Growing up with second-generation groups like 2ne1, Big Bang, and Super Junior (thanks to my fangirl sister) meant I witnessed the change in South Korean pop music over the years and I could definitely say that today's rookie groups have changed the way idols are built and perceived.
From wildly theatrical performances and bubblegum beats, today's K-pop idols have a more aesthetic appeal coupled with lyricism and musicality that often challenge the norm. 4th Generation K-pop groups are also known for their massive public appeal because of the proliferation of idol survival shows. This new generation of idols is heralded by 2018 groups like Stray Kids, (G)I-DLE, Iz*One, and ATEEZ, all of which present so much potential for the future of K-pop.
Here are some rookie groups that debuted from 2019 to 2020.
This six-piece group under Yuehua Entertainment is made up of former Produce 101 and 48 trainees. They captured a global audience with their debut track "Bon Bon Chocolat" which propelled their first EP "Reminiscence" to the top of the Billboard World Albums chart early this year.
Fresh from their win in Mnet's idol survival show World Klass, TOO is a 10-member boy band under n.CH Entertainment and Stone Music Entertainment. Their name stands for "Ten Oriented Orchestra" and their first EP "Reason for Being: Benevolence" snagged the fourth spot in the Gaon Album Charts. The group gained attention after their stint at Road to Kingdom, a reality show that pitted well-known boy groups against each other for a chance to compete in the upcoming program, Kingdom.
Another group that made it to Road to Kingdom is RBW Entertainment's six-member group, Oneus. Known as the younger group of Mamamoo, Oneus has an extensive pre-debut presence because of their appearances on idol survival shows like Produce 101 and Mix Nine. The group officially debuted in January 2019 with their lead single "Valkyrie" which landed on the 15th spot of Billboard's World Digital Songs Chart.
For a rookie group, AB6IX has been through ups and downs and their collective experiences make them truly interesting and inspiring. The group is composed of reality show aces with four out of the original five members appearing in Produce 101. Half of them debuted as WannaOne members in 2017, while the other half debuted as K-pop duo MXM. Their lead dancer Woong also appeared in Stray Kids, the show that created JYP’s rookie boy group of the same name. Last year, they collaborated with American singer Lizzo for a K-pop version of the hit song “Truth Hurts.”
Like most rookie groups, six out of the nine members of Ghost9 have auditioned and appeared in idol maker shows Mix Nine and Produce X 101. Their debut album “PRE EPISODE 1: DOOR” became the talk of the town when it topped Thailand’s iTunes Album Chart within four days of its release. This is because one of their members, Prince, is from Thailand. His debut spurred Hallyu fans around the world to discuss the notable increase in K-pop idols with Thai descent since 2PM’s debut in 2008.
VeriVery is Jellyfish Entertainment’s first boy group since VIXX and they’re known in the K-pop industry as the new kings of synchronization. The group appeared on Mnet’s Road To Kingdom alongside fellow rookies, ONEUS and TOO. VeriVery is also one of the very few rookie groups that got to sing official soundtracks of popular K-drama series like “Extraordinary You” and “Itaewon Class.”