Already, 2019 has come to an end. Over 300 songs from Korean art-ists have been released, with 56 debuts. Although the industry has been introduced with unique and new beginnings, it has also has gone through a lot of disrepute and losses. Records have been bro-ken and groups have been formed. A lot has happened this year, and more will be waiting at the start of the new decade in 2020. Out of the “Big Three” entertainment groups (JYP, SM, YG), my favorite this year was definitely JYP. Although I do love groups from SM and YG, like NCT and BLACKPINK, JYP groups really thrived this year with their comebacks. The newly debuted ITZY caught many people’s eyes with their teen crush concept, shown in their debut song “Dalla Dalla.” This music video has reached over 150 million views, which is a huge deal for a rookie group that just de-buted this year. TWICE is also another group that is easily one of the most promoted girl groups in the industry. The girls never seem to rest, having comeback after comeback. They have released 5 music videos this year alone, with 4 Korean and Japanese albums. TWICE’s songs never fail to blow up, and their iconic and addicting dance moves always make fans dance along. The group went on a successful world tour this year, even having three stops in America. In my opinion, TWICE is the biggest and most successful girl group from 2019; their popularity has soared through the roofs, not only domestically but internationally as well. Fans are overloaded with content, receiving new music and variety shows that show the girls’ bubbly personalities and talent. Their teamwork with each other allow them to fill in for other members’ flaws, in a way that allows everyone to show their best work.
KPOP Concert (Image by google)
From the rookie groups that debuted in 2019, one group in par-ticular has caught the attention of thousands of fans all around the world, including me: Everglow. Their debut song “Bon Bon Chocolat” is a song that I never get sick of; I remember putting it on repeat for weeks after it came out. Their recent song “Adios” caused some controversy that it sounded too similar to BLACK-PINK’s “Kill This Love,” but personally, I love and enjoy both songs as their own. Their music videos have accumulated over 100 mil-lion views (half of which are probably mine). Their girl crush con-cept vaguely reminds me of Dreamcatcher’s, another girl group that I love. Dreamcatcher has some of my favorite music; I would consider it girly rock. The group has some of the strongest female rappers, in my opinion, and they deserve to be recognized more. Along with Dreamcatcher, groups from CUBE Entertainment also deserve to be noticed more. CLC, Pentagon, and (G)-IDLE, all from CUBE, have such distinct concepts and are known to pro-duce their own music. Although being talented in singing and dancing is spectacular in itself, having the ability to self-produce music makes a group even more lovable.
Another newly debuted group that caught my eye was X1. I was an avid watcher of “Produce X 101,” the survival show that formed X1, but I was a bit disappointed with the final lineup. However, my disappointment disappeared once I saw their debut. Five of the members had already debuted in previous groups or had gone on other survival shows, so their professionalism and experience filled in for the members who were still new and lacking. Although the age difference between the members is big (10 years!), the older members make an effort to connect with the younger members by learning about social culture these days and by mentoring them.
TWICE (credit to official TWICE Twitter account @JYPETWICE)
Super M (credit to The Ellen Show)
BLACKPINK (credit Good Morning America)
Having such a huge age gap can be a con in that the members might not understand each other, but it is also an advantage in that their different ages can appeal to fans of different generations and eras. Having members that previously debuted also helps to bring in fans from their past groups.
Over 20 K-POP artists and groups have gone on tour in America this year alone, including major groups like BTS, NCT, Red Velvet, and Monsta X, and smaller rookie groups like TXT and ATEEZ. Not only have Korean groups been expanding their fanbase in the states through touring but they have also collaborated with Western artists to branch their music out towards Western music fans. BTS have collaborated with Charlie XCX and Lauv, exciting fans of both K-POP and electropop. NCT 127 and Lay from EXO also teamed up with Jason Derulo to release “Let’s Shut Up & Dance.” These collaborations are a way to spread popularity to different countries and to connect through separate genres and languages through sound. Music is a universal language for these artists, and they are able to show what they want the songs’ mes-sages to be through different languages.
SM Entertainment stirred anger in fans when it announced that it would be debuting a group called “Super M,” consisting of members from SHINee, EXO, and NCT. Many fans were outraged that the company was spending their money on trying to expand into the American market with a new group instead of using their resources on already existing groups. I felt this way at the beginning as well, and knowing that the members of Super M would probably not be promoting with their previous groups again for some time frustrated me even more. However, I do believe that putting members from different eras and groups can be beneficial in making a diverse concept. 2019 was a big year for the Korean industry, with many controversies and scandals occuring. One of the biggest scandals in the history of K-POP hap-pened this year with the Burning Sun scandal. This scandal blew up amongst the country, Seungri being part of one of the major influences of K-POP. Big Bang had been the significant factor of most second generation K-POP fans, so to hear that Seungri and other artists had turned out to be criminals hurt and angered many of the public. The Seungri scandal had already started to ruin YG Entertainment’s name when it was revealed that YG had provided prostitutes for Southeast Asian investors. Following, accusations that B.I. from iKON had interest in purchasing LSD and marijuana were released. It was revealed that he never went through with buying the drugs, but had admitted to wanting them at one point in his life when he was going through a rough time. Soon after, he announced his departure from iKON on Instagram. This was such a frustrating moment for iKON fans, myself included. B.I. had pro-duced the majority of the group’s music and was one of the biggest sources of income for the company. He had not even taken the drugs, but was forced to terminate his contract just because of some rumors. Ending B.I.’s contract meant that he would never be able to perform with his bandmates again. Shortly after this, Yang Hyunsuk, the founder of YG Entertainment, announced that he was resigning. Ultimately, YG had gone through a load of messes this year, with mistakes and truths causing the demise of both the company and the artists. YG’s reputation is completely ruined, but I hope that the groups that are still left in the company will make the better choice to leave the agen-cy to form their own. My dream would be for iKON to form their own agency and add B.I. back into the group, but so far, nothing has happened yet.
In sad news, the former f(x) member Sulli has recently taken her own life in October. Sulli had always been very open about her beliefs, which caused many netizens to hate on her through social media. Sulli’s passing away has raised awareness of the true suffering of idols in the industry and the things they have to go through because of negative comments. The public has been reminded through another terrible incident that idols are humans too and that negative comments have effect on their lives.
2019 has been quite an eventful year for the Korean music industry, with new and exciting beginnings but also regretful and sad endings. A decade has ended, and a new beginning is awaiting for K-POP and its fans.
Priscilla Song (송하영)
Priscilla Song is currently a junior at Tenafly High School. She is the Junior Reporter of Mom & I Magazine and the Managing Editor of her school’s newspaper. She enjoys painting, writing for her school newspaper, volunteering, napping, and spending time with her friends and family. Her favorite hobby is travelling with her family and making videos of their trips. Priscilla is also a big K-Pop fan, and her favorite groups are IZ*ONE, NCT, and BLACKPINK. Although she is not completely certain of her career path, she hopes to pursue in the media or communications field in her future.