Boynextdoor is not Boyjeans or NewJeans -- it is its own unique thing from Zico and KOZ at HYBE

Boynextdoor Is Not Boyjeans, and That’s a Good Thing

We are now nearly a month removed from the debut of Boynextdoor, the first boy group from Zico’s KOZ Entertainment under the HYBE banner. And all things considered, it was a pretty solid debut. They released not one, not two, but three music videos, corresponding with their triple-single first release, WHO!, and the videos were filmed in Los Angeles to capture the cute suburban aesthetic KOZ was going for. But weirdly, the initial reaction seemed kind of negative, at least my from limited perspective. I saw comments sections with comments like, “That’s it?” as if Boynextdoor were supposed to be some culture-shifting phenomenon right out of the gate like their HYBE neighbor, NewJeans.

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In fact, prior to debut, Boynextdoor was described either comically or pejoratively as “Boyjeans,” like they were just supposed to be the male version of NewJeans. And to be fair, there are some minor similarities. Part of NewJeans’ appeal (besides their retro Y2K nostalgia) is that they feel like authentic teenagers, albeit the coolest teenagers on Earth. They could indeed be the girls next door, aside from presumably being wealthy and being infinitely better dancers than you. Meanwhile, Boynextdoor’s entire shtick is that they are the boys next door — utterly wholesome, charming, and pining for the cute girl who lives in their suburban, ’90s-nostalgia-triggering neighborhood.

Down-to-earth vibes and some nods toward nostalgia are really where the Boynextdoor and NewJeans comparisons end though. The Boynextdoor member ages average a little higher than NewJeans’, and KOZ is probably gunning for quite a different strategy than NewJeans’ ADOR label is, even if their ultimate goals are likely the same. The most obvious difference is in the music itself. NewJeans music, in conjunction with the style of their MV filming, is a vibe unto itself that has garnered just colossal success on the Korean music charts; the amount of time they have spent on the charts despite not releasing any music since January (besides Coca-Cola promotional videos) is insane.

It’s genuinely not possible to replicate the unique degree and type of success that ADOR has generated with NewJeans, (Although, BabyMonster is definitely gunning to eat their lunch in the next few months, and they’re even younger.) but casual K-pop observers felt the need to impose these types of expectations upon Boynextdoor at their debut anyway. If you compare the financial success of Boynextdoor’s three debut songs to NewJeans’ four debut songs, then yes, Boynextdoor is comparatively underwhelming. But that’s wildly unfair. It also discounts that Boynextdoor’s songs are quite good on their own merits.

Personally, “Serenade” is one of my favorite K-pop songs released this year, and the end of its MV is absolutely adorable in a very silly way. “돌아버리겠다 (But I Like You)” is catchy too, with my only complaint being that I wish it were a minute longer. And “One and Only” is nothing if not unique in its choreography, making use of a literal door frame. Boynextdoor even enjoys the moniker of being one of the “self-producing” K-pop groups, since members Jaehyun, Taesan, and Woonhak contributed to their debut songs.

When you get to down brass tacks, Boynextdoor sure looks like a success. Earlier this month, as noted by allkpop, “The Korea Brand Index Research Institute has newly introduce a brand value rankings category for K-Pop rookie groups, identifying the category as any K-Pop group debuted in 2022 or later.” For May-June through June 8, it had released data on the brand value of the top 30 applicable K-pop acts, and the top five rankings were as follows: NewJeans, Fifty Fifty (their own exciting success story), Le Sserafim, H1-KEY, and Boynextdoor. The gap in value between Le Sserafim and H1-KEY is rather substantial, but nonetheless, Boynextdoor cracking the top five is an indication of health.

Boynextdoor is also the only group out of those five who has never had a comeback, (For the uninitiated, “comeback” is basically the word used in K-pop every time an artist/group releases new music.) and for obvious reasons, K-pop groups tend to grow in popularity over time. Boynextdoor has not blown the lid off of society yet, but they are a charming and fun addition to K-pop and to HYBE. Their comebacks are likely to further cement them, and that’s exciting. Boynextdoor is not Boyjeans, and the Boynextdoor members are not the NewJeans members. They’re their own fun thing, and this is honestly the most I’ve ever paid attention to one of the boy groups.

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John Friscia
Former Managing Editor at The Escapist. I have been writing about video games since 2018 and editing writing on IT, project management, and video games for around a decade. I have an English degree, but Google was a more valuable learning resource. I taught English in South Korea for a year in 2018, and it was exponentially more fun than living in Pennsylvania. My major passions in life are SNES, Japanese RPGs, Berserk, and K-pop. I'm currently developing the game Boss Saga with my brother, which is guaranteed to change your life and you should buy it.