This decade has been blessed with boy groups bringing unprecedented talents and visuals to the industry. Every year, fans celebrated the beginnings of new idols pursuing their dreams and making good music. Some have disbanded, some have endured, some have reached new heights — but all of them have marked their irreplaceable stories in the history of K-Pop. Here are 10 boy groups who made their debuts as the hottest rookies each year of this decade.
1. INFINITE (2010)
When INFINITE debuted in 2010, K-Pop fans paid much attention to their unique visuals and styling. Soon, the members proved they are so much more than what they look like or what they wear on stage. As rookies, INFINITE became one of the first idols of their generation to boast the “perfectly synched choreography” — which has became the industry standard now. Over the years, Hoya left the group, leaving INFINITE a six-member group.
2. Block B (2011)
In 2011, Block B were introduced to the K-Pop world as the scene’s fresh new “hiphop idols”. Fans found these rookies especially intriguing because members Zico and Park Kyung boasted excellent producing skills. Block B were — and remains — one of the few “self-producing” boy groups of the industry.
3. EXO (2012)
EXO debuted in 2012 as a twelve-member group, with a never-tried-before, fantasy-driven type of concept that dubbed them “rising stars with superpowers from outer space”. This idea initially got K-Pop fans interested, but their unique music kept them hooked! Over the years, EXO have lost three Chinese members and settled as a group of nine — two of which are currently serving military duties.
4. BTS (2013)
In 2013, BTS debuted with Big Hit Entertainment — with members cast from the agency’s nationwide “HIT IT” audition held to recruit talent for a new “hiphop group”. In the beginning, BTS caught the attention of K-Pop fans with their name Bangtansonyeondan. By 2015, BTS’s fandom grew substantial. Now they are rewriting history as one of the leading K-Pop groups in the scene.
5. WINNER (2014)
WINNER‘s 2014 debut — initially as a five-member group until member Nam Tae Hyun withdrew — came to happen after a fierce competition on the show WIN: Who is Next hosted by YG Entertainment. As a group of “winners” from the show, WINNER immediately faced high expectations. The members’ talents soon convinced K-Pop fans they deserved the win.
6. MONSTA X (2015)
In 2015, MONSTA X also debuted through a “survival” type TV program called No Mercy. At first, viewers were attracted to the show’s most cruel-but-entertaining way of making the trainees compete against and eliminate each other. By the end of the show, the original seven-member group — until the removal of member Wonho — had built a solid fan base already.
7. NCT (2016)
When SM Entertainment announced NCT in 2016, K-Pop fans became mind blown by the agency’s most unique and unprecedented system of freely adding members and rotating units. As one of K-Pop’s largest boy groups — and possibly expanding, thanks to that system — NCT continue to charm NCTzens with multiple subunits like NCT U, NCT 127, and NCT Dream.
8. Wanna One (2017)
In 2017, through the TV program Produce 101 Season 2, eleven trainees from different agencies — and some even from debuted boy groups — were selected to form Wanna One. While the group was “temporary” as a project group, they achieved immense success in their contract’s time. Unfortunately, the entire Produce 101 franchise recently went under investigation for rigging and was found guilty.
9. Stray Kids (2018)
JYP Entertainment‘s Stray Kids debuted in 2018 after winning on a TV competition program by the same name Stray Kids, hosted by the agency. K-Pop fans paid extra attention to Stray Kids’ debut because they titled themselves a “self-producing idol group” as well. Though still rookies, Stray Kids are known to boast a solid international fanbase.
10. TXT (2019)
TXT‘s debut in 2019 came with extremely high expectations because they were, even before they made anything of themselves, immediately dubbed “BTS’s Dongsaeng Group”. They outdid the anticipation with their pure talent. Sweeping end-of-the-year awards as super rookies of the year, TXT proved they are so much more than BTS’s “brothers” — they’re the next IT group of K-Pop.