Who Is SB19?

K-pop has been dominating the international pop charts for years, but SB19 is looking to change that. The 5-piece Filipino boy band wants to share their music with the world, and they're doing an incredible job of it.

The group was put together by a Korean management company called ShowBT. ShowBT founder Seong Han Geong talked to Forbes about how the group came to be. "When I first visited the Philippines for market research five years ago, I noticed the Filipino fans' enthusiasm and energy for K-pop," he explained. "That, plus the advantage of them being fluent in English, opened an opportunity and possibility for overcoming K-pop's weaknesses. Although the K-pop model is already well established, I wanted to create a new culture mixed with P-pop. So, SB19 is a new idol group with a unique style that is a result of localization."

Many Filipino young men signed up for the chance to be part of the boy band, but only five were handpicked: Pablo (formerly Sejun), Josh, Justin, Ken, and Stell (per K-Profiles).

SB19 trained for three years before releasing a single

Once they got the members together, the group came up with a name. SB is short for Sound Break, a name that comes from their management company. It's 19 that has a touching meaning. It's the number of area codes that separate the Philippines and South Korea (per SCMP). The young men hope their music bridges the gap between the two countries.

"We have a sense of universality and we take something and utilize it to make something better out of it," Pablo told Forbes. "What they have been doing in Korea, the K-pop idols there, they have this intensive training where you have to make your moves synchronized, you're singing while you're dancing and it's really hard. To utilize that here in the Philippines is really great, because there are lots of talented Filipinos that are not given opportunity, so that we can show the talent of the Philippines all over the world."

It would take three years of hard work and training before the group was ready to release their first single. "Tilaluha" was released in October 2018 (per Annyeon Oppa).

SB19 has worked hard to put P-pop on the map

As they've continued to see their star rise, the group has battled comparisons to K-pop acts. They're also regularly confused as a K-pop band, which can be frustrating for young men who are so proud of where they came from. 

"People have misunderstood us as a K-pop band, not a P-pop band," Josh told Forbes. "But I think what's more important is how our soul gets into our music. That's what I think is the most important thing, how we express our music into the P-pop industry. There are a lot of Filipino talents that are under the radar, not just us, but there are a lot of Filipinos who deserve recognition. Maybe we can be one of the stepping stones where we can present Filipino talent to the entire world."

"Every country has their own culture of pop," Pablo added. "What differs us from other countries is the soul we put in it. Everything that we've experienced in life, everything that influences us as an artist, our culture, our language, that's what we [as SB19] put into our music, and we want to show that to the world."

SB19 is starting to enjoy recognition in the US

In 2021, the band is seeing major moves happening for them. The group had a number two hit in the U.S. and number one on the LyricFind global charts with their single, "Go Up" (per Billboard). In March 9, 2021, they released their first single, "What?", off their upcoming sophomore album. The music video has already amassed over 9 million views on YouTube. Further details on the album have yet to be released, but it's clear fans are looking forward to new music from the group.

As if that's not enough, the band also made Billboard history as the first Filipino act to be nominated for a Billboard Music Award. The band is nominated for Top Social Artist, alongside BTS, Seventeen, BLACKPINK, and Ariana Grande (per Rappler). The 2021 Billboard Music Awards will air live from Los Angeles' Microsoft Theater on May 23 at 8pm ET.