While it’s not atypical for South Korean pop stars to collaborate with one another, the newest boy band from K-pop company SM Entertainment and Capitol Records is something rare: SuperM, which is set to release their self-titled debut EP on Oct. 4, features seven men from across the company’s roster, each of whom are considered outstanding performers and central figures in their respective teams. With a name said to stand for terms including “synergy, “master” and “matrix,” SuperM is attempting to make their mark on the global music scene, and the U.S. market in particular, with their hybrid strengths as stars, and each man offers his own distinct skillset to the hybrid boy band.
Ahead of their first album's release, the group is already raising expectations, and not only debuted on the Social 50 chart at No. 2 this week, but previously debuted on the Artist 100 chart at No. 93 and on the Emerging Artists chart at No. 6.
The members of SuperM recently spoke with Billboard for a profile, which you can read in full here, but learn more about each of the seven artists and their careers below.
Solo Work & Other Projects: Along with his EXO-associated releases, over the years, standout tenor Baekhyun has released numerous songs, including hits like 2016’s “Dream” with Suzy, and recently released his first solo album, July’s City Lights. The EP debuted and peaked at No. 4 on the World Albums chart. He has also, notably, appeared on the Artist 100 chart, a rarity for solo K-pop stars, peaking at No. 84 last October. He has also acted a bit, most notably appearing in the 2016 Korean television drama Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo.
Thoughts on SuperM: “Even though this group is new, we’ve all seen each other since we were younger, we’ve been friends. SHINee was my senior. NCT, WayV, they’re all my juniors. I’m just excited to present this opportunity to the global fanbase, and I really respect our producer for putting this group together. It’s definitely a great joy for me to be a part of this. For us right now, it’s important to work even harder because there are these expectations upon the group. We have to see how each of our individual strengths bounce off of one another and how they will be highlighted in this group. To bring all that together and to help us realize a different kind of potential that couldn’t have been seen before in our respective groups I think is kind of the biggest challenge. There is a slight pressure but it’s not a bad kind of pressure, it’s a good pressure that we can use to push ourselves.”
Solo Work & Other Projects: After beginning his career as a young teenager in SHINee, Taemin has grown into a star with one of the most distinct artistic styles in the K-pop world through several solo albums in both Korean and Japanese. Known for his striking performance style, he’s pushed the concept of gender stereotypes in regards to choreography, most notably with 2017’s “Move.” A consummate performer with over a decade under his belt, he most recently released his Japanese EP, Famous, in August.
Thoughts on SuperM: “For me personally, the coming together of this group SuperM itself is kind of like a dream just because our focus is more global. We’re going to do more stuff in the U.S., and that was kind of one of the goals we had as a group. Just in terms of the globalization of K-pop, and even myself, I just have a lot of desire to kind of jump into that market, the global market. Even though K-pop has already been doing well, being more in tune with my US fans and international fanbase... Obviously there are goals that I’ve personally set for myself, not speaking on behalf of the other members, but you know… It could be in terms of doing shows in the U.S. as SuperM or going on the charts in the U.S. Stuff like that that are more measurable goals. But in general, being able to be a part of this, and globalizing K-pop and putting it more on the international pop scene, is a big goal.”
Name: Kai (Kim Jongin)
Birthday: January 14, 1994
Hometown: Suncheon, South Jeolla Province, South Korea
Primary Team: EXO (Dancer)
Debut: EXO-K’s “MAMA,” April 8, 2012
Solo Work & Other Projects: A central figure in EXO, Kai is known for his charismatic, sensual performance style, with a particular sense of intensity embedded into each of his moves, and regularly has displayed his skills during solo and joint dance performances. Though his only solo songs, “I See You” and “Deep Breath,” were featured on EXO concert albums -- he is currently performing his new song “Confession” during the group’s ongoing Exploration tour -- and never released as singles, he was featured on the song “Pretty Boy” on Taemin’s 2014 debut solo EP Ace; the pair are widely known across the K-pop world to be close friends. Along with his musical career, Kai has also acted in several Korean, and one Japanese, television shows and web dramas. Kai also recently became a Gucci eyewear brand ambassador.
Thoughts on SuperM: “I’m having a lot of fun working with this team and I get a lot of youthful, young energy working with the younger members. It’s been a lot of fun for me and the rest of the more senior members.”
