2022 saw many great comebacks, with the likes of Girls Generation making their first return in 5 years to celebrate their 15th anniversary alongside fellow legendary second-generation group KARA, who would also celebrate their 15th anniversary. The year would also see K-pop legends Bigbang release their first album post-enlistment.

However, whilst the year would see the return of K-pop legends. It would also see a surge of great new talent in the K-pop industry. With some of the year’s most viewed music videos and award ceremonies coming from rookies in what has been a legendary year for debuts in 2022.

1- NewJeans

One of the year’s hottest groups, fittingly debuting in one of the hottest months of the year. NewJeans released one of the year’s great albums with each song equally being good enough to be a title song the group saw great success with both ‘Hype Boy’ and ‘Attention’ being the stand-out songs from the album, with ‘Hype Boy’ ranking 24 on Rolling Stone’s ‘The 100 Best Songs of 2022’ and the album ranking 46 overall on the publishers ‘The 100 Best Albums of 2022.’

The HYBE group has since come out with official Music Videos for each song showing off their quirky concepts and style before later releasing the single ‘Ditto’ in December. Before ending the year strong wrapping up awards such as Best New Artist at the 2022 Asia Artist Awards as well as Top 10 Artist and New Artist of the Year at the 2022 Melon Music Awards.

2- Le Sserafim

Another HYBE group to feature in this list. These girls came in this year as probably one of the most hyped-up artists for 2022 and it’s fair to say they have lived up to expectations, quickly fitting in with the star-studded talent lineup of HYBE Labels.

Debuting with ‘Fearless’ in May the song has since become one of the most successful songs of 2022 placing in the top 25 of the most streamed Spotify songs before releasing ‘Antifragile’ later in the year hitting over 100 million streams on Spotify.

3- Kep1er

Another highly anticipated group Kep1er would start 2022 off strong after the success and forming of the group through CJ ENM Competition Show ‘Girls Planet 999’. January saw the debut of a 9 member girl group in one of the busiest years for rookies in K-pop.

Debuting with First Impact and title song ‘Wa Da Da’ the rookies would continue their competition success appearing on the second season of Queendom alongside star girl groups Brave Girls, WJSN, Loona and fellow rookie girl group VIVIZ.

The group would continue this success throughout the year going on to release multiple singles and mini-albums. The year would also see success on TikTok becoming the only rookie group to be nominated for the ‘TikTok Popular Artist’ and ‘Artist with Most New Followers’ awards as they became one of K-pop’s biggest TikTokers.

4- Gomak boys

Another project group now as after a successful series the project group would make their debut at the end of this year in November it’s been a big year for the 5-member Kakao Entertainment boy group.

The project saw 5 of K-pop’s biggest soloists come together with each member equally having big years individually. Together the members showed their talent each showing great vocals they have shown their talent harmonising perfectly with each other.

The future is bright for this group and each member of the group as they continue to build on the success of the show.

5- YouNite

One of the largest groups to debut this year, April saw the debut of the 9-member boy group following the success of AB6IX and BDC. The group gained initial success when it was confirmed former X1 member Lee Eun Sang was the leader and former ‘LOUD’ contestant Lee Kyeong Mun was announced as a member.

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The group continued their success in 2022 releasing a further 2 mini-albums showing off different genres and sides of music. Their releases have only gotten better over the years as they look to follow in the success of their seniors and continue to impress Youniz worldwide.

6- Class:y

One of the youngest rookie groups to debut this year, Class:y debuted in May of this year after the airing of the MBC survival show ‘My Teenage Girl’ which saw over 80 contestants compete for the chance to be part of the 7-member girl group.

They saw success with their debut mini-album ‘Class is over’ and success in Japan as they would release Japanese versions of ‘Shut down’ and ‘Same Same Different’ and with their latest album ‘Day&Night’ released in October. The future of this group when placed with their age and still 6 years left on their contract the group look to have great longevity in the industry and room to grow.

7- Nayeon

In a more quiet year for Twice which saw the group only release 2 albums during the summer and release Japanese versions of some of their more successful songs from over the years.
The year saw members embark on their solo projects individually with the most successful of these being lead vocalist Nayeon who debuted with one of the year’s biggest albums collaborating with the likes of Stray Kids Felix and rapper Wonstein the album saw one of the year’s best K-pop releases in ‘Pop!’ seeing success placing on the Rolling Stones Top 100 songs of 2022.

With the success of Nayeon, this year let’s hope that this sees the debuts of other Twice members and another comeback from the group’s main singer in 2023 after the recognition from the end-of-year award ceremonies.

8- TEMPEST

Debuting under YueHua Entertainment, March saw the debut of TEMPEST with the mini-album ‘It’s me, It’s we’ which would be one of the most complete rookie albums with B-side classics such as ‘Next To You’ and ‘Bad At Love.’

The group has continued to make waves in the scene releasing two further mini-albums with the latest coming at the end of the year in November where the group saw success in winning their first Show Champion award for their song ‘Dragon’. TEMPEST would become one of the year’s best rookies winning the ‘Male Rookie Of The Year’ award at the 2022 Genie Music Awards and being nominated for the ‘Best New Male Artist’ at the 2022 MAMA Awards.

9- Kim Jong Hyeon

One of the saddest news of 2022 saw the disbandment of the boy group NU’EST, who after 10 years separated ways after each member’s contracts would expire, with many members taking the opportunity to change companies.

The Disbandment saw members embark on solo releases with Baekho releasing his first solo EP. It also would see the debut of the group’s leader and main rapper/singer who ended the year with mini-album ‘Meridem’ which showed off his vocals and rapping in a great all-around release for the veteran looking to continue his success after a successful career with NU’EST.

10- Trendz

Starting 2022 strong we had Trendz, who would make their debut at the start of January as they would start their storyline by releasing Chapter 1 of Blue Set releasing 2 more Chapters showcasing all sides of their musical ability from their innocent side to their more mature side.

The group was featured various times on music shows putting on classic performances but never managing the chance to win an award this year. They also got the chance to perform a dance practice video of ‘Vegabond’ at the 2022 Asia Artist Awards showing off their dancing skills as they became one of the year’s best choreographers and dancers.

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Writer and former radio presenter, into Korean rock and indie bands and all things Korean entertainment.