One Man Show: K-pop solo debuts to watch in 2015

When members of popular idol groups strike it out on their own
When members of popular idol groups strike it out on their own
11 Mar 2015

When members of popular idol groups strike it out on their own

If the depressing news of members departing from their groups formed the bulk of K-pop headlines last year, Hallyu fans have better things to cheer about in 2015.
Ever since the year started, the topic of solo debuts has been making waves on social media. After achieving notable success in their groups, an increasing number of members from idol units have taken up the challenge of striking it out on their own (without leaving their teams).
Besides riding on the immense popularity that they already enjoy, what other tricks do these idols have up their sleeves? Click on to find out! 

Jonghyun from SHINee
Jonghyun from SHINee
11 Mar 2015

Jonghyun from SHINee

Years since group debut: 7

 

What to look out for: Jonghyun’s original compositions

What took you so long, Jonghyun?


Last year, SHINee’s maknae (youngest member) Taemin became the first among the quintet to make a solo debut with Ace. In December, it was announced that lead vocalist Jonghyun will finally have a project of his own.

 

We have seen Jonghyun’s composing abilities in SHINee’s Dream Girl and Why So Serious? albums, as well as in Taemin’s ‘Pretty Boy’ and IU’s ‘Depression Clock’. Anticipation levels rose even higher after the 24-year-old regularly shared his unreleased work on his radio show Blue Night.

 

Writing all the lyrics to his seven-track album BASE, Jonghyun not only played a heavy role in the production, but he also handpicked the artistes for collaboration – Zion.T, Wheesung, Iron and Younha. Among the four, the SHINee member unabashedly called Wheesung his idol who inspired him greatly.

 

The first single off the album, ‘Déjà-Boo’, topped five major music charts in Korea on the day of its release on Jan 6. Now that BASE has dropped and Jonghyun being all geared up for promotions, we expect the singer to bring home the “No. 1” trophy really soon. And also some fanservice as celebration.

Iron, Zion T and Jonghyun
Iron, Zion T and Jonghyun
11 Mar 2015

Iron, Zion T and Jonghyun

Iron and Zion T lent support for Jonghyun's solo debut showcase held at SMTOWN Coex Artium on Jan 8. 

Jung Yonghwa from CNBLUE
Jung Yonghwa from CNBLUE
11 Mar 2015

Jung Yonghwa from CNBLUE

Years since group debut: 5 (in Korea)

 

What to look out for: Collaboration with JJ Lin

 

Talk of Yonghwa’s solo debut has been going on since 2014 and the rumours were finally confirmed by FNC Entertainment after the New Year. Even as the frontman of CLBLUE for five years now and being arguably the most popular member in the band, how will Yonghwa rise above the stiff competition?

 

For that, we give kudos to FNC’s marketing team that has leveraged Yonghwa’s multiple collaborations for his project to good effect. In the past week, we have been introduced to the artistes that Yonghwa is working with on a daily basis, building up the hype to the album’s official release on Jan 20.

 

Although the funky collaboration with YDG (pictured above), ‘Mileage’ (and its music video which is a refreshing change from CNBLUE’s usual style) has sparked heated discussion, it is Yonghwa’s fourth collaboration artiste that came as a big but pleasant surprise.

 

On Jan 12, Singaporean singer JJ Lin was announced to have worked with Yonghwa on the track ‘Checkmate’, which would be accompanied by a music video. In an album that already features rock and hip hop elements (YDG, Verbal Jint and TB’s Yoon Do Hyun), JJ’s involvement represents an even wider musical diversification.

 

With JJ’s popularity and fame in the Mandopop industry as well as in the humongous Chinese market, the collaboration would undeniably open new doors for Yonghwa and possibly CNBLUE. Well played, well played.

Yonghwa and JJ Lin
Yonghwa and JJ Lin
11 Mar 2015

Yonghwa and JJ Lin

The collaboration between the K-pop and Mandopop megastars is one major selling point of Yonghwa's solo debut album One Fine Day

Amber from f(x)
Amber from f(x)
11 Mar 2015

Amber from f(x)

Years since group debut: 6 (with a one-year hiatus in between)

 

What to look out for: A completely different sound from f(x) and possible collaborations with her homies


As if to make up for the scandals that erupted among its artistes last year, S.M Entertainment has been launching solo projects at a quicker rate than any other agencies.


After Super Junior’s Kyuhyun, Super Junior M’s Henry and Zhoumi as well as SHINee’s Taemin and Jonghyun, a S.M representative confirmed in Nov that f(x)’s Amber’s solo debut is on the cards.

 

With the future of f(x) hanging in the air following Sulli’s indefinite hiatus, Amber will be the first member to make a solo debut. The Taiwanese-American rapper is currently working on her album which is estimated to be released in Feb.

 

Known for her distinctly divergent image and vocal range from her groupmates (and also her BFF status with Girls’ Generation’s Hyoyeon and miss A’s Min), we are certainly hoping to hear music that is tailored for Amber’s style and a collaboration between these fun-loving gal pals (just check out their Instagram)! 

