Winner at the 2018 Golden Disk Awards (from left to right : Mino, Seunghoon, Jinwoo, Seungyoon)
|Origin||Seoul, South Korea|
Winner (Korean: 위너), stylized as WINNER, is a South Korean boy group formed in 2013 by YGE through reality survival program WIN: Who Is Next. The group currently consists of four members, Jinwoo, Seunghoon, Mino and Seungyoon. Originally a five-piece group, Taehyun, departed from the group in November 2016 due to health and well-being.
After several delays, the group officially debuted on August 17, 2014 with the release of studio album 2014 S/S ahead of official debut, claiming the number one spot on Gaon Album Chart and Billboard World Albums Chart upon release. The lead singles "Empty" and "Color Ring" instantly hit number one and three respectively on Gaon Digital Chart. The Korea Herald cited their success as "unprecedented" for a newly debuted group, thus claiming the title "Monster rookies". The same year on September 10, the group debuted in Japan. They won numerous awards for Best New Artist in 2014, including at the Mnet Asian Music Awards and the Melon Music Awards. Following the group's hiatus in 2015, Winner's first extended play Exit : E (2016) was also number one in South Korea, alongside lead singles "Sentimental" and "Baby Baby" both yielding spots within the Gaon top-six.
Following the group's reformation, Winner's first single album Fate Number For (2017) peaked at number two on Gaon while lead singles "Really Really" and "Fool" became another chart-topper after placing number one and six respectively in South Korea. "Really Really" went on to selling over 2.5 million digital copies on Gaon. The same year, Winner released their second single album, Our Twenty For. Their second studio album, Everyday (2018) subsequently placed number one on Gaon along with second extended play, We (2019). Lead singles Everyday (2018), Millions (2018) peaked at number two in South Korea.
2010–2013: Pre-debut and Win: Who Is Next?
In 2010, the group's leader Kang Seung-yoon was a contestant on Mnet's Superstar K2, finishing in fourth place. The following year, he signed with YGE and made his acting debut in the MBC sitcom High Kick: Revenge of the Short Legged. In 2013, he debuted as a solo artist and released multiple songs, including hit single "It Rains". In 2010, Kim Jin-woo was brought to the agency by Big Bang's Seungri through Joy Dance Plug In Music Academy. Nam Tae-hyun was recruited through audition in 2011. Lee Seung-hoon competed in SBS's K-pop Star in 2012, finishing in fourth place. Soon after, he signed under YGE the same year on May 16. Song Min-ho initially debuted under Y2Y Contents Company in the group BoM, which disbanded two years later. In 2013, he joined YGE through audition, after being noticed from his appearance in Channel A's The Strongest K-POP Survival.
On August 23, 2013 the five competed as "Team A" on Mnet survival program Win: Who Is Next against "Team B", consisting of trainees they also have trained with under the label. Throughout the span of 100 days, the show consisted of three rounds of performances and public voting. During the finale, on October 25 Team A was announced as the winners thus claiming the title "Winner" and commencing with preparation for debut. They performed as the opening act at labelmate senior Big Bang's Japanese dome tour beginning on November 15. From December 13, Winner broadcast their reality program, Winner TV, consisting of ten episodes on Mnet showcasing their debut preparation and lifestyle.
2014: Debut with 2014 S/S and Immediate success
On March 1 and 2, 2014 Winner performed as guests at labelmate senior 2NE1's All or Nothing tour in Seoul. Winner continued appearing as guest performers in other stops of 2NE1's second world tour, including Hong Kong on March 22, April 11 in China, April 26 and 27 in Taiwan, May 17 in Philippines and May 24 in Malaysia. In midst of touring with 2NE1, Winner joined the YG Family Power World Tour from April 12. Between June and August, the group members were re-introduced to the public after eight months in anticipation for their debut, through series of teaser images and videos. Ahead of debut, on August 6 Winner awed the public through the unique idea of holding a showcase in the form of a launch party with an audience of 400 attendees. The event held a fashion show with models from YGKPlus on the runway, ultimately finishing with the members themselves in their unique suits. South Korean media revealed such an event was uncommon and fresh. The show gave an insight to the classy image the group will bring through their debut with the digital release of studio album 2014 S/S on August 12 and physical on August 14.
