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Come to Play – Birth of a Great Star Edition Part 1

Posted on: May 2, 2011

Episode 330

Date:  2011.03.21

Come to Play is a talk show hosted by Yoo Jae Suk and Kim Won Hee.  Like all Korean shows, the show is taped for several hours in order to provide 1-2 hours of television quality programming.  Since they tape for such a long time, these shows tend to capture great stories and moments between the guests.

In this episode, the mentors from MBC’s Birth of a Great Star were invited to the program.  It was interesting how the five all decided to become mentors for Birth of a Great Star.  KTW has spent most of his life living the life of a rocker only to be comically renamed the Nation’s Grandmother in the past few years.  While he’s thankful for the recognition, the show provided him a vehicle to go back to his roots so he readily accepted.  Interestingly, while KTW was the first to jump on the bandwagon, the producers of Birth had second thoughts and KTW was nearly cut before taping of its first episode.

Shin Seung Hoon, ever the nice guy, thought long and hard about joining the panel.  Having to pick and choose singers and having the title as mentor was burdensome.  Eventually he agreed to be on the show because teaching these rookies to become better more seasoned professionals appealed to him.  I guess it would be frustrating to see kids drinking ice cold water right before a performance since it freezes up their vocal chords.

Bang Shi Hyuk mentions that there are some pretty harsh things written about him.  As one of the more outspoken Simon Cowel-equse judges, many people criticized him for his choices in mentees saying that while Bang likes to talk the talk, he didn’t walk the walk.  However he says he spent a long time making his choices and basically tells us he knows what he’s doing because he picks trainees as a living.  This probably doesn’t move any viewers who still think he’s a hypocritical d-bag.

Kim Yoona felt that she wasn’t meant for national television and wanted to decline but her management company knew that this was a huge opportunity for her and would constantly nag her to accept the position.  She finally agreed to become a mentor when she heard Lee Eun Mi and Shin Seung Hoon had been slated to be on the show.  If she lacked anything she felt that these two seniors would protect and guide her.  Hilariously, Kim Yoona fails to mention KTW to which KTW readily acknowledges saying the producers were probably on the verge of cutting him during that time.

For those hoping to make it into the second season of the show you better pay attention to the next few paragraphs since this is what the judges say they were looking for when they chose their mentees.

Shin Seung Hoon says that he looked for coal.  Not a diamond in the rough but coal that with a bit of tweaking would become a diamond.  He believes that the “diamonds in the rough” type have already been picked and are training.  This is probably true of Korea since anyone with any ounce of talent and ambition will try out for JYP, SM, YG, or any of the hundreds of other entertainment agencies.

KTW in his typical poetic ways gives a story of how he had gone to eat noodles at a Chinese restaurant and met a beautiful waitress who had no idea how beautiful she was.  The slight way she shook when placing a cup of water on the table to the nervousness she portrayed as she asked KTW for his autograph was beautiful to him.

So for him, he’s looking for someone who is beautiful but doesn’t realize how beautiful they are.  In the simplest sense it could mean someone who is humble but I think he’s trying to say he’s looking for someone who exudes a certain charm that not everyone appreciates.  Also, he says that he’s no longer looking for someone with great vibrato but someone who can control songs like a surf or wave…whatever that means.


Lee Eun Mi tends to watch for bad habits like tapping the mic to the beat while singing.  Also she hates people who are imitators.  While you should listen to songs and singers, one should not become a cover singer but be unique.  Kim Yoona simply listens to their voice.  No matter how hard someone practices, if they don’t have a voice it doesn’t matter.

Finally Bang Shi Hyuk is looking for someone with star qualities.  While these singing contests focus on how well someone can sing, the person also has to have the ability to command a stage and that’s what he’s looking for.

In the next segment of the show called Yes or No where the guests have three seconds to answer their hard hitting journalistic questions like “If I were a contestant I would want someone here to be my mentor.”  Of course they all answer Yes.

Shin Seung Hoon wants someone like Bang Shi Hyuk to mentor him because unlike Shin, Bang is a straight shooter and doesn’t mess around.  When watching Birth of a Great Star, its pretty obvious who the “Simon” is of the group since Bang’s words can often be construed as harsh and demeaning.  Bang was actually concerned with this side of his personality and tried to be softer on television.  Even his friends noticed that he was being more tactful with his words when filming.  Really?  Could’ve fooled me.

