The day the 11 members of X1 were confirmed should have been the official start of an exciting and fruitful career in the K-pop scene. Instead, the K-pop boy band has found their group and names mired in controversy since they were confirmed for debut last summer over questions about the legitimacy of the singing competition show that created them. But even if the disbandment news seems final, fans haven’t stopped fighting. That’s important and it speaks to a larger message about the power of fandom and securing a safe future in the unstable, sometimes unfair pop music industry.
X1’s K-pop history has been followed with an excruciating amount of details continuing to come out about the business behind the boy band. With the conclusion of the fourth season of the sensational singing competition show Produce 101, the latest season titled Produce X 101 that was set to create a new-but-temporary boy band in X1 following two seasons of girl groups and one other boy band, the show was under scrutiny for the final lineup. Viewers noticed there were repeating numerical patterns between the final vote totals becoming all the more problematic considering fans were paying to vote for their favorites. A lengthy investigation into Produce X 101‘s TV channel Mnet led to producers of the show being arrested in November before admitting to manipulating the rankings for the show.
Two groups from the Produce show (I.O.I and Wanna One) had already fulfilled their promotional period together and girl group IZ*ONE was considered more established after more than a year together, but X1 wound up on the chopping block with the record labels that represented the agencies of the 11 respective X1 members ultimately split on whether to continue or end. They opted to disband the act.
Despite remarkable achievements like showing early Billboard chart success (including high ranks on the Artist 100, Social 50, World Albums and World Digital Song Sales chart) and earning one of Korea’s highest-selling albums of the year (their debut LP Quantum Leap was the fourth-best-selling album in Korea behind established acts like BTS, Seventeen and EXO), the decision to disband likely came after worries over comments, harsh press and that generally negative perception would be forever attached to the group during their planned, five-year contract.
Even with rumors that the guys actually wanted to stay together, the group ended things with the 11 members heading back to their respective record labels for future plans.
Fans of X1 — affectionately known as One It — have been fighting for the band, even taking a note from BLACKPINK fans who elicited a response from their record label, by renting truck with messages supporting the group and demanding action take place. The trucks have gone outside the different record labels of the X1 members, even getting noticed and receiving a public shoutout from X1’s youngest member Nam Dohyon.
DOHYON’S LETTER ABOUT THE LED TRUCK:
“I went to the company today and i was really touched. The truck that OneIts sent, while watching the video, i could feel the amount of love that we received. Thank you so much to OneIts that X1 loves I will definitely not forget it. + https://t.co/ybbNxv6kOe pic.twitter.com/rboOMou0Yw
— nik | ——————? (@oneitgyul) January 9, 2020
While K-pop fans previously needed to deal with the harsh industry reality that shuddered and cut its artists away from even the slightest bit of controversy — and mostly still tries to — the support for the X1 members is speaking to a larger message of supporting young artists, some of them kids, who are innocent among actual crimes of powerful and high-ranking businesspeople. If the X1 members are guilty of anything, it’s being talented enough to be part of such a promising boy band.
From the on-the-street trucks to more than two dozen hashtags that One Its have trended worldwide on Twitter, fans have the power and literal loud speakers to call out these injustices on larger than ever platforms.
A fan account Wings for X1 that was created in October to support X1 “to protect and support the 11 members of X1 during this time of uncertainty” has amassed nearly 20,000 followers on Twitter, has successfully campaigned throughout Seoul and is pushing forward with projects to show the international reach of X1.
As we plan to further extend our LED trucks for #ProjectFlyHigh with a new set of video campaigns aimed to convince many entities to reunite and rebrand X1, we would like to open donations again. Every amount is welcome.
Thank you for the support.
— WingsForX1 (@WingsForX1) January 14, 2020
Fans are continuing to push for anything from letting X1 reunite under a different name and label to even a splintered version of the group coming together. Even if the #FightForX1 proves unfruitful and fans aren’t able to see the 11 come together again, there’s a larger statement being said here that fans aren’t sitting idly anymore.
These 11 stars won’t be abandoned by their fans with reparations of sorts needed to be made by the industry and their respective labels to counteract the unfair treatment. Otherwise, what hopes can the fans have in their future support when even the most obvious of injustices were ignored?