Winner (Korean: 위너; stylized as WINNER) is a South Korean boy band formed in 2014 by YG Entertainment. The group's five members are Kang Seung-yoon, Song Mino, Nam Taehyun, Kim Jinwoo, and Lee Seunghoon.
The group was first introduced in the reality-survival program called Who is Next: WIN as "Team A." Team A and their adversaries Team B were both formed from trainees within YG Entertainment. The teams competed against each other in order to debut as the first YG boy group in eight years, after Big Bang. At the conclusion of the program the title of "WINNER" was given to Team A after they won all three rounds of public voting.
After several delays, the group made their Korean debut on August 15 at YG Family Concert and following their broadcast debut on August 17 with their first official stage on Inkigayo. On September 10, the group debuted in Japan. Their debut is considered one of the best K-pop debuts of 2014.
Prior to the group's debut, the leader Kang Seung-yoon was a former Superstar K2 contestant who reached the final four. He decided to sign with YG Entertainment in 2011. In the same year, he made his acting debut in the sitcom High Kick: Revenge of the Short Legged. In 2013, he had made a solo debut releasing multiple tracks notably "It Rains" which achieved an all-kill.
Lee Seunghoon, the group's main dancer, was also a former reality-show singing contestant. He was a contestant in K-Pop Star Season 1 where he came in fourth place. Yang Hyun-suk recruited Seunghoon. On May 16, YG Entertainment announced they had signed an exclusive contract with Seunghoon. Like Seung-yoon, Seunghoon returned to trainee status under the company.
Song Minho started out underground under the stage name "Mino" or "Hugeboy Mino" with other underground rappers-turned-idols, namely Block B's Zico, Kyung, P.O and SPEED's Taewoon. Minho was initially a trainee intended for the male group Block B, but left the group before debut for personal reasons. In 2011, he made his debut as a rapper with the ballad group BoM under Y2Y Contents Company, however the group was disbanded two years later. In 2013, he was recruited into YG Entertainment through private auditions after being recognized from his acting debut in the March 2012 cable drama The Strongest K-POP Survival in Channel A.
Kim Jinwoo attended "Joy Dance - Plug In Music Academy". Seungri brought Jinwoo to YG Entertainment after seeing his potential and he was eventually accepted as a trainee in 2010. Jinwoo and Nam Taehyun - who was recruited in 2011 through a private audition - performed as backup dancers at the 2011 YG Family Concert.
Debut: Winner (2013-2014):
As a result of "Team A"'s win on the reality show "YG's Win: Who Is Next" finale on October 25, 2013, the members were promised a debut as 'Winner' under YG Entertainment. At the conclusion of the show it was announced that Winner, along with Team B, would immediately release two self composed songs each on October 28 and then Winner would go on tour with Big Bang. Winner opened for their Japanese dome tour starting November 15. On November 9, 2013, Big Bang's Taeyang released his "Ringa Linga" music video which featured Winner as backup dancers.
Winner's "road to debut" in both Korea and Japan was broadcast in the form of a reality show entitled WINNER TV that began airing on December 13 on Mnet for ten episodes. At the conclusion of the show and before the debut of the group, two members Kang Seung-yoon and Mino participated in a collaborative track for Yoon Jong Shin's March project. From June-August 2014, the group was re-introduced to the public through a series of teaser images and videos. Winner official debuted in a showcase on August 6. Their debut album, 2014 S/S, was released digitally on August 12 and physically on August 14. Winner's official debut stage was on Inkigayo on August 17, and the group's official fan club was named "Inner Circle".
Following their album release, two music videos were uploaded on their official YouTube account for their alternative rock title track, "Color Ring," and the mid-tempo hiphop track "Empty," with the latter surpassing one million views in less than 24 hours. Further solidifying their "monster rookie" status, the album achieved an all-kill on major music charts immediately after release. It became a certified perfect "all-kill" on Melon. The group also peaked at number one on iTunes in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Taiwan and entered the Billboard World Albums Chart ranking at first place. On the day of Winner's debut the stock price of YG Entertainment rose by 6.57%, a sign of investor belief in the debut's strength. They achieved their first music show win on M! Countdown during their debut stage. This makes them the fastest male rookies to achieve a number 1 on a music show. On August 30, a music video for Mino's solo track, "I'm Him" was released with cameo appearances from the members.
On September 10, the group commenced their Japanese promotions for their 2014 S/S: Japan Collection album and embarked on their first Japanese solo concert on September 11. The group successfully wrapped up their tour in Tokyo on October 11, drawing 25,000 fans in total. On December 9, 2014 Fuse announced their 13 Top Breakout Artists of 2014 with Winner being the only South Korean act to be on the list coming in at #11 joining the likes of other breakout stars Sam Smith, Jhene Aiko and Charli XCX. On December 17 Dazed Digital published their top 20 K-pop tracks of 2014 with Winner placing at number 10 with their song "Color Ring".
On February 15, YG Entertainment expressed its plan to have WINNER comeback in the first half of 2015 with a new album.
Kim Jinwoo (김진우),
Lee Seunghoon (이승훈),
Song Min-ho (송민호),
Kang Seung-yoon (강승윤),
Nam Taehyun (남태현)
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