First off, apologies in how late this write up is. We got severely distracted by the MBC Festival mania and thinking about EXO too much. Our brains have been very mushy over the last week or two, but we’ve managed to pull ourselves together (just about)!
So, back to the YG Auditions! This was a day full of excitement, expectations and nerves. And that was just from us! We have no idea how the people auditioning managed to be confident enough to perform in front of the big wigs from YG Ent, but props to you all for turning up in your hundreds and representing the UK. We had the opportunity to talk with lots of different auditionees and get their thoughts on the auditions and what it might mean for Kpop in the UK, in general, and as a whole.
It was inspiring seeing so many different types of people turning up for the auditions. We were genuinely surprised at how many guys turned up too! We thought there may be a handful of boys dotted about the place, but we were happily mistaken as they were appearing in hordes. There was also a really good mix of dancers who turned up too – YG Ent should have definitely got a great impression from the UK and the talent that we have to offer!
So who did we get a chance to speak with and what did we ask them? First up, we wanted to know how far people had traveled for the chance to audition. We expected locations close to London, but we were amazed at the distance some people had traveled just for the chance to audition. There were some girls who’d come all the way from Edinburgh for the auditions! We also heard that there were some people who’d come from South Korea to audition in the UK as the Korean auditions are so fierce. This level of commitment shows how much training in a company such as YG is valued in South Korea, and shows how supportive some parents are in helping their children achieve their dreams.
In terms of what the auditionees had prepared for their songs and dances, there was a very wide variety. There were of course a large number of people planning to sing songs from 2NE1 and Big Bang, as would be expected at a YG Ent audition. A large amount were also planning to audition in English too. Really interestingly, we came across someone (Alex, pictures to the left) who’d written their own song! We wish we could have sat in and heard this audition as we’re sure it would have been something really special. From those who were planning on dancing in their auditions, a large amount were planning on performing their own choreography. It seems as though all the people we talked to were fully prepared for their auditions, and had been working very hard in the run up to the day. Most people said they’d been preparing as soon as the auditions had been announced – the old hairbrush mic technique never gets old!
We also asked auditionees about why they’d come to the audition – was it the attraction of YG itself or the thought of becoming a Hallyu idol as a whole? There were some die hard YG fans around who’d come as they were solely interested in joining the YG family exclusively. The majority had come purely as this was a very rare opportunity for them to audition for a prestigious South Korean entertainment company. What was pretty conclusive however was the fact most of the people who’d come wouldn’t have come for an audition if held by a entertainment company from the UK (there where no ‘X-Factor’ style crossed arms here). It was definitely the pull of a Hallyu company that had brought the MASSIVE turn out.
So what was it that made being a trainee for a South Korean entertainment company so much more appealing than a British one? People said they loved the style of Kpop songs – they’re fresh, vibrant, and different from much of the music we have on our native shores. They said Kpop songs; incorporated many different sounds into one song, for example in one song you can have a ballad and rap side by side. Someone said they loved the songs as it reminded them of 90s American pop, like The Backstreet Boys. Another one of the overriding messages we got about the Kpop scene was the idea of a the training system. This seems very appealing to people – the idea of trained by professionals with others, almost like a school system, but to make idols. We can totally understand why this idea is so popular. The stories we hear about idols trainee days make it sound like it’s hard work, but full of comradery.
And what did the guardians who’d come along with their children think of the auditions? The ones we talked to were very supportive. Although not completely clued up on the world of Kpop, parents had obviously been doing some research on YG as a company as the parents wanted to make sure they knew what their children were getting into. One parent said they’d researched YG thoroughly and were happy they were a trustworthy company and would be happy to place their child into their care. On the other hand, some auditionees admitted that their parents didn’t know they’d come to the auditions (Guardians were only needed for those under 14). They also said that their parents knew next to nothing about Kpop, and probably wouldn’t understand or want to understand what it was about.
We were also interested to find out what the auditionees planned to do if they passed the auditions and were offered the chance to be a trainee. Did they really understand everything it would entail? Would they be truly willing to move across the world, leave their families, learn a new language and begin a new life? Some admitted they hadn’t sat down properly to think about everything that would happen to them and what hardships they’d have to endure as a trainee. Some however were fully aware that life as a trainee in South Korea wouldn’t be all fun and games, and would be willing to leave their life in the UK.
Catching up with some of the people we talked to after their auditions, the main emotion was a sense of relief that they’d finished it. Many also had regrets about a forgotten line or a flat note, and wished they could do their audition again. We heard that the person from YG judging the auditions was a man whose expression didn’t change at all during the auditions, which was quite disconcerting for many performing. We were told that the way the auditions worked was a group of auditionees were in the room with the YG representative, so while one performed, others waiting their turn would be listening in. We can only imagine how terrifying it must have been to be waiting nervously for your turn while other people sang, or to sing while others listened on!
We were at the auditions for over six hours and saw hundreds of people go in and out of the KCC for their auditions. We’re so happy that so many people turned up for the auditions. Hopefully this shows YG, and other South Korean entertainment companies, that the UK is a market that not only wants to watch Kpop in their own country, but to be part of it too. Many people mentioned that as YG were holding auditions in the UK, they hoped that it meant YG would see the UK as a viable market for concerts too, fingers crossed!!
We expect everyone is anxiously waiting to hear the results of the London auditions, so hopefully results will be out soon. We wish you all the best of luck!