Music audition programs continue to thrive on the small screen, seemingly giving fair opportunities to everyone and playing to viewers’ desire to see the heroic story of a talented individual becoming a star after overcoming insurmountable odds. The programs’ winners are basically the 21st century version of Greek heroes in the eyes of viewers.
Many of the beloved shows in the genre have given birth to numerous stars in music, drama and on the big screen, and continue to entertain viewers with fresh new perspectives. But there are also run-of-the-mill shows that merely imitate formats of the past, with their lack of creativity failing to satisfy viewers.
The surge in audition programs began with Mnet’s trailblazing “Superstar K” in 2009, which continued until the eighth season in 2016. With the show’s success, other broadcasting stations followed suit and created shows such as SBS’ “K-pop Star” and MBC’s “The Great Birth.”
Their success paved the way for other audition programs in different genres, for instance, OnStyle’s “Project Runway Korea,” “Korea’s Next Top Model” and Olive’s “Master Chef Korea.”
As viewers are now familiar with audition programs, more shows are exploring new possibilities with differentiated formats.
The second season of “Produce 101” (Mnet)
Mnet’s “Produce” series marked a new era by inviting viewers to become judges. Hip-hop audition shows “Show Me the Money” and “High School Rapper” -- on the same channel -- also created their own fan base, becoming seasonal shows.
“King of the Mask Singer” (MBC)
Though not a show through which idols debut, MBC’s “King of the Mask Singer” is a long-running program based on the musical competition format. As contestants’ faces are covered by masks, viewers are able to focus on the voices of singers. The show, which aired its first episode in 2015, has been marking an average viewership rating of around 9 percent.
SBS recently came up with a new take with “The Fan.” Participants picked by singers get to compete onstage. Viewers later get to make the final choice of who was the best. The show has seen an average viewership rating of 6 percent.
“The Fan” (SBS)
MBC’s cable channel MBC Music airs an audition show every Sunday, trying to find the best composer among the public. Another cable channel, Channel A, airs “Vocal Play,” an a capella audition show.
Although many programs are well-received by viewers, some complain about the lack of quality and originality in certain programs.
MBC currently airs “Under Nineteen” on Saturday nights. Underaged participants compete with one another to debut as a member of a boy band through the show. They wear the same clothes -- similar to a school uniform, bearing strong similarity with the famed “Produce” series.
The only difference is that in “Under Nineteen,” the contestants are separated into teams -- vocal, performance and rap. Its average viewership rating has been around 1 percent, low for a major network’s Saturday night show.
“YG Treasure Box” is released every Saturday through online streaming service Naver’s V app and cable channel JTBC2. The show centers on how entertainment agency YG creates a new boy band. Its format is not new for viewers, as boy bands Big Bang, Winner and iKon debuted through a similar process.
By Im Eun-byel (email@example.com