Videos of several competitors on TV Chosun's hit show "Ms. Trot for Tomorrow" that searches for a trot diamond in the rough have captured hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. Some videos have amassed over 1 million views within days after each episode of the show aired on Thursday nights.
The saga of the unknown trot singers on YouTube came as a surprise to many, mainly because of the music genre's "dismal" presence in the local music scene.
Trot is an old style of music genre which was popular in Korea in the 1960s and 1970s. It is well-known for its unique vocal technique "kkeok-kki" or breaking voice. Singers sing lower notes with vibrato and their voices crack when they sing higher notes that push their vocal range limits.
Many trot singers were pushed out of business as young and hip K-pop musicians have become the norm and continued to dominate the music industry since the 1990s. The situation has worsened for trot singers as K-pop's global expansion has left trot singers behind in the dust.
"Ms. Trot" videos are going viral, causing music industry experts to rethink the long-held view that the old-fashioned genre has no future.
"The show is very popular among older music fans and viewership hits over 10 percent among our target viewers," Moon Kyoung-tae, producer of the show, told The Korea Times. "As a producer, it's encouraging to know that the show also has captivated younger music fans (in their 20s and 30s) and viewership among them is on the rise. I think the popularity of the YouTube videos of our competitors proves trot music is popular among younger people."
"Ms. Trot" has created much buzz since it premiered on Feb. 28 with a 5.8 percent viewership rating.
In the first three episodes, 100 aspiring singers, including those who have already had a "trot career," competed to progress to the second round of 40 candidates. In the fourth episode that aired last Thursday, the candidates, who advanced to the second round, performed team missions. Each team consisted of four to six members and four teams competed to make the cut for the third round.
Among them, the "Sook-haengs," a four-member team named after the lead singer, were a big hit.
They took the audience by storm and performed Yoon Soo-il's 1980s hit song "Sweet Marriage Proposal" in a rock style. All four members advanced to the third round with unanimous votes from the six judges. Their YouTube video, which was posted on Sunday, has garnered over 430,000 views as of Thursday.
The 16-year-old competitor Kim Eun-bin, who has had over 1.31 million views, earned the nickname "human a-jaeng," after a traditional seven-stringed musical instrument, for her astonishing vocal technique. And Song Ga-in, who wowed the judges with her powerful voice in the first episode, had 1.3 million. Several other competitors, such as Park Ji-min who performs under the stage name of Hong-ja, and Ji Won-I, also rose to stardom with hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube.
The fourth episode of "Ms. Trot" has over 1 million YouTube views.
Viewership of the show has continued to rise. Since the first episode hit 5.8 percent, the second episode went up 7.4 percent and the third hit 7.8 percent. The latest fourth episode soared again with a record 8.4 percent, a rating that is equal to MBC's hit singing competition show "Masked Singer." About 25 percent of the viewers tuned into "Ms. Trot" are women in their 30s.
The popularity of trot music is also felt on the internet. Stars have already been born, although "Ms. Trot" still has a long way to go to select the final winner.
Several competitors, including Ji Won-I, Hong-ja and Sookyang, made the Top 10 most-searched names on the nation's largest internet portal Naver after their stories aired.
"We've been hearing from multiple industry sources that trot music is regaining popularity as our show helps create a boom in the once-struggling music genre," producer Moon said. "Some say the trot market is undergoing a seismic change as the event season is approaching."
Having no place on major music shows, trot singers perform in various local events, including festivals. Thanks to the TV show, demand for trot singers shows signs of soaring.
Moon is a star producer. He previously worked with MBC and produced the award-winning reality show "Real Men" which aired from 2013 to 2015. "Ms. Trot" is his first project since he joined TV Chosun last year.
The popularity of trot music reflects the counterculture movement underway in the music industry.
"Ms. Trot" struck a chord with fans ― both young and old ― who are sick and tired of the same old K-pop bands and their performances. Pop music critic Lim Jin-mo said there is a generational rift among music lovers and some fans miss the good old days of trot music.
"Korean pop music is currently dominated by teens," he said. "Songs that appeal to teenagers or those in their 20s are dominating the music scene and there's virtually no music genre that the older generation can enjoy."
Lim said younger people are the main music consumers, so it's no surprise that songs that can curry favor with them are popular. He said older people, particularly those in their 50s or older, are still consumers, although disposable income they can spend on music could be smaller than that of the teens.
"Like younger people, the older generation also has a desire to enjoy music and many of them are trot lovers. In the past when folk music was popular, young people loved it. It's interesting that those young people who were once folk music fans now love trot music as their music taste has been changing as they get older."
That first video was posted just yesterday and already has almost half a million views. According to another article about the show, there are KPop trainees, former group members (I think Rania's Hyeme), and housewives on the show. Honestly I'm gonna start watching because of Jang Yun-jeong, she always has the best reactions lol.
sources: The Korea Times & TVCHOSUN 1 2 3 4 5 6