Move over, millennials – a new class of Gen-Z music trailblazers are set to take over the spotlight with their chart-topping achievements and unstoppable star power. Meet the Z-list.

CROWNING GLORY

Billie Eilish

If you feel like Billie Eilish is everywhere these days, that’s because she is – in all the best places. When 15-year-old Billie first dropped ‘Ocean Eyes’ on Soundcloud a few years back, no one expected the teen wunderkind to amass such a devoted cult following. But boy were we glad she did.

Her claim to fame? Besides her penchant for churning out chart-topper after chart-topper, it’s also her quirky personality and sense of humour that makes her seem so much more relatable. “I’m really weird, and you know what? I like it,” she tells Teen Vogue. “It’s special to me and it’s fun to be weird. I also hope to show people that they shouldn’t care about what others think of them. It’s you and your life. Do what you want.” And that’s exactly what she does – she lives life and makes music on her own terms. The result: a swelling repertoire of work that includes two hugely successful EPs, several viral singles, as well as high-profile collaborations with the likes of Vince Staples and Khalid.

Just when you thought the Billie mania has reached its peak, she drops her long-awaited debut studio album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? to much fanfare. An eclectic blend of genre-defying tunes crafted almost entirely by herself and her brother (whom you might know as singer-songwriter and producer FINNEAS), it’s one of those few albums where every track is a standout. Which is why it’s of no surprise that it shot straight to the top of the charts, making Billie the youngest female artiste – who is, for the record, still only 17 years of age – to notch the number one spot since Demi Lovato in 2009.

Just recently, the rising pop star hit yet another career milestone with her first ever Coachella gig, sharing the spotlight with big-name headliners such as Ariana Grande, Childish Gambino and BLACKPINK. Fresh off her festival debuts, the young songstress is also in the midst of her When We All Fall Asleep World Tour and we have no doubts that her impending shows will draw massive crowds.

While Billie has yet to fully take over the reigns of her predecessors, it’s clear she has the poise, talent and attitude to go far in her career. And here’s the craziest part: she’s only just getting started.

THE IT GIRLS

ITZY

On the other end of the music radar, we have a new batch of young pop mavens poised to lead the next era of K-pop. Made up of five immensely talented ladies with an average age of 18, JYP Entertainment’s new flagship act has since earwormed their way onto the charts with their record-breaking debut single, ‘DALLA DALLA’ – an empowerment anthem that encourages fans to embrace what makes them different.

Unlike TWICE’s usual brand of bubblegum pop, ITZY plays into the lesser-explored girl crush concept that seemingly draws influences from Wonder Girls and Miss A – a formula that works wonderfully in their favour. Besides becoming the fastest K-pop outfit to hit 100 million views on a debut music video, they also achieved the incredible feat of being the quickest girl group to take their first win on a music show. If these numbers are any indication, they are well on their way to becoming the next big thing.

SMELLS LIKE FREE SPIRIT

Khalid

Much like his ‘Lovely’ collaborator Billie Eilish, Khalid’s whirlwind rise to stardom was very much fuelled by the power of the Internet – after all, he’s known as the second most-streamed artiste in the world for a reason. His 2017 debut effort American Teen was an instant hit, drawing in listeners with compelling lyrics that speak to the broody teenager in all of us. But everyone has to grow up some day, which brings us to his much-anticipated follow-up titled Free Spirit.

No longer the young, dumb and broke kid we used to know, the R&B crooner returns with a matured sound that showcases his progression as a songwriter – without losing his authenticity and childlike charms. “I love growing up,” Khalid shares with MTV News. “I can’t wait to see where I’ll be at 25 and what type of music I’m going to make. I know for a fact that I’m gonna be young forever; even if I’m 60, I’ll still have a little pep in my step.” Wherever his next move is, we bet the rest of the world will be watching.

GIRLS MEET MUSIC

Sabrina Carpenter

Sabrina Carpenter needs no introduction. Fans might recognise the Disney darling from the hit series Girl Meets World, but the 19-year-old has been making remarkable moves in her budding music career as well. After lending her voice to several Disney projects, the aspiring singer decided to strike out on her own with her debut album Eyes Wide Open, which successfully marked her transition from teen actress to bonafide pop diva. Plus, she’s got the songwriting chops to boot.

Most of the tracks in her third studio album Singular are co-written by the songstress, allowing her to really come into her own as an artiste. “I’ve been working on the record for the past two years and I really just started to get a greater understanding of what I was capable of,” she explains to Vogue about the creative process behind it. “I wrote the entire thing, so I decided to call it Singular because I want it to embody that confidence of being able to kind of accomplish what you want on your own.” We couldn’t be more proud!

