5 rising K-pop acts to watch this year


Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

by Helen Yang, Aquila STEM Editor

1. Stray Kids

Initially announced last August, Stray Kids quickly garnered attention with their first pre-debut single, Hellevator, and consists of nine members—although at one point, the group was slated to debut with only seven of their current members. In October, the group participated in a reality television show in which the boys demonstrated their performance and music-producing skills in order to defend their spots in the final lineup. Two members were eliminated during the show, but to the relief of many fans, they later re-joined the group. With a confirmed 2018 debut and the release of their successful pre-debut EP, “Mixtape,” Stray Kids has become one of the most anticipated acts in K-pop.



Even before debut, LOONA has already been letting each of its members display her own unique talents. Each month since October 2016, record label Blockberry Creative has announcing new members or sub-units of members, and new members have been releasing singles upon joining the group. The eleventh member of LOONA, Go Won, was revealed on Jan. 15 and released her single “One & Only” on Jan. 30. After more than a year of teaser music, fans are ready to support LOONA’s debut once they reveal their twelfth and final member.


3. Holland

In perhaps one of the boldest decisions ever, singer Holland debuted as the first openly gay K-pop idol. The music video and lyrics for his debut single, “Neverland,” reflect his emotions and experiences in battling discrimination as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. In a country where same-sex marriage is illegal, Holland’s debut represents a huge step forward for representation.

4. Samuel

Entering the entertainment industry at only 11 years old, Samuel already had five years of training and experience when he participated television show “Produce 101,” where he quickly gained popularity. In the second season of Produce 101, the top 11 out of 101 competitors got to debut as a boy group. Although Samuel ultimately ranked at eighteenth and was unable to join the group, he soon saw success after releasing his first solo album, “Sixteen,” on Aug. 2.

5. Chungha

After ranking fourth out of 101 girls on Produce 101’s first season, Chungha rose to fame as a part of the show’s project girl group, I.O.I, which eventually disbanded in January last year. Later, she debuted as a solo act on June 7 with her EP “Hands on Me.” She recently released her second EP, “Offset,” on Jan. 17 and received the award for Best New Artist at the Seoul Music Awards shortly after. With her strong entrance and solid fanbase, Chungha is now one of the most promising stars in the K-pop scene.