K-Pop’s Next Generation: 9 Promising 2017 Debuts
By Hannah S.
Until recently, the world’s perception of Korean pop music, known as K-Pop, was limited to eccentric wardrobe and quirky music videos. Over time, names like Big Bang and Girls’ Generation pushed their way into foreign markets — shattering stereotypes in the process. Today, a fresh generation of talent is on the rise. Here are nine of the newest, most influential artists making their mark on the industry.
This ten-membered girl group released their first EP in March, stealing the hearts of their sizable fanbase and establishing their own powerfully playful sound. Like most Pledis Entertainment artists, Pristin boasts the title of “self-produced idols,” contributing to the lyrics, composition, and arrangement of their songs. Additionally, Pristin is nominated for Best New Female Artist and Artist of the Year at this year’s Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMAs) — which is among the leading Korean music award ceremonies.
2) Wanna One
“Produce 101 Season 2” was a survival program in which the public voted on the lineup of a boy group from a total of 101 contestants. The resulting eleven-membered group, Wanna One, is a fan-selected blend of talent. Various backgrounds and agencies, combined with experience in choreographing, composing, and performing contribute to an unrivaled group dynamic. Naturally, their poppy music, dancing skills, and charming personalities appeal to a wide audience. Their debut EP topped both Korean charts and global iTunes charts. Although the group is temporary — slated to disband in December 2018 (when the boys return to their respective companies) — Wanna One’s immediate, explosive fame is redefining rookies’ influence on the industry.
Following the conclusion of “Produce 101 Season 2,” participants received immense praise and anticipation for their future careers. Fans conceptualized a lineup of their favorite eliminated contestants, referring to them as JBJ. After discussions between agencies of potential members, the group became a reality. By their debut in mid-October, JBJ was met with overwhelming support on Korean charts, a reality show, and an impressive amount of appearance offers for variety programs. With an intense, impactful style, the boys of JBJ have distinguished themselves from fierce competitors.
Previously known as MINX, this girl group’s concept underwent such a dramatic transformation that they re-debuted in January as Dreamcatcher. From 2017 alone, their discography consists of 2 single albums and 1 mini album. Although they’re among the lesser known rookies, Dreamcatcher has been nominated for the MAMA for Best New Female Artist. Their edgier, recognizable sound and incredibly intense choreography sets Dreamcatcher apart from K-POP’s mainstream groups.
Prior to A.C.E’s first single in May, the boys drew attention for their street performances of various K-POP songs. Today, their official YouTube channel has nearly 20 million views — an impressive feat for the first group under their label. In addition, each of the members are dancers at 1Million Dance Studio, home to dozens of skilled Korean choreographers. A.C.E’s powerful image, easily identifiable wardrobe, and synchronized dancing have piqued the interest of fans worldwide.
6) LOONA ⅓ & Odd Eye Circle
Since October 2016, pre-debut girl group LOONA has revealed individual members on a monthly basis. High production value, in their songs and music videos alike, characterize their releases. 2017 marked the formation of LOONA’s subunits, LOONA ⅓ and Odd Eye Circle, created from the eight currently known members. The units offer two completely different concepts, further proving LOONA’s musical fluidity while building onto existing anticipation for the final group’s debut.
7) Kim Chungha
Despite her rookie status, Kim Chungha is no stranger to the entertainment industry. Alongside her own EP, Chungha’s credits include features for various musicians, including iconic Korean hip hop artists, Dynamic Duo. As a former Dallas resident, Chungha’s bilingualism extends her global outreach. An experienced choreographer, ex-backup dancer, and radio DJ, Chungha’s vast array of skills makes her a strong contender for Korea’s next pop princess.
As one of K-Pop’s few co-ed groups, KARD’s very existence sets a precedent. The response to several pre-debut singles earned the rookies a world tour in the first year of their careers. While unheard of, this accomplishment is not undeserved. Each of the four members are multi-talented rappers and/or vocalists. Generally, KARD’s music is directed towards their international fanbase, with English lyrics and catchy hooks.
9) Jeong Sewoon
Unique vocals, guitar, and a chic persona draw fans to Jeong Sewoon. He previously competed in two audition programs, demonstrating his ability to transition between team and solo performances. His first EP was successful overseas and domestically — appearing on the Billboard World Albums chart within mere weeks of its release. Without flashy routines or an exaggerated on-screen personality, Sewoon transcends the boundaries of genres and expectations with ease.