In 2019, many years after debut, FNC idol-band N.Flying got their very first win on The Show.

They’ve had an unconventional career path – starting in Japan before mapping their way back to their home country. Yet they’ve climbed their way to the top of recognition with their latest rock-pop sleeper-hit: Rooftop.

Slowly, then all at once; it’s been an unfurling of recognition rather than an instant over-exposure (like EXID with Up&Down or Momoland with Boom Boom) and we’re excited to see what the future holds for this bright band.

To go along with their winding path to success, N.Flying has also had a topsy-turvy line of debuts.

The band first debuted in 2013 with rock-pop single Basket. They were a four-member band on a tiny front-lit stage in Japan’s Shibuya CYCLONE. Their promotional cycle was a series of live performance shows – a strategy that would follow even to their maturation as a band – including as opening acts for CNBlue and FT Island.

Basket was released as an indie single in Japan, peaking at number two on Tower Records’ singles charts and Oricon’s Indie singles charts. The song is bouncy, with all-English vocals and a whining instrumental backdrop.

N.Flying wouldn’t make their official Korean debut for another two years, but they focused on building a solid reputation as a live-act Korean band. In 2019, they launched their ‘Fly High Project’ – a year-long run of busking events, new music releases, and a concert every two months.

N.Flying hails from the same company as fellow idol bands FT Island and CNBlue. FNC’s popular girl group AOA also had a band sub-unit: AOA Black.

The four original N.Flying members were Leader Seunghyub, Lead Guitarist Hun, Bassist Kwangjin and Drummer Jaehyun. Kwangjin was the original bassist for CNBlue (before N.Flying) while Jaehyun was supposed to debut in the same group.

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Vocalist Hweseung was added as the final member in 2017, after finishing in 39th place on Produce 101: Season 2.

N.Flying’s latest song Rooftop is 2019’s biggest disruptor on the charts. It’s currently co-mingling at the top of a number of charts alongside digi-monsters like Epik High, 10cm, Hwasa and Chungha.

So what makes N.Flying so distinctive?

Rooftop, a song centred on the moment a love-struck boy glances up to the sky, is incredibly refreshing. The reggae-beat infused track, with an addictive pulled-back refrain, was written and composed by Seunghyub (also known as J.Don).

Almost counter-intuitively, their pop-preppiness is exactly what makes them stand out. In an industry where Korean bands tend to fall into distinctive categories – more sombre, more ambient, more avant-garde – there hasn’t been an entirely successful merge between idol and band images.

N.Flying is more commercial in that sense, but it doesn’t undermine their individuality – it doesn’t make them generic.

Rooftop as a sleeper hit is all the more surprising as N.Flying rises from the scandal and permanent departure of Kwangjin earlier this year. But it seems the public has their eyes on their music, not on their scandal.

In an interview, Seunghyub said, “Being recognized for music is an honour and the biggest achievement a band can ever accomplish. I think we are extremely lucky and are grateful for it. We are going to continue to pursue our career as if we just started and hopefully release better music and perform live more!”

N.Flying is a group that thrives on live and artistic performances, and they’re finally getting their hard-earned recognition.

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