Idol reality competition programs are becoming more and more popular each year as they prove to be an amazing way to create the next big idol group! Not only do fans and viewers get to be part of the voting process in many of these shows, they also get a chance to connect with the members well ahead of their official debut. With “Produce X 101” just drawing to a close, it’s the perfect time to list more groups made from these survival style programs!
For part one of our list, check it out right here: 9 Amazing Idol Groups Formed From Reality Survival Programs. We will focus on groups that were made by trainees winning the chance to debut or groups of trainees who fought against other groups for their debut chance.
Who better to start with than super group Wanna One themselves? This incredibly popular group was composed of the top 11 chosen trainees out of 101 contestants (from over 50 separate companies) on Mnet’s “Produce 101: Season 2.” Chosen by the “National Producer” viewers, this group went on to be one of the most successful groups in K-pop history. Not only were they a huge success by the sheer amount of their fans around the country and globe, they were also huge hits due to their commercial advertisements, album sales, ranking on local and worldwide charts, and more. The final voting of “Produce 101: Season 2” made history with over ten million votes being cast, being equivalent to roughly 1/5th of South Korea’s population!
Wanna One debuted in August 2017 (less than a month after the end of the show) and promoted as a group for their planned sixteen months before their finale concert “Therefore” was held in January of 2019. Despite only being together for a short time, Wanna One broke records, took home many awards, and even held a full world tour. The members of the group returned to their respective companies— some making solo debuts, some in group debuts, some returning to their respective previously debuted groups, and some taking on other projects.
IZ*ONE also comes from the incredibly popular “Produce” series— this time through the third season of the series, entitled “Produce 48“. The Produce 101 creators collaborated with Japanese super group AKB48 and their promotional company to create this mashup program that would create the next big girl group in K-pop. The top 12 contestants proved their popularity after the program when their debut showcase concert sold out within one minute. The group’s debut EP and its lead single “La Vie en Rose” quickly charted on both Billboard World Albums and World Digital Songs. Like their “Produce” franchise predecessors I.O.I and Wanna One, I*ZONE has already taken home various awards and broken various records—not only in Korea, but also in Japan! They will continue to endorse, promote, and perform until the end of their two-and-a-half year contract.
Off The Record Entertainment
Back in 2016, CJ E&M took the top 49 trainees out of 5,000+ applicants and grouped them together into seven units to compete against each other on “BOYS24.” The winning 24 members went on to be a pre-debut group known by the same BOYS24 name and held regular concerts at their own concert hall for just over a year. After completing 260 concerts, the top eight performers were chosen at “The Final” to create the permanent group. They were given the name IN2IT and debuted in October of 2017 with the song “Amazing.” IN2IT followed up the next year with their popular tracks “Snapshot” and “Sorry For My English.” The group has done fairly well for themselves by hitting international borders, even performing at “K-CON LA” in 2018! They continue to promote, but now with seven members after Kim Jin-sub left the group on March 2018 for health reasons. They recently came to the attention of the public once more as the members and their music took on the role of the imaginary K-pop group White Ocean for the drama “Her Private Life.”
The group HONEYST hails from FNC Entertainment, a company often known for their instrumental rock bands like F.T. Island, CNBLUE, and N.Flying. Back in May 2016, FNC announced a new program titled “D.O.B (Dance or Band)“. The “NEOZ Dance” and “NEOZ Band” were introduced as two trainee units who would be competing against each other for the earlier debut chance. The finale of the show led to the victory of “NEOZ Dance,” who are now known as SF9! However, “NEOZ Band” didn’t have to wait much longer. In May of 2017, the four-member instrumental band made their official debut with the track “Like You.” Sadly, the talented group only promoted for two years before deciding to disband in April of 2019 due to creative differences.
“Finding Momoland“, a competition program created by MLD Entertainment (formerly known as Duble Kick Entertainment), was aired in June of 2016 though Mnet. The program ended with seven winning members from the original ten contestants that would debut in the group also named Momoland. However, their “Final Mission” could not attract the hopeful 3,000 spectators, so their debut was pushed back until the group could attract more of a following. The group continued to plan for their debut through promotional activities like busking on the street, fan service events, and volunteering events. The eventually made their debut on November 10th 2016 and released a physical album by successfully using crowd funding. Momoland became known for their volunteer efforts in Vietnam, as well as for being ambassadors for the International Relief Development NGO Plan Korea. The group gained two more members just prior to their digital release “Wonderful Love” in 2017. Despite the slow beginning, Momoland suddenly found huge success with their third EP “Great!” and the ear-worm title track “BBoom BBoom.” The music video for the track currently sits at over 350 million views on YouTube and launched them to superstar status. They even became the first girl group to earn a platinum certification by Gaon Music Chart for gaining over one-hundred million streams for the song. Since then, they’ve gone on to release more hits and have an established fandom around the globe.
