X1 debut marked by record win time

By Nadine Kam I

So my question prior to X1’s debut on Aug. 27 was, are they going to match or top Wanna One, the previous male band formed by the “Produce 101” franchise that disbanded earlier this year after their yearlong contract expired.

Well, considering their first big win, on SBS MTV’s “The Show,” for “Flash,” came five days after their debut, they’re off to a good start. They beat Wanna One, whose first award came nine days after debut, as well as the six-day record on MNET’s M Countdown, for a boy group, held by YG’s Winner after releasing its debut single “Color Ring.”

👁: X1 “Flash” music video

Whether they continue on this way is still a question mark for me because of that cloud over the “Produce” voting process that already prevented them from debuting on KBS2’s “Music Bank.”

It’s also hard for me to be objective about the group’s formation because I was with these members for four months during the “Produce X 101” competition, and feel too attached to some members to watch them as if being introduced to them for the first time.

I like the song and video, but is the song as strong as Wanna One’s “Energetic?” I don’t think so. Because I try to learn K-pop dances, I also noticed there’s no segment in the choreography that’s particularly catchy. So it lacks that dance hook that gets people excited to perform and share cover dances, also a measure of the success of a particular song.

I feel like 11 members is too many for newbies to become close to a group. I mean I’m glad that number accommodates most of my favorites, but I think an ideal group size is five to eight. If I were new to the group, the quick edits and dark styling of the music video for “Flash” would make the members seem intimidating, and it wouldn’t give me enough time to get to know their faces or to sort out who’s dancing or singing at any given time.

Luckily, they have a built-in audience of the millions who tuned into “Produce,” and already picked out their favorites, which for me are center Kim Yo Han and sub-vocalist and X-boy Lee Eun Sang, who I think is a rising star. Only 16 by American age, he has the poise of a young adult and presence to match members of the group who already debuted with other groups prior to joining “Produce.”

He is at the center of this teaser for M Countdown, which has him confessing his fears about the stage, only to be told by the hyung line and Han Seung Woo, that they manage their nerves by taking flash selfies.

Meanwhile the maknae line’s Son Dong Pyo shares that they quell their fears by dancing.

Eun Sang thanks them, then goes off to do his own thing.

Meanwhile, at a press conference for their debut, Yo Han had promised that they would all put their hair up in apple style if they won first place on a music show. On Sept. 3, they fulfilled that promise, which delighted their fandom, called One It! Very cute as you can see at the top of the page.

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I was also curious to see what the Woollim trainees would come up with for their W Project 4 debut. They have some strength in dancer Hwang Yunseong, vocalist Lee Hyeop and rapper Kim Dong Yun.

But overall their dancing is not as precise and powerful as X1’s, and they have a way to go before they can match those groups in the upper echelons of the K-pop world.

👁: W Project 4 “1 Minute 1 Second”

Debuts add excitement to 2019

By Nadine Kam

2019 already got off to a good start with BTS Jimin’s release of his solo song “Promise” on New Year’s Eve in South Korea.

Given BTS’s success over the past year, the most awaited debut will be that of their parent company Big Hit Entertainment’s new boy group. Though Big Hit is not leaking any information about the group’s members, stalkers have kept an eye on the coming and going of potential members outside of the company’s headquarters and posted their videos to YouTube. The image at top allegedly shows some of the mystery members, said to have an average age of 17. The group is rumored to be debuting in March.

Also, with YG Entetainment’s broadcast of its “YG Treasure Box” series (10 p.m. Friday nights KST on Naver’s V Live, and again two hours later at midnight on YouTube) on the making of its next boy band from its “treasure box” of trainees, you can expect them to strike while interest is high and debut said band.

It’s anyone’s guess which of 29 hopefuls in “YG Treasure Box” will become the ones to debut as part of YG Entertainment’s next boy band. Here, three who initially made the band are being put to the test by challengers for their spots.

Along with debuts will come goodbyes in 2019.

Most prominent was the Dec. 31, 2018, disbandment of Wanna One, another group formed through a broadcast competition.

The group debuted in August 2017 following selection during the music survival show “Produce 101,” Season 2, reached the end of their contracts and although they were very popular and racked up 43 Korean and international awards and 49 Korean music program awards in its brief tenure, there was no plan by management company Swing Entertainment to renew their contract.

Fans will miss Wanna One after spring, but due to the group’s success over the year, individual members have plenty of prospects going forward.

With awards season continuing through spring, however, Wanna One will attend the award shows and will stage finale concerts in Seoul Jan. 24 through 27.

Although the disbandment was sad, given that they ended their year’s run on top of charts, the future looks bright. Although fans will miss them as a unit, it’s hard to feel sad for the individual members who will reap a small fortune from their year’s work. In that time, the group generated nearly 80 billion won (USD $71 million) in revenue since debut, with 44 billion won net profit, according to Sports Seoul, and each group member will walk away with a share in the income.

Here’s a look at some of their current plans:

Yoon Ji-sung: The group’s oldest member is slated to release a solo album on Feb. 20 February. He will also be starring in the musical, “The Days,” before enlisting in the South Korean military this spring.

Kang Daniel: Signed to the same agency as Yoon Ji-sung, he is planning to release solo music, although no details are available. He recently opened his own Instagram account to keep fans updated and picked up 1 million followers within 12 hours.

Kim Jae-hwan: He is said to be writing his own music with a solo career in mind.

Hwang Min Hyun: The former NU’EST member will be rejoining his former group under the Pledis Entertainment banner.

Lee Dae Hwi and Park Woo Jin: Have been signed by Brand New Music and will be making their debut in a group alongside MXM’s Lim Young Min and Kim Dong Hyun. The group’s lineup is still being finalized, but an April or May debut is expected.

Ha Sung Woon: Signed with Star Crew Entertainment. It is unclear whether he will be going solo or returning to his former band HOTSHOT.

Ong Seong-wu: Is exploring a future in acting and is reported to be joining a JTBC drama series.

Lai Kuan-Lin: Will be filming another reality TV show, then taking a role in a Chinese TV drama series.

Park Ji-hoon: Has also been offered acting roles but is currently considering his options as he also plans to continue singing, according to Maroo Entertaintment.

Bae Jinyoung: Will focus on acting, as well as forming another music team.

Due to contracts coming to an end in 2019, some groups that may come to an end this year due to relations with their companies or loss of members include B.A.P., AOA, Mr Mr, Cross Gene, BIGSTAR and 24K.

Other contracts coming to an end include that of Vixx and NU’EST, but with Hwang Min Hyun rejoining his former band, they are likely to continue with renewed energy.