“[FEATURE] Our Picks of 2015 Promising Rookies (PART 1)”

2015 has been a banner year for rookie group debuts in Kpop. These young blood and fresh talents certainly have presented unique and captivating concepts that leave us craving for more music from them. As 2015 is coming to an end, The Seoul Story has picked our Top Six Promising Rookies who have debuted in 2015 (in no particular order). Read on further to know more about our choices!



Pledis Entertainment’s newest addition, SEVENTEEN made their official debut on May 26 through their live showcase with the album ’17 Carat’ and title track ‘Adore U’. Although the group consists of 13 members, they have proved that every one of them is equally talented and delivers something different every time they are on stage. Despite the large amount of members, synchronised choreography and almost equal screen-time for all 13 members have been constantly reflected through their performances.

One thing that stood out with this group is the early categorisation into three different sub-units; Hip Hop team, Vocal team and Performance team. This unique strategy allows each member to showcase their talent, encouraging continuous explorations and improvements in those three areas.

Some other major points to highlight are the close involvement of members in album production. Member Woozi is their in-house producer, Hoshi crafts the team’s choreographies and the hip-hop team members take charge of their own lyrics be it for album songs or their own mixtapes.


They made their return on September 10 with an album titled ‘BOYS BE’ and title track ‘Mansae’ which ignited their popularity and rubber-stamped their place as a powerful rising rookie. With this album, they made headlines with Top 10 ranking on Billboard and was listed as the only Asian artist on Billboard ’21 under 21 Artists’. Moreover, album sales surpassed a whopping 100,000 copies among their other achievements.

Their constant hard work and enthusiasm shone through in spite of long promotion periods, as the boys showcased a variety of choreography changes for live performances, gifting personalised letters and coffee to fans at fan-meetings and making external appearances on variety shows as well. In our opinion, SEVENTEEN stands as a hot contender for rookie awards at the end of year award festivals. With such a promising start into their career, we definitely look forward to many more great releases from this group and special performances by the different sub-units! For now, fans will get to see them up-close and personal as they have just announced their Christmas Concert series from 24 – 26 December.


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GFRIEND has arguably hit upon a successful formula for rookie group popularity: strong support and clever marketing tactics. The 6-member group from Source Music debuted on January 15, welcoming Kpop fans with ‘Season of Glass’ and title track ‘Glass Bead’. What set them apart from other girl groups were their vintage look and feel through their debut song, which brought back some nostalgia among the general public and elevated their debut track up the ranks on various music charts in Korea.

They are also known for their sharp choreography, which was a refreshing sight for a girl group. Not long after their debut, member Yerin also made headlines for her guesting on SBS popular variety show ‘Running Man’ which was the talk of the town considering rookies do not get invited easily to the show. Her funny gags during her appearance skyrocketed GFRIEND to popularity, which arguably puts them at top spot as Best Female Rookie of 2015.

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Keeping the momentum going, the girls made their return with ‘Flower Bud’ and title track ‘ME GUSTAS TU’, which had a catchy tune and easy lyrics to sing along to. Keeping close to their original concept of youthful freshness, their song charted higher than their debut track, which was impressive for a rookie group from a small agency.

Their professionalism was magnified through an incident in which the members continued performing in the rain, despite multiple falls on the slippery stage. Member Yuju especially made headlines – even after falling countless times, she was still adamant about continuing her performance. Their song leaped up the charts after that incident entering Top 10 on MelOn, which showcased their huge potential as a female rookie group.

Till date, they have landed various magazine shoots and endorsements, even clinching the ‘Best Newcomer Award’ at MelOn Music Awards on November 7 alongside iKON. With increased public recognition and public-friendly music, GFRIEND definitely has the potential to be even bigger than they are today!


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MONSTA X was first introduced through a pre-debut 10-episode survival show ‘NO MERCY’, on which seven out of 13 members were picked to form the final line-up for the group. What set them apart from the other artistes in Starship Entertainment is their strong hip-hop concept, which was apparent in their debut track ‘Trespass’. The group is well-balanced with members who are equally talented in singing, dancing and rapping, and this is further backed by a strong fan following from ‘NO MERCY’.

Despite being a rookie group, majority of the members have had the chance to individually participate in different projects. Member Kihyun, Shownu, Jooheon and I.M had been active in recording drama OSTs and additionally Jooheon and I.M had both created their own mixtapes as well. They had also made appearances on radio and selected variety shows, allowing them to showcase their talents in other areas as well. Such activities have amplified their group’s recognition as they continue to grow.

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Constant promotion is something MONSTA X does not lack either, as recently they came back with another hip-hop track ‘Rush’ and follow-up track ‘Hero’ which displayed their versatility in tackling various genres musically. Their strategy of investing into music more than anything else at the moment definitely puts them in the right direction in gaining proper exposure through their musical talents. Recently, the boys grabbed the ‘1theK Performance Award’ at MelOn Music Awards alongside rookies GFRIEND and iKON, who took home ‘Best Newcomer Award’. With continuous music releases and the right marketing strategies, MONSTA X definitely have what it takes to grow further in the Kpop music scene.


The first three groups highlighted in this article are SEVENTEEN, GFRIEND & MONSTA X, who we believe are strong contenders for year-end music awards. PART 2 of this article series will feature three more rookie groups who we think had made an impact in 2015, which will be released soon! Stay tuned to find if your favourites made it to our list :]

[The views expressed in this article are those of the author and is solely for entertainment purposes. Content credit goes to]


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