After several delays, the group officially debuted on August 17 with lead singles "Empty" and "Color Ring", The same day, their first appearance was on SBS' Inkigayo and soon became the fastest group to win on a music show through M! Countdown. 2014 S/S charted at number one on Gaon as well as Billboard World Albums Chart, while lead singles "Empty" and "Color Ring" claimed first and third respectively on Gaon. Korea Herald cited the success of their lead single "Empty" as "unprecedented" for a newly debuted group, thus claiming the title "Monster rookies". Their commercial success earned them the 'Top 10 Artist' award on Melon Music Awards, followed multiple 'Best New Artist' awards on shows including Golden Disc Awards and Gaon Chart Music Awards. Winner also found success in China, soon earning the Best New Force Group award at the QQ Music Awards alongside the Most Popular Korean Group award on the Youku Tudou Young Choice 2014. On September 10, Winner released the Japanese version of their album, 2014 S/S: Japan Collection which peaked at No. 2 on the Oricon Weekly Album Chart, selling 35,079 copies in four days. They embarked on their first Japan tour the next day, later successfully concluding the tour in Tokyo on October 11, drawing 50,000 people in total. On December 9, Fuse announced their 13 Top Breakout Artists of 2014, with Winner at number 11, being the only South Korean artists on the list. Dazed Digital revealed their top 20 K-pop tracks of 2014 on December 17 with Winner's "Color Ring" placing tenth.
2015–2016: Hiatus, International recognition, and Nam's departure
Despite the group's successful debut, in 2015, Winner was put on hiatus while members of the group pursued solo endeavors while simultaneously embarking on their second Japan tour beginning in September, and finishing in October with over 36,000 attendees. In December, they were revealed to be returning in 2016 with five 'project releases', where the first was a "warm-up" duet featuring Mino and Nam, titled "Pricked". In the lead-up to the group's official comeback, a number of musical covers of their lead singles were released as promotional teasers, featured artists include Lee Hi, Dean, AKMU, Zion.T, Epik High, Taeyang and G-Dragon. Winner returned with EP Exit : E on February 1, 18 months since 2014 S/S.Exit : E debuted at Number 2 on Billboard's World Albums Chart and Number 1 on the Gaon Album chart. Lead singles "Baby Baby" and "Sentimental" topped all eight music streaming platforms in South Korea and achieved a real-time "all-kill", further proving their title as "digital monsters". Their lead single "Baby Baby" received profound attention in China, becoming the most streamed song within the first half of the year among Korean releases on QQ Music, the largest music platform in China. Winner held their first-ever concert tour nationwide starting on March 12 and 13 at Olympic Gymnasiums Arena in Seoul. The group also held additional stops in Gwangju, Daegu and Busan in April.
From April 23, Winner's variety show Half-Moon Friends aired on JTBC, which gained popularity both domestically and abroad, particularly garnering over 75 million views via Miaopai and surpassing 100 million views through other platforms in China. Their heightened success in China led them to winning the Overseas Popularity Award at the MTV Asia Music Gala. In June, the group brought their Exit Tour to Japan, drawing over 36,000 fans in Japan alone. On October 12, YGE announced Nam would be taking a break due to health problems, thus the rest of the Exit Movement series would be delayed indefinitely. On November 25, Nam's departure from the group was announced, soon deciding to continue as four.
2017–2018: Reformation, continued success and Everywhere World Tour
After 14 months of hiatus, on April 4, 2017 Winner made their anticipated return as four with single album Fate Number For and lead singles "Really Really" and "Fool". Notably, the music video for "Really Really" was filmed by director Dave Meyers. Domestically, "Really Really" achieved placing number one on Gaon, while also debuting at No. 3 on Billboard World Digital Song Sales, marking the group's best position to date. "Really Really" was also chosen to be on the Apple Music's "Best of the Week" list. "Really Really" went on to creating the record of surpassing 100 million streams, making Winner the first ever male idol group in history to achieve this while keeping their "Chart-In" status. As part of their promotions, Winner held a three-day "concept showroom" showcase, from April 2 to 4, located at Club NB in Seoul. On May 31, they released their debut Japanese single, containing Japanese renditions of "Really Really" and "Fool". On August 4, Winner made a comeback with the single album Our Twenty For including lead singles, "Love Me Love Me" and "Island". "Love Me Love Me" was chosen by Dazed Digital as one of the 20 best K-Pop songs of 2017. Through tvN's New Journey to the West 4, Mino's wish to appear on “Youth Over Flowers” with his fellow Winner members was granted as a special supplementary show. Filming for Winner's Youth Over Flowers took place in West Australia while airing began on November 7. On November 30, Kang and Mino released the soundtrack, "The Door” for tvN's Prison Playbook, where Kang starred in.
