K-Pop Temporary Girl Group I.O.I Takes a Bow After Year in the Spotlight

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I.O.I perform at KCON LA 2016 at L.A. LIVE on July 30, 2016 in Los Angeles. 

Since May 4, K-pop girl group I.O.I exceeded expectations with their catchy songs and charming personalities. Throughout 2016, they rose to become one of the most popular acts in South Korea, but on Sunday, the 11 members of the team said farewell for the final time.

In an appearance on the Korean television show Section TV, I.O.I told fans that they’d like to reunite in five years.

“Because it’s so sad that we’ll be going our separate ways, we promised [each other] that we’ll meet again in five years,” said member Yoo Yeonjung during an interview filmed last week.

The group’s final performance was held in Seoul on Jan. 22, where they performed their final single “Downpour.” Videos from the event showed several members crying on stage as I.O.I sung their final goodbye.

The first of their kind, I.O.I was formed through a Korean reality show, Produce 101, in 2016 and created with an end date. Throughout the series, the members were selected out of 101 potential K-pop idols for the temporary girl group. United for a year, I.O.I was largely a promotional tool for the 11 young women, all of whom will continue on in the industry under their own respective entertainment labels. But during their time together, I.O.I was one of K-pop’s hottest acts.

After already getting a sizeable bump thanks to their television show, I.O.I jumped into their short career quickly. Rather than aiming for an impactful debut and waiting a few months before releasing a follow-up track or album, as is typical of the Korean music industry, 2016 offered an onslaught of I.O.I’s music as the group aimed to jam a full career into a span of months. Even prior to their official formation at the end of the show, “Pick Me,” the show’s infectious EDM theme song, had blasted I.O.I to success in South Korea.

Saccharine electro-pop worked for I.O.I, and their first official songs, “Crush” and “Dream Girls,” from May's Chrysalis EP, retained the upbeat style of "Pick Me." August saw seven of the team’s members release “Whatta Man,” a throwback to the 1993 Salt-N-Pepa and En Vogue single and Linda Lyndell’s original song from the '60s. It became the group’s first song to appear on a Billboard chart: It peaked at No. 12 on the World Digital Songs Sales chart.

I.O.I’s largest success came from their addictive October hit, “Very Very Very.” Produced by JYP Entertainment founder Park Jinyoung (also known as J.Y Park), the bubblegum pop song hit No. 4 on the World Digital Songs Sales chart and was one of the most-viewed K-pop videos in the world that month.

The group released their final song as a group, “Downpour,” in early January, anticipating their end-of-month breakup.

As of Jan. 31 in South Korea, I.O.I is no more, but the 11 women will surely make their impact on the industry, both as members of new K-pop girl groups or pursuing solo careers.

Watch I.O.I’s final interview:


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