Each year, the K-pop industry debuts new groups to grace the stage with their unique colors. In 2020 and this year, several new K-pop idols have already made their mark on the scene and are showing massive potential to be Hallyu superstars.
Here are ten K-pop rookie groups you *NEED* to watch out for:
aespa is a four-member girl group under SM Entertainment, the agency that is home to Red Velvet, EXO, and Super Junior, to name a few. aespa debuted on November 17, 2020 and is the company’s first girl group since Red Velvet in 2014. They made headlines for their unique concept of having AI (known as ae in aespa’s cinematic universe!) counterparts to their human members.
The girls are already showing a dramatic rise on the K-pop scene, with their debut single, “Black Mamba,” scoring them their first-ever music show win. Though they’ve only been on the scene for less than half a year they are already the 2021 brand ambassador of the French fashion house, Givenchy.
ENHYPEN is a seven-member boy group under Belift Lab, a joint company between HYBE Corporation (formerly Big Hit Entertainment) and CJ E&M. The group was formed through the Mnet survival show, I-LAND.
Prior to ENHYPEN’s official debut, the group garnered one million followers on their TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and V Live accounts. Talk about popularity! Their debut mini-album, Border: Day One was the highest-selling album by a K-pop group that debuted in 2020. ENHYPEN will be making a comeback at the end of April with Border: Carnival.
TREASURE is a 12-member boy group under YG Entertainment. The group was originally formed in 2018 through the company’s survival show, YG Treasure Box. Due to undisclosed reasons, their debut was postponed. However, they were FINALLY able to make their much-awaited debut on August 7, 2020.
Their debut single album, The First Step: Chapter One debuted at the top of the Gaon Digital Charts and has been certified platinum by the Korea Music Content Association. Since then, the group has bagged the “Rookie of the Year” award at the Asia Artist Award.
CRAVITY is a nine-member boy group under Starship Entertainment. From the moment they debuted, they were dubbed as “Super Rookies” due to the attention they received from international fans. They are the first 2020 K-pop rookie artists to debut on the Billboard K-Pop Hot 100. Additionally, CRAVITY bagged numerous new artist awards last year.
Produce X 101 and X1 fans are most likely familiar with CRAVITY already. Members Minhee and Hyeongjun ranked at tenth and fourth place respectively in the show’s finale and debuted with X1. Jungmo and Wonjin also competed on the show and ranked at number twelve and nineteen, which means that they did not debut with X1.
Weeekly is a seven-member girl group under Play M Entertainment. They are the company’s first girl group since Apink, who debuted in 2011. Weeekly debuted on June 30, 2020. The music video for their debut song “Tag Me (@ Me)” amassed 10 million views within the first day of its release, proving their popularity.
Despite being newcomers to the scene, the girls have already taken home numerous new artist and rookie awards at different award shows. They also snagged the “Next Leader" trophy at the 2020 The Fact Music Awards.
STAYC is a six-member girl group under High Up Entertainment. Despite coming from a small and relatively unknown company, they gained attention prior to their debut as the first group formed by producer duo, Black Eyed Pilseung. STAYC debuted on November 13, 2020.
Their debut single album Star To A Young Culture sold over 4,300 copies on its first day, making it the most sold for a debut girl group in 2020. By the first week, the single album sold more than 10,000 copies, which led to STAYC's milestone as the first debut album by a girl group in 2020 to do so. Not bad for a rookie group from a small company!
7. Secret Number
Secret Number is a five-member girl group under Vine Entertainment. They debuted on May 19, 2020. Most of the members already have experience in the industry. Léa, from Japan, was a member of the girl group Skarf. Denise and Jinny were both former YG Entertainment trainees, and the latter was a contestant on Mnet's survival show, Produce 48.
Despite coming from a small company, the girls were still able to break into the top 20 of the Gaon Digital Charts with their single album, Who Dis?. The album peaked at number nineteen. While they initially got attention from their seasoned members, they maintained the popularity thanks to their talents and skills.
WEi is a six-member boy group under Oui Entertainment. They debuted on October 8, 2020. Similar to Secret Number, the group is composed of members who were already active in the industry. Dahyeon and Donghan were contestants on the Mnet survival show, Produce 101 Season 2. Donghan debuted in JBJ while Dahyeon started in Rainz. Both of them have debuted as soloists.
Seokhwa was a former YG Entertainment trainee and have competed on YG Treasure Box but was eliminated. He then participated in Produce X 101 as an individual trainee. Yohan also competed and represented Oui Entertainment. Yohan won first place in the finale and debuted as a member of X1. Yongha and Junseo competed on Under Nineteen and debuted with the project group 1THE9. With their seasoned members, you can expect flawless performances from this boy group!
9. PURPLE KISS
PURPLE KISS is a seven-member girl group under RBW, the same company as MAMAMOO. They debuted on February 28, 2021. Prior to their debut, the girls uploaded covers and vlogs on their YouTube channel, titled 365 Practice.
Numerous PURPLE KISS members competed on survival shows. Chaein appeared on K-Pop Star seasons 1 and 3. Dosie competed on Mixnine, while Park Jieun and Na Goeun participated on Produce 48. As the sister group of MAMAMOO, we can expect excellent vocals paired with amazing choreographies. Their debut mini-album, Into Violet, peaked at number 11 on the Gaon Album Charts.
T1419 is a nine-member boy group under MLD Entertainment, the company that houses MOMOLAND. The group was formed in partnership with NHN Entertainment and Sony Music. Compared to most K-pop groups, they are already confirmed to debut in Japan and the United States, meaning that they will be releasing music in numerous languages!
Their debut single album, Before Sunrise Part. 1, peaked at number eight on the Gaon Digital Charts, showing their popularity even despite being a rookie group.
Which group are you looking forward to the most? Let us know in the comments section!