YG Entertainment's boy band Treasure transcends hate and backlash with debut that goes against label's vibe
Treasure, YG Entertainment's new boy band, makes their highly anticipated debut on Friday, August 7. The group previously shared a pre-release single from member Bang Yedam, a move that sparked some controversy on account longtime fellow YG artistes still waiting for their turn to debut as soloists. Yedam nonetheless managed to win several folks over with his partial solo debut, and now joins the rest of his team for the official debut of Treasure, marking YG's first new group in four years since Blackpink, who made their first foray into the K-pop industry with 2016's 'Square One'.
While the label has debuted several groups, including boy groups in the past, this marks the first time they have introduced one quite as large: Treasure, with 12 members, is YG's largest group, as well as one of the largest in the K-pop industry in general. Additionally, Treasure sees YG shift further into their exploration of other genres, despite having previously focused more heavily on hip-hop as their main area.
The label unveiled a video via their blog that defined the group's concept better, highlighting the group's goals of tapping into the global market with a more international sound and style. They also put out more videos via their official YouTube channel, highlighting the group's various skills, most notably, their sharp, highly synchronized dancing. The concept video additionally featured narration that pointed to historical discoveries, before rather cryptically stating, "This one step will change everything." Fans have naturally theorized about the group's debut one thing was apparent from their teasers: Treasure is all set to usher in a new phase for YG.
Treasure's debut single, 'Boy', has already been drumming up a whole lot of interest based on its teaser alone. In addition to their first music video for the title track, Treasure is also unveiling their first single album, 'The First Step: Chapter One', as part of their big debut. The pre-orders for the album already managed to sell over 150,000 units, which pushed Treasure to the top as the best-selling rookie boy group of 2020, knocking Cravity off the peak. Despite already making their mark before they debuted, the road hasn't been an easy one for the YG group.
Treasure was first introduced to audiences as a 13-member group, set to debut sometime between May and July 2020. The lineup consisted of members from the survival show, 'YG Treasure Box'. But member Yoonbin, sadly, announced that he was departing Treasure and YG in January, citing the group's musical direction as the reason for him exiting before their debut. The rest of the members -- leader Hyunsuk, dancers Jihoon, Mashiho, and Doyoung, rappers Yoshinori, Jaehyuk, and Haruto, and vocalists Junkyu, Asahi, Yedam, Jeongwoo, and Junghwan -- all stayed on, and the group was confirmed to be debuting in 2020, with Yedam dropping the single 'Wayo' in June.
Things should have been looking up for the group, especially considering the records they were already setting and the praise the members were getting for their dancing and vocals, but sadly, 'Wayo' brought in a ton of criticism their way instead. The first wave came after the announcement of the single, which caused Blackpink's fandom Blinks to descend on YG for allowing Yedam to debut as a soloist before affording all Blackpink members the same. Additionally, at that point, Blackpink had still not been given a full-length Korean album yet, despite having debuted four years ago and having broken several records with singles and mini-albums alone. The fandom's wrath was quelled over time, however, after their album, 'Blackpink: The Album' was confirmed to be releasing this year. Their pre-release single 'How You Like That' was also dropped, breaking several records upon its release, and a second single is set to follow later this month.
The second wave of hate has seemingly stemmed from the group's musical direction being vastly different from what YG has done before, which made many question whether the company was attempting to replicate the model set up by SM Entertainment. Admittedly, Treasure's concept bears some similarity to groups like NCT, namely their push for a more international pop/hip-hop sound and their preference for futuristic visuals. But this should come as no surprise, given that YG has always experimented with these sounds and visuals -- from their biggest groups, Big Bang and 2ne1, to their more recent projects like Blackpink. While YG's focus has been on hip-hop and rap, they have not necessarily limited themselves to these areas. And given the popularity of the futuristic pop/hip-hop concept with global audiences, it makes sense Treasure would also head further in that direction.
This, however, has led to yet another criticism against YG for taking their sound and style away from what fans of their artistes have come to love. YG's artistes have been at the absolute forefront when it came to setting trends, both with their music as well as their fashion. They helped reshape the industry in many ways, and their unique concepts set several turning points in K-pop, most notably Big Bang and 2ne1's debuts as fiercer, more punk-inclined groups amid a sea of more bright and cheerful groups. YG's choice to move to what many see as a more commercial sound goes against what many have come to expect from the label. And that is not going down too well with fans.
But what Treasure has managed to demonstrate via their pre-debut releases is that despite not being classically YG, they are quite gifted and will definitely live up to the name their senior artistes have established. And even if they do not fit neatly within the established YG brand, they have a lot to offer, enough to warrant being given a fair shot.