Best K-pop Debuts of 2021: Who are Leading the Scene?

Best Kpop Debuts Of 2021
ICHILLIN', Just B, Hot Issue and Lightsum

2021 has been quite a year for K-pop groups. With the various COVID-19 restrictions in place, many groups could not see their fans or perform for an audience since 2020. Most of the K-pop debuts of 2021 happened without a proper showcase, including the fans to cheer on them. A large part of K-pop culture is heavily dependent on idol-fan interaction, which upset the idols as much as it did the fans. It is truly fascinating how idols have maintained the same level of closeness with their fans while abiding by the safety measures that threaten to create a gap between them. Despite the multiple changes that have recently limited idols’ activities, the entertainment agencies have not stopped introducing one group after the other.

With 2021 coming to an end soon, it’s time to look back on all the top debuts we were able to witness this year. From the earliest in the year to the latest, boy-group to girl-group, we have a list of 2021 K-pop debuts that you need to check out if you haven’t already! You will surely want to keep up with their comebacks after doing so.

Also Read: Most Popular K-Pop Girl Groups In 2021

8. EPEX

EPEX is a boy group under C9 entertainment whose debut was much anticipated. The seven members in the group consisting Wish, Keum, Mu, A-Min, Baekseung, Ayden, Yewang, and Jeff. They debuted on June 8, 2021, with the song ‘Lock Down.’ The anticipation for the debut was significantly due to member Keum (also known as Keum Donghyun), who was a former contestant on the popular survival program ‘Produce x 101’. Many viewers who had been supporting him were sad to see him eliminated.

Epex’s debut song is a hip-hop-based track. The pre-chorus builds up to a chorus that is thunderous and powerful. The song’s charm lies in the admirable rap skills displayed by the members. Epex made a comeback on October 26, 2021, with ‘Do 4 Me’, which was the title track for their second EP.

7. LIGHTSUM

Put together by Cube Entertainment, Lightsum is a seven-member group consisting of members Sangah, Chowon, Nayoung, Hina, Juhyeon, Yujeong, Huiyeon, and Jian. The group debuted on June 10, 2021, with the title track ‘Vanilla’ on an album of the same name. Members Chowon, Nayoung, and Yujeong all participated in the hit survival show ‘Produce 48’. Chowon was one of the popular contestants on the show whose elimination shocked many. Later, a controversy following the final picks revealed that she was originally supposed to debut and was rigged out of the line-up. Thus, many have been waiting for her to finally take the stage with an official debut. Juhyeon also participated in a survival show called ‘The Unit,’ where she finished on the 25th rank.

Since Lightsum is the first girl group by Cube Entertainment after (G)I-DLE, many people were looking forward to Lightsum’s debut. The colorful, bright, and cutesy vibe of ‘Vanilla’ was well received by the public. Lightsum sang live for their music show debut, which earned them many compliments. Their vocals were much loved by fans, and the concept was also welcomed amidst the powerful concepts that are trending these days. The song charted #8 on Billboard’s World Digital Song Sales Chart. Their comeback with ‘Vivace‘ on October 13 ranked at #1 on US iTunes ‘Kpop Song Chart’ for two days consecutively.

Also Read: LIGHTSUM K-Pop Girl Group Member Profiles Explored

6. HOT ISSUE

Hot Issue is a seven-member girl group formed by S2 entertainment. They debuted on April 28 with the title track ‘Gratata’ from mini-album ‘Issue Maker.’ This K-pop girl group consists of members Nahyun, Mayna, Hyeongshin, Dana, Yewon, Yebin, and Dain. They do not have designated positions, except for that of the leader, which belongs to Nahyun. The group name is an abbreviation of ‘Honest, Outstanding and Terrific’ and ‘Issue.’

Mayna was a contestant on Produce 101 China, where she ranked #54. Dana had previously made her debut as an actress when she was a child starring in the dramas’ Happy Ending’ and ‘One Well-Raised Daughter’ in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Hot Issue made a comeback with the song ‘Icons’ on September 29, which earned them their first entry onto the Melon Daily chart at #891.

5. JUST B

Just B is a boy group that was founded by BlueDot Entertainment on June 30, 2021. The sixtet comprises members: Geonu, Bain, Lim Ji-min, JM, DY, and Sangwoo. Their debut song, ‘Damage,’ was produced by Bang Yongguk, a rapper, singer, songwriter, and ex-member of K-pop group B.A.P. The powerful and catchy song is something that keeps you going back after the first listen.

