," which shows his powerful vocals and delicately written lyrics and melody. "Like It" soared on digital music charts a month after release, and successfully peaked at #1 on all domestic charts.

10. Zion.T – Yanghwa BRDG

Before there was the Hangout With Yoo effect, Infinite Challenge (from the same producer as Hangout With Yoo) was the nationally beloved program that brought every song, artist and product featured on the show to the spotlight. After appearing in Infinite Challenge Song Festival 2015, Zion.T shot to fame with his heartfelt, sentimental R&B single "Yanghwa BRDG" dedicated to his devoted father, which was released back in 2014.

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Published August 3, 2021

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