As January fades away into what’s sure to be a frigid February, the K-pop world is heating up with both old and new acts alike gearing up to have a big year. Each year, there are rookie artists who break out and enter the mainstream, rising to the top of the highly competitive K-pop scene, whether it’s because of viral, earworm hits or breakout sonic moments.
Though it’s impossible to predict the future, there are a few rising groups that are gaining traction. Here are some K-pop rookies to pay attention to in 2020.
With their infectious debut single “Bon Bon Chocolat” last year followed by the sleek, yet fierce, ode to farewells “Adios,” EVERGLOW rapidly became one of 2019’s rising K-pop girl groups. Both songs landed in the top five of the World Digital Song Sales chart last year. The six-member team, which recently announced their first U.S. tour dates, will be releasing their first EP Reminiscence on Feb. 3 and are set to unleash “Dun Dun” on Feb. 3. The music video’s teaser has already surpassed more than 5.6 million views since it dropped on Wednesday and heralds the continued ascent of Everglow in 2020.
This boy band arrived on the scene in July with their smooth “Movie Star” introducing them to the world, and followed it up with the brash “Numb” in November. With five members, including former Wanna One member Bae Jinyoung, their sound is addicting and built around impactful beats that serve as a platform for their dynamic performances. Though they’re still waiting for their big breakout hit, 2020 is gearing up to be a big year for CIX; they’ve already set their sights on international horizons and are holding fanmeet-style concerts in several countries this year including the U.S.
Coming from the same company home as MAMAMOO in RBW, rising boy band ONEUS is breaking out with a sound and style that breaks away from the, at times, saturated K-pop boy band scene. The group’s “Lit” single and music video draws inspiration from traditional Korean instruments, fashion and culture, combining it with modern-day trap and hip-hop. These were major creative jumps for ONEUS to make them stand out from other groups while developing something unique in the industry, and landed them their first entry on the World Albums chart.
As the Billboard chart success of groups like BLACKPINK, ITZY, (G)I-DLE and fellow 2020 pick EVERGLOW have proven, it’s now the time of the fierce girl groups. HINAPIA were able to make a dent on Billboard‘s World Digital Song Sales chart upon debut with their pounding party single “Drip.” The five-member act is an interesting case with four of its singers as former members of gone-too-soon girl group Pristin (who also made a Billboard impact in their short time together) with the ladies now showcasing a more sophisticated, mature side to make them stand out as K-pop’s cool, older-sister group. While they only have two songs under their belt, HINAPIA frequently covers hits by the likes of BLACKPINK and Red Velvet with their ability to make the track all their own showing their potential to jump out from the K-pop crowd.
An artistic underdog creeping their way through the scene, OnlyOneOf is certainly one to watch if just for their avant-garde approach to the industry. Quietly, the boy band has crafted an imagery that is both beautiful, and somewhat creepy, with music that’s forward-thinking, not unlike the exciting sounds that made LOONA garner such an international following. In fact, LOONA’s former creative collaborator Jaden Jeong is heavily involved with the group. The band’s latest release, “dOra maar” released this week, pushes forward their experimental style with refreshing tinges of R&B.
Along with these five, many other acts — like the soon to debut DKB, Cignature and original 2019 pick Treasure, plus new acts coming from top labels like SM Entertainment and Starship Entertainment — are also already gaining a lot of buzz.