Monday, January 26, 2015

In Utero: The Hypnotic Power of Audition Shows

There are many ways to debut a group: some, apropos of nothing, will be thrust upon the unknowing public like a wet sponge in the hope that whilst their minds recover from the shock, they begin to bias them for lack of anything better to do. Others will have an HBO series-worth of teasers, so that we get very familiar with the face of every group member but know none of their names, making it like a lineup of prostitutes that you frequent. An increasingly popular trend is that of the audition show: now you too can see the process of what goes into selecting an idol group, that would be except for the fact that they are usually scripted and you can predict the winner from a fair distance away. The two key types of audition shows are as follows: the X-Factor-esque shows where simple schmoes like you can achieve their dreams of fame and fortune as quickly as possible, due to lack of idol training there is likely to be a propensity for vocal wankery. The other type is taking a group of trainees and violently executing those that fall behind the others. Being an expert in neither of these, I thought I would look at both to see what makes them so popular and if I should care. Let's bounce.

Let's talk about K-Pop Star, seeing as how the people who perform well on it go on to make their companies $$$. Also, there is a series of it happening right now so this is a topical article about important current affairs which will no doubt help you with your studies. I don't watch this show because I have genuine interests and am yet to hit rock bottom but I can tell, from a cursory glance at past contestants, that people will walk through 3 miles of coal to hear you cough should you end up doing well enough. That doesn't necessarily mean that this creates the highest quality output though: Season 1 saw Park Jimin and Lee Hi as winner and runner respectively, both have gone on to make wholly mediocre music with the only reason to pay attention to either of them is the fact that Jimin went on to be in a group with the significantly more attractive Yerin.

She is a month younger than me, it ain't creepy (even if it were, fuck you)

Even those that aren't the eventual winners get picked up by somebody; on K-Pop Star 1, 6 of the top 10 have Wikipedia pages which is a signifier that someone out there cares. I guess the most notable two would be Seunghoon who went on to join professional purveyors of the most tedious music, WINNER, and Lee Michelle who performed the fantastic Without You (okay so the video is better than the song, but even so, would have an inspirational epiphany to that song). Everyone in the top 10 went on to at least train under a decent label (except for the person who debuted under Bob Film Entertainment, your life is shit and will always be shit). The important thing is that the public also cared, Lee Hi in particular has seen a large amount of support for her own brand of bad soul music, even setting a record for the fastest music show win at the time or something. So do the public of Korea like vocal wankery whilst far superior songs still don't win shit? I would argue that it is the pre-debut process which makes people throw money at these talented, if insecure people.

Bernard Park's thoughts on a daily basis

Whilst I do wish to go through the other K-Pop Star seasons and shit talk them (except Akdong Musician because Akdong Musician are fucking great) it makes sense to illustrate my point with the other type of variety show in which about 37 idols punch each other in the face until 12 or so become victorious. BIGBANG did this a while ago when no-one gave a fuck and the loser debuted in B2ST so it was all okay in the end, VIXX also did this and one of the losers went on to debut in the superior group, Topp Dogg so there probably wasn't much incentive there. Undoubtedly, the most anyone cared about these pre-debut shows was YG's double salvo in 2014: 'WIN: Who Is Next?', and 'MIX & MATCH' which initially saw two teams competing against each other and then the losing team competing to stay in the losing team or something, I didn't watch it and pieced this together from all-caps ramblings on the darkest corner of the internet whilst trying to find sexy pictures of Gain (who coincidentally made her initial appearance on a debut show) and the eternal babe JYP.

I found the first

The second was not far behind

Anyway, the crowds that WINNER and the soon to debut iKON drew were pretty unreal, what with WINNER equalling Akdong Musician's new speed record for music show win speed and members of iKON being put on really good tracks. No doubt when YG gets off his throne of hats, to debut these guys, they will bring in the GDP per capita of Luxembourg in a single day and everyone in Korea will wear Bobby masks. God help us all. Part of what makes these groups so appealing is the combined factor of it feeling like a pre-debut variety show (which are always fun to draw in the crowds), but the threat of elimination gives the audience the impression that their bias could be completely removed from any semblance of relevance with the merest tilt of YG's fat guy hat. This means that those who would have cared anyway will care even more as they are not taking their bias' existence for granted at all. If a group is simply dropped upon us it can be a confusing matter but seeing all the blood, sweat, and toil that generically attractive person #1 put into debuting makes you come to appreciate their existence so much more. It makes you fap with so much more passion to Song Mino bragging about how much he looks like GD. I have insulted YG enough for now, let us move onto other matters to stretch this article out a bit.

Patience reader, your time will cum

Let's talk about KARA Project; I didn't watch it and didn't hear any news about it so I will cobble together a piece of writing based on other vague articles and how attractive I find the members. It was an interesting style of show because it was taking a much loved group and shoehorning in a new member because, let's face it, trios don't work in K-Pop (Tiny G were so much better with based Myung-Ji). Due to the nature of this, the new member was always going to receive large amounts of hate which this article expertly illustrates. This goes against my previous hypothesis (if there was one to be found) because it wasn't until Youngji began to be the best member of Roommate that people were accepting of her. I would say that Youngji is far from the most attractive and Somin is in fact the most worthy of attention (proof below) but I would be lying if I said Youngji's cute as fuck act hasn't worked on me. This has led me to believe that Youngji has become the KARA bias of everyone who didn't particularly care about KARA in the first place, but that is nothing to do with KARA Project because chances are, if you don't care about KARA, you probably didn't watch it. As far as I see it, airing KARA Project served only to get the KARA fans to kill each other whilst those that didn't care indifferently accepted Youngji, thus making the entire thing a huge waste of time.

