Cover Art by Joe Andy
In these challenging times, one may easily lose hope and fall into despair, but music coupled with good news can serve as medicine to the downhearted.
Music lovers from the Philippines need not fret as Pinoy pride once again showed that Filipinos can excel in any field—be it in sports, pageants, music, and the entertainment industry as a whole.
SB19 is just another proof as the Pinoy pop (P-pop) boy band made history, landing on the 6th spot of the Billboard Social 50 Year-End Chart, alongside the biggest names in the entire realm of pop music. This feat was like no other before, and SB19 solidified its status as a force to be reckoned with by finishing strong this year.
It is worthy to note that the group became a mainstay on the Social 50 weekly charts with their highest mark at Top 15 by January to as high as Top 2 in August this year, next to BTS, the Number 1 K-pop group at present.
Aside from this international feat, SB19 is also a fan favorite in the Philippine entertainment industry. In fact, just recently the group bagged major awards in the star-studded LionhearTV’s RAWR Awards this year including Breakthrough Artist of the Year, Song of the Year (“Alab”), Favorite Performer, and Favorite Group.
For those unfamiliar, SB19 is a sing-and-dance quintet trained under Korean entertainment agency ShowBT for 3 years before amassing a huge following on social media, thanks to their synchronized moves, extensive vocal abilities, and glossy visuals.
The group name comes from the name of the company they trained under (ShowBT or “Sound Break” as coined by the members), with the number 19 indicating the difference between the country codes of Korea and the Philippines.
With the growing popularity of K-Pop around the world, particularly in the Philippines, ShowBT Philippines founder Seong Han Geong described SB19 as a “new idol group with a unique style that is a result of localization”. This is especially true as the boy band adds Filipino touch to the K-pop signature choreography, and is becoming a flag-bearer of P-pop to the higher echelons of the international music arena.
On Sejun, Stell, Josh, Ken, and Justin, full ensembles, Rj Ryan.
In an earlier interview for SB19’s first cover with Parcinq Magazine, the five-piece act, composed by Sejun, Josh, Stell, Ken, and Justin, owed their successes to their fandom called A’TIN comprised of both local and international fanbase that helped catapult them to fame and make moves in international music charts like Billboard’s Social 50 among others.
“Syempre, A’TIN yung dahilan kung bakit nandito tayo ngayon and syempre as time passes by, gusto natin makapagpakita tayo ng better performance,” (A’TIN [our fans] are the reason why we’re here, and as time passes by, we want to show them better performance), leader Sejun said, reiterating what Stell mentioned that their group won’t continue to exist without their fans.
Speaking dearly of their fans, the boys encouraged those who are struggling to not lose hope and continue to overcome life’s difficulties, assuring they will always be there for them: “Sana katulad ng iba, kayanin din natin kasi alam naman natin na, anytime malalampasan din natin ‘to and kahit anong problema man dumaan, alam namin na kakayanin niyo. Tsaka ‘wag kayo mag-alala, kasi nga diba sabi namin, hangga’t anjan kayo, may SB19. So kahit papano, sana nabibigyan namin kayo ng kasiyahan. Andito lang kami para sa inyo.”
(We hope you will continue to persevere like the others and know that we can overcome any problems we encounter. And like we said, as long as you’re there, there will always be SB19. We hope we are somehow giving you happiness. We’re always here for you.)
Just after the onslaught of consecutive typhoons in the Philippines that worsened the state of the nation amid the pandemic, SB19 held its first-ever online concert in late November in hopes of lifting up the spirit of those affected through music, and by donating part of the proceeds to typhoon victims.
When asked about their greatest fear, the boys went introspective and agreed with Ken who revealed his fear was losing their fans’ support: “Siguro pag mawala yung pinagkukuhanan namin ng lakas, which is yung fans namin. Kasi siguro lahat naman ng artist po siguro, pag wala nang sumusuporta sa kanila, manghihina sila. So pag mawala yung fans namin, feeling ko manghihina rin kami.”
(Perhaps, it’s losing our source of strength--our fans. I think all artists would feel weak if they lose their supporters, the same way we would feel).
It may sound unbelievable, but SB19 almost gave up on their dreams before reaching the peak of their career this year. They shared they would have stopped performing after their ‘Tilaluha’ debut did not become a hit, but their career was saved by their redemption song, ‘Go Up’ which since then became their favorite and their theme song with a whopping 8 million views on YouTube to date.
As they look forward to the future, the group was determined to establish P-pop not just in their home country but all over the world. Josh even set a more ambitious goal of ‘world domination’ where he sees them performing on world stages like Hollywood and all over Asia.
Seeing how SB19 shows passion for their craft and put their best foot forward in all their performance, backed by their devoted fandom who consistently give their all-out support, we just might be a witness to them living the dream!
On Stell: full ensembles, Paulo Lazaro. On Josh: full ensembles, BRB the Label. On Sejun and Justin: full ensembles, John Guarnes. On Ken: full ensembles, Mark Ranque.
Good luck and keep going up, boys!
Watch both the serious and playful side of the boys as we dug deeper about them in this full interview:
Words by Joseph Pilapil
Produced by Philip Vargas
Photography by Rxandy Capinpin
Creative direction and Cover layout by Joe Andy
Styling by Mark Ranque
and John Guarnes
Grooming by Janica Cleto
Shot on Location at the Rx Studio