An artist’s debut single is a very important thing. The debut MV is the chance for them to really make their mark on the music industry and forge out their concept, image and identity. This is especially the case for K-Pop artists, whose debut is often highly anticipated thanks to multiple teaser photos, videos and member introductions.
These artists have often endured extended training periods and have undoubtedly been left waiting with bated breath for their debut date to finally arrive, so showing your best is a given. However, looking back at a debut of our favourite K-Pop soloists or groups can also be a very nostalgic experience. The debut MV serves as a snapshot of the past and one can often see how much the artists have grown and changed since that time both physically and musically.
We have picked out a selection of debut music videos for a trip down memory lane, but be sure to comment with your personal favourites below this article!
1. DBSK – ‘Hug’
Back when these guys were a 5 member group, they began to take Asia by storm and were some of the first to really bring K-Pop to international audiences. Now separated into TVXQ and JYJ and after a lot of personal difficulty, the guys are still doing great both domestically and abroad – in neighbouring Japan especially. Who would have thought these five fresh-faced and very young boys would become one of the fore-runners in the Hallyu Wave?
This debut song is so lovely and fuzzy and still brings Cassiopeia back to listen today. There is even a small and slightly strange dance breakdown to show everyone their skills. Seriously though, how young do they look here?! Changmin looks about 5…(okay, slight over-exaggeration there, but still).
2. SISTAR – ‘Push Push’
This track perfectly encapsulates the fun and energetic vibe that SISTAR still carry with them today. The group is now known as one of the most successful girls groups on the modern K-Pop scene and often stun with their classy yet usually very sexy and womanly image. You can certainly see how they have matured in their work as time has gone on, but also that many of their songs still retain this happy catchiness. You have definitely tried to mimic the choreography from this one before, right?
3. 2NE1 – ‘Fire’
From the very start, these ladies meant business and this track will still bring almost every K-Pop fan to the dance floor. 2NE1 show that they are not your typical demure and meek females and this song, as with many of their future releases, helps girls everywhere feel strong and independent. Aside from all this, it’s a song that will really get you blood pumping and I have yet to see any K-Pop fan resist a little sing-a-long to this track!
They also released 2 versions of this MV – a space version (below) and a street version. Which is your favourite?
4. AOA – ‘Elvis’
It’s very forthcoming to introduce yourselves to the world as angels, right? Nevertheless, this concept is beautifully executed and the girls seem to strike good balances between ladylike and tough as well as sexy and conservative. The gold and glittery tones as well as the make up and costumes for this MV all complement each other really well. The song itself is also quite fun and infectious, this is a debut of a fairly new group that has set a solid tone for their hopefully successful future.
5. SHINee – ‘Replay’
Long before maknae member Taemin was strutting his stuff for his solo, his group were showing their smooth vocals and sharp dance moves off to noonas everywhere. These guys have been through many different image changes since this single was released of course, but this very catchy and cute song was enough to get them noticed initially. This release opened them up to a wider than average age-bracket in terms of demographic and helped to cement that signature SHINee flavour.
6. 2PM – ’10 out of 10′
Moving on from the sweet, boy-next-door charm that SHINee presented in ‘Replay’, we have the hot-blooded beast idols that are 2PM! This track shows the guys as up for fun with the ladies as they mark the woman they desire as “10 out of 10”, but we also see their funny side as they all fail to catch her attention despite their rather raunchy fantasies. Surely most international K-Pop fans learnt how to say “10 out of 10” in Korean from this single, right?
7. Infinite – ‘Torawa (Come Back Again)’
This quite jazzy debut definitely shows off the great singing and dancing ability of the group. Whilst the MV itself is a little strange, each member is shown off well. This song also serves as the encore track during live shows which is quite apt and also shows that the group will not forget where they have come from no matter how much time passes.
8. EXO – MAMA
Possibly one of the most highly anticipated debuts in modern K-Pop history here, and one cannot really say it was a disappointment! Just how much was the budget for this MV exactly? SM Entertainment shows that no expense is spared for this now hugely successful K-Pop group. The beautiful concept of each member belonging to the earth and coming together restore the world to its former glory is communicated through amazing special effects and inventive choreography. EXO really hit hard with this dramatic debut and it is one to watch even from a purely conceptual perspective.
N.B. We have chosen to include the Korean version of the song.
9. B.A.P – ‘Warrior’
“We are NOT a cute boyband!” B.A.P seem to scream with this very masculine and aggressive debut track. The stompy choreography appears not dissimilar to the New Zealand Haka performed to intimidate opponents. The boys’ identical blonde locks may have led to some initial confusion for fans, but it is a very daring image that really helps to emphasise the groups’ over-arching concept that they are aliens from the planet Matoki. Let the smashing of cars and the mock shooting of ZELO commence! (It’s definitely a hard life for a maknae, eh ZELO?)
10. Rain – ‘Bad Guy’
Back in 2002 (yes, 12 years ago now!) Rain made his solo debut under JYP Entertainment with this song. Despite his former group Fanclub having little success or recognition, we can see Rain has maintained the steely resilient attitude throughout his entire career. His solo activities have of course led him to become one of the most well-known South Korean entertainers in the world and this song shows that he has always relished that image of being the bad boy who the ladies love.