The Eurovision Asia Song Contest is on the horizon. At some point in 2018 up to twenty countries will send artists to sing-it-out in front of a massive television audience stretching from Australia up to Japan and potentially over to Dubai. Among the many nations we expect to see is South Korea — a nation of 51 million that punches well above its weight when it comes to exporting culture. Korean pop — that’s K-pop — is an audio-visual feast. Slick dance moves, infectious hooks, telegenic stars — the Korean pop music factory churns out idol after idol and the world laps them up. It’s no wonder fans are already predicting that South Korea will become the Sweden of Eurovision Asia.
With that in mind we thought we’d have a think about who Seoul might consider for the musical extravaganza. Here are five names that spring to mind immediately. Don’t see your favourite? Don’t worry. South Korea has enough artists that we’ll be writing a few more of these lists in the months ahead…
South Korea: Dream acts for Eurovision Asia 2018
It’s not yet clear whether the producers of Eurovision Asia will adopt the Eurovision rule of allowing just six people on stage. And if they do nine-piece girl group TWICE is going to have to lose a few of its starlets.
The group, which formed on the reality series Sixteen in 2015, hit it big in 2016 with “Cheer Up”. The bubble gum track oozes cute as the girls tells a boy with a crush to cheer up. “He says I take his breath away, I get him all frustrated,” they sing. “I make his heart race.” And they make those singles fly off the shelves too. The song was the most-played of the year and topped the ultra-competitive Gaon Digital Chart. They followed that up with “TT”, which sat on top of the charts for four straight weeks. It’s no wonder that Forbes ranked the group #3 on its Korean Power Celebrity List for 2017. They were the highest-ranking musical act.
TWICE have already won hearts in Japan, which could bode well for their efforts at Eurovision Asia. In June they charted at #2 in Japan with their first compilation album #Twice and went platinum in less than two months, pushing around 260,000 copies. Ka-ching!
Their name translates as the Bulletproof Boy Scouts. And the members of this seven-member band definitely know how to survive the wilds of the pop music scene, having pushed more than four million records globally.
They announced their arrival in 2013 with the song “No More Dream”, winning plenty of accolades at home. And they proved they had global appeal when they released a series of tracks that made it into the Billboard 200 in the United States. In 2016 their second album, Wings, even hit #26 on that chart — the highest position ever for a K-pop album in the U.S.
“Blood, Sweat & Tears” — the lead single — came with a cinematic music video that gave life to their fierce trap beats and urban sound. Its fresh-faced singers turned a mansion into their playground as they threw down R&B-inspired moves, grabbed their crotches and generally ran riot. They’re the boy band that Eurovision has dreamed of…but never quite found.
Psy — real name Park Jae-sang — earned MTV’s “Viral Star of 2012” award for his international breakout hit “Gangnam Style”. His 18th single, it debuted on top of South Korea’s Gaon Chart (a feat he had already accomplished half a dozen times in his career). But “Gangam Style” — an ear worm of the first order — managed to get attention outside of his homeland owing to its rowdy, over-the-top music video, which includes that horsey dance. He went giddy-up and the world went click, click, click — it became the very first YouTube video to reach one billion views. By 2014 it had become the first video to reach two billion views.
The video captures Psy’s wit and flair. It seems him working a variety of geek-chic looks as he dances in the subway, in a barnyard and at the club. His propensity for hilarity and outré looks are also on show in videos for “Gentleman M/V” and “Hangover” (featuring Snoop Dogg).
He’s made the entire world move before. Why not do it again at Eurovision Asia?
In 2012 their EP Mama topped the charts in Korea. Fast forward to July 2017 and their fourth studio album The War did it again, promptly becoming the fastest-selling album ever in Korea. All four of their albums have sold more than one million copies.
The album’s lead single “Ko Ko Bop” melds reggae, bass guitar and some hard-to-describe digital sounds. Strip away the Korean lyrics and you could hear it looping on Spotify charts around the world. The video features plenty of synchronised swagger with the guys popping and locking on a road, at a tropical beach party and in a parking garage.
Need further proof of their popularity? The video clocked a million views in one hour and nearly nine million in a day. That’s star power, y’all.
In recent days fans of Girls’ Generation have wondered aloud whether its members will disband following their tenth anniversary celebrations, which took place earlier this month. The idols — among the biggest in Korea — are said to be renegotiating their contracts. But Tiffany — one of the best-known members, who is Korean-American — has said that she plans to return to the United States to study acting. K-Pop fans are worried and anxious. But surely they can listen to the group’s countless singles, which span electropop, hip hop, R&B and dance, during the agonising wait for news.
The eight-piece girl group formed in 2007, but they didn’t rise to national prominence until their 2009 single “Gee”. The bubblegum pop song became one of the most-loved of the decade and paved the way for future hits including “I Got A Boy”, “The Boys”, “Mr Taxi” and “Oh!” They were the very first girl group from Asia to have five music videos with 100 million views each (for the aforementioned songs).
They’re national treasures. Perhaps they’ll go out in style by representing their country at Eurovision Asia next year?
What do you make of these five acts? Do you think any of them have what it takes to win Eurovision Asia? Do you think that Korea should go for a lesser known act? Let us know what you’re thinking down below!