READY TO RULE

Ruel

From busking along the Sydney’s beaches to performing in front of sell-out crowds, the young pop prodigy has come a long way since he was discovered by award-winning producer M-Phazes (“I lost my mind when I heard his voice!”). For a 16-year-old, Ruel’s credentials are admirable to say the least. He boasts numerous self-composed tracks under his belt including his earlier hit ‘Don’t Tell Me’, which was written when he was only 12. He shares, “When I write about something, it helps me figure it out in the process. I want people of all ages, whether they’re 15 or 50, to be able to relate to my songs.”

And it’s safe to say he succeeded in doing just that; Ruel’s debut EP Ready has since chalked up over 100 million global streams thanks to standout singles ‘Dazed & Confused’, ‘Younger’ and ‘Not Thinkin’ Bout You’. Rounding up his already impressive list of achievements is the title of 2018’s Breakthrough Artist by the ARIA Music Awards – and that’s certainly saying something.

LEADERS OF TOMORROW

TXT

Managed by the people behind the world-conquering BTS, Big Hit Entertainment’s second boy group project Tomorrow X Together – aka TXT – looks set to follow in their superstar sibling’s footsteps. Since exploding onto the scene with their feel-good melodies and youthful energy, these fresh-faced lads (with an average age of 17) have already built up a stellar portfolio their counterparts can only dream of.

Not only did they top multiple music charts with their lead single ‘CROWN’, these power rookies also made history as the fastest K-pop group to hit number one on Billboard’s World Albums and World Digital Song Sales Chart. Despite being only two months into their debut, TXT already has their eyes set on the global stage. Besides embarking on their US showcase tour, the quintet is also expected to perform at KCON 2019 NY in July. Only time will tell if they’ll be able to match up to BTS, but we think they’re off to a great start.

BIG PLANS AHEAD

WDW

“Why don’t we make a band?” they thought, and never looked back. Prior to their formation as the Why Don’t We we know today, the boys have already made quite a solo career of their own – with most of them starting out by doing what our generation does best: uploading covers on YouTube. A year and five EPs later, the boys landed a record deal with Atlantic Records, toured with the likes of Shawn Mendes and The Chainsmokers, and sold out shows across the globe.

It’s hard to resist their charms: take one glance at Why Don’t We and you’ll be smitten by their heartthrob-worthy looks, but let’s not forget about the harmonised vocals and addictive choreography that propelled the under-21 fivesome to mainstream consciousness. Even though they’re currently immersed in their 8 Letters Tour, it doesn’t stop them from putting out new music. In an interview with Forbes, Corbyn Besson explains, “I think at the end of the day, our entire career stems from the music and we’re not Why Don’t We without it.” Perhaps that’s the whole reason why fans keep coming back for more.

ALL EYES ON THEM

IZONE

After the explosive popularity of Korean survival competition Produce 101 which birthed supergroups I.O.I and Wanna One, their latest all-female lineup wasted no time in following up on the success of their predecessors. Consisting of Korean and Japanese members that came out tops in Produce 48, IZ*ONE has been setting records left and right since their debut – cementing the hybrid group as one of the hottest names in both the K-pop and J-pop game.

And they’ve got the numbers to back them up: their debut record Color*Iz dominated charts in and out of Korea, including the Oricon Weekly Album Chart and Billboard World Albums Chart. Their sophomore release Heart*Iz continued to hit new chart highs, with their latest track ‘Violeta’ bagging a total of seven music show wins. Although they have a short shelf life of only 2.5 years, there’s still plenty of time left till the end of their contracts and we can’t wait to see what else these bright young gems will bring to the table!

Read more about these Gen-Z stars in our latest issue of Teenage Portfolio featuring cover girl Billie Eilish, out on newsstands now!

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Everything We Know About Taylor Swift's New Album 'Lover' So Far

14 Jun 2019 by Chew Hui Ling

The surprises just keep coming. After shaking up the music industry with her comeback track ‘ME!’ featuring Brendon Urie of Panic! At The Disco, Taylor Swift is back in the game to officially announce the arrival of her forthcoming album… and we can’t calm down.

Here’s everything we know about TS7 so far.

Her new album is called Lover.

In typical Taylor Swift fashion, the ‘ME!’ songstress made the grand reveal through a spontaneous Instagram Live session with Swifties, where she unveiled the title of her seventh studio album – aptly titled Lover (well, she’s got a long list of ex lovers after all).

