A Big Year for K-Pop Debuts
For the K-Pop fans who have been here since the 2nd generation era, the year 2009 holds so many memories as it was one of the best years of K-Pop group debuts. In that year, we got to listen for the first time to many K-Pop golden debut songs such as 2NE1’s “Fire,” 4Minute’s “Hot Issue,” and T-ara’s “Lie.” Many of those groups are now already disbanded or even not have the same member formation as it used to be. But, even though their popularity is not as crazy as it was back then, their name still holds a special place in our hearts. Thus, the year 2009 holds a special memory in our minds.
So, for the sake of old times, let’s check out the article below to see the groups who filled 2009 with their successful debuts!
Formed in 2009 under MBK Entertainment, T-ara is a South Korean girl group known for its hook-heavy dance-pop music, probably due to the heavy influence from its main composer, Shinsadong Tiger. T-ara is also known for its daring, experimental, and broad visual concepts. Thus, they earned the reputation of a “chameleon-like” group, for their adaptability skills. The name T-ara was chosen to represent the meaning of the word ‘tiara,’ which translates to the idea of how the group will become the ‘queens of the music industry.’
In May 2009, the group underwent its first formation change after it was announced that two of the members, Jiae and Jiwon, have to part ways due to the creative difference in the music style. In response, MBK Entertainment then inserted the addition of three new members: Boram, Soyeon, and Qri. With the new formation, the group finally released their official debut single, “Geojitmal” (or “Lies”), and made their debut in the MBC talk show Radio Star on July 29th, 2009. They also released their first debut studio album, Absolute First Album, a few months later in December 2009. Their debut album includes a few of their major hit songs such as “TTL (Time to Love),” “Bo Peep Bo Peep,” and “You Drive Me Crazy.”
During their active years, the group had obtained nationwide popularity with their hit songs such as “Roly Poly” (2009) which also won the Gaon chart’s best-selling single of the year, “Lovey-Dovey” which peaked at number one on both the Gaon and Billboard Korea K-Pop Hot 100 chart, and “Day by Day” which was their last major track before the group was hit with bullying controversy.
In international scope, the group had also been doing well in Japan under their management agency J-Rock as their Japanese studio album reached number one on the Oricon weekly charts and even got Gold certified. In China, the group was dubbed as one of the most popular K-Pop girl groups, a result of their relentless promotional activities in China after the group’s activities in Korea were halted due to their controversy.
Prior to the controversy, T-ara were known to often change the formation of the members, allowing new members to be added to the group. New members Hwayoung and Areum joined T-ara in 2010 and 2012. However this lineup didn’t last long as in 2012 Hwayoung left the group and in mid-2013, Areum was reported to leave the group due to health reasons. Soon after Hwayoung’s departure, the group was hit with the bullying rumors, and their once strong reputation in Korea went downward.
In May 2017, the group released their ninth EP What’s My Name, following the news of Soyeon and Boram’s departure and leaving only four active members extending their contracts: Qri, Eunjung, Hyomin, and Jiyeon. However, on January 3rd, 2018, the four remaining members decided to not renew their contracts with MBK and leave the company. This announcement took place in Hyomin’s personal Instagram account. Hyomin’s announcement was later confirmed by MBK Entertainment, but they didn’t state that the group had disbanded, and even went on registering a trademark for the group’s name, T-ara. In the end, MBK’s claim was rejected by the Trademark Act after the members filed opposing claims.
Since their departure, each of the former members of T-ara has been actively pursuing solo activities. Eunjung has been involved in a lot of films and drama projects here and there including the drama Lovely Horribly, Hwayoung also relaunched herself as an actress with a role in the drama Mad Dog alongside actor Woo do-hwan, Areum participated in KBS’ The Unit, Jiyeon recently released her solo single, “One Day,” while Hyomin dropped her third mini-album Allure, filling the time of her life with constant music releases.
Check out T-ara’s debut MV below!
Do you still remember the K-Pop group Beast before it turned into Highlight?
Originally consisting of five members (Yoon Doo-joon, Yang Yo-seob, Lee Gi-kwang, Son Dong-woon, and Jang Hyun-seung), the group Beast debuted on October 16th, 2009, under Cube Entertainment. The name of the group often styled as B2ST stands as an abbreviation of ‘Boys to Search for Top’.
They debuted with the track “Bad Girl” on October 16th, 2009, on the KBS show Music Bank. The debut track, along with 4 other songs, “Beast is the B2ST,” “Mystery,” “Oasis,” and “Yet” (which featured swearing lyrics in Jun-hyung’s rap thus resulting in an airplay ban) was included in their debut mini-album Beast Is the B2ST.
With that debut album, Beast initially won Rookie of the Month for December, awarded by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. An outstanding achievement for a rookie group who was once referred by media outlets as ‘a group of recycled material’ due to the members having been rejected by other agencies or having had unsuccessful debuts in the past.
In the upcoming years, the group consistently rose to the top as they won many prestigious awards such as the Golden Disk Award, the Mnet Asian Music Award, the Melon Popularity Award, the Seoul Music Award, the Gaon Chart Award, etc. Their stable popularity throughout the years was more or less due to their loyal fanbase ever since their pre-debut era. Their name also became well known to the public after they released major hit songs such as the upbeat “Shock,” “Fiction,” and the mellow-dreamy “On Rainy Days.” Beast’s full discography includes three Korean full-length albums, nine Korean mini-albums, two Japanese full-length albums, and numerous singles.
In 2016, the group had to turn into a 5-member group due to the departure of Jang Hyun-seung, who left because a lot of fans were turning their backs on him. Later that year, the group moved labels from Cube Entertainment to Around Us Entertainment and subsequently changed their name to Highlight in 2017 due to Cube’s claim of the name Beast. As Highlight, the group once again proved their rookie power as they were constantly being nominated for various awards at major award shows. Their single “Plz Don’t Be Sad” won eight No. 1’s across the weekly music programs. Unfortunately, in March 2019, their main rapper Yong Jun-hyung decided to leave the group after admitting knowledge of sex crime-related content.
Currently, Highlight members are pursuing their careers in acting, musical theater, or releasing solo music. Some of the members also went on doing their military duty in the army.
Check out Beast’s debut MV below!