20160414_seoulbeats_produce101_kconic_hyeongeunMnet‘s Produce 101 may be officially over, and the final 11 awaiting their debut; but if you are feeling nostalgic for the show, worry not: the Produce 101 Support Group is here for you! In this meeting, we cover the show’s position evaluation: the trainees chose between showcasing a rap, vocal or dance performance in groups, with the trainee who receives the greatest number of votes in each category also receiving a 100,000-vote benefit.

How did these votes and benefits affect the elimination in episode 8? If our hearts didn’t break, they may have certainly cracked for at least one trainee…

Gaya: I was momentarily distracted while watching episode 6, and so spent most of the hour thinking that every lady with the most votes in their respective group would each get 100,000 votes, which I thought was rather indulgent. It was only when I realised that only one person in each category overall was getting the benefit that it all started making sense.

As much as Mnet wants to push this girl group as being 100% chosen by the public, the suits have decided that they still need to cover all the bases, talent-wise, lest we end up with 11 visuals. The benefit is an insurance policy.

Elaine: Yeah, it took me some time to figure out whether it was 100,000 votes per group or per category at first too; mainly because I would’ve expected everyone to go for the songs with the least members first if it were the latter. In the end, I think we got a mix of people who chose based on the song and people who (though not explicitly) chose based on their chances of winning, and perhaps it’s better that way — if everyone had been out to win that benefit, the Avengers team performance would’ve never have happened, but that’s a discussion for later.

Gaya: Episode 6 was dedicated to the vocal category and, honestly, it was a bit of a drag. The only performance I really enjoyed was “Monster,” thanks to the ending. It took her (and Mnet) a while, but Chanmi redeemed herself here. She did a great job with the rearrangement and her high notes were spot on. The only other performance I was impressed by was the John Park and Huh Gak OST; that song was ready-made for an emotional outpouring, and boy did it deliver. Whichever show producer picked that song should get a raise.

Elaine: “My Best” was probably the most of “fair game” of all the performances — none of its performers were particularly well-known, which led to an audience judgement based more on performance than popularity. And that’s exactly what happened: Kang Si-ra killed her crescendo at the climax, causing the votes to pool towards her and ultimately land her in second place overall in the vocal category.

It seems to also have saved her from the edge of elimination and put her at a relatively steady position in terms of rankings. I also applaud the group’s teamwork and skill, which brought them from not even knowing the song to delivering a beautiful and emotional performance.

“Monster” and “Me Gustas Tu” were the less memorable ones in my opinion. For me, the ending of “Monster” with them swinging towels around was just random, and looked quite messy at that. “Me Gustas Tu” was also relatively bland – take away the hard-hitting instrumental of the original, and you end up with a stage that’s cute but leaves a relatively weak impression.

The standout member, though, was Han Hye-ri. Although her baby voice juts out sharply from the others, it suits the concept ridiculously well; her intro alone had the audience fawning. As a side note, I also sympathise with Lee Hae-in — she doesn’t deserve those comments blaming her for ruining the lives of four other trainees, and you can tell it took a toll on her self-confidence.

“Haru Haru” is probably my favourite performance vocal-wise. This group had two of the three known “bad singers” from the initial evaluation, who showed their improvement in their stability of this performance. The harmonies were subtle yet well-executed, and helped add a layered effect to the melody.

Most importantly, this group had two of Produce 101‘s vocal powerhouses, Yoo Yeun-jung and Kim Ju-na, which proved to have its disadvantages and benefits. The two ran into conflict while practicing because of who would get the main vocal position, but sounded great together in the end. Yeun-jung’s clean high notes and Ju-na’s husky vocal colour both giving the song a smooth exposition, and really driving home the impact in the last verse.

Gaya: And as popular as “Yanghwa BRDG” is, I found the performance itself forgettable — as in, I literally forgot what happened. Sorry, Se-jeong. The same could be said of the Exo “Call Me Baby” stage, though I liked it at the time.

Elaine: “Yanghwa BRDG” was one of most anticipated performances because Se-jeong, but I agree that it wasn’t the most memorable. The stage had the emotional punch the song required, and I think Se-jeong did a good job of channeling that after having it pointed out by the mentors. Skill-wise, none of the members were particularly lacking, though that some of the high notes came out slightly flat. On the whole, the group did well – just not outstandingly well.

