With Psy currently dominating the music charts all over the world and opening the way for Kpop, we take a look at one of the reasons as to why Kpop is so popular; music shows. The pop music scene in Korea is vastly different from the UK pop music scene. One of the main reasons for this is because of exposure. In South Korea, there are 3 music shows each week and numerous variety shows featuring our favourite idols. Here in the UK, we lost Top of the Pops a good few years ago and if I wanted to see The Wanted perform one of their latest track, I have no idea where to look; the exposure we have to musicians in the UK is limited. One of the main reasons why One Direction spiraled into such a MASSIVE success is because X Factor gave them weekly exposure, giving them a chance to steal the hearts of fangirls each week.
In South Korea there are 3 big music shows each week, and Korean Class MASSIVE were lucky enough to be given the chance to see how an episode of KBS’s ‘Music Bank’ is created. Here we were able to witness all the hard work that goes into bringing your bias to your screens each week. The production team starts insanely early in the morning, and by the time we rocked up at 1pm to watch FT Island film their pre-recording, it looked like the stag crew had been preparing for hours. We saw podiums already on stage with hanging lit up boxes before FT Island came on stage, along with a whole host of different lighting and effects rigged up. Very high production values for just one stage! We were also very shocked to only see one stage in total, as when watching Music bank, we get the illusion of multiple stages that it cuts back and forth to. We had been picturing idols just waiting on the other stage as the previous performance comes to an end. But in reality there is only one stage and ‘Music Bank’ is actually made up of a mixture of live performances and pre-recordings.
As we watched FT Island, and tried to remain calm and professional, it was really fascinating to see all the different cameras at work. There were two cameras on large cranes there needed a guy to manoeuvre the crane whilst another guy used a remote control to control the movement of the actual camera. There was some epic team work happening. Then there was a camera on a track that spanned the length of the stage, constantly whizzing left and right along with the three main cameras facing the front of the stage. We were fortunate enough to be able to watch all the pre-recordings which included FT Island, T-ara, Kara, Secret another personal favourite, B.A.P! And during the Kara performance we saw one very special camera in action, we like to call it the action man steadycam as a cameraman strapped in a steady cam jumped into the performance. It was rather comical to see and we finally know how all those really close up happens!
As we watched the pre-recordings, we discovered that the editing of performances is done as they are being filmed and the performance is feed onto the in-studio TVs as it all happens. It’s all just absolutely intense! The editing of the whole entire show is done from the auditorium floor which is structured like a cinema and rather than recording a few performances and then editing them together, for efficiency and speed reasons, the performances are edited as they are filmed the footage. If there is anything wrong, the group would simply perform again. We saw FT Island perform only twice and due to a few camera issues, T-ara had to stop and start again a few times but all was done by only the 3rd take! T-ara were extremely professional during their recordings as they went to watch the playback of their performances and actively worked with the production crew to make sure they get a perfect take.
These pre-recordings are recorded in front of the idols’ specific fan clubs which meant a very intimate performance. The specific fan clubs are lead in for their bias’ performance and let out again in the most orderly fashion we have ever witnessed at any Kpop event. Each fan group will only watch their bias’ performance, meaning that even though the auditorium was only 1/3 filled, the screams were still thunderous as everyone was a fan. Even though B.A.P were still considered as rookies and not that well known in Korea, they had the largest fan base which had quite a few foreign fans present. The screams were beyond deafening. Groups such as B.A.P, FT Island and Secret would also interact with their fans in between performances, which was so endearing to witness, and oh how we wish we studied harder at Korean. The fan chants were amazing, and you can really see how appreciated the fan’s effort and supports are by the idols. We even got a Chuseok bow from B.A.P! We also sat in on a few pre-recordings for rookie bands, such as Rania, and because they didn’t seem to have an official fan club, they performed to an empty auditorium, which was really heart breaking, but in the end we applauded and gave them a thumbs up for their ever enthusiastic performance.
The ‘Music Bank’ production team are slick and very professional, and a lot of man power and hard work is put into each show. It literally takes up the whole day. The pre-recordings start early on in the day and in between each stage the production crew quickly jumps on stage to start dismantling the props, as props for the next performance are rolled in. The set changes are super fast, you don’t even notice the stages being completely transformed, especially when it comes to confetti – there was an instance where B.A.P had to re-do the performance after the confetti canons were set of. It literally took them 1 minute and the stage was as new again; these men were the Dyson of the production crew world. And before we realised, that was the end of pre-recordings, and the camera rehearsals for the live shows started.
Each performer got one take, and it was both their dress rehearsal and the camera rehearsals. These rehearsals happen right to the last minute before the show is broadcasted. And during the run through, editors on the auditorium floor are stitching up all the pre-recordings ready for the live broadcast. Everything happens so quick! As the show’s audience starts to come into the auditorium, many bands are still going through their camera rehearsals and they remain totally professional and completely non distracted as they only get this one rehearsal, so the pressure is well and truly on; especially for the rookies.
Time for the show, as mentioned previously, the actual live show is made up of live performances and pre-recordings. Audiences that attend the actual live show still get to see their idols live even if they are pre-recorded as those idols will still return to the stage and perform a little, or in FT island’s case, come back to mess around on stage and interact with audiences. It’s actually really fun to see the more relaxed sides of idols as there isn’t the pressure of going LIVE, but they still perform with great enthusiasm, especially the rookies. However, they never get to finish as they are normally waved off quickly to prepare the stage for the next live performance.
We had so much fun at the KBS studios, we really want to thank the PD for allowing us to sit in. We never knew there were so many performances in one music show and ‘Music Bank’ is one of the longest music shows that run for over 100 minutes! As overseas Kpop fans, we only get to see whoever the internet Gods deem worthy to be uploaded, so to be able to see so many new bands and discover a few new favourites was refreshing and fun! The ‘Music Bank’ production team deserves a round of applause after every show for the amount of effort and team work they put in. People really take them for granted when they work so hard to bring you your idols week after week. The slickness and professionalism of each member, the immense amount of team work, the way everyone just knew what they were doing is astonishing. It is so well managed and produced! We also shouldn’t over look the amount of planning and details put into the shows as each stage had new and different graphics, and someone also pointed out how the lightening was always done to compliment the performer’s outfits. The amount of man power put into each of these 3 minute sets surpasses anything we have ever seen back in the day of TOTP. We were lucky to get a fancier stool or maybe a Christmas tree prop in December. But ‘Music Bank’ saw technicians on stage dismantling the FT Island light boxes to make space for T-ara’s amazing bouncy balls, and confetti canons were constantly being reloaded. So next time you watch a music show, take a moment to thank the amazing production teams that work behind the scenes, who work hard all day so you can watch another amazing performance from your favourite groups.