Solo Work & Other Projects: A true renaissance man with a flair for dramatic raps and dance breaks, Taeyong first appeared on the K-pop scene as a trainee and released a short snippet of his solo song “Open the Door” on SM’s YouTube channel in 2014. Later that year, the versatile artist was featured on Red Velvet's single "Be Natural.” Since then, he's worked with many other artists over the years beyond his work in several NCT teams. Last year, he and Ten performed together as NCT U, sharing the captivating duet “Baby Don’t Stop” with the world. Taeyong recently released his first solo song “Long Flight” in July, a self-composed track that peaked at No. 6 on the World Digital Song Sales chart.
Thoughts on SuperM: “Many people know us. All of our fans know each of our members’ strengths from within our respective groups, but now that we’ve come together in SuperM should bring out a kind of dynamic synergy because it’s a totally different environment where we can expand our potentials as individuals.”
Debut Single: NCT U’s “The 7th Sense,” April 9, 2016
Solo Work & Other Projects: Between his first appearance in NCT U in 2016 and the release of WayV’s first single in January of this year, Ten gained renown as a solo artist. In 2017, he shared his mesmerizing, pan-Asian “Dream in a Dream,” and last year he put out the inspirational, shimmering EDM of “New Heroes”; both songs appeared in the top five of the World Digital Song Sales chart. A skilled, accomplished creative, Ten's also revealed himself to be a talented artist over the years, and a polylingual star who is ready to take on the global music market.
Thoughts on SuperM: “We don’t have a specific goal, but we think with this opportunity we want to enjoy the music, and show the world how much we love music, and make the fans have fun with our stages and music. I want to show the world our unique and distinguishable image and artistic side. I wish we can give the world a positive influence across the world. Each member, we each have different charming points and our colors, the way we love the music. I think people will eventually - if they know us individually, people can eventually relate and fall for us later when they see our upcoming result.”
Name: Lucas (Wong Yukhei)
Birthday: January 25, 1999
Hometown: Hong Kong
Primary Team: WayV (Rapper)
Also Associated with: NCT, NCT U
Debut Single: NCT U’s “Boss,” February 19, 2018
Solo Work & Other Projects: Lucas and his infectious enthusiasm arrived last year, when he was introduced as part of NCT ahead of the NCT 2018 Empathy album promotional cycles. Since then, he became a regular on Chinese variety show Keep Running, and collaborated with Jonah Nilsson and Richard Bona on last year’s “Coffee Break” and also appeared on Taeyeon’s “All Night Long,” in 2018. Known especially for his statuesque looks, he walked the runaway for South Korean brand KYE at Seoul Fashion Week in October 2018.
Thoughts on SuperM: “Being a part of this group and getting to work with all my seniors makes me want to work that much harder because I see how great they are at what they do. I’m most excited about seeing all seven of us on stage, hearing all of the fans go wild. Just seeing all of the reactions, that’s what we’re working towards now.”
Debut Single: NCT U’s “The 7th Sense,” April 9, 2016
Solo Work & Other Projects: Dynamic rapper Mark has spent much of his career hopping between NCT groups, though he aged out of NCT Dream last year, and solo projects. The hardworking performer appeared on the 2017 Korean competition show High School Rapper, and has also collaborated on a variety of releases, including 2017's "Young & Free" with EXO's Xiumin, which peaked at No. 6 on the World Digital Song Sales chart, and "Lemonade Love" with Park Jae-jung, which peaked at No. 17 on the same chart.
Thoughts on SuperM: “One of the main reasons I was excited about this team was that we all really looked up to these seniors. Sometimes I think to myself, while I’m practicing with them and shoulder to shoulder, ‘Wow, I’m actually dancing [with them]’ or, ‘Wow, I’m actually having a conversation with them.’ ‘Wow, I’m actually in the practice room with the guys I’ve always looked up to.’ That’s always been a moment from me. I feel like I can learn from them as well. I’ve already learned a lot just being with them. I feel like it’s a good give and take for both sides. I feel like this combination itself entertains fans in a new kind of way. I feel like it’s putting all eras together at once, that’s what makes SuperM a very strong and powerful team.”
*Each SuperM member is a multifaceted performer, each with their own distinct style. All are considered central members of their respective teams due to their impactful skills. For the purpose of this guide, their distinct role in their main group is listed, though all of them are talented dancers and many of them double as both singers and rappers, and several also write music and choreograph.