What to watch: Korean music variety shows

korean music variety shows

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before but I’m not into k-drama all that much. I do have my favorite shows but I’ve not finished anything lately (not even Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo!). I get all my entertainment needs by way of variety shows, particularly of the music kind.

And let me tell you, Korean music-themed shows are not just your run-of-the-mill talent contests. Since variety is what I call the “et al” of live television, there are all sorts of other music shows to choose from. Most of them are gimmicky at best but that’s what makes them good for fun watching.

These aren’t all of them but I’d like to share with you some of what I watch/watched – hopefully, you might enjoy these shows as well. I’m including links to my favorite videos for each. I wish I can include everything but I’ll stick with a reasonable number.


Immortal Songs: Singing The Legend (or: Immortal Songs 2)

immortal songs 1
1-2. AliPeople are more beautiful than flowersUnder the Poplar Tree | 3. BadaGirls’ Generation | 4-5. BTOBTo My LoveUnder the Sky | 6. IOIIt is Fire Play
immortal songs 2
7-8. KangnamApartmentThing Called Happiness | 9. MamamooWonderful Confession | 10. Rose MotelDon’t Leave | 11-12. So HyangArirang AloneLean on Me

Okay, let’s start with a very popular one – the current Immortal Songs is a revival and it features established and rookie singers performing their own reinterpretation of popular songs by legendary singers (hence the title).

What makes this show so good is that it’s not only honoring artists but it’s also a competition. The audience gets to vote after a round to pick which is their favorite between 2 performances – the winner gets the spotlight on them and whoever is picked at the end wins the show and gets a trophy. The catch is that performance order is randomly picked so someone who’s been winning for a few rounds can easily be toppled by whoever is picked as the last performer.

Early on, I used to watch entire episodes of it. I’d hunker down at night once I get home and load up Youtube on the PS4 but now that they’ve started restricting newer episodes, I only watch the performance clips.


King of Mask Singer

king of mask singer
1. 9 Songs Mood MakerHug Me, Home | 2. Like a Half MoonWho’s Your Mama? | 3. Most Beauty UhwudongTears | 4. Music Captain of Our LocalHayeoga, Waiting Everyday | 5. Snow Cornice, Our TownStar | 6. You are the where have some funYou and I

[Note: MBC takes down videos of the full-length performances and those that still exist spoil the name of the singer so I’ve linked you to what MBC posted. You can easily Youtube or Google the full-length ones if you okay with spoilers. Avoid the comments section!]

This one is something I watch occasionally, when there’s someone really good on it or whenever there’s some interesting people that showed up. King of Mask Singer is where two celebrities (actor, model, singer, idol, whoever) compete against each other in rounds. And yes, they do sing while they wear those fancy-looking masks.

The audience will have to vote for the singer they prefer based only on their voices. There’s a panel of celebrities involved as well but they’re just there for the commentary and additional votes.

When a contestant gets eliminated, that’s the time when the mask comes off. If they keep winning, the mask stays on.

What I like about this show is the element of discovery involved, when you realize this popular celebrity can sing well. Actors and models have come on this show and surprised everyone with their pipes.

I’ve never seen a full episode before, come to think of it. I just enjoy going through the assortment of clips on Youtube.


Girl Spirit

girl spirit
1. Seunghee (Oh My Girl)Cheer Up | 2. Soojung (Ladies’ Code) – I Don’t Love You | 3. Uji (Bestie)Love Me Right

Not a particular favorite as I only saw this for Seunghee of Oh My Girl, there are still some performances that I enjoyed a lot.

Girl Spirit is a show that intended to showcase idols from lesser-known girl groups in a singing contest format where they have to perform songs that match a given theme per episode. Like what is typical of singing talent shows now, there are gurus and the audience gets to vote for which performance they like best.

Oh, and in Unpretty Rapstar fashion, the winner and runner-up get to release their covers digitally. Yes, get that promo!


Golden Tambourine

golden tambourine
1. YoojungVery Good | 2. DoyeonPuss | 3. SleepyYanghwa Bridge | 4-5. Jo KwonWa, Crazy in Love | 6. SeyoonTurtle Ship

I started watching this for Yoojung and Jo Kwon, I stayed for Turtle Ship (I regret nothing).

I haven’t seen an official Wiki for this but from what I can understand, there’s a regular cast of 4 as a team – which Yoojung and Jo Kwon are a part of – that competes with a guest team in a battle of epic karaoke wildin’ out. Singing ability is not what counts here but the ability to be as entertaining as you can because that’s what is supposed to vote for.

There are rules but I have no clue what they are, except I do understand that the team that scores the lowest in a round gets less performance space. The teams have this “room” to themselves that grow or lessen, depending on the score. It’s hilarious when a team has to perform in a space good for just 1 person but they need to fit in 3-4 backup dancers.

Why do you need to watch this show? Jo Kwon as Beyonce, Sleepy as Zion.T and TURTLE SHIP!

Oh, but I do suggest that if blackface/brownface is something that you hate, avoid the Uptown Funk performance.


I Can See Your Voice

[Note: Linking you videos of performances would be ridiculously spoiler-y so I’m not going to do it. If you’re interested, you can check out the ICSYV playlists on MNET’s Youtube channel or find the full episodes online.]

This show is totally one of my favorites. It’s enjoyable and infuriating at the same time.

Okay, let’s start with how the show works: the goal of a guest artist and a panel of other celebrities is to pick a “skilled singer” from a collective of good and tone-deaf contestants without hearing them sing at least one note. Similar to Mask Singer, only when a contestant is eliminated as “tone-deaf” do contestants get to show off their real voice.

To stay true to the premise, the only clues the guest and panel get are 1-second clips of the contestants singing, the contestants lip syncing and how they look. They may have switched it up in recent seasons but I’ve long since resorted to watching Youtube clips of the reveal performances because I’m not fond of the guest and panel’s commentary/OTT reactions.

Anyway, it’s still a nice show with a unique concept. If there’s something that I’d love for the Philippines to create a localized version of, it’s this one.

And we’re done! Whew! That was quite a lot! I’ve had a hard time figuring out what to do about Mask Singer and ICSYV but I’ve decided the route I took would be a safer bet.

Smell ya later~!


Credit: ViewAsian for the King of Mask Singer picture I used as my featured image.

 

 

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