The 'Shroom:Issue 150/Welcome to My Dream World
Wouldn’t you like to have seven little nightmares in your everyday life? If you answered no, then you probably don’t have a clue what the context for that question is. For those that answered yes (and if you did, why haven’t we talked before?), you likely know that I am referencing K-pop girl group Dreamcatcher. This seven-member group made their devilish debut in early 2017 with a concept like no other: Nightmare. Not only are they unique in concept, but their style of music is almost nothing like what 90% of K-pop groups are putting out today. For those two reasons alone, they’ve managed to stand out from the crowd, and are garnering quite the fanbase. My job today is to tell you how they got there, all the way from step one.
Before Dreamcatcher was unleashed unto the world, they were previously known as MINX. This incarnation of the group only had five members: JiU, SuA, Siyeon, Yooyeon, and Dami. Their sound was a lot more mainstream than Dreamcatcher’s, sounding like something a number of other girl groups in K-pop could have put out. MINX made their debut on September 18, 2014, with the song Why Did You Come to My Home? Unfortunately, I was unable to find sales numbers for the single, but judging by the fact that the song’s MV has less than 1 million views as of writing, we can safely assume that it was not much of a hit. In December of that same year, they released a cover of Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree alongside labelmates Dal Shabet. After their holiday single, there was nothing but silence from MINX for the next six months, not unusual for a lot of K-pop groups.
On July 2, 2015, MINX made a comeback with the release of their mini album, Love Shake. The titular track was a cover of a song from Dal Shabet’s Bang Bang album. The MV especially shows that the song continues in the same vein musically as Why Did You Come to My Home? - bubble, poppy, and energetic. Love Shake did better on the charts than Why Did You Come to My Home?, but once again, it was not much of a hit, selling less than 2,000 copies. Though considering I could actually find sales numbers for this release, I don’t think I want to imagine how poorly Why Did You Come to My Home? sold. Regardless, this would be the last anyone heard from the group known as MINX for well over a year.
In late November 2016, MINX once again made a return, but with an announcement instead of a release. They would be debuting once again with two new members under a different name and a complete 180 in their concept. Happy Face Entertainment, MINX’s managing company, stated “They will succeed with concepts and music styles that you cannot imagine within the existing MINX.” Shortly after this announcement, HFE began revealing teaser images of the members one at a time, as well as setting up social media accounts for the reborn group. They also released a short video teasing the group’s new concept. Soon enough, the group known as MINX would be no more, and Dreamcatcher would take over.
On January 13, 2017, Dreamcatcher made their debut. Consisting of the same five girls from MINX, alongside new members Handong and Gahyeon, they released the single Nightmare. This single contained the title track, Chase Me. Just by taking one glimpse at the MV, you can clearly tell that Dreamcatcher is in an entirely different realm than MINX, not just in concept, but in music style, as well. The shift from bubbly pop to dark and powerful rock is an extreme one, but the girls pulled it off well. Chase Me’s MV also shows a clear story, with a man attempting to investigate what we assume to be some haunted hotel, with the girls playing nightmares that haunt him and hinder his efforts. Sales already proved to be much better than MINX, selling nearly double the copies compared to Love Shake. Hot off the heels of their newfound success, the girls of Dreamcatcher would return much sooner than anticipated.
Dreamcatcher’s Twitter account sent out a mysterious image on March 16, 2017, just over two months after the group’s debut. The image only came with a caption, 0405 1800, and many fans speculated if Dreamcatcher would be making a comeback. Sure enough, that would be the case. Just as promised, on April 5th of that year, Dreamcatcher released the single Nightmare · Fall Asleep In the Mirror, featuring title track GOOD NIGHT. GOOD NIGHT’s MV continued the story found in Chase Me, while also adding in a few new story elements. The group was once again met with success, selling over double what they did of Nightmare for Fall Asleep In the Mirror. Three months after this release, the group’s Twitter released a teaser schedule for their next comeback, a mini album, to be released July 27th. Titled Prequel, this would be the first of four (at the time of writing) mini albums to be released by the group. Prequel featured title track Fly high, the MV of which featured a number of nightmarish and otherwise creepy events happening after one of the girls traps a spider in a jar. This, for the most part, broke away from the story established in both Chase Me and GOOD NIGHT. Prequel gave both the group and their fans a reason to celebrate, as it was their first release that sold over 10,000 copies. Not long after Prequel’s release, Happy Face Entertainment announced Dreamcatcher would begin their first world tour in September, titled Fly High, after the title track from Prequel. Their first stop would be Japan, then moving to Brazil and Europe, before finally wrapping up back in Korea. Because of this, however, aside from a copious amount of covers and other special clips released on HFE’s YouTube channel, Prequel would be the last release fans would get from Dreamcatcher for a while.
