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Two Things the Success of ‘K-Pop Star’ Means

Rating Rating more Three Stars

2012.01.30 15:27 Mwave Kim, JiYeon

SBS’ K-Pop Star is rising through the ranks quickly although it’s a relative latecomer to the world of survival audition programs.

Its January 29 broadcast even scored 18 percent in viewership ratings (AGB Nielsen Media Research), coming close to 20 percent and shaking up Sunday’s no. 1 program, KBS2’s 1 Night, 2 Days.

Unlike MBC’s The Great Birth, which was rushed into existence after spurred by the success of Mnet’s Superstar K, K-Pop Star is boasting a line of brilliant contestants and perfection on a whole new level, bringing it to the top despite its late start.

Two Things the Success of ‘K-Pop Star’ Means

The factor that split the ways of K-Pop Star and The Great Birth was their ability to gather talented contestants.

The skill to draw in skilled contestants is crucial to audition programs, and is especially so when audition programs are practically flooding the broadcasts of today.

No matter how much it’s advertised and how many prominent celebrities it brings in as mentors, what truly leads the show are the ordinary contestants. How skilled the contestants are, and how much potential they show appeal the most to the viewers from a long-term perspective.

Park Ji Min, who showed her unlimited potential on the January 29 broadcast of K-Pop Star by singing I Believe I Can Fly, is a good example.

Compared to how Baek Cheong Gang and runner up Lee Tae Gon, the winners of the first season of The Great Birth, didn’t get much attention, K-Pop Star’s Park Ji Min, Lee Michelle, Lee Ha Yi, Lee Seung Hun and Kim Na Yoon are making issues after every episode.

Music producers see this phenomenon involving the big names SM, YG and JYP in K-Pop Star from two different viewpoints. On one hand, they’re surprised at how the three biggest agencies in Korea manage to bring in fairly sophisticated contestants, but on the other hand they’re concerned that the program will lead to an oligopoly of the music market.

A producing director of a certain agency who requested anonymity stated in an interview with enews, “If Superstar K brought in contestants that leaned more toward musicians than idols, because K-Pop Star brings in the three big agencies, it gathers contestants that would be good as idols. For smaller agencies, it’s getting even more difficult [to get trainees] because the three agencies have the upper hand in getting the good trainees anyway, and the broadcast isn’t making the situation any better.”

The director added, “Those who were going to audition at small agencies or were trainees there auditioned for K-Pop Star. Some trainees are thinking that the show will have a second season, and are preparing for that. Small agencies are jealous that [the big agencies] have the first call on the good trainees.”

Two Things the Success of ‘K-Pop Star’ Means

Many agencies also voiced their concern that K-Pop Star would only strengthen the power, or tyranny, depending on how you look at things, the three agencies wield.

As the good figures all flock to the three big agencies, K-Pop itself may become standardized, and the K-Pop boom blowing through the world may fall into the control of a select few.

Even broadcasting companies may become vulnerable to the power of the large agencies and their top stars. For example, singers who debuted through Superstar K still find it difficult to make it into the main channels, but K-Pop Star winners will be able to perform wherever they want thanks to the support of the three big agencies.

If, after giving a disadvantage to a K-Pop Star rookie from SM, SM decides to withdraw all of its artists from the channel’s shows, many variety shows and dramas will suffer from the blow.

Pop culture critic Kang Tae Gyu stated, “The production of audition programs are doors of opportunity for those aiming to be singers, but the side effects are numerous. It’s time we questioned whether the flood of audition programs is a true advantage for K-Pop.”

Translation credit: Erika Kim

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K-Pop Star 20120130 Superstar K 20120130 The Great Birth 20120130
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