On February 7, 2018 Winner released their first Japanese studio album, "Our Twenty For", consisting new Japanese songs, "Raining" and "Have a Good Day". Soon after, the group embarked on their third Japan tour, "We'll Always Be Young". On April 4, Winner released their second studio album Everyday with lead single "Everyday" consisting of twelve songs including Korean versions of "Raining" and "Have a Good Day". The single became the group's first time experimenting with the genre, trap alongside reuniting with director Dave Meyers for the filming of the music video. On June 17, Winner successfully held their fan meeting, "WWIC 2018", 3 years since their last private stage in 2015. A total of 6,000 tickets were sold out. On July 4, Winner announced their first world tour, Everywhere, starting in Seoul on August 19, followed seven stops throughout Asia. The tour resumed in January 2019 with an encore tour in Seoul.  The same month, Winner branched their Everywhere tour to North America tour beginning with Seattle, followed six other cities including Los Angeles, Dallas, and Toronto. On November 26, Mino made his solo debut with studio album XX and lead single "Fiancé". The lead single also topped Gaon's Digital and Streaming charts for the month of December. On December 19, Winner returned with single album Millions with lead single of the same name. Millions soon claimed the number two spot on Gaon.
2019–present: Comeback with EPs We and Cross and Cross Asia Tour
On May 15, 2019 Winner released their second EP We, alongside lead single "Ah Yeah". The single received positive reviews among the public for its cool lyrics that sublimates the realistic emotions of a cold-hearted breakup thus ultimately creating a cheerful breakup song. Ultimately, "Ah Yeah" peaked at number two on Gaon while EP We claimed number one, selling over 129,000 physical copies. Winner performed their first broadcast stage for "Ah Yeah" on May 18 at MBC's Show! Music Core. On June 29, the group successfully held their private stage, WWIC 2019. The show was held twice within the same day at Jang Chung Gymnasium, Seoul. On July 3, Winner commenced on their 2019 concert tour in Japan starting with their concert at Nakano Sun Plaza in Tokyo while ending on September 16 at Marine Messe in Fukuoka. The tour garnered a total audience of 50,000 attendees in eight cities. On August 14, Kim Jin-woo became the third member of Winner to release solo material after Kang Seung-yoon and Mino. Kim made his solo debut with single album Jinu's Heyday and lead single "Call Anytime" (또또또) featuring bandmate Mino. The single album charted number two on Gaon Chart selling over 50,000 physical copies within the first week. Kim performed his first stage on August 17, also marking Winner's debut anniversary on MBC's Show! Music Core alongside bandmate Mino.
Winner released their third EP Cross with lead single "Soso" on October 23 ahead of Cross Tour. The music video for the lead single was well acclaimed and praised for its artistry and symbolism. Billboard stated: "The rawness of human emotion is relayed through intense scenes acted out by the group's members. Feelings of being stomped on and tied up by emotions and those around you are acted out, as is the idea of baring it all, a rarity in the K-pop world, while emotions such as lethargy, anger and melancholy are expressed through a variety of moments splintered across the screen". Through this comeback, Winner once again pushed out of the boundaries of "K-pop" and done what is considered an "anomaly" within the industry, something also previously done by labelmate 2NE1 through single "Missing You". With their Asian tour beginning in Seoul on October 26, the tour visited nine cities throughout Asia continuing onto February 2020. Later, it was revealed their stop in Singapore was cancelled due to the recent coronavirus outbreak throughout the world, soon also followed the cancellation of their Seoul encore concert.