Amber and Min; Min and Hyoyeon
Amber and Min; Min and Hyoyeon
11 Mar 2015

Amber and Min; Min and Hyoyeon

We hope to see these BFFs team up for a collaboration in the near future!

Lizzy from After School
Lizzy from After School
11 Mar 2015

Lizzy from After School

Years since group debut: 6

 

What to look out for: From bubblegum pop to semi-trot 


In an age where rookies are debuting faster than we can match their names to faces, diversification is the way to go for idols, if they were to last long in the industry.

 

Earlier this month, Pledis Entertainment announced that After School’s (and sub-unit Orange Caramel’s) Lizzy will make her solo debut on KBS music show National Singing Contest, with a pre-recorded performance slated to broadcast on Jan 17. Her single I’m Not an Easy Girl will drop on Jan 23.

 

Trying her hands at trot (a genre of traditional Korean music particularly enjoyed by the older generation) for the first time, the 22-year-old will shed her saccharine-sweet image and showcase an entirely different style for her solo endeavour.

 

After conquering the hearts of young fanboys, Lizzy is now set to win that of the ahjussis (middle-aged men) and harabeojis (elderly men) with her upcoming release. 

Lizzy from After School
Lizzy from After School
11 Mar 2015

Lizzy from After School

Doesn't Lizzy look cool with her short hairdo? This girl has proven to be versatile not only in terms of music, but also in her style. 

Soyul from Crayon Pop
Soyul from Crayon Pop
11 Mar 2015

Soyul from Crayon Pop

Years since group debut: 3

 

What to look out for: Helmets, bandanas and pajamas, annyeong!

 

Crayon Pop’s maknae Soyul released her solo debut single Y-Shirt and its music video (which features Zan Zan's Yang Jungmo and stars the rest of the members) on Jan 12, following a series of teasers published on the group’s official Facebook page.

 

Are we the only ones glad to see the 23-year-old ditching those ridiculous costumes – helmets in ‘Bar Bar Bar’, red bandanas in ‘Uh-ee’ and pajamas in ‘Strawberry Milk’ – for once?

 

Some may argue that Crayon Pop’s outlandish style is what sets them apart from the rest of the girl groups. Well, fans can rest assured that the quintet is currently preparing for their comeback next month, which is also why Soyul will not participate in promotions for ‘Y-Shirt’.

 

Last time we heard, Crayon Pop’s new track will be produced by reknowned Korean songwriter Shinsadong Tiger.  

Soyul from Crayon Pop
Soyul from Crayon Pop
11 Mar 2015

Soyul from Crayon Pop

The helmet and red bandana certainly left a lasting impression on us. 

Niel from Teen Top
Niel from Teen Top
11 Mar 2015

Niel from Teen Top

Years since group debut: 5

 

What to look out for: From teenybopper to groovy R&B

 

Following in the footsteps of his K-pop seniors is Teen Top’s main vocalist Niel who, according to Korean news outlet OSEN, is currently putting the finishing touches on his solo debut slated to be released in Feb.


With Teen Top members actively venturing into various fields, Niel’s project didn’t seem all that surprising as he had previously impressed with his singing abilities on KBS’ Immortal Song.

 

Casting his teenybopper image aside, the 20-year-old is practising hard to present a new side of him with an R&B track. Not only does Niel intend to excite his fans in terms of music, he also hopes to surprise everyone with a sophisticated performance. 

Niel from Teen Top
Niel from Teen Top
11 Mar 2015

Niel from Teen Top

Niel's rendition of "One Sided Love" on Immortal Song 2 last year shone light on his outstanding vocal abilities.  

SPECIAL MENTION: CL’s upcoming solo debut in the United States
SPECIAL MENTION: CL’s upcoming solo debut in the United States
11 Mar 2015

SPECIAL MENTION: CL’s upcoming solo debut in the United States

The world is CL’s oyster.

 

Last year, CL signed with hotshot manager Scooter Braun (pictured above), the man behind Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen and PSY, to prepare for her impending American debut.

 

As fans are counting down to the big day (estimated to be in spring), CL has already caught the attention of several media outlets in the United States, including Billboard and MTV IGGY. While American music channel VH1 included CL in their “15 Female Rappers to Watch In 2015” list, FuseTV named the singer as one of the “10 Breakout Artists for 2015”.

 

Fans and the media aren’t the only ones who are looking forward to CL’s full-fledged US solo career. Previously worked with CL on his song ‘Getting’ Dumb’, Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am recently tweeted the 2NE1 leader asking for another collaboration. He wrote: “We need to collaborate with you on the new [Black Eyed Peas] release.”

 

Subsequent tweet exchanges between will.i.am, Taboo and CL showed that a special project for Black Eyed Peas’ upcoming anniversary album might indeed materialise.

 

With the market’s growing interest in CL, we hope that the “baddest female” is ready to show the world her rendition of rap music and her stunning stage performances, which are as galvanising and addictive as we have come to expect from her. 

Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am and CL
Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am and CL
11 Mar 2015

Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am and CL

It seems like a second collaboration between Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am and 2NE1's CL might be on the cards (thanks to Twitter). Now, who's excited? 

Report a problem