Even if you’ve never heard of them, you’ve probably heard one of their songs on Instagram or TikTok.
NewJeans have taken the K-pop world by storm since making their debut in July. Made up of Minji, Hanni, Danielle, Haerin and Hyein, the five members range in age from 14 to 18. They wear Y2K-influenced outfits and have been praised for their unique throwback sound, with some comparing it to 2000s RnB and pop music.
Since their surprise debut, they’ve already released five singles, with four of them (Attention, Hype Boy, Ditto and OMG) reaching the top of Billboard's South Korea Songs chart. Earlier this month, they became the first K-pop female act to sell more than one million copies of a debut album.
Here’s what to know about them.
What makes NewJeans unique?
In an unusual move for the K-pop industry, there was little promotion about the newly formed girl group ahead of their debut.
Their label Ador, a subsidiary of Hybe Corporation, which is behind BTS, released three animated videos 22, 7, and 22 on social media with speculation that an announcement would come. Instead, it was the music video for the group’s unannounced debut single, Attention.
The surprise release was an anomaly as no other K-pop band had been introduced to the world in such a way.
The video reached more than 1.3 million views in less than 24 hours and was followed by the group’s second single Hype Boy, the next day. There was also an accompanying 50-second clip that introduced each member.
On August 1, they released their self-titled EP album NewJeans.
What does NewJeans mean?
According to the group’s website, NewJeans has a double meaning. One of them is in reference to jeans being timeless pieces of clothing with each generation having its own emblematic new style.
“Pop music, like clothing, is a part of culture that is inseparable from our everyday lives,” said Min Hee-jin, chief executive and head producer at Ador. "Just as jeans have withstood the test of time and found popularity among many regardless of their age and gender, NewJeans aspire to become an icon of generations — one you never grow tiresome of putting on."
The other meaning is that NewJeans is a wordplay on “new genes” and the idea the band will help usher in a new generation of K-pop music, which they seem to be proving they are capable of doing.
Who are the members?
Minji is the oldest of the group at 18 and a former trainee from JYP Entertainment (the agency behind groups such as Stray Kids and Twice). She was also in the BTS music video for Permission to Dance in 2021, along with Haerin, 16. Danielle, 17, is Korean-Australian, while Hanni, 18, is Vietnamese-Australian. Both trained for two and a half years prior to their debut with NewJeans. Hyein is the youngest member at 14.
While most K-pop groups tend to have leaders and positions assigned (such as vocalist or dancer), it appears that NewJeans will forgo that format as previously announced on their app "Phoning", meaning all members will perform in equal and various roles.
What's next for NewJeans?
While they aren't yet headlining Coachella like Blackpink or selling out arenas worldwide like BTS, NewJeans have shown tremendous promise in the little time they've been together. They made their first international performance with a set at KCON Saudi Arabia in Riyadh in October, much to the delight of K-pop fans in the region.
In addition to their music, the members have already individually branched out into the lifestyle realm by partnering with luxury brands. Minji was recently named as Chanel’s newest global ambassador and will represent the French luxury house in three categories: fashion, watches and beauty.
Hanni has been selected as the global makeup ambassador for Armani Beauty, while Hyein and Danielle are ambassadors for Louis Vuitton and Burberry. Haerin has yet to announce a collaboration but, based on past outings, Dior could be a potential partnership.
While new K-pop groups seemingly arrive every other day, NewJeans look poised to stay with their concept and nostalgic sound that can unite young and older fans alike. During an interview with the newspaper Korea JoongAng Daily, Min explained her idea behind NewJeans was to try something more innovative.
"I envision NewJeans as a truly ‘whimsical’ group — not whimsical just for the sake of being quirky, but trying out what hasn’t been done in K-pop even though it should have been,” she said.
“The members are ready to go on an adventure with me," she added. "If things go as planned, it [their next release] will also be a very whimsical album.”