But betcha didn’t know that her album title was actually hidden in the music video of ‘ME!’, which was filled with a ton of easter eggs. In an interview with Independent, she hinted that “you see it once and you hear it twice”. Any eagle-eyed Swifties managed to spot it?

There will be 18 tracks on the album.

T-Swift revealed that Lover will feature a total of 18 tracks, which makes it her longest album yet. 2017’s Reputation had 15 tracks, while 2014’s 1989 had 13 tracks.

It’s a “very romantic” album.

We think it’s safe to say that the old Taylor is truly dead. Leaving her Reputation era behind, she lets her lover instincts take over in Lover. “It’s very romantic and not just simply thematically, like it’s all love songs or something,” she added. “I think you can find romance in loneliness, sadness or going through conflicts in your life. It just kind of looks at those things with a romantic gaze.”

Her second single just dropped.

A month and a half after the release of the Brendon Urie-assisted ‘ME!’, Taylor finally dropped the much-anticipated follow-up single ‘You Need To Calm Down’. An accompanying music video will come out on 17 June, where she will first premiere on Good Morning America before going on YouTube. Meanwhile, check out the colourful lyrical video below:

More collaborations on the way?

Besides new music, the pop star also has a fashion collaboration with British fashion designer Stella McCartney in the works. In the Instagram Live, Taylor revealed that the clothing line will be inspired by the Lover album. “She’s a woman I respect so much,” she said of Stella McCartney. “I respect what she creates and how she creates it. There’s so much whimsy and imagination to the clothing that she designs, and I’ve worn a lot of her stuff recently.”

And there’s more. Just a few days ago, Katy Perry sparked collaboration rumours when she posted and tagged Taylor in a picture of a cookie platter on Instagram. The words “peace at last” are written on top of the plate along with the location tag “Let’s Be Friends” – to which Taylor commented with 13 pink heart emojis. 13. OF. THEM. Need we say more?

The album will be released in August.

The date you’re looking for is 23 August. And it should come as no surprise to ardent Swifties who should’ve known that Taylor’s favourite number is none other than 13. Add up 8, 2 and 3 and you get the magic number. Voila.

Taylor Swift’s new album Lover is available for preorder now.

More related stories: 6 Hidden Easter Eggs You May Have Missed In Taylor Swift’s ‘ME!’ Music Video, Did Taylor Swift Just Sing About Her Boyfriend While Throwing Shade At Her Ex?All The Shade, Drama and Love Inside Taylor Swift’s Incredible ‘Reputation’

Just what else can Netflix not do? After dominating our screens for years, the leading video subscription giant is finally dipping its toes into the arena of gaming – one show at a time.

On 12 June, the company announced that they are currently working with some of the world’s most talented game developers to bring your favourite Netflix shows to life in video game form.

Fans of the Upside Down can look forward to Stranger Things 3: The Game (available on Nintendo Switch, XBOX One, PlayStation 4, PC, Mac, Android and iOS) – an adventure game that is slated to drop on 4 July, coinciding with the premiere of the third season of the show. A new location-based RPG mobile game (available on Android and IOS) is also expected to be released in 2020.

Stranger Things 3 The Game

If you’re familiar with the 1982 classic Dark Crystal, you might know that the film is being adapted into a Netflix Original series and is set to make its debut in August. But that’s not all; it will also be getting its own video game! Titled The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics (available on Nintendo Switch, XBOX One, PlayStation 4, PC and Mac), it’s said to be a turn-based tactics game developed by the same studio behind Stranger Things 3: The Game.

The Dark Crystal Age Of Resistance Tactics

Beyond standalone video games, Netflix also revealed that they will be integrating their original series and films into existing games from partners like Roblox, Ubisoft and Behaviour Interactive later this year – such as the recent Scoops Ahoy easter egg in Fortnite.

Just take all our money, Netflix.

Which series would you want Netflix to make a video game out of? Tell us in the comments below!

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More YG Drama? How iKON B.I's Alleged Drug Scandal Unfolded

12 Jun 2019 by Chew Hui Ling

Earlier this morning, the K-pop world was sent into a frenzy following a report by Korean media outlet Dispatch accusing iKON’s leader B.I (whose real name is Kim Han Bin) of attempting to purchase drugs in 2016. Things escalated quickly — within the span of a few hours, the fallen idol admitted to the claims and announced that he will be quitting the band.

