In the world of K-Pop, first impressions aren’t always everything. There have been many groups that have found success further into their careers but there are other artists that seemed to hit things off right away. These artists had such a successful debut that fans can remember them years later. So without further ado and in no particular order, here are some debut songs that started these group’s careers off with a bang.
1. BIGBANG — “We Belong Together”
It’s hard to imagine K-Pop without BIGBANG and their entire career started with this song. Not only did each of the members take part in composing the song but it started their careers off with a pretty good bang. The track reached number 5 on the Gaon charts and sold over 54,000 copies! Although “Haru Haru” is often considered the turning point in their careers, “We Belong Together” set the whole tone for their future successes.
2. Girls’ Generation — “Into The New World”
Girls’ Generation‘s legendary debut song is still holding strong and is a favorite years after it’s release. The song showcased the girls’ impressive vocals and dancing skills while cementing the group’s first music show trophy! “Into The New World” charted on multiple charts and essentially helped pave the way for Girls’ Generation successes and for future girl groups. Plus the song has become a rallying cry for change!
3. BLACKPINK — “WHISTLE” and “BOOMBAYAH”
The group debuted on August 8, 2016, with their single album Square One which included “WHISTLE” and “BOOMBAYAH”. These two tracks were instant successes featuring some really iconic lines. “BOOMBAYAH” became the group’s first number one on the Billboard World Digital Songs chart and set the record as the most-viewed debut music video by a K-Pop artist. Both songs also killed it on the Korean charts. What a way to start their music careers!
4. SHINee — “Replay”
SHINee made their debut in 2008 with “Replay”. The song offered the first glimpse into what really makes SHINee stand out from the crowd. With their excellent dance moves, awesome vocals, and catchy lyrics, “Reply” was a huge success and was the start of it all for this group. The group also gained some major attention for their debut fashion and even started a trend among students called the “SHINee Trend.” Not a bad way to start at all!
5. 2NE1 — “Fire”
Although 2NE1‘s released two singles when they debuted, due to product affiliation one of them was never promoted. Luckily it didn’t seem to matter one bit because “Fire” was an instant hit. The mix of hip-hop and reggae appealed to fans and the two different videos gained over 1 million views in the first 24 hours. Both the song and the group became popular search terms online and “Fire” would eventually win them the Cyworld Digital Music Awards for Top Selling Artist, Best Rookie Group, and a Bonsang Award. They definitely brought the heat with their debut!
6. EXO — “Mama”
SM Entertainment tried something for the first time with EXO and it really paid off. The group made their official debut with “Mama” in both South Korea and China on the same day. The Korean version of the Mama EP peaked at number 1 on the Gaon Album chart and number 8 on the Billboard World Albums chart. On the other hand, the Mandarin version reached number 2 on China’s Sina Album chart and number one on Chinese streaming sites.
7. BTS — “No More Dream”
BTS has been different from many K-Pop acts from the very beginning. They started with a hip-hop feel and talked about some serious issues society was facing. Add in their outstanding dance choreography and multiple New Artist of the Year awards they won for the track and it isn’t hard to see why BTS are where they are now!
8. Red Velvet — “Happiness”
Red Velvet started off their whirlwind careers with “Happiness” in 2014. While the song only features 4 of the 5 members, the original music video gained more than 2 million views in the first 24 hours. Unfortunately, due to some controversy over the background images, the video was removed and replaced with an updated version. Still, the group managed to rack up the views once more and it became the second-most viewed K-Pop music video worldwide for the month of August that year and snagged a high place on the charts!
9. TWICE — “Like Ohh-Ahh”
After gaining so much attention thanks to Sixteen, TWICE knocked it out of the park with their debut “Like Ohh-Ahh”. The music video showcases the catchy pop sound the girls are known for and was and was an instant success. Their MV was the first debut MV to hit the 100 million view mark!
10. GOT7 — “Girls Girls Girls”
GOT7 debuted in 2014 with their first EP Got It? which peaked at number 2 on the Gaon charts and number 1 on the Billboard World Album chart. Meanwhile their lead single “Girls Girls Girls” peaked at number 21 on the Gaon charts. But the group gained some major attention for their martial arts tricking and stage performances that went along with the song. In fact, later that year they had already made their debut in Japan!
11. Miss A — “Bad Girl, Good Girl”
Miss A had one of the most iconic debuts thanks to their bopping track which became an immediate success. The track showed off the girls impressive vocal and dance skills. The group received first place on KBS Music Bank for the song and became the fastest girl group to take the number 1 spot thanks to it!
12. B.A.P — “Warrior”
You can’t say that B.A.P didn’t come out swinging since the very beginning! The super intense “Warrior” set the group apart from other groups and within two days of its release, the song sold over 10,000 copies! Not to mention it entered Billboard’s World Albums chart at number 10!
13. MAMAMOO — “Mr. Ambiguous”
A lot of great debuts were made in 2014 and MAMAMOO was no exception. Although it didn’t chart as high as some of the other debut songs on this list, their lead single “Mr. Ambiguous” is considered to be one of the best K-Pop debuts of the year by many music critics!
14. SEVENTEEN — “Adore U”
“Adore U” was the lead single of the group’s first EP and jumped their careers. The song was written, composed, and arranged by three of the members and was choreographed by Hoshi. It focuses on storytelling and highlighting each member’s strengths onstage. It certainly didn’t disappoint because it peaked at number 13 on the Billboard US World chart and sold more than 38,000 digital copies!
15. BTOB — “Insane” and “Imagine”
BTOB didn’t take the conventional route with their debut. Instead, they launched two title tracks with two completely different sounds. “Insane” is more of a dance track and “Imagine” is a ballad track. Thanks to their excellent performances the two songs on their Born to Beat EP rocketed to number 3 on multiple charts!