SB19, the rising Filipino boy band combining K-pop and Pinoy pop

·2-min read
Filipino boy band SB19. Left to right: Stell, Pablo, Justin, Ken, Josh. (Photo: Facebook/SB19Official)
Filipino boy band SB19. Left to right: Stell, Pablo, Justin, Ken, Josh. (Photo: Facebook/SB19Official)

SB19 is a five-member Filipino boy band who debuted in 2018, consisting of Pablo, Stell, Josh, Ken and Justin. Although it looks like SB19 is inspired by K-pop, they have more to offer than what meets the eye.

SB19 were the first Filipino and Southeast Asian artists nominated for the Top Social Artist in the 2021 Billboard Music Awards, alongside BTS, Blackpink, Seventeen and Ariana Grande.

Interestingly, the name SB19 actually derives from the initials of their Korean management company ShowBT, and the difference in country codes of South Korea (82) and the Philippines (63). Another way to look at it is when you add the digits 8, 2, 6 and 3 together, you will get 19 as well.

Pablo also said in an interview with K Street Manila that SB also means “Sound Break,” citing the reason: “As a group, our main goal is to break into the music scene and to raise the bar for all the boy groups here in the Philippines.”

Like most boy bands, each member of SB19 has their own roles to play: Pablo is the leader and the main rapper; Stell is the main vocalist and lead dancer; Josh is the lead rapper and sub-vocalist; Ken is the main dancer and lead vocalist; and Justin is the sub-vocalist.

Despite being trained for three years by ShowBT Philippines, the Philippine subsidiary of the ShowBT Group in South Korea, SB19 is not simply “another K-pop boy band”. Their music focuses more on Pinoy pop or P-pop, with lyrics largely in Filipino and a bit of English.

Given that Filipinos can speak English, ShowBT Philippines’ founder Robin Geong said in an interview with Forbes, “The advantage of them being fluent in English opened an opportunity and possibility for overcoming K-pop’s weaknesses.”

True enough, SB19 seems like the next rising star with at least 1.62 million subscribers on their YouTube channel. Their most-watched music video is the upbeat What? released this March, with more than 11 million views, followed by the cheerier Alab (Burning) with more than 10 million views.

With SB19 making a mark on the global stage, perhaps in time to come, we will see more Southeast Asian talents attempting to do the same.