With over 5.6 million followers on TikTok, and their songs used as the inspiration for countless videos on that platform and every other corner of the Internet, it is clear that K-pop newcomers NewJeans have arrived in a big way since their debut last summer. 

A five-member girl group from South Korean music label ADOR, a subsidiary of BTS home HYBE Corporation, NewJeans arrived via a surprise debut in 2022, with soon-to-be hit songs dropping without warning, changing up the K-pop promotional paradigm. 

The superstar group is made up of teenagers Hanni, Haerin, Minji, Danielle and Hyein. Since last summer, they’ve skyrocketed to become one of the most-listened-to K-pop groups in the world, with milestones surpassed daily and new accolades making it clear that the era of NewJeans is upon us. 

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“It’s been truly an amazing experience for us, and we are forever thankful!!” Hanni tells Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore. “I feel that despite language barriers or differences, we can share our messages through music. It just goes to show how universal music is and how it can reach so many individuals that can relate to it. It’s honestly been a very humbling experience to know that our music can touch so many people.”

It’s the members’ charm and NewJeans‘ sleek, captivating sound that has captured the attention of millions of fans, known as Bunnies, as well as a throwback, retro feel pervasive across everything they touch. 

Concept art, tie-in apps, and styling feel fresh and current riding on the Y2K trend, while the group’s songs reintroduce music of that era to Gen Z, leaning towards jersey club, R&B, and smooth dance pop. Their music videos are similarly touched by the feel of yesteryear, and relay a variety of narratives that explore adolescence, love, mental health, and even public opinion of K-pop idols. 

On digital streaming platforms like Spotify, YouTube Music, and Apple Music, the rookie team is showing signs of becoming one of this generation’s biggest K-pop groups. They’ve racked up hits on music charts across the world, continually building buzz with each release. In South Korea, their songs “Ditto” and “Hype Boy” remain chart-toppers, even months after each release. On the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, NewJeans‘ “OMG” is now the second longest-running song by a K-pop girl group to chart, tied with Blackpink’s “Pink Venom.”

“Since their explosive debut in July last year, we’ve seen overwhelming reception from global listeners with all four tracks from their first self-titled EP entering Spotify’s K-Pop Global chart within four days of release. In less than half a year, the rookie group broke through to become the 9th most streamed K-Pop female group globally of Wrapped 2022,” shared Kossy Ng, Spotify Head of Music, Asia.

NewJeans continues to make waves, releasing new hits that have resonated with K-pop fans, and connecting with over 21 million monthly Spotify listeners from all corners of the world. “Ditto” claimed the second spot on Spotify’s K-Pop Global chart within just four days of release, and has since amassed over 172m streams on the platform. Their latest release “OMG” currently holds the top spot on the same chart and has amassed over 120 million streams,” Ng said, as of February 16. 

Like many other K-pop groups these days, NewJeans’ success has been bolstered by the immensely digital lives music listeners lead in 2023. Their music, especially recent releases like “OMG” and “Ditto,” have become the soundtrack to hundreds of thousands of short fan-made videos on TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram. 

Do they have any favourites, though? 

“We adore all of them and it’s hard to choose just one!” declares Danielle, one of NewJeans’ two Aussies along with Hanni, who became HYBE’s first-ever star of Vietnamese descent. “When we find cover videos, we all enjoy sharing them with one another. Seeing people have fun with our choreography and music motivates us to have more fun as well, both on and off stage.”

NewJeans are among a new crop of female K-pop teams with major hits in 2022, along with fellow HYBE act LE SSERAFIM, produced by subsidiary Source Music, and Starship Entertainment’s IVE. To ensure that they stood out, ADOR attempted to create a new girl group paradigm, under the guidance – and bolstered by the reputation – of CEO Min Hee-jin.

“I was excited because I understood that the supervising A&R for the project, Keyon [Kim] at BANA was looking for something different that I hadn’t done for the Korean market before,” recalls Ylva Dimberg, who co-wrote many of NewJeans’ biggest songs and has a history songwriting for other K-pop acts, including Girls’ Generation and Red Velvet. “When I heard the tracks I really vibed with them; I would listen to the “Ditto” instrumental on repeat because I found it so beautiful. Usually I would pick out a track I really like and lay down different ideas [but] “Ditto” was a love at first sight. I only tried out a couple of ideas on it, whereas “Hype Boy” took days to get it right. I’m glad I didn’t give up on that one. The outro melody of “Cookie” was a second verse idea from the beginning but then Keyon had this great idea of turning it into an outro.”

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As each song came out and took off in their finalised forms after NewJeans made them their own, Dimberg saw how the members’ voices brought their creative vision to life spectacularly. 

“It’s always special hearing your song with the artist for the first time and with “Hype Boy” it was pure excitement, seeing the videos, I had no idea there would be four music videos with a choose your own adventure kinda thing which was so cool. “Ditto” was more emotional for me; from the moment the ‘woo hoo’ started, I had goosebumps. They sing it so beautifully. I’m so proud of the girls and I’m happy to be a part of their journey. I think we’ve created songs that we like and luckily others seem to like them too, and I think they’ve created a world that’s relatable, with beautiful visuals and amazing choreography.”

Along with all their musical accolades, the girls of NewJeans are some of the most in-demand brand models of the moment. Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Chanel, Gucci, the city of Seoul, McDonald’s… These are just some entities the group and its members are now the ambassadors of. 

As a group, NewJeans has already made history despite being barely a year old – and the members hope this is just the beginning of something truly monumental. 

“We feel tremendously grateful to receive so much love, especially given that we are just starting out in our careers,” says Minji. “It’s encouraging to see that our audience can relate to our music, and that’s so precious to us. I hope to continue connecting with our listeners!”