iKon (Hangul: 아이콘), stylized as iKON, is a South Korean boy band formed in 2015 by YG Entertainment. The group was first introduced in the reality survival program WIN: Who is Next as “Team B”. After that, Team B went on to appear in the 2014 reality survival program Mix & Match, which determined the final seven-member lineup of iKon: B.I, Bobby, Jay, Ju-ne, Song, DK and Chan.
The group released their debut studio album Welcome Back (2015), which debuted atop the South Korean Gaon Album Chart and produced the number-one singles “My Type”, “Apology” and “Dumb & Dumber” and three top-ten singles “Rhythm Ta”, “Airplane” and “Anthem”, the album was commercially a success, selling 260,000 copies in Asia, and the songs sold 4.8 million copies, which lead the group to win several best new artist awards on major Asia awards, including Mnet Asian Music Awards, Japan Record Award and QQ Music Awards. The following two years, the group released two singles “#WYD” and “New Kids: Begin”, and they focused on touring with their first Asia tour, and several Japanese tours. The group’s second studio album Return was released on January 25, 2018.
Prior to the group’s formation, group leader B.I featured on MC Mong’s 2009 song “Indian Boy”. He performed with MC Mong at the 2009 SBS Dream Concert, as well as on You Hee-yeol’s Sketchbook. Group vocalist Ju-ne also made a pre-debut appearance aged thirteen on the SBS variety show Star King. He also competed on SBS’s K-pop Star in 2011. On 3 January 2011, B.I and Jinhwan joined YG Entertainment as trainees, as did Bobby a week later. The three trained together for a year and formed the basis of what was to become “Team B”. On 18 April 2012, Ju-ne and Yunhyeong joined Team B, followed by Donghyuk as the sixth and final member on 5 November 2012.
In 2013, B.I, Bobby, Jinhwan, Ju-ne, Donghyuk, and Yunhyeong competed as Team B on the Mnet reality survival show WIN: Who Is Next, competing against other trainees in “Team A” for the chance to debut as a group. The program involved three rounds of performances and public voting, after which Team B eventually lost to Team A, who debuted as Winner. During the program, Team B released two singles: “Just Another Boy” and “Climax”. The members of Team B appeared as backup dancers in Taeyang’s music video for “Ringa Linga”.
In June 2014, Team B appeared in the reality survival program Mix & Match, a follow-up to WIN: Who Is Next. The aim of the show was to determine the final lineup of iKon, According to YG Entertainment CEO Yang Hyun-suk, the group’s name derives from the intent to become an ‘icon for Korea’, hence the ‘K’. It was reported that 150,000 fans applied to attend the final performance of the show, and before the announcement of iKon’s official lineup, YG Entertainment’s blog server crashed. The final lineup contained the three remaining members of Team B, with the addition of Chanwoo.
Following the programs success, the iKon members held fan meetings in Korea, Japan, and China. In September, approximately 40,000 Japanese fans applied for 2,000 tickets at a fan meeting at Osaka Tojima River Forum, while more than 50,000 Chinese fans applied for their fan meeting in Beijing. The program was aired on 29 December 2014 on the CS channel in Japan. On 28 January 2015, Billboard listed the group as one of the “Top 5 K-Pop Artists to Watch in 2015”. They were the only group on the list that had yet to debut.
Following several postponements, iKon’s official debut was announced on YG Entertainment’s website for 15 September 2015. It was revealed that the group would be releasing their debut album Welcome Back in two parts, with 6 of the 12 tracks being title tracks. The first half of the album, Debut Half Album, was set to be released on 1 October, followed by the Debut Full Album on November 2. The track listing for the first half-album was released on 24 September. Group leader B.I was credited as the producer and co-composer for all of the album’s tracks, with B.I and Bobby contributing to lyrics for all tracks and vocalist Ju-ne participating in the composition of title track “Rhythm Ta”.
iKon debuted with the ‘pre-single’ “My Type” was released with a music video on 15 September 2015. Within 24 hours of its release, the music video for “My Type” surpassed 1.7 million views on YouTube. The group took their first music show win with the single on 26 September 2015 on MBC’s Music Core, even though they had yet to make their first official live appearance. On 24 September, “My Type” achieved a ‘triple crown’ on the Gaon chart, having taken the number one spot on the digital, download, and streaming charts simultaneously for the 39th week of 2015. On 18 September, the single became number one on the music video chart of Chinese music streaming sites QQ Music and Youku. iKon also trended on Weibo, where they were reportedly searched 1.3 billion times.
iKon’s Debut Half Album was released digitally on 1 October. The group held their first concert, Showtime, on 3 October at the Seoul Olympic Gymnastics Arena. The show sold out 13,000 tickets. The concert’s taking place at the largest concert hall in Korea was unprecedented for a new K-pop group. SHOWTIME was broadcast live through Naver’s V App and streamed by over 500,000 viewers.
