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Top K-Pop Rookies of 2019 (Part 1)

Written by Violet Tell a Friend

We're over halfway through 2019, and it's been very competitive in the K-pop industry because of all the talented rising newcomers and breakout rookies who have debuted so far. Is there any new group or solo act that has won your heart already? Let's get to know YesAsia's top 10 best-selling K-pop rookies in the first half of the year as of June 30, 2019!

1. TXT – "One Dream!"

Crown MV

Following the massive success of BTS, Big Hit Entertainment proudly presents their first new boy band in six years, TXT. Meaning Tomorrow By Together, the name TXT signals the aspiration of "you and I, different but together, we explore one dream." Yeon Jun, Soo Bin, Beom Gyu, Tae Hyun and Huening Kai foray into fan hearts not only with their appealing visuals but also their dynamic dance moves. In less than half a year, the rising sensation has broken plenty of significant records, both domestic and international. Their debut album landed on various Billboard and iTunes charts on the first day of release, and the music video for the title track "Crown" surpassed 15 million views on YouTube in 24 hours. The synth-pop tune offers cheery, bouncy beats with cute yet inspiring lyrics that encourage teens to embrace their growing pains and learn to love themselves! TXT's first release The Dream Chapter: STAR also topped album charts with sales of more than 100,000 copies in 28 days, making them the best-selling rookie boy group in the first half of 2019. Just a few months after debut, they even headed stateside for their first Tomorrow X Together Showcase: STAR in US tour and released their first English single Cat & Dog. If you ask what’s special about TXT, it's probably their young and energetic vibe that stands out among rookies – not to mention Big Hit’s magical touch!

2. ONEUS – "ONE US!"

Valkyrie MV

RBW Entertainment boy band ONEUS debuted in January with their first mini-album Light Us and title track "Valkyrie." The ONEUS members didn't just appear out of nowhere – almost all of them took part in survival audition programs before. Keon Hee, Hwan Woong and Seo Ho were in Produce 101 Season 2, and Keon Hee is best known for winning #1 in the vocal position evaluation. Seo Ho also participated in MIXNINE with Ravn (Kim Young Jo). The four members gather with Lee Do and Xion to form the edgy and charismatic band ONEUS. Main rappers Ravn and Lee Do have written the rap for most of their album tracks so far. From the Norse mythology in Light Us to "the time between dog and wolf" concept in Raise Us, ONEUS has secured their position as the K-pop newcomer with the most eye-catching concepts.

3. Everglow – "Ready? All Light!"

Bon Bon Chocolat MV

"Bon bon chocolat, go up to the sky!" Three years after launching WJSN with Starship Entertainment, Yuehua Entertainment finally debuts the label's first exclusive girl group Everglow. Main dancer and main rapper E:U leads the team with popular Produce 48 contestants Si Hyeon and Yi Ren, Idol School's Onda, main vocalist Mia and Aisha. The group unleashes their "Sparkling Chic" charisma in their first single album Arrival of Everglow released in March. Though the album's title song Bon Bon Chocolat wasn't big on local music charts, the funky hip-hop EDM song broke into Billboard's World Digital Song Sales chart at #5, which marks a great start for the group. Everglow describes their dream debut to be as sweet as Bon Bon Chocolat, and confidently reels in listeners with the addictive hook "Everything, everything, you gotta want my everything."

4. AB6IX – "Salute!"

Breathe MV

On the first episode of Produce 101 Season 2, the trainees from hip-hop label Brand New Music made a splash with the self-produced and self-choreographed Hollywood. Lee Dae Hwi and Park Woo Jin eventually made it into the Wanna One member lineup, while Lim Young Min and Kim Dong Hyun debuted later as the duo MXM. After the end of Wanna One's promotions, the four Produce alumni joined up with former YG Entertainment trainee Jeon Woong, who appeared on the Stray Kids survival reality show, to form BNM's first idol group, AB6IX. Despite his young age, Dae Hwi is well known for his songwriting skills with credits like MXM's Good Day, Produce 48's "See You Again," IZ*ONE's Airplane and his Wanna One bandmate Yoon Ji Sung's "Slow." And indeed, Dae Hwi took part in five songs on AB6IX's first album B:COMPLETE. Dae Hwi, Young Min and Woo Jin also worked together with their boss Rhymer to write the deep house dance title track Breathe. The promising group successfully sold more than 100,000 copies of their debut release in less than two weeks and brought home two music show trophies in their second week of promotion.

