Imitated South Korean “Show Me The Money”, China reality show ”The Rap of China” aimed to create the conflicts between “underground artists” and “idols”, while the producing team behind it shows the lack of the common sense on the mainland Underground Artists (who have accumulation for many years) and Idols ( who started newly). In refer to the dramatically eye-catching impact brought by the two major well-matched forces in Korea, the “much worse” Chinese idols still need time for internal improvement, and currently the domestic “Wars of Hundreds of Idols” are the “virtual fire” promoted by the impetuous capital only.
Recently the most popular program, “The Rap of China”, has surged many discussions since its audition, and even the musicians of various areas have also focused on this first domestic hip-hop show. Apart from others, due to its characteristics this kind of subordinate music program attracts mostly the underground artists and enthusiasts with specific accumulation, and has a more professional campaign system resulting in much criticism on the participated “idols” much criticism.
For the program effect, the producing team classified the contestants as “Underground Rappers” and “Trainee/Idols” to exacerbate their contradictions and differences – in fact, it is understandable and has obtained great outcomes in the original “Show Me The Money” (SMTM). Many hot or fading idols took the advantages of SMTM for new development or transformation, and Bobby, the champion of the 3rd season and Song Mino(송민호) , the runner-up of the 4th season were previously trainees in Korean large entertainment agencies.
Although SMTM would take into consideration only the good-looking faces sometimes in the audition stage, the final players like Song Mino overcame the criticisms and gained the recognition and appreciation from other competitors even the rebellious Black Nut (an underground rapper who challenged about Mino’s idol background along the game). But in “the Rap of China”, the Chinese idol groups should not be regarded equal to the South Korean ones.
△ Huang Yifan
The controversial contestant, Huang Yifan from FFC Group, was queried by the audience and other competitors for her pass after poor presentation in the second round of 60-second performance. Some other ones with acceptable performances such as Zhou Yixuan and Zhu Xingjie from Idol groups are also said to have strong backgrounds and apply professional composers. As an insider player, GAI thought “they are Fake” and expressed his dissatisfaction about the Idol group.
After the show, many people (and even the ones who did not understand hip-hop) expressed their confusions to us. “Obviously the level of idols looks much lower than others.” Moreover, some audience with the worry about the inside shady deals said, “The producing team will definitely be scolded if they finally choose an idol as the champion.”
The feedback of audience reflects two problems in front of Chinese idol groups: No time to cultivate themselves and lack of proper management.
The “order to limit entertainment” provided development opportunities for these Chinese girl and boy groups. Are the “Wars of Hundred Idol Groups” about to break out? However…
From the second half of 2016, the “Order to limit Entertainment” has obstructed the major idols from South Korea out the door, and the shrinking “Korean Wave” gave the practitioners and capital sides the general confidence to develop domestic groups. CMBN has researched in-depth upon this (“Will 2017 usher in the “War of Blossoming Boys” with 20 boy idol groups jumping out?). Take the industry as a whole, in addition to the “Order”, behind the prosperity of idol groups are the rising top IPs and the lack of stamina. The entertainment market witnessed the imbalance of supply and demand, and the mass wars of idol groups might be conducive to cultivate newees on the sufficient competitive market with lowering the cost to invite hit stars while maintaining the freshness; And each one in the group has his own advantages to appeal to the audience with different preferences and harvest great fan effect. The pleasure of cultivation will facilitate more and further stickiness of fans.
In this way, the rise of the domestic idol group market looks not bad for all the thriving linked aspects to react in the first half of 2017. Various topics have emerged so that the artist agencies signed a large number of girl or boy groups and even the live broadcast platforms have worked on “making the cultivation type of groups in the MCN environment”. The commentators all believe the “Wars of Hundred Regiments of Idols” will surge in the Era of Idol Group 2.0 after SNH 48 and TFBOYS in the near future.
The herald of SNH 48 and the partner of See of Stars Capital, Mr. Chen Yuetian, expressed on various idol management related forums, “The idol industry looks like the film industry five or six years ago and it just started development and localization with welcoming new technology and talents. The per capita occupation in China stands less than 1/5 of that in Japan and South Korea, “which means local groups will have 5 times in terms of the growth space”.
However, except for the development space, the over-anxious cultivation way for the idol groups under the domestic anxious capital environment would not make things better.
At first we can think about the lack of training time from “The Rap of China”. The feedbacks of the audience and players may show their more inherent mistrust and bias on the capacity of domestic “idols” rather than those in Japan and South Korea where a developed idol industry has rooted deeply (Audience would hold more or less bias to idols everywhere). The reason might locate in the common sense of “idol groups’ overall low strength”. Actually the current Chinese boy or girl teams hold a kind of misleading representative money-raising pipeline to some extent.
Therefore, the conflicts between the idol group and the underground group are not as strong as those in SMTM and the core lies in the unequal capability of the two sides: Unlike the Korean idol Bobby, Chinese idol candidates may not able to show their extraordinary strength in front of underground rappers. Hence, this kind of design in Chinese program will cause logical confusion when the idols with poorer performance than the underground rappers come to the next round surprisingly, especially for those who didn’t know SMTM.