On 4 October, a day after their debut concert, the group made their music show debut on SBS’s Inkigayo with “Rhythm Ta” and “Airplane”, receiving their third music show win for “My Type” in person. On 8 October, they won on Mnet’s M!Countdown with “Rhythm Ta”. According to the Gaon Music Charts, iKon topped the weekly album sales charts with the first half of Welcome Back for 4–10 October.
During October, iKon embarked on a series of Japanese fan meetings titled “iKontact” in Tokyo, Aichi, Fukuoka and Osaka, attended by 26,600 fans. At the end of that month, iKon received a MelOn All-Kill Popularity award and had sold 82,208 copies of Debut Half Album – Welcome Back. On 28 October, it was announced that the full album’s release would be delayed to 14 December, with two additional digital singles released on 16 November.
Two digital singles, “Apology” and “Anthem”, were released on 16 November. “Apology” took the number one spot on Gaon’s digital chart for the 48th week of 2015. On 24 December, three new singles, “Dumb & Dumber”, “What’s Wrong?” and “I Miss You So Bad” were released.
On January 13, 2016, the group made their Japanese debut with Japanese version of their album Welcome Back, the album sold 61,508 copies in its first week of release, and charted third on the Oricon Weekly chart, earning them New Artist Award and Best New Artist Award in 58th Japan Record Award. With the Korean edition the album sold over 100,000 copies in Japan in the end of 2016.
On 17 March 2016, YG Entertainment announced that iKon would be holding their first Asia Tour iKoncert 2016: Showtime Tour with dates in Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. On July 1, their agency announced the band’s second Japanese arena tour entitled iKon Japan Tour 2016. The tour was set to visit five cities for a total of 14 concerts with an attendance of 150,000 fans. Later, the company announced the addition of two shows to be held in Tokyo due to more demands in tickets thus, raising the attendance to 176,000 people from six cities. The completion of the second tour pegs the band’s total concert attendance during its debut year at 322,000. In November 14, YGEX announced a second leg of iKon Japan Tour in 2017 due to the success of the arena tour, and to visit Yokohama Arena for the first time. The second leg gathered 120,000 fans from three cities, to rise the attendance of the tour to 296,000 from 25 shows.
On 30 May, the group released the digital single “#WYD” (short for “What You Doing”). The song debuted at number three on the Gaon Digital Chart. On August 10, the release of iKon’s first original Japanese single Dumb & Dumber was announced. The single was released on September 28 with a CD+DVD version and a CD version. It debuted at number one on both the Oricon Daily Single Album Chart and the Oricon Weekly Single Album Chart.
The group participate on Chinese dance survival program Heroes of Remix in mid 2016, alongside Psy as their mentor. They were the most winning artist in the show, winning three weeks, and gaining a good reviews for their performances. But due to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) issue, the group was entirely edited out from the last episodes of the show. Their activities in the show and touring in China lead them to win Asian Most Popular Korean Group in China Music Awards, Best Group in Netease Attitude Awards, and Best New Force Group and Album of the Year in QQ Music Awards.
On February 11, 2017, it was announced that iKon will start their first dome tour, with two shows set to be on Kyocera Dome and Seibu Prince Dome, with 90,000 fans expected to come. This mark them as the fastest group to make a concert in Japan dome since debut. On June 18, an additional 22 concerts in eight Japanese cities were announced by YGEX, with 233,000 fans expected to attend their concerts, making it the longest and the largest arena tour held by the band in Japan.
On March 2, 2017, YG Entertainment confirmed that iKon begun shooting two music videos for their new album that was set to be released in April, during the shooting of the music video Chan injured his ankle and consequently, the music video shoot got delayed. It was confirmed that they will release a new series albums under the name New Kids and to be released continuously during 2017, the series start on May 22, with the title New Kids: Begin.
iKon had a long-waited comeback with their second studio album named Return on January 25, 2018. Their main track is “Love Scenario,” which is a mellow, yet relatively upbeat, reaction to breaking up, with a circuitous melody that guides the rhythmic dance track. Their second studio album features 12 tracks that were all co-written or feature lyrics by members B.I and Bobby including Psy, BIGBANG’s Taeyang, and Epik High’s Tablo, also had a role in songwriting tracks alongside some frequent collaborators, including Choice37 and Teddy Park.
On February 5, their title track “Love Scenario” reached number one on numerous digital platforms such as iChart, Melon, Genie, Bugs, Mnet, Naver, and Soribada, and also number one on the real-time, weekly chart Instiz’s iChart. They are the second boy band to ever have achieved number one on more than seven music charts since iChart began ranking songs in 2010, with BIGBANG having previously accomplishing a similar feat. “Love Scenario” also topped the Gaon Weekly chart for six weeks, the first artist to achieve this milestone. The group was named top artists of the first half of 2018 by Genie Music, as they topped daily chart for 35 days.
iKon completed their three-part New Kids album series with the release of their first and second extended play, New Kids: Continue and New Kids: The Final in August and October 2018 respectively.