Our Kpop Predictions for 2016

Oh My Girl Closer Oracle

Happy New Year, everyone! Much like last year, we want to give our writers and editors the opportunity to make their Kpop predictions! Will 2016 be as bright as 2015? Or will we return to the dark ages of...2014? Let's consult our respective oracles and get started already!

2015 was a blast for sure. We saw the unexpected rise of the old powerhouse groups like Girls Generation and Big Bang. For me, 2016 is going to be the make or break for a lot of mid-tier groups. This is when they’re either going to rocket to success or just burn out. This is the year when quality will replace quantity. Although there has been a barrage of group debuts, a lot of them have hovered below the radar for a long time. If Hallyu is going to continue to be a cultural export, it will have to become relevant and polished. I think that the trend of “viral” Kpop is going to go away, since it’s pretty common place now and appeals to a very limit audience. 2016 will see Kpop potentially become a more legitimate music genre, instead of one that is only for little girls or hipsters and therefore, the music quality will have to improve substantially. With more groups having a bigger hand in the production of their own music, I think it will have a positive reflection on the themes, lyrics, concepts and composition of more music, and elevate its quality.

Overall my prediction is positive! I have a good feeling about 2016 and although I can’t pinpoint anything specific, I can tell it’s going to be a year when we are more proud to be fans.

From the perspective of a girl group fan, 2015 was explosive — but in a good way. While 2014 saw chaotic member leaves (Girls’ Generation), group-shattering scandals (2NE1) and failed comebacks (f(x)), 2015 saw groups reforming after years of hiatus (Wonder Girls), carrying on after losing a member or two (9MUSES, Girls’ Generation, f(x)), and hitting #1 for the first time in 5 years (Miss A). 2015 was a recovery from a destructive 2014, and I see that theme permeating into 2016 as well. Some artists still have a lot to prove — can EXID excite the public with a new sound, and will BESTie ever see a similar rise? will CL be successful in the States, and can 2NE1 recover with all its 4 members? can SISTAR revamp its tired summer-sexy concept, and will KARA’s contracts pull them apart?

Kara Contract Dispute

Even the rookies — TWICE, GFriend, Lovelyz, Oh My Girl, and more — will have to battle it out next year for a place among the greats. With groups like MAMAMOO, Red Velvet and FIESTAR hitting new popularity, bigger and better comebacks will be necessary to cement a place in the Kpop world. While 2015 represented redemption, 2016 will be a fight for relevance, a battleground of variety appearances, acting opportunities, music show wins and chart rankings to epitomize the girl group’s struggle for fame.

As I mentioned on the podcast, I expect a lot from 2016. In my mind, this is the year that Kpop starts going mainstream, transforming from a weird, unheard of niche hobby into a transnational pop music. Don't get me wrong, it won't happen all at once. It will be a process. But 2016 is the year that we start recognizing it. Each one of us will start gathering stories of times we met another Kpop fan in an unexpected place, times we heard Kpop from an unexpected source. And before we know it, those stories will stop feeling like outliers and will start becoming the norm. That's dependent, of course, on a year full of big releases and great music (but let's be real, that's almost a given). 

What my prediction really boils down to is a recognition that Western interest in Kpop has so far been witnessed as an exponential growth, and 2016 will be the year that each of us starts noticing. Get ready to start sharing your love of Kpop with the people you'd least expect!

CL Kpop Invasion

I think 2016 is going to continue some positive momentum for Kpop, although I think we'll see a shift here. I predicted last year, CORRECTLY MIND YOU, that the big hitters - the SNSDs and EXOs of the world would rebound from their scandal-fueled '14. Zander, INCORRECTLY MIND YOU, predicted that it would be a year defined by the B-list groups. As I pointed this out in the podcast, he was wrong, but only with his timing. We probably won't be seeing Big Bang for a long time, friends, and SNSD is focusing on subgroups and solo releases. Other big groups are either dealing with the draft or inevitable idol fatigue. I agree with a lot of Sarah and Kushal's points here. This will be the perfect time for these B-list groups to strike!

Expect big years from groups like Fiestar, Boyfriend, Rainbow (one can dream, right?), and groups that are already near the top tier like AOA and GOT7. I even foresee groups like Sistar and Beast, who, let's face it, are mired in a creative funk, really breaking loose and surprising people here.

Beast Kpop

They better. The competition is getting tougher and the popular groups are staying relevant longer - and guess what, the rookies, groups like Twice, Mamamoo, and Seventeen are set to dominate for the next five years. It's time to put up or shut up. If a lot of these middling groups don't find success, they're done, son. 

Hafsa: Right. Predictions for 2016 in Kpop. Seriously? I have a hard time predicting one group’s style from one album to the next and I need to guess what's gonna happen over a year? Tall order that. But ok, let’s see.

Am I delusional or is there actually a wee shift towards the pursuit of self-expression in Kpop? Mostly spearheaded by groups like BTS and EXID. As opposed to the usual theme of “look at my pretty booty”.

Gayathri: Yass totally. Also Seventeen. Did you know those guys produced their entire album and self-choreographed it? Also girl groups. I'm seeing a lot of potential for girl groups to do more than just “oppa love me” and actually chart well. Like Mamamoo and obviously The Ark - who NEED a comeback :""""

Also female artists in general are finally beginning to show more variety, which finally tg. Like Taeyeon's I and that IU album, and even the more retro throwbacks by SNSD. Honestly, If I have to see another rehash of SNSD’s cringe-worthy old stuff by new girl groups I will cry.

H: I have noticed that! Groups are increasingly taking a bigger part in production and the music has been developing a lot more personality and flavour. Am I the only one feeling like everything is turning more towards hip hop? The year felt a little like every debut group seemed to lean more towards variations of that style. 2015 had a lot of solo releases and return of all the big hitters – Shinee, Big Bang, Exo, BTS, SNSD- but I felt like rookie groups were kinda the highlight. But that being said I think 2016 is gonna be a huge mash of experimental sounds as each of these groups tries to find their unique sound and expressive niche. That should be interesting to watch.

G: Oh yea I totally agree...interesting that when I look back on it a lot of the standout groups this year were from small companies I think? I mean JYP, SM and YG did a lot and slayed, but a lot more attention was for groups from small time companies as opposed to last year.

Yeah, I feel like the shift to the hip hop thing could be the sudden popularity of hip hop-based reality shows? You know ones like “Show me the money” + “Unpretty Rapstar”. Gotta capitalize on the trends and all that. Plus BTS was big this year and it worked for them.

To sum it up, I feel like any group that tries something more experimental could potentially see a lot of popularity next year.

H: So 2016 is all about exploration in search of either a new sound or a personal unique sound. Anything else? No more butt please. That's too much to ask isn't it? XD

G: 2016: the year of experimental sounds, self-expression and badass females

H: I can get behind that. Pun not intended ;)

And that's it for us at Critical Kpop. Thanks for the wonderful 2015! We really hope you've had an exciting New Years. In 2016, stay tuned for more news, reviews, and analysis of the crazy world of Kpop!


  1. Thank you. It was usefull. .... still I am upset that a good rookie group like Asha is not mentioned in any discusion whatsoever

  2. 2016 red velvet will dominate and orange caramel will come back with an amazing concept


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