A year after freedom, GOT7 flies even higher
When internationally renowned South Korean group GOT7 chose to leave its nest of seven years and start on a new page, a cloud of uncertainty hung over its future.
As expected, waves of confusion and helpless inquiry crashed over them after their decision. The most obvious question: why? GOT7, who left JYP Entertainment after its seven-year contract ended on Jan. 19 last year, just came out with their fourth studio album “Breath of Love: Last Piece” a month before.
The development quickly unraveled on social media, as skepticism also began to rise about what lies ahead for the beloved septet, even with the members sharing the same group photo on Instagram along with the hashtag #GOT7FOREVER — as if their departure from the company all at once isn’t testament enough to their tight-knit bond.
In light of the reports, all GOT7 members took online to share the same photo with the hashtag #GOT7FOREVER.FEATURED STORIESENTERTAINMENT
— Inquirer (@inquirerdotnet) January 10, 2022
Not much was said at first. All that the fans held on to were the members’ social media posts, their appearance as a group in the 35th Golden Disc Awards, and the initial Dispatch report which stated: “The members care a lot about GOT7. Though they will each promote separately, they agreed to make time when GOT7 reunites.”
Such a move wasn’t really surprising for an act like GOT7. It is common for K-pop idols and groups to want out of their original agencies after seven years due to various reasons, like creative differences or the desire to go solo. In fact, earlier generations had much longer, more restrictive agreements; this ended when three members of the boy band TVXQ sued their label SM Entertainment in 2009 over their 13-year contract, paving the way for reforms in the K-pop industry.
But not all groups leave their original labels, so why did GOT7? No official reason has been given, but the fans might know why.
Ahgases, who consider Jan. 19 as independence day, had been consistently vocal and unrelenting with their criticism of JYP Entertainment, which they accuse of displaying a lack of effort (if not non-existent) in maximizing publicity and promotion for the septet. Last year alone, fans organized various protest email drives and online campaigns, even raising funds to send a truck in front of the agency’s building, to express their disappointment and to demand better treatment for the group.
Amid the initial swell of emotions upon learning the news, the GOT7 fandom kept their faith firm and steady. Ahgases, who needed their own timeout from the revelation, were quick to defend the decision of the septet to others who arrived at seemingly wrong conclusions, pointing out that the departure didn’t mean disbandment.
But with courage came the doubt. Despite constant reassurance from the members that the group did not break up, it was all too easy for any fan to fall into the idea of the seven-year curse, a specter that has long haunted the K-pop world. Victims include 2NE1, SISTAR and miss A. Not all groups have survived this.
For GOT7, however, it came down to what it has always been: seven or nothing.
A month after their exit from their former label, the septet dropped the track “ENCORE,” currently their last project together. In a short message in the sentimental music video, leader JAY B guaranteed Ahgases that “we’re here to keep that promise.” The declaration came at a time when the fandom was still uncertain about what’s next for the group.
In time for their eighth anniversary, all GOT7 members reunited via Instagram live on Jan. 15, where they gave life updates on each other and revealed their plans for the future. Thanking their fans for their continued support, GOT7’s Jinyoung promised that the group would definitely come out with a new album, although he doesn’t know for sure when that might be.
— (ㅍㅅㅍ) (@pbjy0922) January 15, 2022
However, Bambam made some new revelations about the group’s next move in a recent online showcase for his new mini-album “B.”
“Our members talk about GOT7 activities a lot […] We also have songs that we wrote with GOT7 in mind, we share them with each other and talk a lot,” he said, being careful as he revealed more information.
BamBam struggling not to spoil got7’s comeback for one minute straight aka BamBam confirming their comeback 😭
— ddalche (@ddalche) January 18, 2022
In the end, all is well. The fandom’s faith wasn’t misplaced after all. While it takes a lot for a K-pop group to survive in the industry, it seems that the boys will stand the test of time. Despite the storm that came with their flight, both GOT7 and its fans knew, it was just right.
It’s only been a year since they chose to fly on their own, but the septet has reached greater heights and continues to do so, with all members pursuing their individual careers at a quite remarkable pace.
Here’s a glimpse at what they’ve been up to.
Although his next career move came at a much later time compared to the other members, JAY B continues to go in a distinct direction. In May 2021, the other half of JJ Project announced that he had signed with H1ghr Music, a revered international hip-hop and R&B record label founded by fellow ex-JYP Entertainment idol Jay Park.
He made his solo debut three days later with the release of “Switch It Up,” a self-penned single featuring rapper sokodomo. The sultry R&B track served as the teaser for his first extended play (EP) “SOMO:FUME,” which was released on Aug. 26, 2021, and signified his musical transition away from the usual bright, energetic songs of GOT7.
In an interview with Buzzfeed’s Daebak Weekly, JAY B admitted being anxious about going solo, saying, “The future is always uncertain for everybody.” However, he expressed excitement about this new chapter of his career and hoped that fans would welcome his new music.
JAY B currently hosts the radio show “Station Z” and is set to release a new EP titled “Love.” under his moniker Def later this month.
