BATTLE OF THE BANDS
The concept of the show is simple. Each episode has a theme in which 6 bands compete in one of the 3 rounds and there’s 1 winner. A pair of the bands face off in one of the 3 rounds and the audience chooses the winner from each to advance to the final round. The episode’s winner gets to move on to the final stage and battle against the other winners for the prize of a Canon DSLR (the show’s sponsor) and 50 million won (approx. $50,000 USD) towards their next album.
I am a Singer almost had a similar idea when it was first starting out in creating a survival of the best kind of competition. But alas the producers were too afraid of offending well-established singers. At least we’re dealing with indie bands. It makes for a great program despite the pressure it puts on the musicians.
I was first alerted to the existence of this show when one of my favorite indie bands, Daybreak, released a single through the show. I’m not sure how many people will have access to it as even I have difficulty finding the program. I do follow some K-indie bands but most of the times I may be familiar with their music but have no idea what they actually look like. So it was nice to get a sense of their stage presence. However, there are also a lot of bands that I don’t know and I like that this show is able to expose them to a larger audience.
One of my concerns about the show has to do with the definition of band because so many different genres of music could be covered under that umbrella. Even in the first episode, I wasn’t sure how J-Rabbit would hold up against Windy City as it seemed like Windy City had a lot more energy and J-Rabbit has got a more melo style. However, I was moved by J-Rabbit’s performance. I didn’t feel that way when I saw the excerpt of their performance below. You have to watch their performance in the scheme of the entire program as you also get a behind the scenes look on their song selection process and practice sessions.
Although I know and enjoy some of these bands, there’s something to be said for actually knowing the songs that they’re singing as some of these songs are quite vintage. It’s quite interesting to see what the bands do at least with the songs that I know. To just see and hear TVXQ’s “Mirotic” as a goth metal number or H.O.T’s “Candy” as a folksy country number was pretty unique. The genres go pretty far and wide.
I have to say that I loved all the performances in the 3rd episode which had a theme of 9010 (meaning 1990 – 2010’s) idol bands. If you’re not familiar with the indie scene, this may be a great episode to get you into the program. It cracked me up when the band 3rd Line Butterfly is so out of touch with today’s idol bands that they first suggested doing something from Nami’s repertoire. Missing the mission by a decade.
In the end, I really, really loved their mashup of 2NE1’s “I Love You” and Seotaiji and the Boys’ “필승 (Victory)”. It was a nice bookended performance as “필승 (Victory)” is from the mid 90’s while “I Love You” is pretty recent. I think it’s because I’m quite partial to seeing a female lead singing rocking out to “필승 (Victory)” while her husky voice added a different vibe to “I Love You”.
Hippie band 구남과여라이딩스텔라 (Goonamguayeoridingstella) have yet to win a single round since they appeared from Episode 2. They’re not a bad band and I have liked some of their performances but I have to admit that I have to be in the mood to listen to them so I’m not sure they’re casting quite a large net with their music. I do find their hippie style a bit amusing at times because of their crazy Woodstock-y outfits.
I also got a little confused about the rules when Galaxy Express who won in Episode 3, returned to compete again in Episode 4. What would happen if they won again? Do they get 2 spots on the final stage? That’s just confusing.
However, I think if you like music, especially band music, it’s worth checking out. Maybe you’ll learn about a new band. I even found myself really loving Monni last week and eager to check out their latest album.
I love the commentary by the celebrities, the music industry insiders as well as YB (Yoon Do Hyun Band) who are the hosts (Scott says very little).
It’s an eye-opening experience how each band approaches preparing (or not) for the show from their practice sessions, to the costumes, to the back dancers and even the LED displays. However, if you’re not able to find the show in your area, Mnet posts all the performances on their Youtube site.