Many fans were looking forward to Just B’s debut as all, but one of the members was previously seen on survival or reality programs. Geonu and JM were participants in the reality show I-Land, which gave us Enhypen. They are ex-HYBE (formerly Bighit) trainees. Bain and DY participated in Under Nineteen, whereas Lim Ji-Min took the stage on The Fan. Ji-Min was praised by Jimin of BTS for his performance on The Fan. Just B is to be praised for their smooth dance and great teamwork while performing. They have received praise for their stage presence from many fans. ‘Damage’ works well to highlight the dance skills of the members, and the choreography towards the chorus is the cherry on top.

4. ICHILLIN’

A seven-membered girl-group, ICHILLIN’ made their debut on September 8, 2021, with the single ‘Got’Ya.’ Formed by KM Entertainment, the group includes members E.Ji, Jackie, Joonie, Chaerin, Sohee, Yeju, and Chowon. The song is cute and refreshing and manages to capture the charms of the girl group well. The catchy chorus and upbeat melody will surely be stuck in your head for a while.

The group’s name was birthed by combining the words ‘Aisling’ and ‘Chilling.’ Three out of six ICHILLIN’ members are ex Fantagio trees. Multiple members are also fluent in English as they grew up abroad.  ICHILLIN’ made a comeback on November 11 with another single titled ‘Fresh.’

3. PURPLE KISS

Purple Kiss made their mystical debut with ‘Ponzona’ on March 15, 2021. The seven-membered group comprises of Park Ji-eun, Na Go-eun, Dosie, Ireh, Yuki, Chaein, and Swan. Musically active much before their official debut, Purple Kiss already had quite a few fans before they started performing on music shows. They have released two singles, “My Heart Skip a Beat” and “Can We Talk Again” November 2020 and February 2021, respectively. An aspect that makes them stand out from their peers is their participation in making their own music. Swan revealed that she had participated in writing their debut title track along with Yuki and Goeun. Their pre-debut release ‘My Heart Skip a Beat’ was choreographed by Ireh, Dosie, and Chaein.

Purple Kiss’s debut was well-received by K-pop fans. Many praised the group for having excellent stage presence and perfect expressions while performing on stage. Fans exclaimed that the stages by Purple Kiss made it seem like they were well-experienced idols and not just rookies. The group had a comeback in September with ‘Zombie.’ They are definitely one of the K-pop group debuts of 2021 to keep an eye on.

2. BLITZERS

Blitzers is a seven-member boy group under Wuzo Entertainment consisting of Go_U, Juhan, Jinhwa, Sya, Chris, Lutan, and Wooju. They have also previously been known as ‘Circle’ or ‘WUZOCIRCLE..’ They made their debut on May 12, 2021, with the song ‘Breathe Again.’ The song is an entire hip-hop-based track with rock influences but is surprisingly easy on the ears. The powerful vocals in the start pull you right in, and the rap that follows only makes the song more interesting. It is undoubtedly one of the notable K-pop debuts of 2021.

Paired with the eye-catching choreography and captivating visuals, this was an impressive start to their career. Fans praised the group by saying it felt more like a comeback than a debut. Blitzers had already released two pre-debut tracks, ‘ Blitz’ and ‘Drawing Paper.’ They made a comeback on October 6 with the song ‘Will Make a Mistake.’ On December 14, the group announced that they would be going on a U.S Tour in 2022.

1. IVE

IVE is a girl group that made its explosive debut on December 1, 2021, under Starship Entertainment. Other idols under this company include Monsta X, Jung Sewoon, and WJSN. Comprising of 5 members, Yujin, Wonyoung, Gaeul, Rei, Liz, and Leeseo, this group managed to snatch everyone’s attention. Yujin and Wonyoung are already immensely popular as they were a part of the temporary girl-group Iz*One. The group went separate ways after their contract ended earlier in the year, which upset the fans greatly. Starship Entertainment announced in August that they would be launching a new girl group in the latter half of 2021. Following the news, the first teaser for IVE was dropped in November. The name stands as a shortened version of ‘I Have.’

IVE’s debut with single ‘Eleven’ takes the first spot on the list of best K-pop debuts of 2021 for its captivating rhythm accompanied by mesmerizing vocals. The group received much praise for the member’s beautiful vocal colors. The group has incredible skills; they exercise overexpression control and performance. The song stands out with its certain attention-snatching charm in the way it slows down before the chorus. Additionally, the bridge of Wonyoung executes the bridge of the song exceptionally well. IVE has also managed to set a record with their debut. Garnering 150k plus sales in the first-week post debut, IVE’s release became the best-selling debut album by a girl group.

Also Read: Top 10 Fourth Generation K-pop Groups Leading the Scene