For those who’ve yet to get caught up with the whirlwind of events, here’s the lowdown on how the allegations unfolded.

Dispatch drops the news

Fans woke up to an exclusive report by Dispatch on B.I’s drug accusations, which contained transcripts of KakaoTalk messages exchanged between the K-pop star and a drug dealer back in April 2019. In the conversation, B.I attempted to purchase marijuana and LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) from the dealer and even asked for a discount for bulk orders.

B.I then urged the latter to delete the chats to avoid being caught by authorities. The anonymous offender in question was subsequently arrested for violating the drug law, which led to the police digging up the suspicious convo during investigations.

YG Entertainment reportedly refuted the claims in a statement to Dispatch via a phone call, asserting that B.I has no relations to the drug case and that none of the iKON members were tested positive in their urine examination, which was recently conducted ahead of their promotions.

B.I quits the band

Just hours after, B.I took to Instagram to issue an apology and announce his departure from iKON. Although he denied taking drugs, the idol admitted to having “interest” in it during a period when he was going through a tough time. He continued, “Nonetheless, I feel ashamed and apologetic towards my fans who are greatly disappointed because of my inappropriate actions. I intend to humbly self-reflect on my mistake and leave the group.”

 
 
 
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Variety show appearances affected

It was also reported that the production teams of JTBC’s Grand Buda-Guest and SBS’ Law of the Jungle would be completely editing out B.I’s parts in the upcoming broadcasts. The iKON member had been a regular cast member of Grand Buda-Guest since its premiere on 3 June, while the Law of the Jungle episode that he had appeared in was originally scheduled to air on 15 June.

YG confirms B.I’s departure from iKON

Following B.I’s shocking announcement, YG Entertainment has released an official statement confirming his departure from iKON. Below is the full translation courtesy of Soompi:

“This is YG Entertainment.

We bow our heads and apologise for disappointing everyone with our artiste Kim Han Bin’s problem. Kim Han Bin is feeling the heavy responsibility due to the impact of this matter and has decided to terminate his exclusive contract and leave the team.

YG has become keenly aware of our responsibility in managing our artistes. Once again, we sincerely apologise for causing concern.”

This isn’t the first time that YG Entertainment has been embroiled in drug-related scandals – former BIGBANG member Seungri was involved in a series of snowballing allegations earlier this year. Amidst B.I’s turmoil, YG’s head Yang Hyun Suk is also under suspicion for arranging prostitution services for foreign investors as well as tax evasion.

More related stories: Here’s A Comprehensive Timeline of How The Allegations Stacked Up Against BIGBANG’s SeungriHere Are 10 Major K-pop Scandals That Shook The Hallyu World

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Inside The Fascinating Fandom Culture Of K-pop Fans In Singapore

12 Jun 2019 by Jasmine Ong

Since the arrival of the Hallyu wave upon our shores, there has been an ever-growing amount of Korean pop enthusiasts in Singapore. In addition to consuming all things Korean – be it food, beauty or music – it seems that local K-pop fans have also gotten around to embodying the Korean fan culture.

The Korean pop fandom is known to be one of the most prominent, if not passionate in the world. Not only are they superbly loyal, they are also arguably amongst the most creative in showcasing their support for their favourite idols. Fan support projects such as cup sleeve events, special slogans for concerts, and even subway advertisements are a common sight in South Korea – and it is often built into an international fan’s itinerary when they visit the country.

Though it may be fun to soak up the fan culture with other like-minded individuals in the country of origin, there’s often an absence in a sense of belonging for international fans. Perhaps this might be the reason why there has been an increase in the global fan community’s adoption of the Korean fan culture, especially here in Singapore.

To give you a brief breakdown of what it’s about, here’s an insight into different aspects of the Hallyu effect in our little red dot.

Bus Ad

During BTS’ concert back in January, a specially designed BTS bus had made its way around the island in support of the supergroup. While it may have seemed like a professional advertisement paid for by the organisers, you might be surprised to know that this effort was actually funded by fans. Inspired by Korean fans who are no strangers to investing in bus ads since 2016, local ARMYs made this hefty contribution in order to celebrate the milestone of BTS being the first Korean act to stage a National Stadium gig. Sure, it might seem like a waste of money to some, but for these fans who have loyally followed and supported the group, it’s a badge of honour that’s worth everything.

Cup Sleeve Events

If you’ve been to Korean cafes such as Coffeesmith or Plus Eighty-Two, you might have encountered a surprising surge in the number of patrons at least once or twice. Often decorated with large posters, images and balloon alphabets around the cafe, this phenomenon is known as a cup sleeve event – where fans gather to celebrate the anniversary of a K-pop act, a member’s birthday, or an achievement made by the group.