Bang Shi Hyuk picked KTW as his mentor.  When Bang was younger he was an aspiring rocker and a huge fan of Boohwal so its obvious that he would pick KTW.  While Boohwal was their own road managers, had little recognition and ate ramen for meals during those days, the fact they inspired someone like Bang, who is a renowned songwriter means a lot to KTW.  KTW also picks Bang Shi Hyuk.  All his life KTW has been the teacher and never been taught.  He thinks someone like Bang, with his tough teaching methods, would have been someone who could have made him a better performer.  Everyone seems to want to defend Bang and tell the audience that Bang is a good guy.  Its really Bang’s eyes that give off the impression that he’s evil incarnate.  There’s even talk that if you can see the white of Bang’s eyes during an audition, you’re OUT.  Its funny but sort of true.

Speaking of first impressions, everyone assumed that Shin Seung Hoon was stuck up and strict considering he’s lived as the prince of ballads for so long.  They were all surprised at how loving and accommodating he was.  One of Shin’s previous mentors Jo Hyun Woo basically says Shin bus them dinner, calls them 2-3 times a day asking about their singing, takes care of them and is basically the nicest guy in the world.

Bang Shi Hyuk says that of the five the person who surprised him the most was Kim Yoona.  Looks wise, she’s pretty and has a kind voice so he assumed she was like during the competition.  However Kim Yoona’s words like Bang are straightforward and cold which surprises him.  Bang also says that he thought Lee Eun Mi would have a diva attitude but was surprised at how caring she was, even meeting with eliminated auditioners to give them advice.

The next question:  “There was a time where I couldn’t sleep because of someone I eliminated.”  Everyone answers Yes except Kim Yoona since she believes she held her tongue most of the time to which Bang Shi Hyuk replies “that’s what you think!”  Shin Seung Hoon says that like Kim Yoona, he felt like he was pretty nice during the show but for one contestant.  During the audition stage, a legally blind contestant chosen from the American auditions stepped up to introduce himself.  He told the judges that because he had just flown in he only had a few hours of sleep.  Immediately after hearing that Shin replied “so what?”

The judges had their own schedules and were sleep deprived as well.  Not only that, there were dozens of other kids right behind with who had their own issues and problems.  Shin knew that the kid just wanted to tell them his voice wasn’t in good condition but before Shin knew it, he coldly replied “so what?”  That night Shin went out to drink because he felt so bad.

Lee Eun Mi says that because they have such limited time, some of their words can be construed cold but she hopes that the contestants understand their position.  Especially one kid from Thailand called Micky.  While performing, this little kid was winking at her and had these intense expressions.  Lee Eun Mi saw potential in him but there were so many things that he needed to work on and she spoke of them at length but in the end, everything was edited out except the part where she said the expressions and his eyes grossed her out.  She felt so bad wondering how hurt the kid’s mom would feel watching the show.

The five mentors have no idea who these contestants are, what their life stores and hardships were when they judge them.  Its only after they themselves watch the show do they realize someone had to go to the hospital because they were sick on the day of their audition, etc.

Specifically KTW picks out Baek Sae Eun who was Kim Yoona’s mentee before being eliminated in a previous live broadcast.  Apparently Baek is related to KTW.  Surprisingly Baek didn’t disclose any of this information until after she was chosen as Yoona’s mentor.  KTW had no interest in her at all until he found that out and KTW hilariously replies “If only I had known.”

For Bang, he says the fact that he’s so harsh both keeps him awake at night but lets him fall asleep.  His criticism is harsh but he knows that if they want to compete with the elite trainees, he has to be honest.  On the other hand Bang knows that for some of these kids, they consider it their last opportunity and for Bang to crush their dreams is hard for him.

The third question:  “I see myself in some of these contestants.”  KTW and Shin Seung Hoon answers Yes.  For Shin, it was one of the contestants from Thailand.  The kid had this deep voice but imitated Wheesung’s voice while singing.  It was so extreme that even when the mentors asked him to sing low, he couldn’t.  Shin, who has entertained audiences with his great ability to imitate other singers said he would have probably been just like him if he had auditioned as a young kid.

As a youth, KTW was an outcast and even the teachers ignored him.  He says that if one person had given him some attention, his life may have been totally different.  So when he sees guys like Lee Tae Kwon and Son Jin Young (two of his mentees) who aren’t the most physically appealing, he feels connected to them.

Finally this part of the interview ends with the hosts performing for the judges and damn it was bad.  So bad they wrote a few articles about it.

Part 2 coming soon.

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