2019 has been a crazy and eventful year with many up's, down's, and absolutely everything in between. In the information age, we as consumers and internet connoisseurs take in a surplus of media every single second of every day, making it hard to see anything around the absolute cannon blast of stimulation we receive. However, when something sticks out, it really sticks with you. This year, I went from being a fairly passive listener and new BTS fan, to diving headfirst into Kpop as a whole. I became familiar with the history, culture, and goings-on of the genre, and have fallen in love with countless groups and solo artists alike. With the rise in Kpop’s popularity, many new groups have been popping up as a result of companies attempting to jump on the trend. Lucky for us fans, this means much more new and exciting music to enjoy! So as 2019 draws nearer to its end, I’m going to take you back throughout my favorite rookie groups to debut this year.
5. 1THE9: As the name would imply, this nine-member boy group officially debuted on April 17 performing 3 of their debut songs, including the title track “Spotlight”. The latin-hip-hop inspiration is very clear throughout this song, but it hits hard in the chorus. This was a very fun debut, the music video, admittedly, begins a bit odd, but goes on to showcase their colorful outfits and excellent dance skills. One of the first things I noticed about 1THE9 was how incredibly in-sync they were despite their quite complex choreography. They are all wonderful dancers, which is fairly uncommon in a group as large as theirs. “Spotlight” is a good starter song, but I’m excited to see what else they can do in the future.
Honorable Mention TREI: Unlike many other groups, TREI has only three members, the boy band debuting with their title track “Gravity” on February 19. “Gravity” is a pretty acoustic ballad with an uptempo twist, and it showcases the immense vocal ability of all three members beautifully.
4. ONEUS: Six-piece ONEUS debuted on January 9 with “Valkyrie”. This song is a bop if I’ve ever heard one. Personally, EDM is one of my favorite genres, so when two of my preferences collide, the result is tremendous. Despite being very new, ONEUS already has an immensely promising rap line, which is one of my favorite parts about both “Valkyrie” and the group as a whole. The breakdowns are fantastic, the chorus goes hard, and I absolutely love this song. The aesthetic/concept of this debut is visually breathtaking, and the music video is beautifully shot. The choreography is interesting yet simple, and the way the boys are styled is top tier. Overall, a great debut!
3. Rocket Punch: Adorable and spunky Rocket Punch debuted with their title track “BIM BAM BUM” on August 7, 2019. I absolutely love this song, despite it’s generally very bubblegum nature, which doesn’t usually appeal to me. However, everything from their colorful and vibrant concept to the bright and upbeat chorus, “BIM BAM BUM” is one of my favorite Kpop songs this year, rookie or otherwise. They had some of my favorite outfits as well, sporting sequin-covered Red Sox Jerseys and over-the-knee combat boots, which was just one outfit in their sporty inspired looks from the “BIM BAM BUM” music video.
2. TXT (Tomorrow X Together): Five piece TXT debuted on March 4, 2019 with their title track “Crown”. I love this song, and when TXT released the “Crown” music video, I was overjoyed. It was so refreshing to see such a cute and youthful concept for a boy group without it feeling forced like it so often does with older groups. All of TXT is fairly young, their ages range from 16-19, so I’m thankful that a mature concept wasn’t forced upon them. Sometimes, younger groups will have concepts that don’t suit their age in an attempt to “keep up” with the trends, but TXT has clearly broken this stigma with their fresh and age-appropriate concept. The choreography for this song is (dare I say it?) the best I’ve seen all year. It’s just the right amount of theatricality, but it has simpler moments of space and reflection, the two working perfectly in tandem to create a memorable and mesmerising debut.
Honorable Mention BVNDIT: BVNDIT debuted on April 10 with lead single “Hocus Pocus”. This song is so much fun! There is a wide variety of instruments and interesting samples that make it such a treat to listen to. The production on it is very unique and it’s a great listen. The music video is very youthful and fun, and I can’t wait to see what BVNDIT has in store for us in the future.
1. ITZY: Last but not least, ITZY debuted on February 12, 2019 as a five-member girl group with the title track “달라달라DALLA DALLA”. Since debuting, ITZY has made quite a splash this year, sweeping most every award they were nominated for and racking up hundreds of millions of music video views and streams. That’s a massive impact on such a critical genre, and their success is well deserved. Their lead single “DALLA DALLA” is an upbeat and high energy romp through self love, confidence, and the acceptance of differences. When watching the music video for “DALLA DALLA”, all of the girls display so much personality that it’s impossible not to like them. Everything about ITZY’s debut was magical; their choreo is memorable, fun, and visually interesting; their girl-crush style is both fitting for their energy and just generally amazing; and their unique lyrics and engaging music makes them my favorite debut of 2019.
2019 was an amazing year for Kpop. Heavy hitters like BTS and Blackpink released some of their best music yet, and as you can see, there was a surplus of amazingly talented rookie groups breaking out into the industry. So, if you’re looking for a new group to explore, or you’re recently acquainted with Kpop, any of the groups mentioned here are a great place to start. Happy listening!