Ten candidates have been chosen for the Rookie of the Year Award at the upcoming 38th Golden Disc Awards: BoyNextDoor, EVNNE, Plave, Riize, xikers, ZeroBaseOne, LUN8, n.SSignm, Hwang Yeong-woong including Fifty Fifty.
The 38th Golden Disc Awards are organized by the JoongAng Group to honor Korean artists and their achievements and this year the event will be at the Jakarta International Stadium in Indonesia.
Twenty acts each were nominated in the Digital Song of the Year and Album of the Year categories this year and 10 artists are up for the Rookie Artist of the Year award.
Last year, when mostly new girl groups got most of the action each month, in 2023 boy bands from agencies big and small, with nine out of the 10 nominations were taken by male acts.
Fifty Fifty was perhaps one of the hottest acts of 2023, for better or for worse.
The group debuted as a quartet on Nov. 18 last year and shot to the top of the charts this year when its dance track “Cupid” went viral online, especially on TikTok. The group was dubbed “the miracle” of its small-scale K-pop agency, which typically struggles to compete with larger companies loaded with money and manpower.
Things took a turn for the worse when the four members filed for an injunction against their agency Attrakt, claiming that the company mistreated them and refused to share the income with the members. In a surprise turn of events, however, the public and the court sided with the agency rather than the members, and three members were kicked out of the agency and the group — with the exception of Keena, who returned to the agency after apologizing to the CEO.
Fifty Fifty is now a one-woman band with Keena as the sole remaining member.
ZeroBaseOne was formed on April 20 as the winning group of nine contestants from Mnet’s “Boys Planet” and made its official debut on July 10 with the EP “Youth in the Shade.” “Youth in the Shade” sold 1.2 million copies on the day of its release alone, becoming the first ever debuting K-pop act to sell over a million copies of its album in a day, even reaching 1.8 million in a week.
Its second EP “Melting Point” went ever further, selling 2.1 million copies within a week of its release in November.
EVNNE, pronounced even, debuted in September with its first EP “Target: ME,” a self-explanatory album embodying the group’s goals to become a target of the public’s attention. Its seven members were contestants of “Boys Planet” who did not make it to the final debut group but nevertheless stood out during the show.
EVNNE debuted as Jellyfish Entertainment’s first new boy band in four years, after boy band Verivery debuted in 2019. The band sold over 240,000 copies of its debut EP during the first week of release.
n.SSign made its debut on Aug. 9 with the EP “Birth of Cosmo,” a title embodying both the cosmic theme of its identity and the birth of Cosmo, its fan club, in tandem with the band’s beginning.
Unlike ZeroBaseOne and EVNNE, whose constituents belong to different agencies and will return to their original companies once their project band activities are finished, n.SSign is unique in that the 10 members are here to stay, unbound by the typical project group time limit, even though some members are signed to different agencies.
The band has been particularly popular among Japanese and Asian fans, undoubtedly due to its pre-debut tour held over the course of a year in Japan.
Riize debuted on Sept. 4 as the newest act rolled out by SM Entertainment, home to some of the biggest boy bands in K-pop such as NCT and EXO. The band was the talk of the town even before its debut, as SM Entertainment revealed its trainees, referred to as SM Rookies, with charming looks and performance skills to match, as the latest addition to the agency’s long line of K-pop boy bands.
Its debut single “Get A Guitar” sold more than 1 million copies in the first week of its release, making it the second-most-sold debut album by a rookie band on the first week of its release.
Debuted on May 30 with the debut single “WHO!” as the first new boy band to come from KOZ Entertainment, a K-pop agency founded by singer and producer Zico in November 2018, with a namesake theme of approaching the public with a casual, friendly and young vibe — like the boy next door.
The band landed its first album on the Billboard 100 albums chart just 112 days after its debut and nabbed Rookie of the Year awards and nominations at major ceremonies in Korea.
LUN8 debuted on June 15 with the EP “Continue?” as the first boy band to come from Fantagio after Astro debuted in 2016. Its group name indicates the band’s ambition to “brighten up the audience like the moonlight.” The band has already rolled out a subunit, LUN8wave, which dropped its digital single “Playground” on Nov. 22.
xikers’ agency KQ Entertainment may not ring a bell at first, but its artist certainly will. The agency’s other boy band Ateez is one of the most well-known acts in K-pop, which also gave the newly-debuted band the push it needed to stand out among its competitors.
The 10-member band debuted on March 30 with the EP “House of Tricky: Doorbell Ringing” and released its second EP “House of Tricky: How to Play” on Aug. 2. The band began its world tour in October, just six months after its debut, and is set to kick off the European leg of its ongoing world tour next month.