Over the course of Girls Planet 999, contestants An Jeongmin and Kim Chaehyun will battle it out for a chance to debut in Mnet‘s newest girl group. However, this isn’t the first shot at stardom. Before joining the survival show’s lineup, they were once trainees at SM Entertainment—the company that recently debuted aespa. Now, the pair have wowed judges on Girls Planet 999 with their very own cover of aespa’s “Black Mamba.”
17-year-old An Jeongmin is currently a trainee under TOP Media (the company behind UP10TION and MCND). But from 2017 to 2019, she trained under SM Entertainment.
Fellow Girls Planet 999 trainee Kim Chaehyun had a similar pathway, training under SM Entertainment before joining the show’s lineup.
Together, the pair trained alongside Karina, Winter, and Ningning—all of whom went on to debut in aespa back in November last year.
While Jeongmin left SM Entertainment around a year before aespa’s debut, Chaehyun was actually one of the most popular rumored members of the company’s new girl group before their official lineup was announced. If things had gone differently, these two trainees could have had a chance of debuting in aespa themselves.
And that’s why viewers were shocked when they saw the song Chaehyun and Jeongmin performed during the premiere episode of Girls Planet 999: aespa’s debut single, “Black Mamba.” Alongside fellow contestant Lee Yunji, a 19-year-old trainee under Cube Entertainment, Chaehyun and Jeongmin formed the performance unit Cuties for the show’s first episode. Together, the trio had their fellow contestants, the show’s judges, and viewers in shock when they aced their first stage.
Popular Japanese contestants Ezaki Hikaru and Sakamoto Mashiro were both stunned when the performance ended, labeling the trio “so cool” and marveling at their singing skills. However, it was the judges’ comments that really showed how impressive Jeongmin, Chaehyun, and Yunji’s skills were.
Jang Ju Hee, the show’s “Dance Master” judge and a former choreographer for SM Entertainment herself, was in awe of the girls’ charms. “I got goosebumps while watching,” she told them, explaining, “It’s true being talented counts when singing and dancing, but it’s hard to find someone charming.”
Jang Ju Hee went on to say that Jeongmin, Chaehyun, and Yunji had strong auras and did very well in their performance. Next up, “Vocal Master” Jo Ah Young revealed how impressed she was with Jeongmin in particular. “I really liked An Jeongmin’s voice,” she told her, adding, “I love the vibrato when you sing your final notes.”
And even former SM Entertainment artist Girls’ Generation‘s Tiffany Young (one of the show’s “K-Pop Masters”) thought the performance was great. She focused her feedback on Kim Chaehyun, telling her, “The beginning was excellent, and your voice is charming.”
Unfortunately, Tiffany went on to note that Chaehyun lost her concentration on stage after making a slight mistake with the key of one of the notes. As such, she failed to make it to the pool of Girls’ Planet 999‘s “TOP 9” candidates this week. Jeongmin, however, was promoted to candidate status thanks to her impressive skills.
While there’s no doubt that aespa has a great lineup with no lacking skills, these former SM Entertainment trainees definitely have what it takes to succeed too.