MBC‘s yet-another-idol-survival-show My Teenage Girl came to a close a few weeks ago, christening the winning seven member unit as CLASSy and immediately tying them up with an ambitious 7-year contract. While “CLASSy” isn’t the worst name I’ve seen in K-pop (“Favorite” might be just for the SEO nightmare), it does feature dangerously nugu-strength pun. M25 is the newly spun up company in charge of the group, which is a subsidiary of our old frenemy MBK Entertainment. Literally, this could go any which way.
CLASSy’s final lineup features a good mix of season-long front-runners (Yoon Chaewon, Myung Hyungseo), dark horse candidates (Hong Hyeju, Won Jimin), and surprising omissions (Kim Hyunhee). They also avoided the Kim Yooyeon landmine, much to judge ((G)I-DLE) Soyeon‘s delight, I’m sure. My Teenage Girl lucked into a fortunate situation; the endgame featured a fairly talented contestant pool, which in turn led to a result that was surprising and suspenseful without being overly controversial. Sure, the ages of a couple members are a bit younger than we’re used to, but things have been trending that way ever since Wonyoung was made center of IZ*ONE at 14.
A while ago, I briefly covered the first couple episodes and remarked how My Teenage Girl felt like a grab bag of positive innovations and cringe-y tropes. After burning through the entire season, I’m happy to say this recipe continues throughout the entire show. Any given episode has equal chances of “oh that’s pretty cool” or “lol wtf”, and thus remains eminently watchable.
Compared to Girls Planet 999‘s K/J/C rivalry and Cell system, MTG‘s Class system operated as a much more effective narrative structure. Each class had its own distinct character: the freshman’s chaotic energy, the juniors’ overachiever hubris, the seniors’ elder savagery, the sophomores’ middle-child syndrome. The unique celebrity mentors emphasized this coloring, and also provided us with an ample helping of intimate mentorship moments, something in which GP999 was sorely lacking.
On the other hand, the editing is tawdry as ever, reaching “public apology required” levels at times. And the elimination process hilariously jarring and sudden; at least one elimination is literally done via trap door. Yes, the parents are in the room to support the mental health of the contestants, but also the parents are made to watch as they plummet into the basement because the public didn’t vote for them, so, props, I guess?
But considering that most of these shows are conceptual trash-fires, for what its worth the remaining cast is fairly compelling. Kim Yooyeon dons the mantle as the show’s classic pretty-but-talentless representative. BOTOPASS‘s Mihee shines as a talented dancer and performer, which is a win for her and her group. Myung Hyungseo’s veteran grace is on display at all times. Lee Youngchae‘s underdog gumption is charismatic. MBC allows the girls to flourish in these roles without artificially concocting drama-prone situations, which unfortunately was GP999‘s M.O. to a T.
I also liked how many of the challenges were one-on-one collaborative performances; I think that went a long way on emphasizing each individual contestant’s pluses and minuses as a performer. So you couldn’t really blame Hyunhee for not making it, as she had plenty of camera time to really string together some ace performances, but ended up merely being above average for the most part.
Anyways, MTG ended up being a fairly alright show to binge, and I’m sure many groups to debut in the next couple years will feature a lot of these contestants as members.
But it would be out of character to end the show without one final bit of controversy. I’ve read the official stories maybe 3 or 4 times over and I think this is the order of events, but please feel free to ream me in the comments if I’m wrong.
Judge, and beloved mini-person, Soyeon wrote a song for the trainees to perform during the finale titled “Sun“. Sometime after the show aired but before the digital single was released, someone informed Soyeon/CUBE Entertainment that there are direct similarities with ATEEZ‘s “Wave“, especially the melodies in the chorus. Soyeon/CUBE then immediately put KQ Entertainment and EDEN (you might remember him from composing Produce 48‘s “Rumor“) on the credits. Then they go and tell KQE, and KQE says they don’t know anything about this; you need to hold off publishing the digital single. The digital single goes out anyways, KQE publishes a public announcement, then Soyeon also does and apologizes.
Every tropical house K-pop song sounds exactly the same (photocopies of photocopies of WINNER‘s “Really Really“), so I don’t know why people are so incensed about this particular instance. Maybe because it’s Soyeon, who’s been a lightning rod for hate lately, and maybe it’s because it’s ATEEZ, considering where ATEEZ themselves sit on the current boy band hierarchy. But also, copyright is the police; bootleg everything, #FreeFreeZia.
Anyways, it’s a single from a TV show so it’s not going to sell a dime. Enjoy your half of zero, KQE.
It’s nice to be back.
I’ll be back again shortly with Queendom 2 coverage, see you in the trenches, folks.