Delivering riff-heavy anthems with a pop sensibility, Korean rock band FT Island (stylized as FTISLAND) skirted the mainstream K-pop standard of their contemporaries with their emotive 2007 debut Cheerful Sensibility, a collection of soaring ballads and arena-sized singalongs. Juggling releases in both their homeland and Japan, they released over a dozen efforts into the 2010s, including a trio of chart-topping albums: Five Treasure Box (2012), I Will (2015), and Where's the Truth? (2016).
Formed by FNC Entertainment (CNBlue, SF9), FT Island -- the "F.T." standing for "Five Treasure," referring to the group's original quintet -- was originally comprised of vocalist Lee Hong-gi, bassist Lee Jae-jin, rapper/guitarist Oh Won-bin, multi-instrumentalist Choi Jong-hoon, and drummer Choi Min-hwan. The five-piece released their first album, Cheerful Sensibility, in June of 2007; a re-release, The Refreshment, arrived that December and featured three new songs. As the band's presence spread to southeast Asia and Taiwan, they made moves into Japan with the introductory EP Prologue of F.T. Island: Soyogi. From there, they bounced back and forth between Korea and Japan, issuing 2008's Colorful Sensibility and its sequel Colorful Sensibility, Pt. 2 before unveiling Japanese-language debut So Long, Au Revoir and a third Korean full-length, Cross & Change, in 2009. That year -- in addition to the brief formation of sub-group FT Triple -- Won-bin parted ways with the group, replaced by rapper/guitarist Song Seung-hyun.
By 2011, their popularity finally reached critical mass on the charts, scoring the group their first of many consecutive chart-toppers with Japanese-language best-seller Five Treasure Island. Korea's Five Treasure Box was released the year after, their second best-selling LP to date. Taking a break from their home market, FT Island shifted efforts to Japan, issuing a Top 10 album per year with 2012's 20 (Twenty), 2013's Rated-FT, and 2014's New Page. By the time they made their official Korean comeback in 2015 with album number five, they had expanded their audience to Europe and the Americas. I Will debuted at number seven on the Billboard World albums chart while topping the Korean charts. While promoting that LP, they released Japanese set, 5.....Go. They adopted a similar strategy in the years that followed, releasing albums on both sides of the strait in 2016 (the hard-charting Where's the Truth? and N.W.U.) and 2017 (Over 10 Years and United Shadows). Another shift to Japan carried FT Island toward the close of the decade with 2018's Planet Bonds and 2019's Everlasting. In the same month that the latter effort was released, Choi Jong-hoon left the band, reducing them to four treasures. ~ Neil Z. Yeung
HOMETOWNSeoul, South Korea