Never count Mark Tuan out. Less than a month after his group’s exit from JYP Entertainment, GOT7’s oldest member already made some quick career moves.
Mark, who moved back to Los Angeles to be with his family, kicked off the newest chapter in his career with “One In A Million,” a musical collaboration with EDM producer and fellow Californian native Sanjoy.
The Taiwanese-American singer also established his own company, Mark Tuan Studio, in line with his solo activities and promotions in China. He also signed with Creative Artists Agency, a major American talent agency.
The rapper generated buzz in August 2021 after it was confirmed that he collaborated with fellow singer-songwriter Bibi for a song in the soundtrack of Marvel’s first Asian superhero film “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” The track, titled “Never Gonna Come Down,” was released the following month, along with the film’s official soundtrack album
In October 2021, Mark confirmed his much-anticipated comeback with a series of photo teasers for “Last Breath,” which dropped on Nov. 12. His first single of 2022, titled “My Life,” is slated for release on Friday, Jan. 21.
Mark has also been building on his fashion career. In March 2021, he came out with XC3, his third apparel collection in collaboration with Represent. He also became an ambassador for French brand Sisley and graced the cover of L’Officiel Philippines along with model Winnie Harlow.
If you haven’t heard of Jackson Wang, you’re probably living under a rock. Even before his group’s big decision, Jackson has already made a name for himself with a mounting solo career, along with his brand that has only become bigger since their departure from JYP Entertainment.
The eponymous TEAM WANG, founded by the “Bullet To The Heart” singer in 2017, has turned out to be a flourishing empire in music, fashion, design, and more. According to its official website, TEAM WANG embodies spirit and legacy with its slogan: “Know yourself, make your own history.”
His music career has also been in ascent. After leaving his former label, Jackson, under TEAM WANG, partnered with Sublime Artist Agency for an “extensive global collaboration.” In March 2021, Jackson released his new ‘80’s-inspired track “LMLY,” along with a self-directed music video reminiscent of Hong Kong films. Four months later, he dropped another English track, “Drive You Home,” in collaboration with Internet Money.
In August 2021, Jackson introduced the hip-hop collective PANTHEPACK under his label TEAM WANG. The quartet, which consists of Jackson himself and three other exemplary Chinese musicians, released its first single “Buzz,” followed by the 10-track album “The Pack” in September 2021.
But that’s not all. From starring in a promotional video for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to being named in the top 10 of the Forbes China Celebrity 100 list in 2021, Jackson continues to maintain his global presence.
While his fellow members are amplifying their solo music careers, Jinyoung decided to go a different route and pursue one of his biggest passions: acting.
A week after leaving his former label, Jinyoung signed an exclusive contract with BH Entertainment, founded by renowned Korean actor Lee Byung-hun. He made waves after starring in the dystopian series “The Devil Judge” and the romance drama “Yumi’s Cells.”
But the other half of JJ Project released some new music too. In July 2021, Jinyoung dropped a surprise single called “Dive,” which he said was inspired by his love of the sea.
“I wanted to gift my fans with music soon, and I worked on it little by little in my spare time in order to keep the promise,” he said.
In his first year as a solo act, Youngjae has shown tremendous progress.
The GOT7 vocalist signed with Sublime Artist Agency shortly after leaving JYP Entertainment. In March 2021, it was announced that he would be joining the cast of Midnight Sun, a Korean musical adaptation of the Japanese movie “A Song to the Sun.” He also starred in Netflix’s first Korean sitcom “So Not Worth It.”
Youngjae also released some solo music last year. In October 2021, he dropped his first EP “Colors from Ars,” led by its title track “Vibin.” He also came out with the holiday-themed digital single “Walk With Me” two months later.
From the release of his first EP to collaborations with fellow artists, it’s safe to say that Bambam was booked in 2021.
In March last year, the Thai rapper signed with ABYSS Company, where he was in league with acts like 2NE1’s Dara, Sunmi, and R&B trio Urban Zakapa. Three months later, Bambam came out with his vibrant EP “riBBon” and its title track of the same name, hyped up by interactive promotional stunts leading to the release.
Before 2021 ended, he officially dropped the single “Who Are You” in collaboration with Red Velvet’s Seulgi; the track served as the pre-release single for his newest EP titled “B,” which was released on Jan. 18.
A huge social media influencer, Bambam was also recently chosen as the newest global ambassador for renowned U.S. basketball team Golden State Warriors.
Like his fellow members, GOT7’s maknae showed no signs of slowing down.
Opening the newest chapter of his career, Yugyeom dropped a dance cover of Travis Scott’s “Franchise” to reveal that he officially joined AOMG, one of Korea’s most respected record labels.
In June 2021, the Jus2 leader came out with his debut EP “Point of View,” a seven-track production which featured collaborations with hip-hop artists GRAY, Jay Park, DeVita, Loco, and punchnello. Later that month, Yugyeom stood at number two of the Billboard World Digital Song Sales Chart with his song “I Want U Around.” JB
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