Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Kpop Survival / Competition Shows Spring 2023

My kdrama watching this past spring was taken over by kpop survival shows. This where a bunch of guys compete to survive at the end and thus be in a new kpop group formed with the winners. Many of the current popular groups were formed in a such a way. I've only watched a handful of them in real time, and a few way after the fact, because they are PAINFUL to watch. Highly emotional and manipulative and "evilly edited" as we love to say. 

But on the other hand, they are awesome. Because there's always amazing performances, and you get to see the boys working SO HARD to achieve their dream, and there's just something about that that is absolutely mesmerizing. And the interaction between the boys is always fun, not competitive, but friendly and encouraging with tons of bonds being made.

And of course you fall in love with every single one of them and want them all to debut (ie. make into a group and start promoting.) So it's fun to watch, and it's painful to watch, all at the same time. It makes for great TV.

So I watched two such shows these past couple of months. Let me tell you about them.


This one was highly produced with an amazing set and resources. It started with about 100 boys, divided into two teams... Korean kids and Global kids (everyone else not from Korea.) It was annoying for us that they were pitted against each other at first, seeing that in the end, one group would be made from them. And it's always cool to have a group made up from members all over the world. Anyway. That's how it started and it was quickly narrowed down by half. Then they had several missions to accomplish, always so fun to see what they come up with for them to do. And every mission, the boys would be randomly (ish) divided into different teams each time. After several episodes of this, it was pretty apparent which boys would rise to the top. Each week we learn their rankings to see who made it that week, until the final episode when we see who made it into the final group of the top nine boys. It's seriously so intense. 

I had my favorite that I voted for... mostly because I knew him from a previous show and he barely lost that one and I felt like he had talent and charisma up the wazoo and NEEDED to be in a group NOW. That boy is Gunwook and he is only like 17 years old, but he was ready. Did he make it? SPOILER: YES HE DID! I was so surprised because he was in and out of that top list the whole show. Click here to see his fun reaction to making it. I could watch it over and over.

Park Gunwook


Anyway, the boys that made it are all awesome and their new group is called ZEROBASEONE or ZB1 for short and they already had their debut song come out. It's adorable. And yes, several global kids made it in, yay for that!

Already we are hearing about two groups that will have boys who didn't make it into ZB1. So obviously I'll be keeping my eye on them too. That's the other crazy thing about watching a survival show, you get invested in not only the group that wins, but all the groups that spin off from it! (Those groups have the very unique names of TIOT and BLIT. Look for them! LOL!) 

Also, if you are curious what it looks like for 100 boys to be in a music video.. here's the performance they ALL did before anyone was eliminated. Though the boys with the higher rank were at the top of this thing, and the boys with the lower were on the floor. It broke my heart! Also, the boys with blue are Korean and the boys with pink are the Global kids. Just in case you were curious!


Just as Boys Planet was ending, this one started. I wasn't going to watch, but I was drawn in by my number one pick dude for this one, another boy I'd seen on a previous show where he didn't make it. He's so sweet and shy and adorable, but changes to be fierce and powerful on stage. It's the best. Also, I was drawn in by the four judges/producers of this one... some great icons in the kpop industry. They were fun to watch too. This particular show, though, seemed a lot lower budget and had less talented boys than Boys Planet.

Yu Junwon

Fantasy Boys

At least that's what I thought at first... until we got more towards the end and the cream of the crop rose to the top and boy.. they were all amazing too. The top 12 boys who made it the end will be in group and unfortunately, they are keeping the name Fantasy Boys. Geez. And my boy Junwon, made it to the number position. Way to go dude!  There was another one I was really rooting for, but alas, he just barely didn't make it. And there are several boys that made it who are VERY young. I hope they can deal with what comes next, because it only gets harder.

These guys haven't debuted yet, but I'll watching to see what they come up with. Here's a song they did for the show though that they later made this mv for:

And then there was:


This show was a bit different in that it was a competition between groups. Some old established groups that have fallen from the spotlight, some groups that had broken up but decided to get together for this show, some groups that have been doing okay, but wanted a nice push, some very new groups that no one knows, and some groups that hadn't even debuted yet. So the range in age and experience was HUGE. They also put together group made up of a bunch of solo boys from various groups. 

The premise was that each group would have a different name for the shows, corresponding to the 24 hours in the day. And  their true identity would be "hidden" until they were dropped from the show. (Of course we all knew who they were the whole time, cheering on our favorites and adding a ton of new favorites to our lists.) The winning groups would get a ton of promotional help, a concert in Korea, and then the top group gets tons of money, an album produced, and a world tour. It was a great incentive for all these groups who were struggling in some sort of way.

There was huge panel of judges all from famous popular groups, and many producers and etc. They were awesome and so much fun to watch too.

This show was AMAZING! I loved it so much and hope they do it again sometime with a whole pile of new groups. The positive feeling and the love and encouragement they all showed each other was great. They competed as their own groups, but then were divided several times into random different groups so they all had to get to know each other and work together and cheer each other on. We were able to vote for our favorite teams and also our favorite individuals. (Man that was hard.) 

And the performances were so phenomenal. Here are two that really stood out. This is one of the randomly assigned groups for the dance competition:

And there's one from the randomly assigned groups for the vocal competition:


And the winning team? 


VANNER! They even actually came to my podunk city for a concert last year and I was out of town and couldn't go! And they only had like 50 people at all their concerts in all the cities, and they were struggling financially, paying for everything out their own pockets.


Their story is crazy good and it was PERFECT that they won this thing. Now they are popular and everyone loves them! I had several other favorite groups on this show and was sad for those that didn't make it, but so happy for the 6 groups who won in the end. And hopefully the ones that didn't make it got a ton of positive exposure. Anyway, it was so fun and like I said, let's do that again!

(I must say I'm pretty sure even if you aren't into kpop music and such, you'd still get into these shows. If you are one that feels like there's nothing good watch these days, you should seriously try this.)

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