9 Artists That Rose To Fame Without Becoming Idols

Idols are a huge part of the Korean music industry, but there are also other non-idols in Korea who have amassed a lot of success.

Idols are often known for their perfected image. Many training with larger record labels for years to perfect their performances. While idols dominate the Korean music industry, there are some popular artists who have created their own unique images that fans have fallen in love with.

From independent artists, you’ve most likely never heard of, to artists breaking into the mainstream. 2016 has been a breakthrough for some artists in the Korean music industry. Collaborating with mainstream labels or creating highly popular albums, these artists will definitely be making it onto your playlist.

#1 Dean

Dean has been possibly the biggest breakout artist this year. Dean is a multi-talent artist with his soulful R&B voice mixed with his idol-like looks earning him a growing legion of fans around the world. Dean is in high demand collaborating this year with Girls’ Generations Taeyeon for their romantic track “Starlight” to Block B‘s Zico for their epic R&B track “BERMUDA TRIANGLE “.

#2 Zion.T

Zion.T is the artist whose music you’ve heard, but you not have seen him before. Hiding behind his signature sunglasses, Zion.T has a signature mysterious image. After the success of his heartbreaking track “Yanghwa BRDG,” Zion.T has gone on recreate the track with many idols on stage including BTS‘s Jongkook. Now signed to YG Entertainment‘s sub-label The Black Label, who knows what exciting projects Zion.T has lined up for fans.

#3 Crush

Crush is the king of collaborations, having worked with both independent and mainstream artists to bring his unique style to any genre. This year Crush has collaborated with Girls’ Generations Taeyeon, Block B’s Zico, as well as fellow hip-op artist Loco.

#4 Hoody

Hoody is AOMG‘s “it” girl, as the only woman to have debuted under the record label. Hoody is also a multi-talented musician as she is also a member of the all-female underground rap crew Amourette.

#5 ELO

Also signed under AOMG ELO is an upcoming artist to look out for. His unique R&B style will have you hooked. His debut track “ROSE” is extremely addicting, and the accompanying music video to the track is a must watch.


GRAY is the multi-talented singer and producer signed under AOMG. While you may not know his face, you most likely have heard his songs. Collaborating with other Korean hip-hop artists as well as mainstream artists, GRAY is just about everywhere right now.

#7 Heize

Heize is another breakout star of 2016. After competing in Mnet‘s Unpretty Rapstar Vol.2. It was her collaboration tracks with Dean that has projected Heize to new found fame. As Heize only made her official debut this year her immediate popularity shocked even Heize herself as she was recently rushed off stage in tears after hearing fans sing her song.


OOHYO is the must-listen-to singer you’ve never heard of. Her unique indie style teamed with her dream-like concept videos will have you hooked. Many have even claimed OOHYO is the next “musical Genius”.


Originally debuting in 2014 as part of the duo LODIA under ATC Entertainment, SURAN is the unique singer you need on your playlist. Her unique voice and ever-changing style will have you hooked.