Who are SB19, the Filipino boy band gaining worldwide popularity?

The group is made up of five members – Pablo, Stell, Ken, Justin and Josh

SB19 performed for UAE fans at the Dubai World Trade Centre in October 2022.  Photo: Ruel Pableo for The National
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Filipino boy band SB19 have cracked the Billboard World Digital Song Sales chart with their newest track Gento.

The music video for the song was released on May 19 and already has more than three million views on YouTube.

Although they debuted in 2018, the band has grown in popularity over the past few years thanks to their hit songs Bazinga, Mapa and Go Up.

They’ve also become the face of P-pop (Pinoy pop) as one of the most popular acts from the Philippines.

For those who haven’t heard of SB19, here’s everything to know about the group.

Who is in SB19?

The group is made up of five members – Pablo, Stell, Ken, Justin and Josh.

Pablo, 28, is the leader of the group – a vocalist and the main rapper. Josh, 29, is also a lead rapper and sub vocalist. Stell, 27, is a lead dancer and main vocalist while Ken, 26, is also a main dancer and lead vocalist. Justin, 24, is the youngest member of the group and the creative lead of the band.

All the members are from the Philippines but have cited K-pop boy bands such as BigBang, BTS and B2ST as inspiration.

How did they form?

SB19 was formed by ShowBT Philippines, a subsidiary of the South Korean company ShowBT, during a talent search in 2016. They were originally only selected to be performers for company events but former ShowBT chief executive Geong Seong Han decided to make them into a boy band.

“When I first visited the Philippines for market research five years ago, I noticed the Filipino fans' enthusiasm and energy for K-pop,” Geong told Forbes in 2020.

“That, plus the advantage of them being fluent in English, opened an opportunity and possibility for overcoming K-pop’s weaknesses. Although the K-pop model is already well established, I wanted to create a new culture mixed with P-pop. So, SB19 is a new idol group with a unique style that is a result of localisation.”

The group members carried out three years of training – following a similar regimen to K-pop stars – before making their debut in 2018 with the song Tilaluha.

“What they have been doing in Korea, the K-pop idols there, they have this intensive training where you have to make your moves synchronised, you’re singing while you’re dancing and it’s really hard.

“To utilise that here in the Philippines is really great, because there are lots of talented Filipinos that are not given opportunity, so that we can show the talent of the Philippines all over the world,” said Pablo in a Forbes interview.

What are SB19 fans called?

Fans of the group are known as A’tin, which was announced in November 2019. The word means “ours” in Tagalog – promoting the message that the group’s success is also down to the fans.

SB19 have previously asked fans to not put an “s” at the end of the word because, as a collective noun, it can be used for both singular and plural.

There are two fan groups in the emirates: UAE A'Tin and United A'Tin of Emirates, with representation from people living in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman and Fujairah.

How did the group find success?

The boy band have released one studio album and eight singles. The first album Get in the Zone was released on July 2020 with the single Tilaluha, which received lukewarm reception.

However, it was their second single Go Up that turned their luck around. The group considered disbanding if the song wasn't successful but the dance practice video of the song went viral after it was shared by a fan on Twitter and Facebook.

A few months later, SB19 made their first appearance on the Billboard Next Big Sound chart, becoming the first Filipino act to do so.

What other records have SB19 set?

Last year the Filipino boy band broke a record set by K-pop stars BTS for longest reign at number one on the Billboard Trending Songs chart with Bazinga.

The song spent seven consecutive weeks on top, surpassing BTS’s hit single Butter, which previously held the record at six weeks.

They’ve also become the first Filipino and Southeast Asian act to be nominated in the Billboard Music Awards for Top Social Artist and are the first Southeast Asian act to enter the top 10 of Billboard’s Social 50 charts.

Updated: June 01, 2023, 3:49 AM