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2013 in Review: Rookie Reserves

“Rookie Reserves” are rookie artists I feel were either good, great, or have massive potential, but weren’t nominated for a MAMA. Once again this year, there were a massive amount of rookie groups that debuted. When doing this list, I think of artists that quickly jump to my mind. This means they were memorable for whatever reason (unless it’s because they were awful and, therefore, won’t be on this list hahaha).  To be honest, compared to last year, few truly stood out. This is especially true for female artists (those that really stood out in my mind were nominated for MAMA: Lee Hi, Lim Kim, Ladies’ Code, and Yoo Sung Eun.) As for males, some of my favorites and others I respect were nominated (BTS, Jung Joon Young, Roy Kim, Bumkey, and Yoo Seung Woo). So, here is the roster for our Rookie Reserves. (pretty much all male, which sucks. No WINNER because they haven’t officially debuted yet and no subgroups since they’ve debuted already at some point. haha)

EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information, pictures, etc., please click the photos. They link directly to either the artists’ Facebook, blog, or agency website.

Air Plane


Members: mNine (Leader, Rapper), Sung Minki (Main Vocalist), Bokiri (Maknae, Rapper)

Label: Winning InSight Entertainmnet

Debut: January 3, 2013 with Pretty

Prior to debut, Sung Minki was a member of the project group Y2Y and also released solo songs under the name Mekid. (Check out my favorite Mekid solo song here.) Leader mNine is also a member of the New Block Babyz. On January 3, 2013, the group released the MV for “Pretty.” Later, the group also released their own versions of B.OB’s “Airplanes” and Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are” on Winning Insight’s YouTube channel. On August 29, Airplane released their second single, “Give Me a Chance.”

Boy’s Republic


Members: Sungjun (Rapper, Dancer), Dabin (Vocalist), Minsu (Rapper, Dancer), Suwoong (Maknae, Vocalist), One Junn (Leader, Vocalist)

Label: Universal Korea (UMG)

Debut: June 4, 2013 with single, Party Rock

Prior to (and during) debut, Boy’s Republic participated in their own reality show, “Rookie King Boy’s Republic,” on SBS MTV. After a series of teasers, on June 4, 2013, Boy’s Republic dropped their debut single (and the MV for the title song), Party Rock. Two weeks later, they released the dance version for the MV. On October 8, they released their first mini album, Identity. On October 10,  the MV for the promotional track, “You Are Special,” was also released. Boy’s Republic continually releases behind the scene clips and videos on their official YouTube channel. Boy’s Republic has picked up endorsement contracts with Jeju Air (picked before debut) and Michiko London (Japanese school uniform brand). The group was also the only Korean artist to be invited to Malaysia’s ‘U.O.X 2013.’



Real Name: Dabit (real name: David Kim)

Label: KoffeeDream Entertainment

Debut: December 5, 2013 with digital single, When The Wind Blows

Prior to debut, Dabit was a trainee under Choeun Entertainment and was supposed to debut with 24K, last year. Instead, he left to pursue a solo career. He also released several covers on his personal YouTube Channel.  On December 5, 2013, David released his single, with the title track, “Whoo Whoo Whoo.” Although no official MV was released, he did release a behind the scenes video that featured the jazzy song on December 6. Dabit composed and wrote the songs on the digital single. He is Korean-American.



Name: GRAY

Label: AOMG (Above Ordinary Music Group)

Debut: October 25, 2013 with maxi-single, Call Me Gray

Prior to debut, GRAY was a popular producer and featured on multiple tracks. (You can find a list of his work: here.) On Ocotber 25, GRAY released his maxi-single, Call Me Gray, and dropped the MV for “Dangerous,” featuring label-mate/owner, Jay Park.



Members: Sihyoung (Rapper), Kyungil (Leader, Sub-Vocalist, Rapper), Yijeong (Maknae, Main Vocalist), Jaeho (Sub-Vocalist, Rapper), Dokyun (Main Vocalist)

Label: LOEN Tree Entertainment

Debut: April 25, 2013 with the single, Dreamer

Prior to debut, various members of HISTORY were active. Kyungil co-starred in, fellow label mate, IU’s MV for “Beautiful Dancer.” Do Kyun was the lead singer of the band BUZZ from late 2010 to early 2012, under the name Na Yul. He also participated in Part 2 of the Love Rain OST, by singing “Because It’s You.” Sihyoung was an ulzzang, and participated in Season 3 of Comedy TV’s Ulzzang Generation, in 2010. In 2012, Yijeong was a participant on Season 2 of MBC’s Birth of a Great Star. On April 25, HISTORY (stands for “his story”) debuted with their single Dreamer, and released the MV for the song of the same name.  They also released a performance version for “Dreamer” on May 8. Their first mini album, Just Nowwas released on August 20. The MV for title the title track, “Tell Me Love” was released the day before, on August 19. During promotions for “Tell Me Love,” the group also posted their own humorous variety show, “Panda PR,” and short series, “ToryTory Bang Bang.” HISTORY followed up their first mini album with another mini album, Blue Spring (released on Novmeber 28). The MV for title song, “What Am I To You” was released on November 25, and on December 2, the performance version was revealed. Dokyun made an appearance in the drama Medical Top Team, and Yijeong sung “That Place” for the OST. Yijeong also featured on IU’s song, “I’ll See You On Friday.”



