22nd & 23rd Oct 2011 – tvN K-pop Star Hunt / CUBE Entertainment Auditions
After the overwhelming on-line video selections by tvN, top 100 contestants from each region were shortlisted for an audition for a chance to debut as the next K-pop star under CUBE Entertainment. Singapore was the first stop upon which the auditions were held for a consecutive of 2 days.
Among the three judges were Mr. Eddy Tan – Vice President of Programming for tvN, [V] and Star World, Fox International Channels (FIC), Mr. Park Jae Hyun – General Department Head of Rookie Development Division of CUBE Entertainment, and last but not least, Ms. Irene Ang – our local celebrity actress who is also the CEO of FLY Entertainment Pte Ltd.
With contestants ranging from age 12 to 28, we had a chance to speak to a handful of them on the first day and find out various aspects as to how they feel towards the auditions. Said Chris (14), a student from Hougang Secondary School, “I’m all set and ready to go for it if I’m lucky enough to be offered a contract by CUBE Entertainment.”
Unlike Chris who has supportive parents behind his dream of becoming a K-pop star, a few of them revealed that they have joined the auditions without their parents’ consent and wanted to gain acknowledgement from them through this opportunity.
One of the contestants, Nazirah (18), has always aspire to be a singer since the age of 9. The Ngee Ann Polytechnic student has been supportive of the K-pop industry for 7 years and has also expressed her interest in this area of field.
When asked about their views on the current Hallyu fever in Singapore as well as around Asia, many of them felt that this music trend will continue for the next generation as K-pop is becoming more popular and widespread in the foreign markets. Another contestant, Angie, who takes up dancing and singing classes regularly, added that she now considers K-pop dance as one of her strongest dance genres even though K-pop is still fairly new to her.
Speaking of the influence in K-pop, we also came across Joey (18), who has had past experiences in auditions. Said Joey, “I’ve started singing since 12 years old and singing has always been a passion of mine. K-pop is something new that I would like to give a try at.“
Proceeding from the first round of closed auditions, only 20 contestants were shortlisted for the final round which took place the following day (23rd Oct) at Novena Square 2. It was an intense competition among the 20 of them, considering that they have less than 24 hours to gear themselves up. Nonetheless, all of them came prepared to impress the judges with their performances on stage.
After much discussions among the 3 judges, it was finally decided that the top 2 contestants to represent Singapore in Seoul would be none other than Jasmine Tan (16) and Maressa Zahirah (23).
Both Jasmine & Maressa will be joined by 8 other representatives from Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Philippines for an intensive training under CUBE Entertainment where the next K-pop star will be crowned. All 10 of them will also participate in the filming of a reality series which will air on 31st December 2011, 8pm on tvN (StarHub Channel 824).
Following the announcement of results was the press conference where we had the opportunity to find out the opinions of the judges as well as talk to the two girls on their win.
On a question of why Singapore was chosen as the first country to hold the auditions, Mr. Eddy Tan expressed that the audition happened to coincide with the promotion of the Korean culture here (by Korean Tourism Organization) and they felt that it was a good opportunity to hold it in a mall open to the public to join in the fun. Ms. Irene Ang also added that there are many talented youths in Singapore and it’s time for them to showcase their skills on stage, “Talents is all that we have!“
So what were the judges looking out for in the contestants?
Ms. Irene Ang: “Talent is a must. As we all know that in Korea, beauty can be improved so we emphasize more on national talent that can best represent Singapore in Korea, as well as the contestants’ attitude and potential. The X-factor is what I look out for as well.”
Mr. Eddy Tan: “For me, overall it’ll be the individual star quality and personality. Irene and I pushed on some of the contestants during the audition as we wanted to see how they will react and some of the results were surprising. It was difficult for us to select only 20 contestants to proceed for the final round of auditions because between Mr. Park, Irene and I, the three of us have different opinions. I am amazed with the performances in the final round and some of them even did better than the previous round.”
Mr. Park Jae Hyun: “Dancing & singing are 2 skills related to the Korean industry, but I’m looking for someone who can do more than this. Looks and age are secondary factors. Ultimately, personality and attitude is what I look out for.”
Said Ms. Irene Ang, “Everybody has speciality in their races. For Maressa, she stands out from the rest with her powerful and emotional vocal. While some of the contestants appeared to be nervous during the auditions, Jasmine has the confidence and looks professional on stage. She puts up an impressive performance with precise dance moves.”
When asked about how the 3-weeks training will be conducted in Korea, Mr. Park responded that the trainees will be going through classes which will train them in their vocal, dance, weight-management, language and acrobatics. It will not just be ongoing training throughout the 3 weeks, but the trainees will also get to enjoy and at the same time, brainstorm together on mistakes that can be improved.
Mr. Park added, “They must have a positive attitude, self-determination and passion for success. Just like 2PM’s Nichkhun – He wasn’t able to speak the Korean language in the beginning but now he has improved so much and has became one of the top stars in Korea. The trainees will have to learn from him.”
On the other hand, we also caught up with Jasmine, one of the top 2 winners of the auditions in Singapore. Currently taking her O-level examinations at Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School, Jasmine expressed her concern for the auditions as well as the examinations as she had to cope with both preparations at the same time.
“I didn’t expect myself to win as there were others who did better than me. I’m still in shock.”
When asked to describe something unique about her, Jasmine replied, “Confidence on stage. I don’t know where the confidence came from, but I feel that the stage belongs to me when I’m standing up there. My body just move naturally with the music.“
Said Jasmine, “I’m looking forward to the experience and different environment in Korea for the upcoming training. My performing style is more of a funky and sexy approach. If given a chance to debut in future, I would like to take on a concept that really stands out, maybe just like After School.
As for Maressa, she was not expecting the win as well. Having participated and eliminated from past singing competitions such as the 2009 Singapore Idol 3 and KBS K-Pop World Star 2011, Maressa did not just give up like this.
She told The New Paper, “In a way, I wanted to prove people wrong. I persevered because singing is in my blood.”
Having said that, we would like to congratulate both winners on their win. Special thanks to SPRG & tvN for their media invitation to cover the tvN K-pop Star Hunt Auditions.