It’s Sunday, which means it’s time to end the week with an open discussion post!
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Each week, I’ll open with a question to get the conversation going. Feel free to chat about anything, but if you’re not sure what to write you can use this question as a starting point.
This week’s question:
A couple debut tactics I appreciate:
Full Albums – Usually in K-pop, full albums are something you build up to. But, I think it’s cool when a group debuts with one. This gives a much fuller picture of their sound and feels like the agency has a lot of confidence. Examples I can think of are Winner and Lovelyz.
Pre-debut variety shows – It doesn’t have to be fancy, but I appreciate a web series or TV show that leads right up the debut. It’s nice to get a feel for the members and their concept before the music comes out. That way, you’re already invested.
I have always thought that was the genius behind Twice’s debut. Also most of the Produce series. If you know what the members personalities are and have exposure to them, it gets you invested in their success. Then again, there’s Momoland…..
Oh, definitely Blockberry Creative’s “everyone gets a solo mini album” and “here are the subunits” before debuting the group as a whole. It was a good excuse to experiment with many types of sounds and concepts which is kinda why I’m still a bit hung up on that era- all the theories you could make about the lore!
(This post was not sponsored by Blockberry Creative)
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The only downside I guess would be potentially resulting in lots of solo stans or akgaes but to my relief I see the majority of the fandom appreciates the group as a whole.
I guess I’d just like to see companies that do have the budget and the backing to try this out too.
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I mean you obviously have to mention LOONA in this convo. From giving every member a solo before debut (not mention the “who’s next?” esque anticipation built by their “blurred girls” thing in the LOONA TV series) to the multiple subunits with the debuted members. And you can’t forgot the overencompassing lore surrounding it. It was bold and big and I hope we getting some of that scale in kpop again. Plus the music was great too.
Haha I deliberately didn’t mention LOONA because I knew someone else would! 🙂
To be the obvious contrarian comment: Did the Loona year-long style of debut actually work in the long run? I don’t think so, because once the whole group debuted, everyone was forever comparing the actual group debut plus next few releases to how good the pre-debut songs were. And then since they blew so much money on that year long pre-debut, the agency quickly ran out of money for the real whole group promotions.
(What really irritates me about Loona promotion then and now though is the wonky alphabet. I still call them Loopd. Only P!nk is allowed to use alt letters, because she is P!nk.)
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I was wondering this exact thing. It’s an interesting discussion, for sure. I think it was both a boon and a hindrance, actually…
I’d be interested to see what hardcore LOONA fans think about this.
But, honestly, the only music the “predebut was better!” fans like are Odd Eye Circle’s solos and unit songs, + Heejin, Yves and Chuu’s albums. I don’t see any of their other predebut music get brought up in those arguments. Lol.
Also, orbits complain about the music every era but LOONA keeps growing and growing, so… 🤷🏻♀️ I think a lot of them don’t actually care about it.
But some of the pre-debut songs _are_ the only Loona songs I actually bought. I haven’t liked or bought anything post-debut.
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Okay, I’ll cop to liking approximately that much of their predebut stuff. But see, when predebut Loona was good they were amazing. I still loop OEC’s subunit songs. I still think “New” is one of the best pop songs of all time. I’m dropping the K-Pop qualifier. I love it that much. And even stuff I didn’t love as much felt daring and fresh.
What post-debut material have I cared about? “Voice”/”Star” might be by far my favorite thing, it’s a good take on synthwave but doesn’t strike me as daring or awesome as the predebut stuff I love. “Just Friends” is nice and chill but it’s a subunit song, it’s just okay to me and it feels worrying that they haven’t figured out what to do with a full group. And the things that don’t land with me have just left me cold. “Paint The Town” especially feels like a creative nadir.
About Loona’s growth despite the music not being to some fans’ tastes, I guess it’s a thing with modern standom. BTS for example have exploded in popularity in recent years but I think they fell off pretty hard sometime 2017/2018 (with “Butter” being a rare burst of true brilliance) and this isn’t an isolated opinion. Hell, BLACKPINK rarely release music anymore and they still generate a ton of hype.
If you enjoy Loona’s full-group music, I envy you, to be honest. I wish I did, too. And I still hope the group gets to thrive. But everything post-debut feels like a broken promise to me, sadly.
Did it sound like I disliked it? Because I didn’t, I sweat! I’m quite guilty in here, even, because I definitely like the pre-debut stuff a lot more than the group music. Though, differently from others, I’m a big 1/3 fan, I’m a sucker for the whole “christian girl music” they had going on lol
I just don’t like people bringing that up in discussions about LOONA, because their fans love complaining just for the sake of it. But then, a lot of them are too loyal to the girls to unstan. As long as they’re happy, I don’t see a problem that big. The girls definitely got the talented!
But, in my personal opinion: the pre-debut concept was perfectly shaped to each girl’s personal strengths and personalities, and it just made the music a lot more interesting. The storyline felt like an afterthought sometimes, even when it WAS a big point for the music, like in every single yyxy solo — they still managed to make it match the girls’ personalities and I loved that. The full group stuff was just meant to follow their storyline, I think. I’d even stretch that opinion a little for the yyxy sub-unit, because for me their music didn’t really live up to their solos.
