IZ*ONE, pronounced as EYEZ-wun, is a South Korean-Japanese girl group formed through the Mnet survival reality show Produce 48. The group is composed of twelve members – Jang Won-young, Sakura Miyawaki, Jo Yu-ri, Choi Ye-na, An Yu-jin, Nako Yabuki, Kwon Eun-bi, Kang Hye-won, Hitomi Honda, Kim Chae-won, Kim Min-ju, and Lee Chae-yeon. They made their official debut on October 29, 2018 with the release of their first extended play, Color*Iz. IZ*ONE is jointly managed by Off the Record Entertainment in South Korea and AKS in Japan.
The name “IZ*ONE” was a suggestion from viewers of the program and was eventually selected by CJ E&M. “IZ” is a numeronym for the number 12, which represents the total number of members, while “ONE” indicates that their unity as a group. The asterisk between IZ and ONE refers to the astrological signs of the zodiac.
Formation through Produce 48
IZ*ONE was formed through the reality competition Produce 48, an offshoot of the previous seasons of Produce 101 that created project groups I.O.I and Wanna One. Produce 48 aired on Mnet from June 15 to August 31, 2018 and was billed as a collaboration between the Produce 101 franchise and the AKB48 Group of Japan. From a total of ninety-six contestants, the final line-up was chosen through audience votes and was announced via live television broadcast.
Several members of the group have been active in the entertainment industry prior to their appearance on the show. Among them were Hitomi Honda who has already made her debut as part of AKB48 and Sakura Miyawaki of HKT48. Miyawaki also previously appeared on the Shiki Theatre Company musical production of The Lion King from 2008 to 2009, while member Nako Yabuki was cast in the 2005 film Touch as well as other Japanese television dramas.
Kwon Eun-bi previously debuted with the group Ye-A in 2014 under the stage name Ka-zoo, while Kang Hye-won was a potential member for the groups DayDay and The Ark. Lee Chae-yeon appeared as a contestant in SBS’ K-pop Star 3 and JYP Entertainment’s reality competition, Sixteen. Jo Yu-ri was part of the 2017 Mnet competition program, Idol School, where she placed 15th, while Kim Min-ju had been active as an actress, notably appearing in the drama Tempted as the younger version of Moon Ga-young’s character. An Yu-jin also somehow made a name for herself as an actress in commercials and music videos, most notably in an Acuvue Vita commercial.
Following their formation after the conclusion of Produce 48, it was announced that Off the Record Entertainment would take over the management of IZ*ONE from Stone Music and Pledis Entertainment. All three Japanese members will also be taking a hiatus from their respective groups to focus on IZ*ONE.
2018: Official debut with Color*Iz
On October 29, 2018, IZ*ONE released their first extended play, Color*Iz, effectively making their official debut in the Korean music industry. The EP features “La Vie En Rose” as the lead single along with six other tracks.
Simultaneous to their album release, the group also held a debut showcase, entitled “COLOR*IZ Show-Con” at the Olympic Hall in Seoul, South Korea. IZ*ONE made news when tickets to the showcase sold out within a minute of its release, a remarkable feat for a debuting girl group.
On the first day of the album’s release, the group sold over 34,000 units as reported by Hanteo Chart, breaking the record for the highest first week album sales by a South Korean girl group. The EP also debuted atop the Oricon Weekly Album Chart and Oricon Weekly Digital Album Chart in Japan, and at number 2 on the Gaon Album Chart. Color*Iz then peaked at number 9 on Billboard’s World Albums chart while “La Vie en Rose” peaked at number 6 on the World Digital Songs chart, making IZ*ONE the eighth Korean girl group to have their debut release appear on both charts. The song also peaked at number 1 on three major South Korean charts, Bugs, Mnet, and Soribada.
Duplicating the success of the album, IZ*ONE’s music video for “La Vie en Rose” registered more than 4.5 million views within the first 24 hours of its release on YouTube, making it the most-watched debut music video by a Korean group. Within four days of its release, the music video exceeded 10 million videos on YouTube.
On November 8, the group took home their first music program win for “La Vie en Rose” on M Countdown. This also marks the fastest music program win for a girl group, just 10 days after their official debut.
On December 6, Off the Record Entertainment announced that IZ*ONE has signed a recording contract with Universal Music Japan’s EMI Records and are set to make their official Japanese debut on February 6, 2019.
On December 15, members Sakura Miyawaki and Nako Yabuki will return to Japan for HKT48’s 8th anniversary concert. They will be participating as members of IZ*ONE to avoid controversy.
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