Boynextdoor debuted Tuesday with its single Who! and bold ambitions to claim its spot as rookie of the year.
Boynextdoor stepped into the arena with a press showcase in Seoul, where the group introduced itself and performed the three songs on the Who! single for the first time.
"It's overwhelming that the world is finally hearing our voices," said Woonhak, the group's youngest member.
The group is signed to KOZ Entertainment, a music label under Hybe led by South Korean rapper Zico, and Boynextdoor is the first group it has launched.
Sungho joined in, saying, "I began training (to become a singer) at KOZ and feel overjoyed to debut here."
The six members, Sungho, Riwoo, Jaehyun, Taesan, Leehan and Woonhak, are all in their late teens.
Zico, who himself has experience of being a part of idol group from his time with Block B, teamed up with his long-time music partner, producer Pop Time.
Who! was mainly produced by Pop Time, with Zico and some of the band's members contributing in some part to it. Members Jaehyun, Taesan and Woonhak are credited as producers on songs But I Like You and Serenade, while Zico and Pop Time together produced One and Only.
Who! doesn't have a main song, which is a rare move in K-pop, where most singles and albums are fronted by one or two tracks.
"A single story connects the three songs," Taesan said. "I recommend you follow them in order when you listen."
The bandmates noted "natural" is the key to their music. In a brochure for the press, KOZ created the word "simfulness" to define the "simple yet fulfilling" sentiment the band pursues with its music and style.
"We want our music to be easy-listening, with something fun added," said Jaehyun. Taesan added, "We hope the public can sing along and empathize effortlessly with our music. When they look back on this period, we hope they could remember our songs."
They worked closely with Pop Time to melt their true characteristics into the band's music.
For example, in Serenade, Woonhak, one of the song's lyricists, said he "tried to meld in the members' ways expressing and emotions into the lyrics."
The dance was also peppered with the six boys' ideas. To embody the different styles and strengths of each member, Boynexdoor's dance moves put less stress less on perfectly synced moves but shone the spotlight on the six members individually.
"The album overall contains each of our opinions and preferences, and the same goes for the dance. We worked closely with the performance director in creating the choreography," Riwoo explained.
KOZ, short for "King of the Z(j)ungle," was established independently by the 30-year-old rapper-producer in 2018.
In 2020, it was acquired by Big Hit Entertainment, which was re-branded into Hybe in 2021 and now sits alongside other Hybe labels, such as Big Hit Music, Pledis Entertainment, Ador, Source Music and Belift Lab.
Hybe's roster contains some of K-pop's biggest names, including BTS, Seventeen, Tomorrow X Together, Enhypen and NewJeans.
The boys each shared their aspirations.
"I hope our songs enter the annual chart. That would mean our music had swept the scene this year," Woonhak said, to which Riwoo added, "Our music has its fun in the visuals as well, so hopefully our videos could go trending on streaming platforms."
"All six of us share one goal (this year), which is winning the rookie of the year award. We can only get it once," said Sungho.
Taking the name of their song, Taesan said, "We want to become a 'one and only' group. We hope to be remembered as an icon of youth by the fans and public." – By Choi Ji-won/The Korea Herald/Asia News Network