BTS communicates with fans through solo SNS. Jimin, V, SEVENTEEN Woozi and GFRIEND Yu-ju released their solo album. A girlgroup formed by solo members of Girls’ Generation, Red Velvet, and aespa. A new trend is coming.
In the new year of 2022, the keyword of K-pop is expected to shift from “group” to “solo.” This is part of a segmentation strategy that will reveal the color and capability of each individual member based on the global achievements of their group activities. Just as TV entertainment “I’m SOLO” and Netflix’s “Single’s Inferno” reflect the current situation and are gaining popularity these days, “standing alone” is also emerging as a new way of survival in K-pop.
◇ BTS, standing alone on SNS.
In BTS, members such as Suga, Jimin, and Jin have already released their solo singles, achieving more than just their group activities. However, from last year, their individual SNS activities, which had been treated as taboo internally, have begun. They are communicating with fans by opening Instagram’s personal accounts and posting posts in their own areas of interest. In a month, the average number of followers of seven members increased to around 25 million. Although it falls short of the number of followers of BTS’ group Instagram (58.2 million), the increase is still very impressive. Above all, each member’s individuality is characteristic. Jin has quite a few posts related to cooking and food, while RM has a lot of art pictures, as he is well known for. V often shows his magazines pictorials and cover photos, and Jimin and Suga often show pictures set in nature, while J-Hope has the most number of posts which is 30 posts. Jungkook posted a video of his boxing training, and his fist speed is as fast as a professional player.
It has been just a few photos, but it has shown more personality than what the group had shown. The same happens in their musical orientation. That’s why the atmosphere of their group songs and their solo songs is different. According to Spotify on Jan 2nd, Jimin’s solo song “Filter,” released in 2020, was selected as the most played Korean male solo song for the second consecutive year with 238 million streaming last year. V’s OST solo song “Christmas Tree,” released in December last year, ranked second in the UK’s Official Chart’s single sales and download categories respectively on Jan 3rd. This is the first time for a Korean solo singer to achieve this.
◇ SEVENTEEN, GFRIEND, IZ*ONE standing alone.
In the new year, next-generation K-pop runners are also standing alone. SEVENTEEN’s Woozi released his first solo mixtape “Ruby” on iTunes and Spotify on Jan 3rd. “Ruby” is Woozi’s attempt to expand his musical spectrum as an artist as well as his ability to write, compose, and produce. The track was made using English lyrics with the global market in mind.
GFRIEND’s Yu-ju will release her solo album “REC.” on Jan 18th. This will be her first comeback in eight months since GFRIEND’s activities. GFRIEND was acquired by HYBE in July 2019 and the event has received a lot of attention. However, the group’s contract was terminated in May last year, leaving a great regret. Yu-ju then moved to Kang Daniel’s agency KONNECT Entertainment and has been preparing for a solo album. Although this will be a solo activity following the disbandment of her group, Yu-ju has shown her outstanding singing skills as the main vocalist when she was in the group.
Choi Ye-na of the project girl group IZ*ONE will make her solo debut on Jan 17th. Starting with concept photos from the 4th to the 5th, Choi Ye-na will release the tracklist, promotional videos for the MV, visual films, posters, and highlights one after another. IZ*ONE, formed in 2018, has led to the creation of numerous solo and unit groups since its disbandment. Ahn Yu-jin and Jang Won-young are actively working with the group IVE, while Kwon Eun-bi, Cho Yu-ri, and Kang Hye-won released their 1st solo albums and received good reviews.
◇SM, Beyond Solo.
SM Entertainment, which held the “SMTown Live” concert online and offline at the same time on Jan 1st, started a project to create a new girl group by separating the existing girl groups. It’s dubbed a girl group version of “SuperM“. Taeyeon and Hyoyeon of Girls’ Generation, Seulgi and Wendy of Red Velvet, Karina and Winter of aespa, and BoA were combined to create “GOT the Beat” and their new song “Step Back” was also released on the same day. This is SM’s cycle of ‘Group → Solo → Regroup’. Taeyeon and Hyoyeon have been active in solo activities. Seulgi and Wendy also released solo albums in 2020 and 2021, respectively. Karina and Winter are aespa‘s vocalists. This recombination is well revealed in the concept of “SMCU (SM Cultural Universe)” brought up by general producer Lee Soo-man. SMCU means “a universe containing the identity of each group and a new world that coexists without boundaries beyond it,” he said, “I want to call this world a ‘metaversal origin story’. It is a worldview in which groups and individual members converge and coexist with each other.”