K-pop rookies WINNER making all the right moves

K-pop rookies WINNER making all the right moves
K-pop rookie boyband WINNER in one of their photoshoot shots taken in New York City

Winner are the showbiz rookies every talent scout would give an arm and a leg to manage.

The fresh-faced K-pop quintet of Kang Seung Yoon, 20, Lee Seung Hoon, 22, Song Min Ho, 21, Nam Tae Hyun, 20, and Kim Jin Woo, 22, debuted last month to massive success.

Their first studio album, 2014 S/S, achieved the rare feat of a "perfect all-kill" when it topped all of South Korea's major music charts. It also has a bonafide hit Stateside, making No. 1 on Billboard's World Albums chart and a Top 10 entry on Billboard's Heatseekers Albums chart.

As record label YG Entertainment's first boyband since international superstars Big Bang debuted eight years ago, the pressure is on these youthful lads to perform as well as their established seniors.

Winner have already been labelled by Korean media as "the next Big Bang".

Ahead of their performance at YG Family 2014 Galaxy Tour this weekend, M presents you the four essential steps for a winning boy band.


To start your band, you will first need five or so good-looking young men. Then you will need to think of a name. Something dynamic. Something definite.

The boys of Winner were introduced last October on South Korean reality-survival television show Who Is Next: WIN.

After emerging champions, their newly formed group was coined Winner - probably the most literal band name in K-pop history.

Leader Kang told pop website KPopPlanet that it was an "excellent name".

"We love it. There's a popular belief about how singers' fates follow their names," he said.

In a separate interview with New York-based site Noisey while they were in the Big Apple for a photoshoot, Kang explained that the band's name motivates them to keep on excelling at their game.

"In five years, we want to be a group deserving of the name Winner. Hopefully, we'll be in the middle of our own world tour," he said.


Young celebs can gain street cred by collaborating with established artists.

It's useful when your label has a roster of well-established stars to help introduce your new band to the world.

Winner have had some A-list aid that would turn other K-pop rookies green with envy.

Last year, they scored a two-month stint opening for Big Bang on the latter's six-dome tour of Japan. This year, they were invited by 2NE1 to perform as guests on the girl group's world tour.

"Really, up until debuting, we've been spending all our time in the practice room... So it's great to go travel abroad. On 2NE1's tour, we went to the Philippines and all over the place," recalled Lee, in the Noisey interview.

"The world is so broad and there's so much to gain inspiration from, so we feel like we're taking all that in."


It's no secret that Big Bang gets a lot of adoration from celebrities, from veteran boyband Shinhwa, actresses Song Hye Kyo and Han Ga In, to our local K-pop fanatics Ann Kok and Pat Mok.

Rapper-singer Haha of Korean variety game show Running Man fame retweeted his friend's post about the group's hip-hop track.

"Empty by Winner is very good. I love Winner," and added: "It's really good, isn't it?"

Actor Kwan Sang Woo has also openly showed that he is enamoured.

"Wow, this song is amazing. On my way to the (film) set listening to this song. Winner's Empty is completely my style," he wrote on his official fan site.


The similarities between Winner and seniors Big Bang are striking. Both groups have five male members, both are armed with solid song-writing and music production skills, but a part of Winner hopes that they can stand strongly as a separate entity.

"One of the things that was our on our shoulders was the title of 'the continuation of Big Bang'," said Kang, in an interview with Billboard.com.

"That's why we're really making an effort to show our different colours. Be it our clothing or style, we won't try to imitate. We'll try to figure out what's different and what's really more our own."

YG Entertainment chief executive Yang Hyun Suk, told US website Kpopstarz that it took "a year to find out Winner's own style".

"I don't want Winner to be misunderstood as a dance group," he said. "That is why I picked a sentimental and emotional hip-hop song, Empty, for their debut."


This article was first published on Sep 10, 2014.
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