The fact that an idol group comes from a large company or small company is always one of the factors that the public uses to measure the success of that group – especially during K-Pop generation 1 and 2, when most of the groups that make up the golden age of Hallyu wave are from the BIG 3 companies: YG, SM, and JYP. However, since BTS appeared and made historical records as an international K-pop group, transforming Big Hit from an unknown company into the most famous entertainment company, many entertainment companies medium and small have gradually invested much more in their idols, completely turning the tide in the current K-Pop scene.
Besides, idols nowadays are no longer limited to performing, as they also participate in the production of music and choreography themselves. Groups from big companies are still doing well now, but groups from small and medium-sized companies are also gradually proving their potential through great achievements. Here are the groups from small companies that are promising to claim the throne of K-Pop in the near future.
Despite having debuted for 4 years, SF9 has just won their first music show in January 2020. Before that, the boys were promoting hard but their popularity increased quite slowly. Therefore, up to now SF9 is still considered a new generation group and is having an impressive growth rate. After getting their first win on M Countdown! with the song ‘Good Guy’, SF9 is gradually attracting the attention of many fans.
Before debut, SF9 participated in the FNC survival show called “Dance or Band”. As the name implies, this was a hard competition between two groups of trainees, one of which was strong at dancing, while the other was strong at performing as a band. And the trainee group that followed the dancing path won – they officially debuted as SF9, becoming the first ‘dancing’ boy group to win at FNC, as the earlier winners were idol bands, FT.Island and CNBLUE.
After debuting, SF9 released a lot of songs – within 1 year, the boys released 5 albums. With the 6th mini album ‘Narcissus’ being released in 2019, SF9 had their first song to enter the MelOn’s top 100. This was an extremely positive sign for the music career of the boys. Entering their 4th year, SF9 officially got the first trophy and gained the attention worthy of their efforts. Besides music, an activity that contributes greatly to the promotion of SF9 is the popularity of member Rowoon in the acting segment. He is making the name of SF9 gradually become more popular on online community sites. SF9 is expected to make the most of this year.
ATEEZ did not come from a big company, all members have not been famous through survival shows, nor have any reputable support before debut, but ATEEZ’s achievements have been equally admirable, especially in the international music market. ATEEZ has toured the world, through a series of major cities such as Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, London, Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam… and sold out tickets in just a few minutes. A rookie who debuted less than 5 months ago from a small company but managed to organize a world tour and sell all tickets in minutes, well, probably only ATEEZ can do this.
ATEEZ is like a unicorn group because of their skyrocket development. After their stage at MAMA 2019, the fans believe that ATEEZ will become very big in the future thanks to their outstanding talents in all fields. While other groups will only perform the title track, ATEEZ managed to pull a mash up of many songs to show off their skills from singing, rapping to dancing, all in 3 minutes.
All of ATEEZ’s music videos achieved impressive views – the highest so far being ‘Wonderland’ released 5 months ago with 51 million views. Although the influence of ATEEZ in Korea is not that big, in the international scene, the boys have had a certain foothold and a stable fandom. At the time of their debut, ATEEZ entered the Top 10 of Billboard World Digital Song Sales Chart with ‘Wonderland’. Their album ‘Treasure EP.FIN: All To Action’ also excelled at No. 7 in the World Album Chart with more than 1,000 copies sold only after 2 days of release.
ATEEZ is also the only male rookie group of K-Pop to reach the milestone of 200 million streams on Spotify. Moreover, ATEEZ is also said to be “the idol of idols” when continuously receiving compliments and admiration from members of other groups, especially rookie groups. With their “miraculous” development speed, fans believe that ATEEZ will soon rise to become a leading group of K-Pop.
LOONA is a very special group in K-Pop. Although not from a large company, even before their debut, the girls received a lot of public attention thanks to the impressive investments of their management company. LOONA members are extremely talented and have outstanding visuals, besides, the concept of LOONA is also highly appreciated for its creativity. After coming back with ‘So What’ – a song produced by SM’s chairman Lee So Man himself, LOONA surpassed BLACKPINK to become the K-Pop girl group whose song topped iTunes in the most countries – 54 countries.
Not only excel in international digital music, LOONA also impressed with the ability to sell physical album, as they quickly reached more than 100,000 pre-orders. LOONA is also a girl group with a very stable fandom internationally. In their home country of South Korea, LOONA are gradually becoming famous when they surpassed BLACKPINK to top the brand chart in March 2020. Currently, LOONA is one of a few new generation girl groups outside of BIG 3 with the ability to become big.
Cube is not a small company and has a certain influence in K-Pop. However, after their ‘trump card’ – HyunA left the company, many people thought that Cube was lacking a name that is qualified to guarantee their reputation. Cube’s groups, CLC, Pentagon and BTOB, have only gained just enough popularity to continue competing with other groups – so far CLC has not been able to grab a stable position in the K-Pop scene, Pentagon is joining Kingdom to seek opportunities to prove their talents, BTOB is quite successful but now their activities are temporarily frozen because of members’ enlistment. Therefore, currently (G)I-DLE is considered to be Cube’s “most successful” group.
(G)I-DLE has been successful from their debut song ‘LATATA’. They received a trophy on a music show in less than 20 days after debut. In the following comebacks, (G)I-DLE quickly became one of the most formidable new generation girl groups in K-Pop when continuously bringing in other achievements with ‘HANN’, ‘Senorita’, ‘Uh Oh’… and The most recent was their appearance on Queendom. After Queendom ended, (G)I-DLE’s reputation increased dramatically, as the talents of each member were revealed and recognized. On April 6, 2020, (G)I-DLE officially returned with the third mini album ‘I Trust’, promising to be an extremely successful comeback for the Cube girls.