I told you

But really, despite the fact that one of these styles celebrates vocal wankery and nothing else, and the other creates a civil war within the community, they undoubtedly bring in the moolah for whichever K-Pop company debuts them. At least, that is the thought behind it: if Bob Film Entertainment aired a trainee TV show, a grand total of 1 person in all of Korea would watch it. The success of YG's gruesome twosome has emboldened Starship to the extent that they are now running a similar show. I don't know how popular it is but I enjoy it a fair amount, even if the airtime they give each contestant is a clear sign of who will make the final cut. As for K-Pop Star, it will continue to bring huge profits to whichever company the winner randomly decides to debut under: Akdong Musician were the hottest shit since JYP invented trap music and Bernard Park might be doing pretty well for himself, I never bothered to check. 

Let's break up the text so I can post more relevant Somin

I haven't reached any conclusions through writing this, except maybe that audition shows = £££ but you didn't need me to tell you that. K-Pop Star and other shows of its style always baffled me because there is so much more focus on how much they can make their vocal cords tie themselves in knots, rather than dorm raids and swimsuit competitions (which happen all the time in the trainee style, promise). One thing is for sure though, shows of this style have the odd effect of blinding people to the quality (or lack thereof) of the music produced. Let's do a role-call to find the objective truth about the quality of the music that came about through audition shows.

Park Jimin: 15& sure make some mediocre music, she seems like a cool person from what I have seen but Yerin is the one that matters here.

Lee Hi: They go for that sassy soul thing with her, gets pretty boring after a while and her voice is hard to listen to for more than 20 seconds.

Baek Ayeon: There is a special place in hell reserved for whoever allowed this to happen

Akdong Musician: Fuck all y'all, Akdong Musician are fun as fuck. Their success is completely baffling though (until one has war flashbacks to remember Busker Busker)

Bang Yedam: Yet to debut, this kid is fucking 12 and really annoying. Let us hope he stops.

Andrew Choi: Also yet to debut, will definitely put out the musical equivalent of gruel

Bernard Park: A bad name for someone that makes bad music

BIGBANG: Did it before it was cool, I can get down to a few of their songs. Lalala is abhorrent in every sense of the word.

Bigstar: They have one good song, the rest should be used as torture.

VIXX: Why are people all about these guys? Am I missing something from this music? Their dancing is on another level, but this is horrible music.

WINNER: *snore*

The rest are yet to debut but idk. Bobby did some mediocre solo raps and a few guys from Starship were in a decent looking group called NUBOYZ. Of course, this quality shouldn't be surprising as the regular audition shows are interested in you being a good singer and nothing else, the trainee style is merely coincidence (and the quality of their output isn't too bad anyway, WINNER were shit which is my abiding memory). Regardless, people flock from far and wide to stan a new group if there has been ten weeks of build-up when you can see every member get beaten by the CEO and get their dicks out for the camera. That's just business and we will keep lapping up the vocal wankery and powerful elimination angst until the end of time.

Bonus: Read this because it talks about a different audition show and is really interesting despite the lack of butts present in the article.


  1. *eye twitches violently at the VIXX hate*

    1. Voodoo Doll is aight. They are cool guys as far as I can tell from their interactions with BtoB. Would rather stay away from the rest of their music tho.

    2. On and On and Hyde were some of the best boy group songs of 2013, and I don't like many boy groups.

    3. don't insult bixeu they have been on a streak of absolutely amazing songs since on and on came out

  2. When I saw the ultrasound I immediatley asumed this article was about Sulli

  3. These shows are amusing and do the job. I remember gd telling yrs ago that before he did that big bang one yg gave him a contract. There's a guy named teddie lee who is a former yg trainee. He's posted on kayo forum, now ent asia, and he was asked about vixxs mydol show he was on. He said he knew from the beginning that he wasn't making the group and he did it for the experience and to expose himself. So, with those two things in mind, and how yg bullshitted with winner/ikon these things are definitely planned in advanced. Im sure the people who read here on a regular basis know how calculated kpop is. I never saw the winner show but even I could see plain as day who yg favored with team b and I remember reading fans who watched talking about manipulated editing to make certain people look a certain way to manipulate how people voted. With ikon some fans didn't like one kid, bless his heart, and they spread such horrible lies about him including sexual assault if im remembering correctly. It was sad. So, these shows are effective. Even starship is having one and I heard rumors about a yg survival show about stylists. Definitely a new trend....but for how long? I guess if wgm can still be on.

  4. Shownu on whatever Starship's show is called is turning into my ultimate bias ruiner. Even though he's clearly the gimp in this, wow:

  5. Fuck you you just ruined the best Nirvana album for me

  6. I always wanted Youngji to win but I'm convinced DSP didn't take Somin as the second new member to join KARA as she would have outshined all the older original members to the extent of embarrassment.Somin would have taken over both main vocalist as well as main visual role in KARA.

    1. I definitely think it's true that they wouldn't have put a really good vocalist in the group. This was definitely planned before hand and a good way to promote the new group.

  7. what's really annoying me about winner right now is that 3/5 have a great sense of humour and they may have actual talent but all the yg is getting to them and i'm him is pretty much the worst thing that mino has made

    1. Nah I'm Him was one of the 3 best songs in the K-Pop canon to drop last year.