KBS’s competition program “The Unit” was announced around May of 2017 and premiered its first episode on October 28th of the same year. “The Unit,” advertised as an “idol rebooting program,” recruited idols and artists who had already debuted but failed to find major success. The idols then competed against each rather than against new trainees and idol hopefuls who had yet to debut. Sixty-three females (many from underrated groups or groups that has disbanded) were chosen for the program and starred in the co-ed debut music video titled “My Turn.” The top nine females were chosen by viewer votes and became known as the group UNI.T . They temporary group debuted in May of 2018 with “No More” and officially disbanded in October when they completed their promotions of “I Mean.”
The Unit Culture Industry Company
A male group was also created by “The Unit” at the same time as the female unit. The program shocked many by attaining a higher viewership than expected, even hitting the first place spot in late October 2017 according to the Content Power Index. The top nine male idols were put together during the finale of the competition to create the group UNB. They debuted on April of 2018 with the incredibly dynamic track “Feeling.” “Black Heart,” their first comeback following debut was unique in that four other contestants of The Unit (that didn’t make it into the winning group) starred in the music video for “Black Heart” and were heavily involved in promotion of the track as well. UNB ended their activities and have indefinitely disbanded as of January 2019. Most of the members have now debuted as soloists, rejoined their old groups, or debuted in new groups.
The Unit Culture Industry Company
CJ E&M decided to get in on the incredibly popular competition style program when they announced their show “Idol School” in March 2017. The “Idol School” concept involved creating an idol training school to give classes on singing, dancing, appearing in public, mental stability, the history of Hallyu, and more. What made this show unique was that applicants were not required to have any previous experience and the show also took hopefuls that weren’t signed to any companies. The program started with 41 contestants with the final nine winners being chosen by viewers’ votes. These nine girls then became known as fromis_9 (pronounced like “promise”) and was supposed to represent the group’s promise to become the best girl group in K-pop. The group debuted in January of 2018 and continue to promote their music both in Korea and abroad. In fact, fromis_9 made their comeback just last month with their newest single album, Fun Factory!
“Under 19″ was an MBC program that aired from November 2018 to February 2019. The top nine trainees were chosen by the audience’s votes from the initial 57 contestants. Two weeks after the end of the show, the contestants all participated in the “Under Nineteen’s Final Concert,” performing songs from their time on the program. 1THE9 (pronounced as Wonder Nine) went on to debut with the song “Spotlight,” a song which was written and produced by singer and producer Crush (who also appeared on the show as the vocal coach). A pre-debut track, entitled “Domino,” which featured Crush was released roughly a week prior. The group continues to promote and remains active on Naver’s V Live App where they connect with fans regularly.
“YG Treasure Box” was a program that put all 29 current male YG Entertainment trainees up against each other for the chance to debut in the next big male idol group. This YG-produced reality show began airing in November 2018 and ended in January of 2019. The company separated the trainees into units: group A, group B, group C, and group J (the company’s Japanese trainees). Episode seven revealed the debut group will have seven members in the official lineup, surprising fans with a smaller lineup than was expected. The winning lineup was named Treasure and fully announced following the finale of the program. However, a surprise announcement revealed that a second group of trainees would also debut and be known as Magnum. It was later announced that the two groups would be combined to be one total group called Treasure 13. They will promote both together and as the separate units Treasure and Magnum. Although the group has been releasing teasers and was supposed to debut this summer, rumors have it that their debut will be postponed. However, no official word from YG has been given on the matter.
Stray Kids! This incredibly powerful (and incredibly lovable) group of nine talented boys debuted in March of 2018 with the album I AM NOT and its title track “District 9.” However, the group was first put through a harsh survival show before their debut. Rather than putting many idol trainees against each other for the chance of making it into a debut group, these nine artist hopeful artists were already put into a group and then made to compete for the chance to debut together. As if competing against their company JYP Entertainment itself, the nine young singers were put through various performance evaluations, challenges of teamwork, tests of fortitude, and even small competitions against other company’s trainees. It also featured many behind-the-scenes portions where the fans and viewers could follow the trainees in their lives. Over the course of ten episodes, two members, Minho and Felix, were eliminated. At the last minute, the two of them were called back to show their talents once more and prove themselves. A voting was held for viewers to choose the seven-member performance or the nine-member performance. As a result, the nine members ended up winning with 96% of the vote. Stray Kids is known as a self-producing group with a unique sense of emotion and a heavy rap-influenced music that has won them a dedicated fan base from around the world.
Survival shows have proven to be a great way to make a deep connection to new groups, as well as to bring out the talent in amazing trainees and idols. Were you surprised by any of the groups on the list? What other groups would you have included? Let us know in the comment section below!
CaptainMal has been a fan of Korean entertainment since 2010. Although her favorite bands are Infinite, Super Junior, VIXX, LOONA, and ATEEZ (with groups like NCT and TXT slowly making their way into her heart) she boasts lots of love for a huge variety of artists throughout each generation of K-pop. Other than K-pop, CaptainMal loves Disney, Daft Punk, writing, gaming, crafting, and orange juice.
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