So now it’s time for my final favourite group in this introductory series of “getting to know me”. I know it’s been a minute since I’ve posted anything on here but I promise you, I’ll be writing a blog about that after I’ve done part .1 and .2 so keep your eyes peeled for that upcoming post.
My last favourite group is none other than the handsome and hilarious boys of iKON. I mentioned in my WINNER post (Part 5.1) that I prefer this last group compared to WINNER and that is purely based on my sentimental appreciation and connections to these seven boys. More of that will follow in part 2 but this post is just going to give an overview to the last two years since iKON debuted and the years before as well.
As I mentioned in Part 5.1 I got heavily invested in Who Is Next: WIN way way back when I first got into KPOP. I think that show and Running Man were the first shows I watched that had any kind of idols in it, and so my intense love of iKON started. To be honest, although I couldn’t not acknowledge the talent that Team A had, Team B was where my heart was and I cannot explain how much I cried when they didn’t win the survival programme. But all of that is ancient history as Team B obviously debuted as iKON and I’ve never looked back.
Pre-debut, Pre-WIN, Pre-SMTM: 2009-2011
Before anything that we all know so well, B.I – or Kim Hanbin – was the first member to be introduced to the world. In 2009 he featured in MC MONG’s “Indian Boy” at the ripe age of 13. Because of his age he created quite a stir as people were impressed at his skill considering his age and a lot of them were comparing him to G Dragon.
Member Koo Junhoe was also known before their reality shows due to another reality show – Star King and K-Pop Star in 2011.
The six orginal members – B.I, Bobby, Jinhwan, Yunhyeong, Junhoe and Donghyuk joined YG Entertainment from 2011-2012 before finally being seen altogether as Team B in WIN.
Pre-debut – Who Is Next WIN: 2013
All six members were finally showcased in reality survival show WIN. The rules of WIN entailed that out of two trainee groups, the audience would vote for who to debut while the losing group wouldn’t debut, would get disbanded or would get reshuffled (members would leave or there’d be new members added.) As Team B, under B.I’s leadership, they showcased their different skills and talents compared to the older members of Team A. Where Team A showed their unique vocal colours and vibe, Team B showed how amazing their teamwork was and how strong they were as dancers.
Unfortunately, Team B lost to the originality of Team A as they debuted as WINNER, leaving Team B to stay as trainees, uncertain of their future and no closer to debut. But by the end of the show they were able to release two songs – Just Another Boy and Climax. Even though things didn’t work out for the boys, they were able to have an already strong fanbase.
Pre-debut – Show Me the Money 3: 2014
In 2014 members B.I and Bobby competed in the hip hop survival show Show Me the Money (while their own reality survival show Mix n Match was being made as well – information to follow.) Both rappers showcased a good amount of skill but B.I was eliminated in the Top 8 after overcoming struggles with memorising lyrics on stage while Bobby went on to win the whole season beating Korean hip hop legend Vasco.
Not only was this a massive boost for the group ore-debut, but it also did a lot for those who had problems with idol rappers being considered as “real rappers”. Bobby winning the show became a catalyst for a lot of people becoming more understanding and accepting towards idol rappers and a lot more idols entered the competition in the seasons to follow.
Pre-debut – Mix n Match: 2014
In June 2014, Team B was brought back to the audience with their own reality survival show. Again, YG entertainment proposed the concept that was very similar to WIN – the six members of Team B would compete with each other, as well as three new trainees, and the best seven members would debut as iKON.
The three new trainees were Yang Hongseok, Jung Jinhyeong and Jung Chanwoo. The only trainee who was previously known was Chanwoo who was a child actor, acting in standout drama The Heirs.
Throughout the show it had been decided that three members were set in stone and would definitely debut as iKON – B.I, Bobby and Jinhwan – while the remaining six trainees (the original Team B members and the three new boys) would be voted on by the audience.
It’s reported that there were 150,000 fans who’d applied to be at the final performance of the show and in the hours leading up to the final decision the YG website crashed.
Through the show, all trainees showed newer images of themselves and even produced some great songs. My favourites are Let It Go and Sinosijak. This last song was a play on a pre-performance tradition which is now famous for iKon.
B.I and Bobby also featured on Epik High single Born Hater. Epik High rapper Tablo has said that the song wouldn’t be as successful without the chorus and hook that B.I had made. Already an impressive feat for someone who still hadn’t debuted yet.
In the end, all six original Team B members and new addition Jung Chanwoo were decided to debut as iKON.
Debut and Welcome Back: 2015
Although it was decided that the group would debut at the end of 2015, they did so with pre-singles and the release of a half-album, Welcome Back. All songs on this half album were all listed as produced and co-produced by leader B.I with Bobby contributing to lyrics as well.
