The most recent K-Pop boy group to debut under a “Big Four” label — which consists of SM Entertainment, JYP Entertainment, YG Entertainment, and BigHit Music/HYBE Labels — was TREASURE (if you don’t include ENHYPEN, who weren’t under BigHit Music or HYBE Labels at the time they debuted).
TREASURE debuted on August 7, 2020, around 746 days ago (or over two years). Prior to their debut, the “Big Four” companies combined debuted at least one new K-Pop boy group each year since 2012.
2019 was a big year, with TXT, WayV, and SuperM debuting under BigHit Music and SM Entertainment respectively. 2018 began Stray Kids‘ career under JYP Entertainment, and though there wasn’t technically a “Big Four” boy group debut in 2017, Wanna One was still a major and highly anticipated debut.
2016 saw the debut of both NCT DREAM and NCT 127 under SM Entertainment, 2015 was the beginning of iKON‘s career with YG Entertainment, and 2014 was the year that GOT7 debuted with JYP Entertainment. Finally, BTS and WINNER debuted in 2013, while EXO began the “Big Four” boom in 2012.
In the couple years prior to EXO’s debut, there was once again a slow period in K-Pop boy groups under major labels. 2012 seemed to start the wave of popular K-Pop boy groups after this lull, so is it possible that that will happen again after these last couple of quiet years? Considering all the influx of “Big Four” girl groups recently, it seems possible.
And there are already rumors and hints that these labels are working on debuting new boy groups in the near future. JYP Entertainment is planning to debut a Japanese boy group as well as one with contestants from the competition show LOUD, HYBE Labels appears to have many projects in the works, and SM Entertainment is rumored to be working on NCT Tokyo and perhaps another non-NCT boy group.
Will 2022 or 2023 see the beginning of the next wave of majorly popular K-Pop boy groups? We’ll just have to wait and find out!