SB19 is a five-member Filipino boy band who debuted in 2018 and consists of Josh, Sejun, Stell, Ken, and Justin. They are the first Filipino act trained by a Korean entertainment company to debut in the Philippines. They are also the first Southeast Asian act to enter the top 10 of Billboard Social 50 as well as the first Filipino group to chart on the Billboard Next Big Sound chart. Despite the apparent K-pop influence, SB19 promotes its music as part of Pinoy pop (P-pop), a popular sub-genre of original Filipino music.
The group's name was taken from the initials of their Korean management company, ShowBT, while the number 19 was derived from the numerical difference between the country codes of South Korea (82) and the Philippines (63), signifying the strong bond between the two countries that led to the group's creation. However, the members themselves came up with an alternative meaning, using the phrase "Sound Break" to make known their intention to break into the Philippine music industry and their aspiration to provide a higher standard for other Filipino idols to follow. Their group introduction, "Get in the zone, BREAK! Hi! We are SB19!" is also a reinforcement of their ambition to become the first Korean-trained Filipino idol group to represent the Philippines and the Filipino talent on a global scale.
2016–2018: Formation and early years
SB19 was formed by ShowBT Philippines, the Philippine subsidiary of ShowBT Group in Korea, after the five members were selected out of hundreds of aspiring idols during a talent audition in 2016 and underwent the same type of training provided to K-pop idols, attending classes ranging from voice and dance to personality development and body conditioning.
The group debuted on October 26, 2018, with their first single, "Tilaluha". Their initial effort at promotions, mostly in schools and malls, was met with a lukewarm reception.
Their second single, "Go Up", was released on July 26, 2019. The group began gaining attention after uploading their dance practice video for the song to their YouTube channel, which became a viral sensation on Twitter and Facebook after it was shared on the social media platform by a Filipino K-pop fan. This paved the way for the group's appearance in various radio and television shows as well as coverage from different local and international media outlets.
On November 20, 2019, SB19 became the first Filipino act to appear on the Billboard Next Big Sound chart. They also became the first Filipino act to enter the Billboard Social 50, debuting at no. 28 on the week of December 28, 2019, and ascending over the following months. Jeff Benjamin, writing for Billboard, noted that their rise in the chart was aided by a growing international fanbase, and remarked that it was an indication that "more artists [will] continue to look East for inspiration and a larger audience".
SB19 performing "Alab (Burning)" at UP Fair 2020 in UP Diliman on February 10, 2020
On December 25, 2019, Sony Music Philippines announced that SB19 had signed a recording contract with them, and on the same day, the group released their third single, "Alab (Burning)", under their new record label.
On March 9, 2020, SB19 was chosen as one of the emerging artists under Spotify's RADAR Program.
Following the announcement on the release of their first album, SB19 achieved its highest placement since debuting in the Billboard charts: 3rd in the Social 50 (behind K-pop acts BTS and EXO) and 7th in the Emerging Artists chart on the week of July 25, 2020. On July 31, 2020, the quintet released their first album, Get In The Zone!, on various digital music platforms. The digital album, with nine tracks, includes their three previously released singles and two unreleased tracks, 'Hanggang Sa Huli' and 'Love Goes'.
While Filipino boy and girl groups had been around prior to SB19, such as BoybandPH and MNL48, the boy band is credited for paving the way for the launch of other music groups managed by a Korean entertainment agency and/or trained by Korean mentors and displaying a similar level of training, skill, and talent.