Label: Brand New Music

Debut: October 24, 2013 with “What You Want”

Kanto (Choi KwangRyul) is officially part of TROY, a four membered group made up (and formed by the boys themselves, apparently) of Bumkey, (Kanto,) JaeWoong, and ChangWoo. They have yet to debut as a unit, and so far, only Kanto and Bumkey have released solo music. Prior to releasing his solo single, Kanto featured on Verbal Jint’s “Storm” with Swings, on Miss $’ “Take My Phone Away,” with Heo InChang and “Ladies’ Night”, Kim GeuRim’s “Just The Two Of Us” (I’m most probably missing some).  He also featured on H’s (Hyun SeungMin) single “Lose Control”, where he also featured in the MV that was released at the beginning of this year (14/02/13) (that song is awesome and addictive, and H is totally what Park Kyung is aspiring to be, greaser attitude, appearance and all). He has also released mixtapes, Initial Step (2012) and Young Blood (2013), and released an official MV for one of the tracks from his second mixtape, “Fly High/DayBreak”, featuring Miss $’ Kang MinHee, Olltii, & Sik K. On October 24, 2013, the MV for “What You Want” featuring Kim SungGyu was released.

Lose Control: click click
Fly High: click click

What You Want:



Since I’ve already dedicated an entire post to LC9, I won’t discuss them here. Head on over to that post to find all about this great group (who seriously need to make a comeback).

Never Mind


Members: Chang Ha (Lead Guitar), Ji Hoon (Bass, Vocalist), Ino (Drums), G.One (Guitar, Vocalist)

Label: TOEAST music

Debut: January 17, 2013 with digital single, “Shooting Star”

Prior to debut, while known as Urban Daisy, punk rock band Never Mind performed on the streets of Hongdae (since 2011). One of their songs as Urban Daisy, “Hey Boys,” was background music for the drama School 2013. After a name change, Never Mind initially began promoting in Thailand. They filmed their debut MV, had their album photo shoot, and were even interviewed by Channel V and K-Channel. The band also released photos on their Facebook teasing their debut. On January 17, Never Mind released their digital single, and MV, for “Shooting Star.” Later, on January 28, the band dropped their first mini album, Shooting Star. The same day, they released the MV for title track “Hoi Hoi.” Due to TOEAST music being a label in both Korea and Thailand, the band is promoting in both countries simultaneously. Their song “Push and Pull” was featured on the online dance battle game, “Audition.”

Royal Pirates


Members: Sooyoon (Drums, Sub-vocalist), Moon (Guitar, Lead Vocalist), James (Bass Guitar, Sub-vocalist)

Label: Apple of the Eye, Co., Ltd/Universal Music International

Debut: August 26, 2013 with digital single, “Shout Out”

Formerly known as Fading From Dawn, the Korean-American band was formed in 2004 with members Kim Sooyoon, Kim Moon-chul (Moon), and Kim Moon Chan (Moon’s brother, also known as Richard). The band performed often at Korean events in California.  However, following the death of Richard in 2008, the band decided to change the name to Royal Pirates, and generally, stopped performing live. Sooyoon and Moon began to gain some attention after uploading covers on YouTube. Their first demo was “Royal Villain.” In 2009, Royal Pirates was introduced to Korean audiences through the Korean News Channel YTN, as an indy band, and quickly gained attention. Their cover of Super Junior’s “Sorry, Sorry” would gain them even more attention, specifically from Star King. However, the band declined appearing on the show due to not wanting to be known as a cover band, and schedule conflicts. In September 2009, James Lee would join the band as the new bassist. In 2010, they released their first official demo and MV, “Disappear,” although this was not their official debut. Immediately prior to debut, Royal Pirates participated in “Supersonic 2013,” which is a concert for up-and-coming rookie bands. Royal Pirates made the official Korean debut on August 26, with “Shout Out.” The band also gained attention for their good looks, appearing in magazines such as “Elle,” and James has been deemed a doppelganger for actor Daniel Henney.  You can find their great covers here and here.



Members: [Seating] A-Tom (Rapper), Yano (Maknae, Rapper), Gohn (Main Vocalist), Hojoon (Vocalist, Dancer).

  [Standing] P-Goon (Leader, Vocalist, Dancer), Seogoong (Main Vocalist), Kidoh (Rapper, Producer), B-Joo (Vocalist, Dancer), Hansol (Vocalist,   Dancer), Nakta (Vocalist), Xero (Rapper Dancer).

  [Stairs] Sangdo (Vocalist), Jenissi (Rapper)

Label: Stardom Entertainment

Debut: October 24, 2013 with mini album, Doggs Out

Prior to debut, several TOPP DOGG members were active in releasing music. Jenissi, Kidoh, and Yano (under the name Snoopy Swaggy) released songs on their Soundcloud accounts. Kidoh was also a former BigHit trainee (was an original BTS trainee and is close friends with Jin.) Yano and Kidoh released mixtapes, and later, the group as a whole released a mixtape, Vol.1. Stardom uploaded the songs “Y U Mad” (remake from Kidoh’s mixtape), “Bang,” and “TOP” (remake from Yano’s mixtape) on their YouTube Channel. Although the group was intended to debut in 2012, TOPP DOGG debuted on October 24, 2013, with the mini album, Doggs Out. The same day, they released the MV for their title track, “Say It” (also known as “Follow Me”) and a dance practice video. In November, Kidoh released his self-produced/written/arranged song, “From a Trainee to an Artist.” On December 11, TOPP DOGG dropped the MV for “Cigarette,” the title track for their repackaged album. The repackage also featured a Chinese version of “Say It.” The group is active in producing and writing their own music, and is hip-hop based.

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