Why We Heart Audition Programs
We thought we had sworn off audition programs after the emotional roller coaster that was the third season of Mnet’s Superstar K3, which culminated in Ulala Session clinching the win. Then SBS’ K-Pop Star happened. And okay, we may be two-timing with MBC’s The Great Birth.
Audition programs, no matter how much networks try to sell them with new formats and big-name judges, have lost their novelty. Yet, we just can’t get enough of them. Not only do standout contestants on these programs make headlines still (and get noticed by Ashton Kutcher, NBD), viewership ratings continue to climb.
General service channel jTBC is the latest network to take on the challenge of discovering the next big thing in music through Made in U. It may be off to an awfully slow start with a viewership rating of 0.189 percent (ouch), according to AGB Nielsen Media Research, but we haven’t written it off just yet.
K-Pop Star had a relatively slow start, considering the publicity blitz it launched prior to the show’s premiere, but the viewership ratings have been steadily rising, so we’re willing to give Made in U a chance.
So what is it about these shows that keep us coming back for more? Are we all just suckers for the cliché Cinderella story? In the end, it really just comes down to the talented, undiscovered contestants, but we decided to delve a little deeper into our favorite audition programs to see if we could get to the bottom of our shameless addiction.
The Mnet audition program is already three seasons in, so it has to be doing something right.
For one, we love makeovers. If idol groups are what we see after they’ve been rigorously trained and prettily packaged by their agencies, audition programs enable us to watch the contestants transform before our eyes.
We witnessed Two Months’ member Kim Ye Rim, a “countrified” hopeful at the New York City auditions, transform into the “mermaid” all of the male contestants had the hots for on the show. And we loved it.
Of course, seeing pretty people isn′t what it′s all about. The show has launched the careers of numerous Top Ten contestants as well as winners Seo In Guk and Huh Gak and season three winner Ulala Session is expected to follow the same trajectory.
The contestants are talented, sure, but it’s the contestants’ back stories—from season two winner Huh Gak’s heart wrenching relationship with his mother to Ulala Session leader Im Yun Taek’s courageous battle with stomach cancer—that suck you in.
The Great Birth
Season two judge Lee Seung Hwan has called the show a “friendly” audition program because of the mentor-mentee relationship between the judges and contestants.
From the motherly Lee Sun Hee and fatherly figure Yoon Sang to older sister Park Jung Hyun and older brothers Lee Seung Hwan and Yoon Il Sang, the contestants are nurtured by their mentors before they either get axed or progress onto the next round. Cruel? Maybe. But what family isn’t a little dysfunctional?
This show is not subtle about banking on the brands of Korea’s top three talent agencies, SM, JYP and YG, to attract viewers. Not only was there an incredible amount of hype surrounding the coming together of judges BoA, Park Jin Young and Yang Hyun Suk prior to the show’s broadcast, the judges are extremely vocal about what kinds of things they (read: their agencies) each look for in prospective artists.
And while the tension between Park and Yang when they disagree on a contestant is awkward to watch at times (like, we get goose bumps), at least contestants can take comfort in the fact that everything is subjective. Just because Park doesn’t like you, it doesn’t mean you suck. He just doesn’t like you. Refreshing, if you ask us.
Which audition programs are you hooked on and why? Let us know in the comments below!
- Superstar K3 20120111 K-Pop Star 20120111 Superstar K 20120111 The Great Birth 20120111 Made in U 20120111