Growing ‘BTS Hiatus’… Will Boy Group Golden Age Return?
Since BTS’s hiatus, other boy groups have been criticized for not achieving clear success in K-pop.
BTS has been the main driver behind the global expansion of the K-pop market, achieving unprecedented success in the global pop music market. Therefore, it is not surprising that there are concerns that their hiatus may lead to a decrease in global attention towards K-pop.
Girl groups are the ones filling the gap left by BTS. According to Circle Chart, the combined sales of the top 400 physical albums last year amounted to 80.74 million, exceeding the annual album sales of 80 million for the first time. The significant increase in physical album sales is largely due to the success of girl groups such as ITZY, NewJeans, aespa, and STAYC. While the number of male artists with cumulative sales of over 1 million copies last year decreased by 1 team from 12 to 11, the number of female artists increased significantly from 1 team to 10.
This year, however, there are many predictions that the growth of boy groups will noticeably increase. As concerns were raised in the industry that the growth of the physical album market was focused only on girl groups, it is expected that there will be auditions to select boy groups this year. In addition, it is expected that there will be more efforts to expand the fandom of existing boy groups.
Amidst this atmosphere, there is also a willingness to turn the gap left by BTS into an “opportunity” rather than a “crisis” in the K-pop industry. A music industry official said, “While BTS has raised their global status, other idol groups have steadily increased their stock prices, but it is true that they have not received as much attention relatively.” The official continued, “BTS’s gap will act as an opportunity for the next generation of idol groups to attract attention. Competition among boy groups to occupy this gap will become more intense.”
In fact, large groups such as SEVENTEEN, TOMORROW X TOGETHER, ENHYPEN, NCT, and Stray Kids have recently increased their stock prices, and there is an expectation that attention focused on BTS will be dispersed towards various groups. Moreover, there are over 10 rookie groups with debut plans from major music companies in Korea, and among them, more than 7 are boy groups.
BTS’s agency, Big Hit Music, announced the “Big Hit Music New Boy Group Audition,” and under HYBE, Pledis Entertainment is set to introduce a boy group this year, eight years after SEVENTEEN’s debut. JYP has announced plans to debut a boy group selected through the SBS audition program “LOUD” in the second quarter of this year, while China’s group project C and Japan’s popular girl group NiziU will launch a boy group version. SM Entertainment is also set to launch three new teams this year, including two boy groups – one NCT unit and one regular boy group.
Numerous audition programs are also scheduled to focus on boy groups. Mnet recently began broadcasting “Boys Planet,” and MBC is scheduled to air “Boy Fantasy.”