Volume 1 / Chapter 49
[How do I explain that? I just know it.]
“They said you’re good at making songs but more than that, your ears are impressive. No, I guess they call you a genius because you’re good at everything?
The producer forgot about their initial plan to record Jun Hyuk’s guitar. He was calculating that Jun Hyuk as the arranger would know much better what instrument needed to be added to make the song perfect.
“What do you think? Since you heard the whole recorded song, what do you think will make it good? We were going to wrap it up with the guitar, but do you think there’s something better? I want to know your opinion.”
He was someone who had never asked another young singer or idol for their opinion during his recording sessions. His asking for an opinion meant that he was not looking at Jun Hyuk as another teenager, but had accepted him as a musician.
The engineer who had been adjusting the console box stuck out his tongue in surprise. That perfectionist was discussing music with this young child? The producer had never even asked him for his opinion during the three years they had worked together.
“Um, it has a very different feeling from when we performed in during the mission.”
“Of course. We made it better to match the recording standard. The other kids recorded for over 12 hours.”
“We did it with an acapella feel during the mission… I played the guitar to bring out the rhythm. Now I think it’d be better to put in a percussion than the guitar. Something light with an airy touch to it.”
“A percussion you say… Sounds good. You said lightly?”
The picture of Park Ki Young’s song being reborn as a perfect acapella song was engraved in the producer’s head.
“Good, then let’s hear the piano instrumental.”
The producer looked excited with anticipation. He had heard that Jun Hyuk’s piano was a gem. He had checked that Jun Hyuk had an ear for music, and he would be able to confirm the extent of his talent once he saw his performance skills.
“Excuse me? The piano?”
“Yeah. There’s a Finkl song that you played in a jazz version, right? That. I saw the recording.”
“But Nam Seung Hee sang that song.”
“No, not that. You know the one that you played casually as a guide before Nam Seung Hee sang it for you? I’m talking about that one. Honestly, the version with Nam Seung Hee took away from the piano. The instrumental alone was much better.”
“Are we recording that too? I don’t even remember it… because I played it on the fly.”
The producer burst out laughing at Jun Hyuk scratching his head,
“Seemed like it. Ha ha. That’s the zest that makes it so you can’t help but fall in love with jazz. Music expressing the emotion of that moment. What do you think? Are you in the mood to play piano now?”
The producer had felt it when the broadcasting station gave him the recording of Jun Hyuk on the piano. There was fluttering of attraction to someone of the opposite sex. But there was no way that emotion would reappear in a dingy basement recording studio drenched in the smell of cigarette smoke.
“I think it’ll be a little difficult.”
Jun Hyuk was fascinated by the machines that could control sounds. He was more curious about how much the machines could alter sounds than he was interested in playing the piano.
“Right? Then let’s do this; there’s going to be an electric piano at the dorm. Keep in mind that the keyboard weight is set for an upright piano. Play it when you’re in the mood. There’s a recording function on that, so don’t forget to record it.”
When Jun Hyuk left, the sound engineer finally opened his mouth,
“Teacher, why are you so amiable to that kid? It’s a little weird today after seeing kids tense up in front of your charisma.”
“From now on if you see that kid again, be nice to him and be friendly. Got it?”
“There’s going to be a day when it’ll be a huge advantage to your career that you ever worked with him. He’s on a completely different level from other kids who come on these audition programs.”
As such, Jun Hyuk’s talent began to be recognized by the people creating and controlling the music behind the stage before the people on the stage.
On the 10th day of dormitory life, Judge Lee Sung Chul visited the dorm. This moment was like a much needed rain during a drought as the contestants had been weary of their monotonous schedules of daily fitness and vocal training.
The pizza Lee Sung Chul brought – though it was for product placement – disappeared quickly because the young children had only been eating the chicken breast and salad meals that the trainers brought.
“Now the 2nd episode aired. You’re curious?”
“Yes. How did it go?”
“How do you think it went?”
“Jun Hyuk is totally famous now, right?”
“Huh? Oh, Jun Hyuk? He’s a hot topic.”
Lee Sung Chul glanced over at Jun Hyuk who was scarfing down his pizza, but quickly looked away. It was true that Jun Hyuk had become a hot topic, but it was with a completely different type of issue that what these kids who were cut off from the outside were thinking of. On top of that, it was with obscene content created for a dirty ulterior motive.
Lee Sung Chul quickly brushed off the guilty mood. The camera was filming. They needed to film happy and animated young children.
“Once the remaining four elimination rounds are aired, it’s the live broadcast in five weeks. It’s the stage where you guys will have to sing live. In front of an audience.”
