It’s been an interesting week for YG. We started it off with the announcement of 2NE1’s comeback. Kang Seung Yoon, of Superstar K fame, found out that he will have a solo album released on July 15. Supposedly, there’s going to be a new girl group whose members will be introduced in October, but history shows that it might not pan out. Lastly, we found out that there will be plans for a reality show competition to decide YG’s next boy group.
YG is offering up two groups of trainees that will compete against each other for the opportunity to debut. I haven’t seen an announcement on which network this program will air on but it’s likely to be SBS. This might sound similar to the Big Bang documentary that was designed to introduce the group. However, YG was in complete control of that “competition.” I’m not sure that sort of documentary format would even work in today’s environment.
Instead, and taking cues from recently popular talent show competitions such as Superstar K and Kpop Star, YG will be engaging fans to be part of the group selection process. The benefits of this compared to just outright debuting the group (which, unfortunately, will be called WINNER) are obvious. Idol fans already develop an unwavering loyalty to groups. Just imagine how that feeling will be intensified when those fans believe they are responsible for the group’s debut. That debut will likely be a huge success for WINNER too. I’d imagine they’d be pretty well known not only as a result of this television program but also from just the usual YG hype. Oh, and then there is the benefit of the money from the TV show and mobile voting.
But this format could also help out the LOSERs, as I’m going to call them. Now, it is cruel to give the losing group a taste of success and subsequently push them into trainee status. But I can already envision the narrative of how the failure motivated LOSER to be more focused and hard-working than ever before. It may not even be for YGE, as Hyunseung of Beast has shown since being eliminated from Big Bang. They’ll take on the underdog identity and could even eventually become the bigger group.
Or YG is just playing us all and is planning on combining the WINNERs and LOSERs into one group anyways.
I don’t believe this show and these groups are sure-fire successes though. A major selling point to talent show competitions is watching raw talent develop into polished performances. I’ve gone back and watched Lee Hi’s Kpop Star audition many times since her debut. She still can’t dance but her stage presence and confidence are clearly improving. If the new YG trainees are already too polished, then it will be missing this important factor. Will voters and viewers stay interested in the show if there is little progress in the members? Furthermore, will the program come off as too manufactured and, worst of all, rigged for one group to win?
In any case, it’s an interesting approach to debut a new group. YGE has been heavily involved in the talent shows mentioned earlier. Three of the potential WINNER members have even signed with YG as a result of this shows: Kang Seung Yoon from Superstar K and Lee Seung Hoon from Kpop Star. The timing is right as I imagine YG wants to establish the new boy group well before Big Bang hits enlistment age.
And hey, even if WINNER flops, they can count on winning Inkigayo shows. CL did.