The Do-Over: Second Chance at K-Pop Fame
2017 is shaping up to be a year of redemption for many idols, with the Korean music industry opening up new opportunities for acts that might have already debuted to give stardom a second shot. After the success of NU'EST on 'Produce 101' Season 2, it seems that TV companies are willing to gamble on members of previously-established groups in order to create something new and successful. The hype around Produce 101 and Wanna One was palpable, so naturally, several similar shows have been created in its wake: KBS program 'The Unit,' and YG Entertainment's forthcoming survival show 'MIX Nine.' Each show offers different opportunities, but they share in common the thread of giving overlooked talent a new platform.
The world of K-Pop idols can be harsh, to put it bluntly. It's common knowledge that many acts will train for several years in order to make a strong impression upon their debut, but sometimes that's not quite enough to catch the public's attention. In many cases, you can have a perfectly catchy song, an interesting music video, great choreography, and plenty of promotional events - yet still fail to make an impression with music listeners. This creates a catch-22 for groups that have tried and failed to make an impact in their early stages: they have trouble promoting because they're not earning enough money to fund all that comes with doing so (MVs, back up dancers, stylists, etc.), yet promoting is essentially the only way to earn money. Frankly, a group can be technically good in every way, but if they fail to pay the bills for their entertainment company, it's unlikely that they'll be able to rise from obscurity.
This is where Produce 101 presented a sea change to the K-Pop world. Of course, audition shows had existed before, and plenty of them allowed previously-debuted stars to participate. That said, there was usually a stigma attached to artists attempting to find a second life in such a way, even in the case of idol group members branching out as soloists through programs like Show Me The Money. It wasn't until Produce 101 came about that re-debuting acts became a center of attention; the conversation turned into "who is good enough to earn a second chance in this new group," rather than "look at these stars who didn't make it the first time around."
When NU'EST came out for Season 2 of Produce 101, there were a lot of mixed reactions from both fans and viewers of the show. One side argued that the group had debuted too long ago with promotions for many years for the playing field to be level, while others were excited by the idea of a group they had watched for such a long time finally getting the exposure they deserved. As it turns out, NU'EST became one of the largest draws of Produce 101 and served as a major success story from the show once things had wrapped up. Their fan club membership had increased, sales were up, views were coming in on their videos and there was an extremely heightened interest in their live appearances. Essentially, the show had managed to deliver on its initial promise of producing a hot boy group several times over - they had Wanna One, NU'EST, JBJ, and Rainz all come from the same project.
On the Unit, viewers will get to become re-acquainted with BIGSTAR, Brave Girls, Boyfriend, and even former members of huge groups like T-ara. On MIX Nine, members from groups like KNK, MYTEEN, and (allegedly) even fresh faces LOONA will be throwing down the gauntlet. The stakes are higher than ever before for these performers, as it's pretty uncommon to get a second chance in the K-Pop industry - almost as hard as making the initial debut itself. Viewers find this kind of drama compelling, but at their core, they're really rooting for people to find a successful path in life through applied effort.
Through shows like MIX Nine and the Unit, Korean music fans are able to participate directly in creating the supergroups that they want to see and hear, so it's sure to be an exciting few months watching Korean and International fans work together in the name of second chances.