K-pop is distinct from other genres in that it is divided by generations. With unique music styles, fashion trends, and distinct characteristics for each era, it’s easy to differentiate between them. This categorization extends to marketing and overseas strategies as well. As a result, the current fourth-generation K-pop groups have taken the lead, with some second-generation groups still active, along with the third generation playing a central role. Additionally, some second-generation groups that had either halted activities or disbanded are making comebacks.
Groups like SHINee, who continue to be active, KARA, who reunited, and INFINITE, who resumed activities, have been active for over a decade and are aging but are still creating issues and staying active. The fourth-generation idols that have emerged in the last 3-4 years have not only reached their peak but have also garnered more international popularity than previous generations. They are rightly called global groups and have achieved remarkable success on international charts. The popularity of these fourth-generation groups was built on the foundation laid by the third-generation groups, making them almost the perfected form of K-pop.
However, unlike the shining groups like BTS, BLACKPINK, and TWICE, Red Velvet’s popularity seems to have come to a halt. They were once expected to be at the top alongside groups like TWICE and BLACKPINK, but their popularity has dropped to the point where they may not be able to tour properly. Their stage size and popularity at Spain’s Primavera Sound festival in June were symbolic. They were relegated from headlining to a position below even the third-tier acts, performing at a level similar to that of the previous year’s participant, Dreamcatcher. In fact, Dreamcatcher’s music style is so different from traditional K-pop that it cannot be categorized as such. Red Velvet’s current dwindling popularity seems to reflect the shaky position of SM Entertainment. However, individual members’ activities are not particularly noticeable, and there is a sense that the agency’s status and priority have diminished significantly.