Live stage. The first moment to becoming a star was when the public was focusing their attention. Just thinking about it made their hearts beat faster.
“The people who go on all six live stages are the winner and runner-up. I’m really curious as to see who will stay alive.”
None of the contestants had been told by their agencies when they would be eliminated. The only thing they were told was ‘Do well no matter what.’ There was also the threat that they would not be left alone if they were eliminated early on.
“The reason why I came today is the mission song for your first live broadcast. Don’t you want to know what song you’ll be singing?”
24 sparkling eyes pointed to Lee Sung Chul’s mouth.
“The first theme is a song of your choosing. We’re going to make a stage that shows all of your skills. Except pop. You have to leave that for the next round. This may be a disadvantage for the people who don’t have a strong command of Korean, but you still have five weeks left in which you can overcome that with practice.”
A song of their choosing was the easiest mission. The fact that they could choose the genre they wanted to do. They did not have to be able to perform all genres. Everyone sighed in relief.
“While I’m here, I’ll give you guys a tip. There are many ways to sing. A song that’s good no matter who sings it. A song that’s easy to sing without high or bass notes. This doesn’t show a singer’s advantages or disadvantages. It’s safe.”
No one wanted to sing a song that was safe and did not reveal any advantages or disadvantages. This was not a concert. Coming up to the top 12 meant that everyone lived with a knife by their hearts. Unless there was a competitor who made a big mistake, the person who took the safe route would be the first to be eliminated.
“The second is to cover all of your shortcomings with overwhelming vocals. With this, you can’t hear minor mistakes because you’re surprising the audience.”
Since coming into the dorms, Kwak Hye Sung’s face brightened for the first time as he had explosive vocals. He had more confidence in his vocals than he did in his jawline.
“The third is that there’s a singer who clearly shows his emotions. This also means that he has a good tone. This can be done with a good that perfectly matches his tone.”
That damned word. Tone…..
There were a few people who became frustrated after going through the qualifiers. It did not seem like they were very talented singers, but their singing was easy to listen to. This was the person who was born with a good tone. Though it was unfair that the average person had to make hundreds of times the effort a gifted person does, what could one do? This was a cruel survival competition.
“Figure out what your fortes are and prepare a stage where you can present that personal weapon of yours.”
Lee Sung Chul pat everyone’s shoulders in encouragement and left the dorm. The production staff started to go over the details of what they needed to prepare next.
It was not surprising anymore. They were embarrassed that they had believed the next mission song was a free choice even for a second.
“Everyone looks like they ate something sour, but stop frowning. It’s not that bad.”
The staff could understand why the kids were upset. It took a long time to become used to this world where the inside and outside were different.
“The first mission is a free choice song, but it’s not a completely free choice. You know the reason, right?”
The issues with copyrights, royalties, et cetera were complicated. They had heard this too many times.
“Starting tomorrow, when you’re done with your health and vocal lessons, you’ll separate into teams with three people. When you go to the recording studio, you’ll work on choosing your song, arranging and practicing it, RM recording, and sound recording. Now, you’ll be working with the producer.”
When they heard the word producer, they realized that the competition was really starting.
“Since there’s a whole month left, wouldn’t it be difficult if you spent that whole time practicing one song since you have to sing a different song every week? That’s why we have everything set until the 3rd stage.”
Could they really sing three songs when they have to go up to the top 8? Everyone gulped.
“Don’t think that it’ll be a waste of time for the people who don’t make it to the third week. We’re thinking of making a special stage to broadcast. Use everything you practice. Um… for the second mission, you’ll do songs by the four judges. Of course you’ll consult with a producer for this as well.”
Now was the time to say the hardest part. It reeked of money.
“Third is the idol special. Hey! Don’t frown over there.”
The production staff saw that a few people grimaced at the mention of idol singers. There were people who had a prejudice against idols. They were held in conceit and thought that they were pursuing a higher standard of music.
“I know there are people here who don’t like idols. However, the public likes idols. This is show business. The stardom that you all want so much is the main point of show business.”
Under the animosity toward idols was jealousy. The kids who succeeded on video and not audio. They did not try to understand the sweat and tears that came before the video success.
“If you want to work on only the music that you like, you have to leave. You can walk the path of a musician instead of a star.”
These kids gathered here were no different. They were of the same classification. They came out on this survival program to become stars, not musicians.
“Lastly, we’re going to assign producers… Listen to your producers and you’ll get good results since they’re all first class. They’re also going to change every mission. Don’t complain about who got a good or bad producer and don’t blame the producers for who had a good or bad result.”
The production crew announced the four producers along with the three people who were assigned to each.