5. VERIVERY – "Let's Show Who We Are!"

Ring Ring Ring MV

Jellyfish Entertainment's VERIVERY debuted in early January with the mini-album VERI-US, which marks the label's first boy band debut since VIXX in 2012. The seven-member group promotes the qualities of "Various, Energetic, Real and Innovation" that make them "VERIVERY." The well-rounded members not only possess songwriting and choreography skills, but they also edit their own videos and design album artwork; they drew and painted the artistic DIY Version covers of their albums. With two albums released in the first two quarters, VERIVERY has already established a unique musical style that can represent the group. Both of their title tracks, "Ring Ring Ring" and "From Now," are hip-hop new jack swing tunes that unveil VERIVERY's refreshing, uplifting and energetic vibe. Moreover, the CD-exclusive track Thank you, NEXT? is an interesting promotion strategy that makes fans very very curious about their next release.

6. Ha Sung Woon

Bird MV

Ha Sung Woon debuted in Hotshot in 2014 and made it into Wanna One as the 11th member two years ago. Since his appearance on Produce 101, the underrated singer has always impressed viewers with his singing, dancing and even his sense of humor. Ha Sung Woon wrote "Flowerbomb" for Wanna One's last album 1¹¹=1 (Power of Destiny), and now he fully showcases his songwriting ability in his solo releases! The vocalist made his third debut as a soloist with his first EP My Moment and the sweet and upbeat title single Bird. His second mini-album BXXX is again filled with self-penned tracks, including the medium-tempo pop number BLUE. As a soloist, Ha Sung Woon is able to shine and show a different style and versatility than before.

7. Cherry Bullet – "Let's Play Cherry Bullet!"


A distinctive group concept catches more attention, particularly during the debut era. FNC's new girl group Cherry Bullet successfully grabbed attention with their unique game concept. Ahead of their first album release in January, the vibrant group stunned the public with their powerful dancing and stable vocals in an Into the New World cover video. Consisting of girls from Korea, Japan and Taiwan, Cherry Bullet has a total of ten members including Produce 48's strong vocalist Hae Yoon. From the 8-bit game of debut album Let's Play Cherry Bullet to the AR/VR worlds of Love Adventure, Cherry Bullet energizes listeners with sweet, upbeat tunes and cute visual effects in their MVs.

8. Park Ji Hoon


Even before the premiere of Produce 101 Season 2, the show's celebrated "wink boy" Park Ji Hoon went viral all over the internet for his cute and outstanding visuals. But don't underestimate his talents – the Wanna One member steals hearts not only with his looks, but also his vocal, rap and dance talents. In March, he debuted as a solo singer with his first mini-album O'Clock that shows a totally different style from him. The idol's spectacular performance of the pop ballad L.O.V.E. marked his new beginning and his growth. Although he did not promote his song on weekly music shows, he successfully recorded nearly 110,000 units of album sales in one month.

9. Kim Jae Hwan

Begin Again MV

Ranking fourth in Produce 101 Season 2's final round, Wanna One's main vocalist Kim Jae Hwan is the only independent trainee to ever win in the Produce series. Whether it's Never, Energetic or any other notable Wanna One song, Kim Jae Hwan is always the one responsible for hitting the high notes, naturally and effortlessly. The singer later signed with Swing Entertainment (Wanna One's label) and pursued his solo career with first mini-album Another. Nobody would doubt Kim Jae Hwan as a talented singer, but beyond that, he can also write and compose his own songs. Though he didn't show his songwriting ability during his Wanna One era, Kim Jae Hwan co-penned his mix-genre tracks in Another, including the well-loved pop R&B ballad "Begin Again" which garnered him two wins on music shows.

10. 1TEAM – "Just One!"

Vibe MV

This March, Liveworks Company debuted their first boy group 1TEAM with a five-member lineup that includes the agency’s popular trainees – MIXNINE’s #3 contestant Lee Ru Bin and #15 contestant BC (Jin Sung Ho). Before MIXNINE, the members took part in Boys24 as well, and BC even made it into the debut team IN2IT. After years of spinning around, the boys finally made their dream come true in 1TEAM along with Lee Jin Woo, Moon Je Hyun and Lee Jung Hoon. They made a refreshing debut with first mini-album HELLO! and the chill, rhythmical medium-tempo R&B title track “Vibe” written by renowned producing team Devine Channel.

Have you found your new K-pop bias? There are sure to be many more K-pop debuts in the coming months. Check out part two of this article in January 2020!

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Published August 7, 2019

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  • Region & Language: Hong Kong United States - English
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