I personally liked some of the songs in their group albums, but definitely not as much as I liked their pre-debut music. I miss it, but I guess it’s time to let it go for good. I doubt their company has the money to try and do it again.
(Which is worrying, now that I’m reminded that Boy of the Month will be a thing…)
I have enjoyed almost all of their releases since the “debut” of the full group (“Butterfly…”) but I understand the reticence of hardcore Orbits regarding their releases since then. I think “Flip That” was a return to the “Loona sound.” But I still wished the would go back to some songs based upon the sub-unit blueprint.
yeah i remember the news of brokeberry getting into financial trouble, yet SOMEHOW they were able to get loona on queendom 2, get sunye in the company, and now they’re gonna debut a new girl group
so idk what’s happening with their company, did they pull through those struggles or something?
I think Chuu’s show(s) helped quite a bit. Plus who knows. Maybe the current global unrest increased their parent company’s coffers.
I think my favorite types of debuts are the ones that have pre releases to show and familiarize the members of the groups to their audience. Groups like MCND and Purple kiss are the 2 groups I enjoyed that did this, and I think it favoured them by making the foundation of their group.
Also speaking of debuts, ATBO just announced their fandom name as “boat” 💀. I just find it funny because it felt like half of the members weren’t informed of this when they revealed it and their reactions were the best
Surely they should have named themselves ATGO so the fanclub could be the GOAT.
That honestly would have been so cool lol, I would have joined the fandom just to be called that.
I guess everyone was already thinking what I’m thinking aka LOONA, so I’ll just add that I hope orbits stop being protective over that concept and let other groups do something similar in the future. It’s quite ridiculous to see that, every time someone brings that up, they jump to say it’s unique to LOONA and that no one else could do it. At least let us see them try! I think it’s a great tactic to show a group’s potential before bringing in the real thing.
Also, their previous creative director is working on a new group, TripleS (that will have *24 members*, Jesus) and they got similar system: a member reveal every two weeks and releasing unit songs every time they complete 5 new members (I think, don’t quote me on that), before the group is complete. I don’t fully understand the idea, but it looks quite fun until now.
Also, I would like a company to try and release a group without showing their faces for some time. People love stanning just for visuals these days, so I would love to see how not knowing what they look like could change the idol-fan relationship. Would people even stan?
Though, I’m sure only a big agency could pull that off — people don’t pay attention to small-company-idols even when they KNOW they’re pretty and talented, so imagine if they didn’t.
That’s a cool idea. People do stan for visuals, but I think if the music was good enough, the hidden-faces factor could generate a lot of hype and anticipation.
TWICE Sixteen. The origin of sassy Nayeon, crazy Jeongyeon, cutie Sana, fantastic Jihyo, classy Mina, pink Lamborghini Momo, quirky Dahyun, angsty Chaeyoung, and ethereal Tzuyu. Their vocals was also great in that one. I personally like the concept of the show. Much more exciting than the Produce series. The theme song “I’m gonna be a star” is also a banger.
Dahyun is an instant bias in that show. She’s insane in a good way.
Stop putting kids in your group man. The industry’s gonna mentally fuck them up.
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I also propose a variation – only debut the guys after they have done their military service, when they are 20-21-perhaps 22.
good point, or even have them all go in at the same time….this would work for really popular and successful groups, so that their fans are not going through years and years of drought, waiting for each member to do their mandatory military service, and by the time they are all done, many years have passed since we last saw the entire group together….
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For debut strategy, i would like them to do the same thing as LOONA or probably KARD.
Releasing each member solos, or releasing one or three predebut track, make sure to keep the pace of each releases, dont get way too underwhelming, and dont get way too overwhelming ( so the debut wouldnt be overshadowed by the predebut releases )
P.S : Please, the whole kpop industry, stop debuting minors; debut them when they’re legal already, so you can do more background check so the idol doesnt get weird accusations or allegations and have to face all these shit and having the whole word doing witch hunt to them at such young age, its disgusting.
i hope the industry learns from the garam situation about debuting minors after all the mayhem from her bullying accusations
very well put, GiveMeSomePeace….the K-pop industry and management agencies should know better than to debut idols that are underage, but i guess they do not care….to me, the K-pop industry has left the foundation it was built on (good groups where each member has a valuable contribution to the group: singing, rapping, dancing, etc.) in exchange for hype and gimmicky trends….so, i guess now the trend is debuting underage kids who are almost always being taken advantage of by the management agency that signs them….
with the trend in K-pop seemingly continuing to be bullying scandals, i agree that the agencies need to start doing a more thorough background check, because it seems that the K-pop industry is unforgiving when it comes to K-pop scandals….don’t get me wrong, i do not like bullies, but if the individual(s) is/are repentant and willing to try and write their wrongs, then why go to the extremes of kicking them out of their group, as it is their means of taking care of themselves?….if there is not going to be any forgiveness, then why even debut someone?….why not do a thorough background check and save the person the humiliation and embarrassment of being in the group and then having to be removed????
