It was just a few years ago that Pledis Entertainment appeared to be on its last legs. The agency’s biggest act, After School, was beginning an indefinite hiatus after declining sales, while singer-actress Son Dam Bi was looking for a new label. Additionally, attempts to launch new idol groups like Hello Venus and NU’EST were huge failures.
Fast forward to today, and Pledis is enjoying a second wind. Their most recent boy band SEVENTEEN are undeniable superstars and one of K-pop’s biggest new male acts, while rookie girl group PRISTIN are out-performing many of their Produce 101 counterparts on the charts.
And then there’s NU’EST, who are after years of flopping are now comeback kings thanks to a role on season two of Produce 101. The exposure from the show has shot the group’s back catalogue onto the charts (including some songs that never even charted in the first place). The best performing track is 2013’s “Hello” (my personal NU’EST fave), which recently hit No. 3 on Melon and is currently hovering around the top fifteen. The group are now preparing to return with a new album in the latter half of the year without member Minhyun, who will be busy promoting with Produce 101’s Wanna One group.
It’s hard to predict how far NU’EST newfound popularity will take them. Even if it doesn’t make them big enough to sweep all the music programs like SEVENTEEN, they’ve at least got a strong enough fanbase now that they’ll finally start turning a profit. Like most male groups, I’m expecting strong album sales, and their digital power will surely be good enough for the boys to start charting on Gaon’s top 100 again. (They haven’t charted since 2013’s “Sleep Talking” peaked at No. 92.)
Seeing Pledis’ fortunes turn around like this gives me hope for some of my other favourite agencies who are currently going through a rough patch. I’d love to see MBK and DSP doing well again, and I’ve always had a soft spot for TS Entertainment.
Let me know what you think of Pledis’ second wind and who else you want to see return to their former glory.