Musicality and songwriting
Through multiple releases, Winner acquired the term 'Trust and Listen' among the general public of South Korea. The term originated as the public recognized the group's potential in creating high quality music accordingly for the mass audience, and so just by the mention of the group's name, they will willingly listen to the songs with no complaint. Winner is often known for their musical versatility with their releases. Ranging from ballad, blues, alternative rock, hip hop, dance, disco and more, no restriction in genre is found. Apple Music cited them as "Versatile K-Pop chameleons" among the music scenes. Among releases, all members participate in production, composition and songwriting for all songs during album production from start to finish since debut. Overall, Kang Seung-yoon overlooks all production and is often cited as the main producer of the group. Their self-produced songs mainly encapsulates the themes of love, hope, consolation, and relateable everyday life stories.
Winner has contributed to choreographing majority of their songs, particularly member Lee Seung-hoon. For Winner, he has choreographed their debut lead singles "Empty" and "Color Ring" from 2014 S/S and "Fool" from Fate Number For, which he created and finalized within 5 hours. Winner went on to gaining recognition for their lyrically displayed choreography to portray the messages of their songs. The group also broadened their scope by working with choreographers of different ethnic backgrounds, including African-american choreographer Oththan Burnside for lead single "Really Really" from Fate Number For as well as lead single "Everyday" alongside world renowned dance crew, Kinjaz from studio album of the same name.
Impact and Influence
Through interviews and social media platforms, members Tag and Hong Joo-chan of boy group Golden Child cited Winner as role models they look up to and is often influenced by them on multiple occasions throughout their career. For instance, Tag also once revealed he especially admired and respected Winner member Lee Seung-hoon since his K-pop Star days. A.C.E member Dong-hun stated Winner as an influence towards music, particularly the way Winner portrays their emotions and lyrics within a song, thus overall liking their style and wishes to express music in a similar manner. Former JBJ member Jin Longguo mentioned Winner as his role model while explaining within the music industry, some attract attention for their outer appearance in comparison to their musicality, further adding that Winner is a group that he believes has a good balance of both thus wishes to also follow these traits. In September 2019, newly debuted boy group Signal explicitly revealed through a press conference that Winner are their role models. They further elaborated that by listening to their music, they became heavily influenced by them.
Prior to debut, on January 17, 2014 Winner signed an exclusive endorsement contract with South Korean trendy casual clothing brand, 'NII' for the span of two years. The brand’s insider revealed: “We selected Winner because Winner is a group who has big potential. We expect that they will create a new and fresh image for the NII brand”. The same year Winner went on to becoming CF models for multiple brands, inclusing Coca-Cola brand 'Fanta', Pizza Etang, Elite Uniform and Adidas.
In August 2017, Winner became exclusive models for Italian sport brand, 'Ellesse'. With Winner as its endorser, 'Ellesse' sold 14 billion won in 2017 alongside the year end sales increasing by 160% in comparison to the previous years. An Ellesse representative also revealed through Winner as the face of the brand, a boost in customers from a younger generation significantly increased. In October 2017, Winner also joined clothing brand, '8Seconds' for their Good Luck Padding Campaign. Following Winner's first pictorial with the brand, their padded coats increased in sales by selling over 6,000 within two weeks. Due to popularity, the padded coats were often referred to as "Winner Padding".
On April 18, 2018, the Korean Culture and Information Service (KOCIS), part of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism announced Winner as its official campaign model for the global 'Talk Talk Korea 2018' contest. The contest gathered the most participants ever since its launch in 2014. On May 12, Winner joined Kiehl's on its third campaign held to protect nature inside cities with the #MyLittleGarden project. Winner sent out the message to recycle empty cosmetic bottles as flower pots to create their own garden and connect with nature in their daily lives. They also participated in label designing. On July 26, 'Cafe Droptop' announced Winner became the new face of the cafe franchise, revealing they believed the members suit well with the young image the brand desires. The franchise further collaborated with Winner in creating merchandise, which later instantly sold out. In October, Winner became the new endorsers for snack brand 'Oreo' in Korea. Alongside filming a 30-second CF, Winner also recorded a Korean version of the CF's song. In February 2019, due to popularity and demand, the advertisement with Winner additionally aired in eight more countries, including Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and Taiwan.
