Last weekend, tvN and Cube Entertainment held the auditions for their upcoming star search variety show, “tvN K-POP Star Hunt”, and Singapore was the show’s first overseas stop.
For those who do not know about tvN K-POP Star Hunt, here’s a crash course. There are a few rounds to this auditions – first round being online video submission, where those interested submit their dancing or singing videos to tvN’s official Youtube page, and the best 100 are selected to go for a second round of live auditions, at which they will try to impress the judges (i.e local icon cum FLY Entertainment’s CEO Irene Ang, Vice President of Programming for FOX Channel Eddy Tan and Cube Entertainment’s General Dept. Head of Rookie Development Mr Park Jaehyun). The top 20 then proceeds to the open auditions the next day (at Square 2), and the final 2 chosen will be flown to Korea to undergo an intensive training under Cube Entertainment and take part in the filming of the show, for the chance to debut as a Kpop artist.
Attracting more than 500 local wannabes to submit their videos for the initial round of auditions, it sure was a tough fight for the contestants, and a hard time for the judges to decide as well. There were contestants of all kinds – ages ranging from 12 to 28, of various races and background, some were even experienced performers.
Said Amira, 13, “My group members sent in my video without telling me, so I was freaking out when I found out I got in… I guess it’s an advantage to be young, but I think even though the industry is based on looks, they still need the talent and skills to make it.” Another contestant Sierra, 28, agreed, “Age does matter since this is a reality show, but I think they look more for the talent and stage presence.”
Among the contestants there were also ‘veterans’ such as Yvonne, 18, who passed JYP Auditions previously, Josephine, 21, who won the Kpop Talent Contest in 2008 and had since performed with CJ Crew at numerous big events and also Shy, 19, a member of IMP7CT, whom emerged first at Teenage Kpop Dance Competition in 2010.
“The auditions this time round is similar to the JYP Auditions; the time was still limited,” said Yvonne. Josephine also shared, “I think the focus this time is on both singing and dancing, so I’ve prepared my own routine.” Shy added, “Just going through the auditions to gain the experience and to live my dream.”
And it seems like most of them are ready to give up everything, if there is a chance of them making it through. The only barrier would be “parents’ permission” though, but if you had parents of Sharil, 15, member of local Kpop dance group STARREseconds, you won’t have to worry – “My parents told me, if you want something, don’t stop halfway, but go all the way.”
But after all these perception from the contestants, what were the judges really looking out for?
“We’re looking for someone who is all-rounded, over the looks.” said Mr Park, dismissing all rumours about the “criteria” for Korean artists to have “Looks over everything.”
Fellow judge Eddy Tan added, “I look at their personality, whether they have the quality to be a star. At the end of the day, you’ll also need the self-confidence to be able to stand onstage. Irene and I have been trying to ask them questions through the auditions, trying to make them more relaxed and be able to bring out their personality.”
Irene Ang also said, “For me, I always look for the X-Factor. As you know in Korea, beauty can be made, so I think talent is a must – X-Factor is how you connect with the judges, or the audience. We’re looking for a star, not a model. (jokes) The direction is to look for someone to groom, so we’re not looking for perfection. We’re looking for attitude, basic talent and potential.”
Following the first day closed auditions, the top 20 contestants who made it through the closed-door auditions presented themselves on the stage at Square 2 on Sunday. Most, if not all 20 were worried, having to perform in front of the huge crowd that gathered, and were busy practicing at Popeyes as they had their lunch. Some even had friends who brought them flowers and made fanboards!
(We’ll upload cuts of their performances a bit later but meanwhile here are the photos!)
With less than 24 hours to prepare, all 20 gave their best, be it doing their own song remixes, doing splits and showing off powerful vocals. There were some who stumbled a bit due to nervousness – but all of them pulled through. It sure was a tough decision for the judges, who could not agree on the same top 2, but ultimately, the top 2 who made it to Korea were none other than Maressa Zahirah (23) and Jasmine Tan (16).
There were tears of joy and a ton of huggings for the duo; it was definitely not Maressa‘s first time making it through a competition as she was actually part of the top 40 of the 2009 season of Singapore Idol, but was eliminated then. As for Jasmine, she was really excited about going to Korea, but what was more pressing for her was that she actually had to take for ‘O’ Levels paper the next day!
The two contestants will represent Singapore in Seoul, joined by eight other representatives from Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Philippines. In Seoul, the ten finalists will undergo a boot camp mentored by CUBE Entertainment and star in a reality series which will air on 31st December, Saturday, 8pm on tvN (StarHub channel 824) where the next K Pop Star will be crowned.