Their first pre-single was Rythym Ta which has heavy influences of hip hop while their rock remix of the same song has a lot more electric guitar than hip hop vibes which I actually prefer.
In September 2015 they came back with another pre-single My Type. This song is a lot more chill and relaxed than Rhythm Ta which added another colour to their already impressive credentials.
Within 24 hours the music video had already surpassed 1.7 million views and they took out their first win on MBC Music Core a week later which is extremely impressive as they still hadn’t made their debut yet – something that their already strong fanbase was entirely responsible for.
Around the same time as this first win, iKON had achieved a triple crown on the Gaon charts – taken the number one spot on digital, downloading, and streaming charts.
Their debut half album was released in October topping charts within a few days and they held their first concert Showtime two days later. The day after their concert they made their music show debut on Inkigayo with Rhythm Ta, Airplane and received their third win for My Type in person.
It was also announced that their full album Welcome Back would be delayed until early December along with two new songs that would be released at the start of November.
Their pre-album singles Apology and Anthem were released on 16 November and Apology took number one in the 48th week of 2015.
Apology is a beautiful ballad which showcases a colour of iKON which hadn’t been seen since their song Climax on WIN. It shows the sentimental songwriting of rappers B.I and Bobby as well as showing the incredible vocal ability of their vocal-line, especially Junhoe.
Song Anthem is a rapper-line song which goes back to heavy influences of hiphop. Although the group is known as a dancing group that sings upbeat and feel good music, this song takes us back to what the groups started as – a hiphop-influenced group.
Even though this song only features Bobby and B.I, the other five members are seen in throughout the music video.
Although this isn’t my favourite song out of the two, I can’t deny how talented the rapper-line is. If they weren’t my favourites before they would be now, not only visually but talent-wise as well.
On December 24 they came back with singles Dumb & Dumber and What’s Wrong along with their full album Welcome Back.
Dumb & Dumber is a typical party song – upbeat and positive vibe with a weird music video to go along with it. Although the song is very upbeat, the vocal-line was able to showcase their power through the pre-chorus’ which are my favourite parts of the song.
Their other song What’s Wrong is also an upbeat party song, although it isn’t as hectic and has a lot more room throughout the song. Out of the two songs release, this one was my favourite. The video was a lot easier to understand and I felt like the song catered more for the vocals than the rap-line which was refreshing.
Japan debut and Asian Tour: 2016
In January 2016, iKON made their Japanese debut with a Japanese version of their album Welcome Back which earned them New Artist Award and Best New Artist Award at 58th Japan Record Award.
In March 2017, YG Entertainment announced that the group would be doing their first Asia Tour with iKoncert 2016: Showtime Tour going to countries like China, Indonesia and Thailand amongst others.
In May, iKON came back with single #WYD which debuted at number 3 on the Oricon Charts. To me, this song is closer in genre to previously release single My Type although the song is a lot lighter than even that.
In July, they announced that they’d have a second Japanese Tour and would end up performing around 25 shows in total.
In mid-2016, iKON participated in Chinese show Heroes of Remix. Through this show, they were able to shine a light on their talent to a wider audience and they received a lot of praise for their performances as they were able to win three times. Due to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) issues, they were entirely edited out of the final episodes.
But through their appearance in their show and their continuous tour dates in China they were able to win Asian Most Popular Korean Group at the China Music Awards, Best Group Award at Netease Attitude Awards and Best New Force Group and Album of the Year at QQ Music Awards.
New Kids and Japan Dome Tour: 2017
In February it was announced that iKON would have their first dome tour with 90,000 fans expected which marked them as the fast group to have a dome tour since debut.
On May 22, they group came back with their new double-barrelled comeback with New Kids: Begin with singles Bling Bling and B-Day.
(Through this new comeback, a few of the members went through a bit of a name change which confused me to no end. Why their names were changes is beyond me but OK YG, you do you man…)
On June 18 it was announced an additional 22 shows shows in eight Japanese cities would be held with 233,000 fans reported to attend making it the longest and largest dome tour held by the band in Japan.
As much as I love this group, I feel like they – as well as WINNER – have had more time being in-active or away from Korea than actually promoting. It should be no shock to anyone that I have a problem with the way that YG runs things and this is no different. For two groups that clearly have a huge audience base, they don’t do a lot of promoting within Korea.
Regardless, I will always support YG artists. To me, their groups and songs as a whole are the closest to my type of music. I do have to hold a lot of credit to the reality shows they’ve been in but iKON will forever be one of my top favourites.