In June 2019, Winner became the official endorsement models for De Medicotem (DMT) Mask Packs. DMT further announced with Winner, the brand will earnestly expand into the Asian market, including the existing Chinese market. DMT went on to finding success as sales for the "Seven Hydro Zenith Mask" pack rose with Winner as the brand's image. Ahead of time, the brand held a collaboration with Winner during their private stage, WWIC 2019.
On December 17, 2014 Winner took part in the Creating a Better World With Stars charity event, where they personally donated goods and attended a talk session. All the proceeds were donated to Good Neighbors, a humanitarian organization that helps single mothers and welfare of children.
On January 29, 2016 through the joint collaboration between clothing brand NII and photo studio "Thank You Studio", Winner participated in the animal campaign, Happiness by raising awareness through publications and photoshoots. Ultimately, all the proceeds from the campaign was donated to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Winner further showed their love for animals by donating their merchandise and products to the SAC Pet Festival bazaar held on May 27, 2018 alongside fellow groups Got7, Red Velvet and more. The items were then auctioned and donated to charity.
On January 18, 2020 through labelmate senior Big Bang Taeyang's charity flea market and auction, Flower Response (花答), Winner participated by contributing personal items with a combined total of over 700 items alongside Sandara Park, CL, AKMU, iKon and Ione, while Taeyang alone donated over 1,300 personal items. All proceeds were donated to Love Snail Charity, a social welfare organization dedicated to help provide cochlear implants and hearing aids to those in need.
- Korea Brand & Entertainment EXPO by KOTRA (2016 / 2019)
- Korean Culture and Information Service (KOCIS) (2018)
- Paradise City Brand / PR Ambassador (2018)
- WIN: Who Is Next (2013, Mnet)
- Winner TV (2013–14, Mnet)
- Half-Moon Friends (2016, JTBC)
- Youth Over Flowers (2017, tvN)
- YG Future Strategy Office (2018, Netflix)[a]
- Winner Vacation - Hoony Tour (2019, Olleh TV)
- W-Log (2019, YouTube / Vlive)
Concerts and Tours
Opening act / Guest performer
Awards and nominations
- Cameo in Episode 02
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- ""MINO's Solo Power".. Topes 6 Music Charts + iTunes Charts in 16 Countries".
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- "위너 측, 10월 컴백설에 "새 앨범 준비중, 일정 확인되면 발표"(공식)". Newsen (in Korean). October 4, 2019.
- "Winner are 'Soso' in Raw Video: Watch". Billboard. October 23, 2019.
- "YG "위너·악동뮤지션 콘서트 취소…신종 코로나 확산 여파"(전문)". MBN (in Korean). February 3, 2020.
- "'신종 코로나 여파' 위너 서울·악뮤 성남 콘서트 취소 "전액 환불" (공식)". YTN (in Korean). February 7, 2020.
- "'1년간 공들인' 위너 데뷔 앨범…자작곡-다양성 꽉 채웠다". tvreport (in Korean). August 6, 2014.
- "'YG' 양현석, 위너 타이틀곡 '릴리릴리' 깜짝 공개". Sports Dongha (in Korean). March 31, 2017.
- "[뮤직와치]YG 미운오리새끼→백조, 4년차 위너의 뭉클한 성장". Newsen (in Korean). August 4, 2017.
- "위너, 14일 '음악중심'서 'AIR' 신곡 무대 최초 공개 [공식입장]". Sports Donga (in Korean). April 13, 2018.
- "'믿듣' 위너, 새 앨범 'CROSS' 커밍순..5개월만의 컴백[공식]". Osen (in Korean). October 7, 2019.
- "Apple Music - Winner EVERYD4Y". Apple. April 4, 2018.
- "위너, 정규 앨범으로 데뷔…전곡 자작곡-더블 타이틀곡". Tvreport (in Korean). August 6, 2014.
- "A conversation with WINNER, the superstar boy band making K-pop history". Dazed Digital. April 20, 2018.