On January 12, 2018, Dreamcatcher release a surprise single. Titled Full Moon, it was released in celebration of one year since the group’s debut. At the end of the PV for the song, there was an image that only read “Comeback in March.” Unfortunately, this turned out to be too good to be true, as Happy Face Entertainment announced on March 25th of that year that they would be delaying their return to May. HFE stated, “We would first like to apologize that we were unable to keep our promise with DreamCatcher’s fans. We came to this decision because we wanted to better the quality of the album rather than rush to release new music and possibly disappoint fans.” True to the company’s word, the mini album Nightmare · Escape the ERA was released on May 10, 2018. Escape the ERA featured title track YOU AND I, and the song’s MV focused very heavily on Yoohyeon, as well as made some callbacks to Fly high’s MV. The fans must’ve really been waiting eagerly for this mini album to come out, as sales clocked in at around 25,000, well over double of what Prequel sold. In addition, on May 18, HFE announced Dreamcatcher’s second world tour, titled Welcome to the Dream World, would begin in Latin America that summer, with a show in Taiwan being announced the 23rd. It was also announced on July 9th that the group would be making an appearance at KCON 2018 LA, marking their first performance in the US. Dreamcatcher was gaining momentum, fast. If it wasn’t already, their international presence would soon enough be made a bit more known.
Dreamcatcher released their third mini album, Alone in the City, on September 20, 2018. The featured track was What, with the MV taking place within a city, fitting with the title of the album. Once again, sales increased compared to the group’s last release, hitting about 28,000 copies sold. Some time after this release, it was announced that Dreamcatcher would be making a debut in Japan, with a Japanese version of What serving as the lead song of their first single. It would be released on November 21 of the same year. Sales for the single were not as good as sales for most of their Korean releases, but it still managed to pull in just over 8,000 copies.
On January 8th, 2019, Dreamcatcher announced they would be releasing another special single in time for their second anniversary, titled Over the Sky. Unlike Full Moon, there was no PV released beforehand, with a special clip for the song instead coming out in May. One could only suspect that the special clip wasn’t released sooner because the group was already well underway with preparing for their next comeback. On February 13, 2019, Dreamcatcher released their fourth mini album, The End of Nightmare. As you may have guessed from the title, this release marked the end of Dreamcatcher’s nightmare concept. PIRI was featured as the title track, with the story of the MV playing out much like a nightmare might. Once again, sales increased, this time hitting the milestone of over 30,000 copies sold. Much like with What, a Japanese version of PIRI was announced to be released as a single on March 13th, under the title PIRI ~Fue wo Fuke~. Sales weren’t as good as the Japanese version of What, but it still managed to pull in over 6,000 copies sold. With the nightmare concept at its end, the group and their fans have been able to look back on the moments that have happened since the nightmare began over two years ago, and continue forward into a new era while embracing all of it.
Currently, Dreamcatcher is on their third world tour. Titled Invitation From Nightmare City, dates were first announced on January 24, 2019 for concerts in Southeast Asia, with dates later being added in Australia and Malaysia. Most recently, the group announced dates for this tour in Europe, though sadly, Handong will have to miss those dates. Aside from their tour, the group continues to release covers and special clips, and recently, Siyeon made an appearance on King of Masked Singer. A full Japanese album, The Beginning of the End is scheduled to release on September 11th, and a Korean comeback, a special mini album titled Raid of Dream, is set to be released a week later (at the time of writing, neither has released).
I will be the first to admit that K-pop is not for everyone. From how notoriously dark and extreme the industry can get, to how rabid some of the fans can be, to simply not enjoying the music, people can understandably be turned off from the genre as a whole. However, Dreamcatcher has proven that their music can appeal to all kinds of people, given how large their international fanbase is. Many fans have stated that Dreamcatcher’s music reminds them of anime openings (including my friend that introduced me to the group in the first place), which is what got them to listen to it in the first place. Even people who don’t really like K-pop as a whole (such as one of my other friends) really enjoy the metal/rock sound in their music, as well as their unique concept. Regardless of any biases or premonitions one might have, this group is absolutely worth at least one listen. They’ve worked extremely hard to get to where they are today, and they really don’t get enough recognition for it. Their progress alone is something to be proud of about them.