Fans are required to purchase a drink in order to get the exclusively designed cup sleeve that commemorates the event. On top of the cup sleeves, the venue also acts as a mini marketplace where fan support groups set up shop to sell their personally designed idol merchandises such as keychains, photo strips, photo cards and banners for a reasonable price.

While it might seem impractical to an outsider, it’s a commendable effort on the fans’ part if you were to look at the minute details that helped to piece the whole event together. Not only did fans tap on their creativity, they also had to handle logistics and budgeting all on their own – and these are skills that can’t really be taught.

Fanchants

Probably one of the most familiar forms of fan culture, fanchants are either introduced by the idols themselves through guide videos, or created by fans as a form of accompaniment to live performances on weekly music shows such as Music Bank, Music Core and Inkigayo.

Though they may not have the luxury of seeing their favourite idols perform every week, international fans still found a way to replicate the fanchants at concerts held in their country. In spite of the language barriers, it’s worth applauding that fanchants are always done in unison and with as much fervour as their Korean counterparts – which often gets reciprocated with deserved recognition from the idols themselves.

Fanmade Banners

A common sight at concerts in Korea, these card-stock banners have also made their way to Singapore and are now an expected item to receive at every K-pop show here. Not to be mistaken as official merchandise, these goodies are designed and printed for concertgoers by fellow fans to hold up during a selected song in the setlist. This fan act has become such a norm in the scene that big names such as BTS, who were here in January as part of their Love Yourself tour, also took a picture with the slogans after the concert to show their appreciation.

Lightsticks

The unique selling point of a K-pop fandom is often found in the accompanying gear that fans bring for concerts, performances or fanmeets. Commonly referred to as lightsticks, each K-pop act usually has one designed in line with their personality and overall image, such as the pink hammer for BLACKPINK and the ARMY Bomb for BTS.

While it makes sense for Korean fans to own a lightstick due to the frequency of events they can attend, many would agree that it isn’t exactly a practical purchase for overseas fans. But that doesn’t stop them from purchasing these official lightsticks, which are usually available for purchase at merchandise booths during concerts. We can definitely see the appeal, however – not only does it form a collective bond with everyone in the audience, it also helps to create a unique and all-inclusive ambience that cannot be replicated in any other genres of the same setting. This is a concept that seems to only work best in the Korean pop sphere, and perhaps that’s the reason why it has become such a popular item to own amongst local K-pop fans.

Subway Ads

If you’ve been to Seoul, you might have noticed the ad panels along the walkways of subway stations which are often rented out to celebrate an idol’s anniversary, birthday or any other special occasion. These locations have been unconsciously set aside for such commemorative displays, thus becoming somewhat of a tourist attraction amongst domestic and international K-pop fans.

Though this presentation of fan support has yet to gain traction overseas, it seems that Singapore fans have decided to give it a go by replicating it at our very own MRT station. Funded by a group of hardened BTS fans, the inaugural ad space at Dhoby Ghaut MRT station was taken over by a BTS banner to commemorate the group’s sixth anniversary that falls on 13 June. Though the news of this celebratory advertisement has garnered plenty of skeptical feedbacks from the general public, it’s safe to say that the negativity doesn’t damper the fans’ spirits. For them, it’s a space that they’ve paid for to celebrate a significant milestone in their idol’s journey, and like proud parents, it’s their way of showing their appreciation to the people they admire.

Video Projects

When it comes to surprise fan projects, there’s really no one else who does it better than K-pop fans. In addition to the fanmade banners and fanchants, fans have also started to surprise their favourite idols with special video montages at the end of a concert. Organised and compiled by the local fanclub, these heartfelt videos serve as a message of gratitude to the idols who have greatly impacted their lives. Even if you’re a non-fan in the crowd, it’s impossible not to feel moved by the touching gesture.

In spite of the public negativity fans usually get from observers who are unaware of the deep-rooted fan culture, there is no stopping them from actively displaying their love for the artistes close to their hearts. Say what you will about K-pop fans, but this is one fandom that truly knows how to show their pride and dedication for their favourite acts.

At the end of the day, it’s a clear sign that the Hallyu power is still going strong, and it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

More related stories: Local ARMYs Put Up MRT Ad In Celebration Of BTS’ 6th Anniversary In SingaporeFans Get Real About How Their Favourite Artistes Have Changed Their Lives 

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