Sick of all the drama happening in the Korean entertainment industry right now? Is your favorite K-pop group not having a comeback anytime soon? This is a show that will rouse your excitement for live music and draw you into the charms of these talented musicians!
What is this show's premise?
Basically, similar to the Produce series, the contestants are competing for a chance to be in the final band lineup. The first two episodes were spent on the initial individual stage, where each contestant can showcase their skills in a short performance.
After the individual stages, the judges picked band leaders who can then choose the rest of their band members. Then, each band is pitted against each other each round. The winning band is safe from elimination, and the judges will pick a number of individuals from the final pool of defeated bands to eliminate (this means that even if a band loses the round, that doesn't guarantee the whole band is eliminated-- Thank god!)
So? Why should I care?
Because the show speaks so much for itself, here's a first taste before I give you my 5 reasons!
Benji Team's cover of 'Shampoo Fairy' (Korean oldie)
1. A Showcase of Band Dynamics.
Yes, the contestant in the pink jacket (that you will later discover is Benji from boy group B.I.G) just sang, rapped, and played the violin in one performance. While most contestants audition with one specific talent, you can be surprised that someone with vocal talent, when necessary, can also play the piano, drums, or write crowd-pleasing compositions. While in K-pop we have gotten used to idols having a single musical strong suit, the individuals who build up a band constantly need to adapt and fill in roles, even if that means playing with an unfamiliar instrument or pushing yourself out there to fit a rocker concept when you usually sing love songs and ballads.
2. Variety of Sounds and Instruments.
From covering Coldplay to singing Korean oldies to electronic sound mixing to Latin vibes, there is just so much to consume as a listener! Contestants are constantly challenging new genres and arrangements to wow their judges, and that is where the best stages come from. Besides picking and composing unique songs, this show has also made me appreciate the work of instrumentalists. While many programs such as 'Duet Song Festival' and 'Masked Singer' focus more on singers, I can finally pay attention to the drummer or bassist because they get their own solos and work incredibly well by staying in rhythm or amp-ing up the stage's atmosphere. There are even some unexpected instruments such as cello and launchpad that one wouldn't normally associate with a
traditional band setup.
Here is DJ contestant DPole performing 'HOBANDO'!
3. Minimal Filler Content.
We all are aware of the evil that is named Mnet editing. However, there's even more that I am constantly peeved about in survival shows. For example, I understand in idol survival shows, one needs to gain support by showing weird and unusual talents. However, in the end, I care more about the contestants who are excellent performers and musicians. I don't need to see a lengthy talent show or see idols feeling their way through mystery boxes, because to me they don't show professionalism and most of the time the contestants just make a fool out of themselves. In 'SuperBand', all of the components of the show funnel into their performances, and I am so, so grateful for them keeping it minimal and straight-forward. There is a bit of suspense editing/pauses when the mc announces who was eliminated and what not, but the rest of the show is very concise. The bands pick their members, they prepare for a couple of days, and then they compete against each other. There is no need for a side segment to "showcase their personalities" because they are already a quirky and oddly charming bunch.
4. A Focus on Skills.
This is definitely the highlight of the show. I can tell the producers spent a lot of their energy in picking contestants who can make the show exciting and entertaining by just being themselves. When I watched the first contestant, I was like "Wow, what a strong start!" As each contestant performed, I slowly realized how painfully I underestimated the show's standards. While other survival shows may include rookies who are obviously incompetent and inexperienced, Super Band did not waste their audience's time with such gimmicks. There are some diamonds in the rough, the less seasoned artists still showed great potential and a desire to grow.
A different concern I had was if visuals or other unrelated factors would affect the competition. Guess what? Even if you have handsome features or a fit body, nobody bats an eye if you lack the skills. Moreover, since the show is very jury-based rather than a popularity vote, music is the front man and the most important element of the show. This is perfect for people like me who
dislike survival shows that juggle too many determining factors at once.
Speaking of first contestants, this is the first audition of the show by Ha Hyunsang covering
Kodaline 'All I Want'.
5. The Confidence.
This is highly connected to the "A Focus on Skills" reason. Because each contestant is highly skilled, there is an underlying stability within this show. Often times, other shows' contestants show their insecurities due to lack of preparation or they have found someone stronger than them. However, since 'SuperBand' contestants have their individual strong suits and years of experience, they do a better job in focusing on themselves rather than others. They look forward to collaborating with each other on stage and even the more quiet contestants opened up rather quickly! I don't believe I've seen a group of competitors become so close in such a short amount of time. Everyone is so kind and supportive of each other that even I get confused sometimes haha. When I thought I was rooting for Team A in a particular round, I would be excited by how much fun and originality Team B put into their performance. With so many genuine musicians to support, the elimination segment of the show becomes a bittersweet and emotional moment rather than forced and dramatic.
Well, after these lengthy reasons, why haven't I heard of this show before?
With my layman's knowledge, there's just not much international recognition. Despite being the hottest topic domestically in S. Korea, there hasn't been much promotion towards non-Korean viewers. If you search 'SuperBand' in YouTube, all the video titles are mostly in Korean, and there are no English subtitles. No other major sites have subtitles either. Some don't even have the raw versions of the full episodes. Thankfully, the bands cover enough English songs to make up for that. However, you learn about their personalities mostly through interviews and in their practice room clips, which is obviously overlooked if you don't understand Korean. I am watching this show with Mandarin subtitles myself, so I apologize to the English speakers out there.
Despite me taking a long time to discover this program, I have fallen in love it. Many of these performers busk, post covers on YouTube, or just play at home, and it warms my heart when they say they can finally find musician friends who share the same interests as them! I hope for the best for them and wish that they gain more support in the future from both Korean and international viewers.
Thank you for reading this long review/rant/promotion of the show. Please check out some more performances from 'SuperBand' to see why this show needs love. ;)
Cover of Coldplay's 'Adventure Of A Lifetime' (1 bassist + 3 guitarist!)
Cover of Santana 'Smooth' by team zai.ro
Original Song by the band by team Hong Issac (I can't find the song title because it is either in
Korean or Mandarin. I'm sorry! But highly recommend if you like slow + nature-esque songs)
Cover of Oasis 'Stop Crying Your Heart Out' by team Chae BoHoon