Volume 1 / Chapter 36
After that, performances that alternated between happiness and sadness continued and with the end of the first round of Star Week, the 40 people who passed were decided. In a matter of 48 hours, 70 out of 110 people had been sent home.
The 2nd round was to start now. From here, half would make it up to the last round of Star Week and the rest would be boarding the bus to Seoul Station, staying for just another day.
Known as the most cruel round, the 2nd round consisted of two people becoming a team to compete with another team performing the same song.
The judges simply chose the better group. With misfortune in choice of partner, no matter how much one shined, there was no way to stay alive. Everything moved according to a plan especially because the production crew organized the teams. There was the production crew that knew this and the naive participants who thought that it was up to luck.
The person who became Jun Hyuk’s partner was Nam Seung Hee, an aspiring singer in her mid-twenties who had received the appraisement that she was the prettiest contestant in this season’s Star Week.
Nam Seung Hee who dreamt of being a female rapper like Yoon Mi Rae was another one of Producer Kim Ki Sik’s hidden cards.
The VJ captured Jun Hyuk’s face during his first meeting with Nam Seung Hee. The plan was the flirtation between the ideal boy and girl. It was the meeting of this season’s best looking guy and prettiest and sexiest girl. Nam Seung Hee fit the tall Jun Hyuk well with her long and slender legs. When he got a good shot of the two together, the VJ moved busily with excitement.
When the VJ saw Jun Hyuk’s expression in the camera, he knew that Producer Kim’s plan was working. Jun Hyuk was blushing and could not stop smiling as he looked bashful.
“Hello. My name is Nam Seung Hee.”
The Jun Hyuk who shook the hand Nam Seung Hee held out as she laughed was not the rough teenager who threw his fist and cursed, but a young boy who could not hide his awkwardness in front of a girl.
Nam Seung Hee on the other hand did not let her guard down and kept showing a stiff face. In the individual interviews, it was possible to know why she was not unconditionally pleased at becoming Jun Hyuk’s partner.
“Do you know what we call Jang Jun Hyuk amongst ourselves?”
“It’s poisoned apple. Poisoned apple. The poisoned apple that Snow White died after taking one bite.”
“Why? Why is Jun Hyuk a poisoned apple?”
“Because you want it and it looks edible, but you die the second you put your mouth to it. The music that Jun Hyuk makes is so perfect that you want to sing it after you hear it… but the end result is that Jun Hyuk is the only one who stands out and the person singing falls… That’s why he’s the poisoned apple.”
The VJ conducting the interview thought that this might be a consummate metaphor.
The duo’s mission song was Finkl’s ‘NOW’.
“Do you want to sing the song first? According to the original.”
“What? Why do you want me to sing all of a sudden.….?”
“To see the difference between the tone you normally speak in and the tone you sing in.”
Nam Seung Hee sang softly to Jun Hyuk’s gentle guitar accompaniment. It was just a tone check and it did not matter if her pitch was unstable or if she was not on beat.
When she finished singing, Jun Hyuk looked surprised.
“Um. Have you received professional training?”
“Excuse me? Oh, yes. I have.”
“It seems like you’ve practiced a lot. Your voice became scratchy.”
Scratchy? Her voice was not husky in any way, but what could he be talking about?
“Oh, you don’t need to worry. It’s a good thing. It’s become strong. Wait, is there a piano?”
As Jun Hyuk looked around, the staff rushed to set up a digital piano.
“Here, listen to this.”
He put his fingers on the keyboard and started to play. While a slow piano sound spread, his right hand started to move faster. It was a colorful melody, but the waiting room was full of an overall slow jazz.
Since the rival teams stopped practicing as they found themselves lost in Jun Hyuk’s music, Nam Seung Hee was out of the question.
Nam Seung Hee who had been drunk with the aftertaste of the sound of the piano was swept with embarrassment once she came back to her senses.
“Are you telling me to sing this? Isn’t this a piano instrumental?”
“No it isn’t because I’ll actually only be playing the accompaniment. We’ll have to fill the rest with singing.”
“This is jazzy but what am I supposed to do? I’ve never sang jazz before.”
“You can start practicing now. Just keep one thing in mind; this is perfect for your voice.”
The VJ almost felt awkward at Jun Hyuk’s image of leading the opponent in such a straightforward manner as opposed to the 5-person mission. How could he change so much when it seemed like he was just constantly arrogant?
‘This kid was no different from an everyday teenager.’
Nam Seung Hee asked for a little time and left her seat at Jun Hyuk suddenly asking her to sing jazz.
“Jun Hyuk, can we do a short interview?”
“What do you mean again? You haven’t done that many. Out of all the Star Week contestants, you’ve done the least. Everyone else will do anything to get an interview.”
He convinced a complaining Jun Hyuk and started the interview.
“Why did you choose jazz all of a sudden? It seems like Nam Seung Hee barely listened to jazz music.”
“Her tone sounded like a clarinet. But…..”
“She wants to do hip hop… hah. It was so funny I didn’t know what to do. She doesn’t fit with hip hop at all.”
“Even if her tonal quality is good, she says she can’t do jazz.”
“She can just sing it slow since I’ll fill the rest with the piano. We can save it.”
“It seems like you like Nam Seung Hee looking at the way you accommodate her. Yeah?”
Jun Hyuk did not show any shock at the VJ’s frank question,
“Yes. She’s pretty.”
“Oh, you’re honest.”
The VJ was shocked that he had responded so easily.
While Jun Hyuk was doing his short interlude interview, Nam Seung Hee was on her cellphone getting angry.
“Director, talk to the producer here. They’re telling me to sing jazz. They didn’t give us an arranged song and the kid who’s my partner…..”
“Oh, I see. Sorry. I guess I bothered Director for nothing…..”
– Nam Seung Hee, listen closely.
– What do you think you are? Are you a singer? What? Jazz isn’t a genre I’m pursuing? You want to set your image in hip hop? You’re being annoying.
Nam Seung Hee could not say anything in response to the director’s harsh words and felt like her head was empty. She had been mistaken for a moment that she had passed the auditions and entered Star Week on her talent.
She realized her position as one of countless aspiring celebrities.
– Listen well. Do you know how much this company spent to get you there? Genre? Character? Do that stuff when you become a singer. Right right, your job is to shut your mouth and do as the broadcast station says. Got it? And your partner is 100 times better than you. You’re being carried along with him. Don’t call me when you’re just a little brat who doesn’t know her position!
The director who had hung up after his rant had told her what she needed to do. She needed to hang on to the boy that even the main producer was fussing over no matter what.