Winner, often stylized as WINNER, is a South Korean boy group formed in 2013 by YG Entertainment and debuted in 2014. It currently consists of four members, Jinwoo, Seunghoon, Mino and Seungyoon.Pre-debut
In 2010, the group's leader Kang Seung-yoon was a contestant on the singing contest Superstar K2, reaching the final four. The following year, he signed with YG Entertainment and made his acting debut in the sitcom High Kick: Revenge of the Short Legged. In 2013, he debuted as a solo artist and released multiple tracks, including "It Rains".
Lee Seung-hoon was also a former reality-show singing contestant, competing in K-Pop Star 1 in 2012. He came in fourth place and was recruited by Yang Hyun-suk. It was announced that Seung-hoon had signed under YG Entertainment on 16 May 2012. Song Min-ho began his musical career as an underground rapper under the name "Mino", collaborating with other underground rappers-turned-idols such as Block B's Zico, Kyung, and P.O and SPEED's Taewoon. Mino was initially meant to debut with Block B, but left the group before their debut for personal reasons. In 2011, he debuted under Y2Y Contents Company as part of the group BoM, which disbanded two years later. In 2013, he joined YG Entertainment through an audition, after being spotted from his acting appearance in the 2012 series The Strongest K-POP Survival broadcast on Channel A. Kim Jin-woo attended the Joy Dance Plug In Music Academy prior to joining YG, where he was seen by Big Bang's Seungri and brought to the agency. He became a trainee in 2010. Nam Tae-hyun was recruited to the agency in 2011 through an audition. He and Jinwoo performed as backup dancers at the 2011 YG Family Concert.
The five trainees competed as "Team A" on the reality television program WIN: Who Is Next, broadcast on Mnet, in order to debut as a group. During the final episode on 25 October 2013, it was announced that they had won the competition and would be debuting as "Winner", releasing two singles on 28 October and performing as the opening act for Big Bang's Japanese dome tour beginning on 15 November. On 9 November, the members of Winner appeared as backup dancers in Taeyang's music video for "Ringa Linga". From 13 December, Winner appeared in their own reality program, Winner TV, which had ten episodes aired on Mnet. In 2014, Seungyoon and Mino featured on a track for Yoon Jong-shin's March project. Between June and August of that year, the group members were re-introduced to the public in anticipation for their debut, through a series of teaser images and videos.
Winner's official debut showcase was held on 6 August, with their album 2014 S/S digitally released on 12 August and physically on 14 August. Their first music show appearance was on Inkigayo on 17 August, and they became the fastest male group to win on a music show by taking first place on M! Countdown during their debut stage. The group's official fan club name was announced to be 'Inner Circle'. Following the album's release, two music videos for their title tracks "Color Ring" and "Empty" were released on YouTube, and the album charted at number one on the Billboard World Albums Chart. On 30 August, a music video for Mino's solo track "I'm Him" was released, with cameo appearances from the members. On 10 September, the group commenced their Japanese promotions for their 2014 S/S: Japan Collection album and embarked on their first Japanese solo concert on 11 September. On 9 December 2014 Fuse announced their 13 Top Breakout Artists of 2014, with Winner coming in at #11 and being the only South Korean artists on the list. On 17 December Dazed Digital published their top 20 K-pop tracks of 2014 with Winner placing tenth with "Color Ring".
Winner won their first major award, a Bonsang award, for earning a place in the Top 10 Artists and Best New Artist categories at the 2014 MelOn Music Awards. They also won the Best New Artist awards at 2014 Mnet Asian Music Awards, SBS Awards Festival, Gaon Chart K-Pop Awards and Golden Disk Awards.
In 2015, the group went on hiatus while the members pursued solo endeavours. Taehyun appeared in several acting roles, including in MBC's web drama Midnight's Girl, SBS's Late Night Restaurant, and the joint Chinese-Korean production Under the Black Moonlight.
Seungyoon also returned to acting with the successful CJ E&M web drama We Broke Up, which garnered over 16 million views. Jinwoo appeared in the Chinese-Korean drama Magic Cellphone, while Mino competed on the fourth season of Mnet's rap contest Show Me the Money and finished as runner-up. A number of his digital releases from the programme were commercially successful, including "Fear" featuring Taeyang, which became the show's most downloaded single with over one million digital sales. In December, it was announced that the group would be returning from hiatus in 2016, with a comeback spread over five 'project releases'.
The group's first release in 2016 was a "warm-up" duet featuring Mino and Taehyun, titled "Pricked". Although the single was not promoted, it charted at #2 on MelOn and #1 on iTunes in nine countries including Singapore, Thailand, and Brunei. In the lead-up to the group's official comeback, a number of musical covers of their title tracks were released as promotional teasers, featuring artists including Lee Hi, Zion.T, Epik High, Taeyang and G-Dragon. The mini-album EXIT:E was released on 1 February, and served as Winner's return after an 18-month break since their debut. The group promoted the title tracks "Baby Baby" and "Sentimental" from the EP, the first of the proposed Exit Movement series. In April, Winner appeared on the JTBC variety show Half-Moon Friends, and in September, Mino debuted as part of the hip-hop duo MOBB alongside iKON's Bobby.
On 12 October, YG Entertainment announced that Taehyun would be taking a hiatus from the group, and that the rest of the Exit Movement series would be delayed indefinitely. On 25 November, Taehyun's departure from the group was announced. It was decided that Winner would continue as a four-member group, without any addition of new members. In November, Jinwoo was announced as the lead in the production of The Little Prince by the Korea National Contemporary Dance Company. He is the first K-pop idol to be part of contemporary dance production. Also, it was announced that Seungyoon and Jinwoo will be starring in the web drama Love for a Thousand More. The web drama is a joint production of CJ E&M, YG Entertainment and YGKPlus.
Throughout January the members started hinting at an upcoming comeback, later it was confirmed by their agency YG Entertainment that the group would be releasing new music on 4 April, with the single album Fate Number For.
In late-March, several promotional teasers were released, ultimately unveiling the double title tracks, "Really Really" and "Fool".
"Really Really" is an upbeat, energetic song, with lyrics by members Seungyoon (production alias YOON), Mino, and Seunghoon (production alias HOONY), and composition by members Seungyoon and Mino, with YG producer UK Jin Kang participating. "Fool" is a mellow, melody-focused song, with lyrics by member Seungyoon and composition by Seungyoon and YG produce AiRPLAY.
"Really Really" debuted at No. 3 on Billboard World Digital Song Sales, marking the group's best position to date; while "Fool" debuted at No. 4. As part of their promotions, Winner held a three-day "concept showroom" showcase, from 2 to 4 April at Club NB in Seoul's Mapo District, owned by YG founder/CEO Yang Hyun-suk.
On 24 July it was confirmed Winner will release a new album titled Our Twenty For. They came back with the new album on 4 August.
The two singles "Love Me Love Me" and "Island", was written and produced by Winner's members with the help of YG's producers Future Bounce and Bekuh BOOM.
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