Debut strategy goes to any survival show. For me, the greatest was the emergence of UNI.T and UNB from their respective survival shows. Seeing these older, more experienced idols getting a second chance with their debut was absolutely genius.
I was also a fan of ATEEZ’s Salary Lupin. It was entertaining and easily hooked me onto the group.
Unrelated but based on pure debut, I give that credit to NCT. Both tracks (The 7th Sense and Without You) were smash hits in my book.
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They haven’t debuted in a group yet, but I’m excited to see the outcome of SM Rookies. Shohei, one of the three new ones announced recently, is born in 1996!! I hope he gets to debut as an idol amidst KPop’s (and the world’s) insane obsession with youth.
(He’s still so young, but normally idols his age are well-experienced, which makes this even more eye-opening.)
Hmmmm..I really like the unique approach New Jeans has taken. A bunch of surprise releases really shakes up how you approach this. Especially in an industry as heavily concentrated as K-Pop, it’s difficult to stand apart from the get go unless you have GREAT music or GREAT backing (unfortunately, great backing wins over great music in this unfair world). With so many debuts every year, you either go Big or go home. I like how New Jeans went different. Its very fresh. Again, they have the backing of a big company so they could afford do. But even then, I think small agencies can learn from this creative approach.
In the end, I think the music for me is paramount. No matter how much hype a group has, if the music doesn’t live up to it, the group doesn’t really stay in my memory (*cough* NMIXX).
So back to Nick’s question:- First, have a fresh new concept for the music. It would also be fun to have the members be introduced through their own v-logs or behind the scenes prep for the album, to build the anticipation. I am always amazed with that part of the process so having fans access some parts of this could be fun.
i do not know if these are the best ‘Rollouts’ in K-pop history, but these are a few of the Rollouts / Debuts that come to mind that i like, but they are not an entire list….that is too much to try to remember and write:
Brave Girls (the rebranding of 2016) – Deepened (what a powerful “Rollout / Debut” that somehow flew beneath the K-pop radar)
GirlKind – Fanci (i still get tickled by that line, “all my hood unnies”)
NewJeans – Attention, Hype Boy, Hurt
ITZY – Dolla Dolla
DKB – Sorry Mama
GG – Into the New World
Prism – Chok (too bad they are not still together)
UiU – Starlit
I like the idea someone above suggested about debuting boy groups after they have finished enlistment. I think it definitely is a good idea especially after I found out a member of Ciipher falls into this category.
Other than that I don’t have much of an opinion on rollouts because most of the time it’s the debut song itself that does it for me 🙂
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This doesn’t count as a “debut rollout,” but an upcoming 24-member girl group called tripleS has been announced recently, and it seems like the concept is that while the group is active the fans will be able to “choose” (through NFTs, apparently) which members will participate in the group subunit and solo activities. I don’t know much about it but it sounds like an intriguing idea and the concept will probably generate a lot of hype for the group.
That sounds a lot like AKB48 and all those other huge J-pop ggs.
H.O.T and SNSD had fantastic debut rollouts, and golly, EXO’s debut rollout instantly made me a fan. Everyone is talking about LOONA, and I think they would be my 2nd pick (EXO 3rd). SHINee takes the cake for me.
On May 19, the group is announced, and we instantly get a teaser for ‘Replay’. May 22, the EP drops, with the song. Later that year, in August, the EP is introduced to be part of an LP, SHINee’s World, with the funky single ‘Love Like Oxygen’, and the album even has remixes for a few b-sides. It also includes the classic ‘Y Si Fuera Ella’ sung by Jonghyun. In October we get a repackage led by ‘Amigo’. While ‘Mirotic’ might have singled the coming change, this album was truly the moment K-Pop began taking heavy influence from Scandanavia, remaking and calling in several Scandanavian producers, effectively leading to K-Pop’s success in Europe and the US. It also set SHINee up as fashionable stars with a consistent sound, one they maintained 2009’s ‘Juliette’.
Sorry, I think I entered my name wrong. My bad! It is still me!
I like the fact that they are giving full songs instead of a month worth of teasers. My attention span is not that long. Worse that that, some companies giving us teasers without an actual release date. I hate that shit.
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I’m not from music where you have a huge rollout before debut. Having said that, I’d rather have as few teasers as possible. I prefer full songs. Also, a pre-debut song is a debut song. You can say it’s a pre-album release, or lead single, but by definition debut is the first time you hear a group. Oy. This language we attempt to speak.
Not exactly Kpop, but I thought NiziU’s debut with Nizi Project was fantastic. It grounded the Japanese audience in JYPE’s values and showed how their training system could turn untrained girls into idols in mere months. And we got to see that process happen! Plus part two with very few girls and only one elimination let us fall in love with the girls. Bizarrely, I feel like the show turned me into a Kpop-style stan where the music doesn’t matter because I’m invested in the girls themselves.