On September 4, HYBE Labels Japan announced the final lineup of the group to debut through its reality show &AUDITION – The Howling.
In January 2021, Big Hit Japan announced that it would start the Big Hit Japan Global Debut Project to find artists for their upcoming Japanese group debut and which will also focus internationally. Former I-LAND finalists K, Nicholas, EJ, and Taki were scheduled to participate as confirmed group members, joined by additional trainees chosen through the &AUDITION audition program.
On March 19, Big Hit Entertainment changed its name to Hybe Corporation and underwent a reorganization, with HYBE Labels Japan taking on a new role in the program and its group debut. The four confirmed group members each had their own official Twitter account that day, which went by the handle &AUDITION Boys. K and EJ appeared in the music video for Enhypen’s song Drunk-Dazed on April 26, 2021.
HYBE Labels Japan announced on November 4 that the &AUDITION program would premiere in 2022.
HYBE Labels Japan announced the launch of the YouTube channel &AUDITION Boys on January 18, 2022, and several videos and vlogs were released. On March 9, it was confirmed that the show would be called &AUDITION – The Howling and that it would premiere as the first stage of the Global Debut Project in July 2022. The unveiling of the official website, social media, and information regarding the broadcast date occurred on May 30. Themed profile pictures of the 15 trainees who were participating were unveiled on June 4. On June 28, 2022, the theme song for the show and the accompanying music video, The Final Countdown, was released.
The show, in total, had 5 rounds, including the finale. The first round involved the participants performing the theme song, The Final Countdown. The round was about judging the participants’ teamwork. The second round involved the already confirmed members becoming the leaders of four different groups, set to perform four different concepts. In the following round, the trainees were divided into three teams and assigned to perform songs by SEVENTEEN. The mission’s main goal was creativity. They had to come up with choreography, do a good job of interpreting the songs, and recreate them in their own unique way. Additionally, trainees contributed ideas for their stage attire. The fourth round involved the trainees being split into two teams, each of which must perform two BTS songs, one of which has been altered from its original version. This time, there were two evaluations, one focused on the vocals and the other just on the performance.
The finale, called FINAL ROUND, aired on September 4, and the group name and final nine members set to debut in the group were revealed. The group is named &TEAM, consisting of K, Fuma, Nicholas, EJ, Yuma, Jo, Harua, Taki, and Maki.
The name, &TEAM, reportedly has personally been assigned by Bang Si Hyuk. It refers to “a team that connects with fans around the world through music and stage.”
Bang Si Hyuk said, “&TEAM will grow into a group that can impress viewers and global fans through various types of music and stages.” He also added, “We will support them for a successful debut and continued growth.”
&TEAM is set to debut on December 7, 2022.
Stay tuned for more updates on &TEAM.