Music channel Mnet is launching a new show, in search for the best children’s song.
The channel has produced music competition and survival programs such as “Superstar K,” “Show Me the Money” and the recent “Produce 101.”
In the new show, called “We Kid,” short for “We Sing Like a Kid,” teams made up of children, top stars and composers are created. They come up with new songs that cater to children.
Aspiring young singers who pass a preliminary audition are matched with one of three teams. The first comprises actress Park Bo-young and composer Yoo Jae-hwan. The second consists of actor Yoo Yeon-seok and composer Yoon Il-sang. The third team is made up of hip-hop artist Tiger JK and artist-composer Bizzy.
The cast of “We Kid” pose for the press at the AW Convention Center in Seoul on Wednesday. (From left) Producer Kim Shin-young, composer Yoon Il-sang, actor Yoo Yeon-seok, actress Park Bo-young, a cutout of hip-hop artist Tiger JK, composer Yoo Jae-hwan and chief producer Kim Yong-beom. (Mnet)
The new show was created by producer Kim Yong-beom, who led the competition program boom in Korean TV with the talent competition series “Superstar K” and the dance competition program “Dancing 9.” It aims to create a “turning point” in the stagnant children’s music market, according to an official press release.
“The starting point was remembering our own childhood,” chief producer Kim Yong-beom told reporters at a press conference at the AW Convention Center in Seoul on Wednesday. “We know that memories of our childhoods are very much connected to music. Our focus while creating this program was to take the innocence and purity of original children’s songs and to reinterpret it through a Mnet, CJ E&M style.”
That “Mnet style” is what has some people worried. The channel’s competition programs have become infamous for their aggressive editing style, which has been accused of exploiting emotional moments or tipping the scales in favor of particular contestants. Recently, the channel received flak for the rigorous way in which it produced competition shows “Sixteen” and “Produce 101,” both of which included contestants as young as 13 years old.
Even before the show went on air, some viewers feared that the stress might be too extreme for young children. Kim said that the show, which is not structured as a survival-style tournament and does not eliminate anyone, has put “measures” in place to prevent hurting the children, although he “could not say” specifically what they were.
“The show does have a ranking system, and the first-place team receives a prize from the Education Minister and a scholarship,” he said. “But the more important thing is that the children take part in friendly competition and create songs in a festival environment.”
He also said that the choice of Park Bo-young, Yoo Yeon-seok and Tiger JK as the children’s mentors was part of the program’s efforts to shield the children from unnecessary stress. According to Kim, they avoided bringing on familiar faces from tournament programs or music specialists because they often showed less interest in the contestants “once the camera was off,” but these three celebrities showed a sincere interest in music and the children both on and off camera.
In the end, the goal was to give the children a good experience and to begin a revival of children’s songs. Composer Yoon Il-sang said that there was a “lack in both supply and demand” for children’s songs at the moment, noting that most famous children’s songs today were written “twenty or thirty years ago.”
“They’re written for children of that era. Since there are no new children’s songs that appeal to children today, kids are left listening to (age-inappropriate) pop songs,” he said.
The eight-part weekly series “We Kid” premieres on Mnet Thursday at 9:30 p.m.
By Won Ho-jung (firstname.lastname@example.org