I’m back again to talk about music. In my very first Playlist post, I mentioned that it has been hard for me to get into Kpop. Well, with the exception of Got7, that still stands pretty true lol. But! I am happy to report that I have found a few others that appeal to my musical taste.
Since I now live in Korea, naturally I am exposed to tons of Korean music. The kids at my school blast it from the computers in the classrooms and sing at the top of their lungs throughout the hallways. There are many music stations on the TV here in Korea and even my small, rural grocery store will have a new kpop artist serenading the shoppers through the store speakers.
To sum it up, Korea is a very musical country. It’s everywhere! Literally.
So anyway, to sorta kinda change the subject, I am a sucker for song and dance reality competition shows. I grew up watching countless seasons of American Idol (I count it as part of my childhood); I loved watching So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With the Stars; A couple others that I watched were the X-factor and America’s Got Talent. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve stopped watching them so much, but that has more to do with me no longer watching TV as much, as opposed to not liking them anymore.
With my history of watching shows like this, I was naturally drawn to the show Produce 101 which is a Korean talent show for idol trainees. Korean entertainment companies will send their pop stars in training to this show and they will compete to make the ultimate 11-member Kpop group voted on by the fans of the show. People get eliminated every single week by the truckload so you have to truly stand out in order to miss being eliminated.
I also want to mention that it bothers me to no end that this show is pronounced produce (as in fruits, vegetables, and farming) and not produce (as in to create or manufacture, especially in relation to musical production). I’m sure Koreans do not know this but as a native English speaker, I flinch every time I hear it. But since that’s neither here nor there, I will save my speech on the butchering of English words by Koreans. Especially since my pronunciation of Korean words is complete trash.
Anyway. This show had my attention from the beginning even though I did not watch it while it was airing live. I watched both seasons 1 and 2 and they recently just finished up a new version of the show called Produce 48. I haven’t seen that one and I have no idea why it’s called 48 instead of 101 this time around.
The show had all the drama that is common in competition shows like this and then some! If I had to compare it to any American shows, it’s pretty much a combination of American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance, and America’s Next Top Model all in one. Which makes sense since Korean idols have to have the whole package (singing/rapping, dancing, and physical attractiveness) in order to be successful.
I liked the shows enough to finish them but I do think there was unnecessary drama and waayyyyy too much crying. OMG these kids just cry and cry and cry all the freakin time! To the point where I started feeling like no one was even happy to be there. Despite the fact that they all said they wanted to be there and singing and dancing was their dream…all they ever did was cry. I also hate the way Korean TV is edited. In certain variety shows, it can be funny, but in a show such as Produce 101, it was more annoying than anything. The constant replaying of things, cutting things short right before something is revealed, or blurring things out when the viewer already knows what’s coming next. It’s too much when it doesn’t even need to be.
But even with that complaint, I feel like season 2 was better than season 1. I personally feel that guys in Korea have more freedom when it comes to showcasing their talents so therefore come off as more talented. The girls are confined to this super girly, cutesy, “aegyo” concept that I CAN’T STAND and therefore can’t really showcase all their talents if they have them. Seriously, aegyo makes me soooo uncomfortable. And on season 1, there was a girl group that auditioned together and they preferred the style of rap and hip hop. The judges told them they were good but preferred them to do something “cute and girly” instead so they made them audition again. So of course the girls were uncomfortable and did poorly because IT’S NOT THEIR STYLE and what happens? The freakin judges put them in level F. It made me really upset, honestly. They completely disregarded their first audition just because it wasn’t girly enough smh.
For anyone not familiar with the term “aegyo”, it is associated with femininity and is when people try to act overly cute, innocent, and childlike through the use of facial expressions, gestures, and even going as far as using a baby voice. It’s the most uncomfortable thing I have ever witnessed yet Koreans (and some non Koreans) go crazy over it. There is nothing, and I do mean NOTHING cute about teenagers and adults acting like they are 5 years old. It’s weird and feels wrong. And also feeds into a particular fetish. But anyway, I’ll end my rant there.
Even though I enjoyed the show, for season 1, I really had no feelings about who made it into the group and who didn’t. There were two girls that I just didn’t like at all (Somi – I can’t stand her and I have no idea why she is so popular, and whoever the main vocal of i.o.i was. I forget her name but she had a bad attitude and I didn’t like her). But besides that, there was only ONE girl I actually liked on the show.
And that person is (drumroll please)……….Chungha!
She was a star from the very beginning and I’m glad she made it into the group. She is currently a solo artist right now and I had no idea how popular she was in Korea until I searched for one of her music videos last month and saw that the views were in the millions. Go girl!
Here are some of her recent songs:
Why Don’t You Know (my least favorite song of hers. Her voice needs work on this one)
For season 2 I felt that the people that were picked deserved to be there but I also felt like Samuel and Jonghyun (?) got the short end of the stick. They deserved to be in the group more than anyone in my opinion. But at the same time I feel they were too good for the group too, so a part of me is glad that they didn’t get chosen. I don’t think they would fit the concept of the winning group. Idk, it’s a very conflicting feeling.
But in spite of how I feel about the show, I surprisingly did not care about Wanna One which were the final 11. I ended up liking the second fan-made group that stemmed from the show which was a group called JBJ. Idk what that even stands for but they made some good music. I was really getting into a few of their songs when I found out that……they disbanded! In my research, apparently they only signed a contract deal for 7 months. And since I just finished watching season 2 last week, I am late to the party and missed out on liking them when they were active.
Even though I read online that the members of this group were fan-picked, I still have no idea how they were chosen. Was there a second show I’m unaware of? Was a poll taken? Was all this done behind the scenes? I have no idea.
But anyway, here are some of their songs:
Call Your Name (their goodbye song)
Since they have disbanded, there is a subgroup/duo of sorts called JBJ95 which are the two members of the group that were born in 1995. They just had their official debut like, yesterday. They aren’t bad but I don’t see myself becoming a “stan”.
And what the heck is a stan anyway? Someone please tell me. I know what a fan is, but not a stan. And what is the difference between the two if there even is one?
Apart from that, there was one other boy on the show who did not make it into either of these groups. His name is Jung Sewoon and throughout the entire competition, he had more of an Indie vibe to him anyway so I am glad that he didn’t make the group. He was also a person that I felt would shine more as a solo artist and was too good to be in the final group just like Samuel and Jonghyun (?). And he actually is doing really well as a solo artist!
Check him out:
Apart from releasing solo work, he is also a part of a group called YDPP. Idk what it stands for and I don’t really care about the group so I’ll just leave it at that.
Lastly, to wrap all this up (I didn’t realize how long this post was getting; apologies), the first Korean group I ever took an interest in was GOT7 and its safe to say that I still like them. I personally feel that their mini album 7 for 7 from 2017 is their best work. Their most recent album that was released this year, isn’t bad but it’s just not my favorite.
There is a duo called JJ Project that formed from two of the members from GOT7 and I like them too. They were actually a duo before GOT7 was ever even created. JJ Project also released an album last year and it’s so nice! Despite the language, the style of music they made on that album is more my speed and I can see myself listening to it over and over. The last time JJ Project released anything was way back in 2012 when I knew absolutely nothing about Korea in general and well….back then their stuff was garbage. Like, literally a burning trash pit. It was bad. So it’s nice to see people grow and develop and come into their own musically. I’m a fan.
Well that’s all for now! Sorry again for such a long post. I didn’t realize I had so much to say. Hopefully I didn’t bore you too much. Well, if I did, I’m sure you wouldn’t have made it this far. Thanks for reading 🙂