Let’s take South Korea which is the birthplace of SMTM and has the mature industry chain of idol groups as an instance. Their requirements are too harsh for a trainee to debut. In the educational stage the trainees must accept highly intensive and long-lasting comprehensive trainings from the body shape to music and dance, during which there will be regular assessments to eliminate the unqualified ones. Thereafter the final ones passing all tests can successfully debut as an artist. Due to the sufficiently mature and competitive development of Korean idol groups, a great number of trainees with cruel practicing can unfortunately not keep up with the pace of the market. (South Korea has a program called “Cheong Tam Dong 111″청담동 111, which talks about the training of FNC’s idols and deserves more attention.)
China still stays in the early stage of the development of idol groups. Driven by the Internet thinking and speculation, the audition system of trainees has only imitated quite superficially and few companies have a good training mechanism and system. Thus, idols with no much training dare to go on the stage and confront the audience through programs after crude packaging. However, the more diversified preferences and more abrasive international visions of the younger generation of consumers will not give chances to the confusing huge-crowd strategy of idol groups. Great strength and skills will make big differences and the “good-looking” rule may become a pseudo-proposition of the industry.
△ “Cheong Tam Dong 111″청담동 111
Then in terms of none correct management. Refer to the above problem of the idol groups who need to sell their characteristics and packaging, at this stage the domestic situation seems still not optimistic. The advertising teams of many idol groups are the ones who worked for domestic entertainment stars previously and no relatively mature publicity model direct to the mass wars or idols exists. Hence, idol operation is prone to be “inappropriate” or low effective.
An advertising industry insider told us the 2 reasons why there are no mature promoting teams for the idol groups domestically. Firstly, the operating budget is not enough for the domestic entertainment model. According to the related packaging and promoting ways of an entertainment star, an idol group with a large number of members will cost pretty much to operate. “A group of dozens of members demands for the inside relationship management and the packaging promotion, and many artist agencies may not be able to afford for the great difficulties and sky-high costs.” Therefore, now each artist company would grope the way to operate idols business by itself; Secondly, their blind belief and imitation on foreign mature market seem not in line with the domestic environment. Thus is exactly the problem of “The Rap of China” that they try to make conflicts between the idols and underground rappers according to SMTM’s script but fail to mind the unequal capability of both sides, which will aggravate the fermentation of a shady conspiracy.
Japanese and South Korean groups have their own ways, but what is that for Chinese idols?
Idol culture is a part of Asian culture where Japan and South Korea go ahead of others on two different idol development ways:
South Korea is known for its rigorous business training process with sophisticated pipeline to create girl and boy idol groups and apply a kind of aesthetic to the global market. The United States has become its third largest export market of idol groups;
Japanese way is to cultivate. The trainees would come to the market since their contracts began, so that the audience could participate in the “training” process and enjoy in accompanying idols’ growth. Comparing to South Korean internal assessment and obsolete mechanism, Japan does well to follow the market choice of idols.
Perhaps the above opinions look like “to praise others but put down ourselves”: why cannot China have its own idol training modes? Of course, the best is to overcome those shoddy and over-anxious habits to ultimately generate unique idol groups with Chinese styles. Nevertheless, under the market impetuosity many practitioners have already embarked to imitate and refer to foreign idol culture and helped many Japanese and Korean artist management teams penetrate into China, which seems to be a development shortcut.
Although in current China the Korean wave has much deeper impact than the Japanese one on the domestic aesthetics, to apply Korean idol training mode would cost too much time and effort. It would not help to gain the market initiative, while the Japanese cultivation way seems easier. In fact, SNH 48 and TFBOYS can be referred to the Japanese AKB 48 and Johnnys’ idol groups and have received wonderful responses.
On the other hand, after entering the era of idol group 2.0, Chinese idol group market has nurtured a competitive environment with intermingled players and accumulated much possibility to become outstanding among the flourishing peers. The superb and leading groups will be highlighted gradually after painstaking and steeling themselves through comparative differentiation strategies.
Ninomiya Kazunari of the Japanese national group ARASHI showed in the documentary ” JOUNETSU – TAIRIKU” how to improve himself step by step as an idol. From the puerile performance in the early trendy dramas to the Top 10 Award of the 89th Kinema Junpo and the Best Actor of the 39th Japan Academy Prize, and then to the major role the Hollywood film “Letters from Iwo Jima” directed by Clint Eastwood in 2006, he kept “looked down upon by the younger ones or even at the same age”. Johnnys is an idol empire with too bright aura and immeasurable criticism.
△ Ninomiya Kazunari and Kitano Takeshi starred in the movie “Medaka Fish”, which won the 42nd cultural fund best reward
This is actually a successful idol could tell:Idol represents a dream – the original motive of idol is to express the power of dream basing on the team spirit and painstaking effort. Dreams will come true only after hard work, rather than a strong background.
(This is one of CMBN’s series reports of the idol group)
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