- "위너 "음악의 본질은 누구를 이기는 것이 아니라 치유하는 것" (인터뷰)". Tenasia (in Korean). August 27, 2014.
- "[현장리포트] 위너(WINNER) 이승훈, "'FOOL' 안무 5시간만에 완성했다"". Topstarnews (in Korean). April 4, 2017.
- ""데뷔이래 최초 칼군무"… 위너, 컴백무대 기대". Sports Dongha (in Korean). April 6, 2017.
- "[공식입장] 위너, 8일 '인기가요'서 '에브리데이' 최초 공개…본격 컴백활동". Osen (in Korean). April 6, 2018.
- "골든차일드로써 처음 맞이하는 영택이 생일". Vlive (in Korean). April 13, 2018.
- "[인터뷰] A.C.E(에이스) "핫팬츠? 퍼포먼스하기에 최적화된 의상"". BntNews (in Korean). August 2, 2017.
- "[bnt화보] 김용국 "크러쉬-위너가 ���모델, 아티스트적 면모 닮고 싶어"". BntNews (in Korean). June 16, 2018.
- "그룹 시그널 "우리의 롤모델은 위너"". Joondo (in Korean). September 16, 2019.
- "YG's New Boy Group WINNER Was Chosen as Clothing Brand Endorser before Official Debut".
- "WINNER's CF Shooting Disclosed… Who Has the Best Expression?". 2014-01-17.
- "68세 '헤드'·59세 '엘레쎄' 제2의 전성기…휠라 맹추격". news.naver.com (in Korean). Retrieved 2018-12-28.
- "레트로 붐~ 「엘레쎄」 매출 신장 무드 탔다". Fashionbiz (in Korean). November 6, 2017.
- "2017 올 겨울 패딩이 찾아온다! 에잇세컨즈 X위너의 굿럭패딩". m.post.naver.com (in Korean). Retrieved 2018-12-28.
- "에잇세컨즈, 그룹 위너와 '굿럭데이' 행사 개최". Newsis (in Korean). December 11, 2017.
- Service (KOCIS), Korean Culture and Information. "Pop group Winner chosen as model for Talk Talk Korea 2018 : Korea.net : The official website of the Republic of Korea". www.korea.net. Retrieved 2018-12-27.
- Service (KOCIS), Korean Culture and Information. "Talk Talk Korea 2018 tops last year's numbers : Korea.net : The official website of the Republic of Korea". www.korea.net. Retrieved 2018-12-27.
- "WINNER X Kiehl's Will Hold Nature + The City 'Let's Protect Our Nature'".
- "WINNER becomes the face of 'Cafe Droptop'". allkpop. Retrieved 2018-12-28.
- "WINNER enjoy OREO cookies with a rap song in new CF". allkpop. Retrieved 2018-12-28.
- "동서식품, 위너와 함께한 오레오…해외 8개국에 온에어". naver (in Korean). Retrieved 2019-05-05.
- ""위너 손잡고 아시아 정복" 더 메디코템 아시아 시장 잡는다". Sports Khan (in Korean). July 4, 2019.
- "더 메디코템, '위너 프라이빗 스테이지(WWIC 2019)' 티켓 이벤트". Sports Khan (in Korean). June 25, 2019.
- "[포토]'스타와 함께 만드는 더 나은 세상' 갖고 싶다 스타의 애장품!". Asiae (in Korean). December 12, 2019.
- "WINNER Shows Off Their Love of Animals with Clothing Brand "NII"". January 30, 2016.
- "SAC 펫 페스티벌, 100여명의 스타 애장품 연예인 바자회 진행". News1 (in Korean). May 21, 2019.
- "빅뱅 태양, 플리마켓 성료…700여 명 팬 기부 동참". YTN (in Korean). January 20, 2020.
- "Red Velvet, Winner, Ha Ji-won named KOTRA ambassadors". Kpop Herald. April 19, 2016.
- "위너, '방콕한류박람회' 홍보대사 위촉.."K팝아티스트로 책임감 가지고 활동할 것" [종합]". Osen (in Korean). April 26, 2019.
- "위너 인터뷰 - 파라다이스 공식블로그". Paradise (in Korean). September 5, 2018.
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