A look-back at SB19’s roller coaster year

A look-back at SB19’s roller coaster year

/ 09:43 PM January 03, 2024

SB19's (from left) Josh, Justin, Stell, Ken, and Pablo in a concept photo for their song "Freedom." Image: X/@SB19Official

SB19’s (from left) Josh, Justin, Stell, Ken, and Pablo in a concept photo for their song “Freedom.” Image: X/@SB19Official

SB19 started with a dream to advocate for the rise of P-pop. Armed with hope and a “crazy idea” to build their own company, the quintet soldiered on until they emerged as the leading force in the industry.

“Nagbibiruan kami na ‘Balang araw, gagawa tayo ng sarili nating company,” Josh said during their “Pagtatag” launch in June 2023, sharing the story behind 1Z Entertainment. “Sabi nga nila, crazy people are the ones who get to change the world. Ang 1Z, we didn’t just build it for SB19. We built it for the P-pop and OPM industry because we wanted to challenge the industry and the market.”


In 2023, Pablo, Josh, Stell, Ken, and Justin skyrocketed to global success and became household names. As SB19, they are reminiscent of firecrackers as they bring something explosive whenever they perform. But the past year also saw the group witness many milestones and hardships — it’s hard to imagine their experiences happened within 12 months.

Pablo of SB19. Image: Geloy Concepcion via X/@SB19Official

Pablo of SB19. Image: Geloy Concepcion via X/@SB19Official

They have been on a steady rise, but SB19 grew increasingly popular in their home country and different countries in 2023. Starting from their second EP “Pagtatag,” putting up 1Z, going on another world tour, owning their group name, and the members keeping busy with their solo activities, they have no way to go but up.

“Aside sa pagiging artist and performer, napag-usapan namin na gusto naming ma-experience ang acting, theater, kahit hosting. Gusto naming ma-experience what we can learn, and gamitin ang natutunan namin to improve our company 1Z,” Justin said in June.

SB19’s 2023, rounded up

The first four months of 2023 were quiet as they capped off their “WYAT (Where You At) tour” in December 2022. But a teaser video showing a plant’s growth signaled the start of their “Pagtatag” era.

Their second EP — containing the smash hit “Gento,” as well as “I Want You,” “Crimzone,” “Ilaw,” “Liham,” and “Freedom” — was released in June. It was also the same month they confirmed the birth of 1Z which aims to “To get you in the zone and break the norm.” The agency was launched four months later, with Pablo as the CEO.

Just weeks after “Pagtatag’s” release, they embarked on a world tour covering the Philippines, United States, and Canada. Despite canceling their stops in Singapore, Bangkok, and Dubai, they postponed their Japan leg to sometime in 2024.


Their song “Gento” made waves in different parts of the world in 2023 as well. It spawned over a million posts on Tiktok, with celebrities from South Korea, Japan, China, and Thailand taking on the viral challenge. It was also an approved entry to the 66th Grammy Awards in October.

It wasn’t nominated for the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance category, but it solidified SB19’s potential to break into the award-giving body.

October also marked their fifth anniversary through a special podcast named “Atin Atin Lang,” a new episode of their web series “Show Break 5,” a fan zone called “One Zone,” before culminating into a two-hour fan meet “One Zone” in Araneta Coliseum. The fan meet, which witnessed SB19 getting emotional at some point, became the avenue where the music video for “Freedom” was released.

Josh of SB19. Image: Geloy Concepcion via X/@SB19Official

Josh of SB19. Image: Geloy Concepcion via X/@SB19Official

Weeks later, however, SB19 was embroiled in a dispute with former agency ShowBT Philippines, with the members temporarily dropping their group name from their social media platforms. 1Z eventually confirmed in December that their ownership issue was resolved, allowing the quintet to take control of their name.

“Nagkaroon kami ng maayos na usapan, and ‘yun ang pinaka-importante. Everything is okay,” Josh told ABS-CBN News in Dec.15. “Kaya nagkakaroon ng gera kasi hindi nagkaka-ayos. Everything stops kapag tumigil ka at nagpa-apekto ka. And for us, ang pinakamahalaga ngayon, we got our name. We get to promote as SB19 again and move forward.”

The 2023 edition of the Asia Artist Awards, held in Bulacan last December, was a fitting ending to their roller coaster year — where they did a spectacular medley performance and bagged the Best Artist and Hot Trend awards.

Stell of SB19. Image: Geloy Concepcion via X/@SB19Official

Stell of SB19. Image: Geloy Concepcion via X/@SB19Official

SB19 as solo artists

The past year was also jampacked for Pablo, Josh, Stell, Ken, and Justin as individuals, as they embarked on their respective solo careers. This move was intentional on their part, in hopes of creating an “ecosystem” for themselves to excel.

“Ang goal namin is to create an ecosystem for artists like us kung saan sila magbe-benefit and mage-excel. ‘Yun po talaga ang motivation namin sa ginagawa namin. ‘Yung frustration namin as an artist ang naging motivation namin,” Pablo said in June.

Apart from being 1Z’s CEO, Pablo took charge of writing and producing “Pagtatag” with Simon Servida, Len Calvo, and Josue of Radkidz, as well as August Rigo, Lee Oh-won, and his bandmates Josh and Ken. He also worked with Josh on the single “Sino Ka Ba” for the series “The Iron Heart” and dropped the song “Real Me with You” for an electronics brand.

Josh, on the other hand, made his solo debut with the party anthem “Wild Tonight” in February. He also showed off his hip-hop roots with the songs “Pakiusap Lang,” “Sofa (Remix),” and “Get Right” this year, and is eyeing to release his first EP in 2024.

Ken of SB19. Image: Geloy Concepcion via X/@SB19Official

Ken of SB19. Image: Geloy Concepcion via X/@SB19Official

Stell — combining his knack for teaching and being a potential variety star — made a name for himself as one of the coaches for “The Voice Generations.” Vocalmyx, which he mentored himself, emerged as the winner in the show’s finale.

“Sabi ko, ‘Bakit hindi si Pablo o si Ken o kahit sino sa aming lima?’ Pero sabi nila, parang siguro naisip nila na it’s my time para magkaroon naman ng project na masasabing bagay sa akin,” he said, while referring to his coaching stint. “Happy [ang SB19] na ako ‘yung napili and sobrang excited sila.”

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Justin of SB19. Image: Geloy Concepcion via X/@SB19Official

Justin of SB19. Image: Geloy Concepcion via X/@SB19Official

Ken, under the mononym Felip, solidified his identity as a soloist with his first EP “Complex” which came almost two years after his debut single “Palayo.” The six-track album consists of “Rockstar,” “Superiority,” “Mictest,” “Drinksmoke,” “Criminal,” and “Straydogs,” and showcases more of his “experimental” personality. He also made appearances in Singapore as a solo artist.

“I wasn’t expecting that this was gonna be an album when I started, I just enjoyed working on songs and sounds that I like at first,” he told INQUIRER.net in February when asked about the creative process behind his album. “It was only until we realized I already had six songs to work with while I was on tour with SB19. It was difficult to put this together but it’s also equally fulfilling.”

Similar to SB19’s past releases, Justin showed his eye for production and design after serving as one of the creative directors for “Pagtatag’s” trailer with Pablo. He also released a new line of products in his own business, Visar Society, which sells products with “nature-like” patterns.

TAGS: P-pop, SB19

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