Pat: The vocal performances were pretty much a bore to me. All I can recall is they all did well, Chanmi redeemed herself, and that the DSP girl should have asked for help if she didn’t know what was going on. But hey, she moved to the next round.

I don’t listen to much rap, so I really wouldn’t be able to comment on that. I’m not really into Cathy, since I just find it so forced to be rough, and Cube‘s Soyeon is also starting to get on my nerves. It’s not anything personal. I just don’t like the tone of her voice. One Hyuna is enough, and this is coming from someone who includes Hyuna in her top 3 female biases — well, maybe top 5 since I’ll have to free up some space for some Produce 101 girls, something I never thought I would be saying.

Gaya: I am one of those people who tend to like “squeaky” voices (like AOA‘s Jimin), so So-yeon’s tone doesn’t bother me much — I want her to feature on Hyuna’s next album! I agree that Cathy does sound forced, though she also has decent flow. Mostly though, the most memorable parts of the rap performances were Shin (Ng Sze Kai) ranking first in her group and Hyeong-eun winning the entire rap category.

Elaine: Mnet is finally getting the drama they want with these few episodes, but with eliminations looming over the members, conflict is inevitable. With Yoo Yeun-jung and Kang Ye-bin‘s respective conflicts with their teams, I think their biggest fault was being explicitly unhappy with the team without actually sharing their frustrations (at least at the start).

It’s understandable that they were disappointed not to be the main, especially in Ye-bin’s case, because Jeon So-yeon kind of accidentally popped up out of nowhere, but this silent grudge had a detrimental effect on the team’s cooperation and consequently, performance quality.

The “Say My Name” team’s argument was more unfortunate, and I think it was more of a conflict of interest – the lower rank trainees were concerned about getting enough spotlight time to survive, while Im Na-young and Kang Mi-na were more concerned about the effort it takes to change an already-made choreography (especially the latter, who sympathised with Na-young for having to stay up all night to choreograph it).

Gaya: Behind-the-scenes drama spoiled my enjoyment of the “Say My Name” dance performance, though I did love that slo-mo body wave in the chorus. ‘Stone’ Na-young knows her stuff.

Pat: Sign me up for Pledis girls because I’ll be needing more ‘Stone’ Na-young after all of this. I love, love, love how cleanly she executes the steps. There’s a grace into it that just looks so natural. I honestly don’t even know if that makes sense. Mi-na was a surprise too because she went from that cute, heart-crushing eye-smile, to the “Say My Name” choreography.

Gaya: While I’d describe the vocal performances as mostly lukewarm, the dances were hot and cold. As a dancer myself, I was really looking forward to these, and neither “Growl” nor “Bang Bang” disappointed.

Elaine: The best two dances were clearly “Growl” and “Bang Bang.” “Growl” in particular was a very underrated performance, not only because this team, too, was made up of a number of relatively unknown trainees with the exception of Park So-yeon, but also because they did extremely well, but had their achievements undermined by the terrible editing that took place. So-yeon did an excellent job in leading the team, as well as creating a choreography that mixed the original dance with a completely new number.

The rest of the members also executed the performance incredibly well, which shouldn’t come as a surprise if their talent had been more well known. Then dance break in particular was well-done — of course, you wouldn’t know that without watching the footage of them practicing it, because Mnet ruined the video of their actual stage with all the closeups and choppy cuts, as well as a ton of reaction shots.

Gaya: Girls covering boy group choreography is something I am always here for, so I loved “Growl.” It’s a real shame that all but one member of that group was eliminated; though, with so many low rankers and such a large group (meaning a smaller share of the 1000 on-site votes), this outcome wasn’t unexpected.

Elaine: “Bang Bang” is pretty much hailed as a legendary performance in Produce 101 history by K-netizens and I-netizens alike, and I’m not about to disagree. The energy every member brought to the stage alone is exhilarating for the audience to watch, and all of the members are amazing performers on top of that.

Yoo-jung, as usual, nailed her facial expressions, and though I questioned how she would do with such a fierce song given her cute image, she somehow managed to pull it off. Somi is definitely a natural performer, and you can tell she was really comfortable with this song. Her “high note” part was also a highlight.

Gaya: The second Avengers team killed that “Bang Bang” performance! Chung-ha, Yoo-jung and Somi really stood out, and I loved that they threw in Somi’s goofy lipsyncing. It’s the kind of self-deprecating humour I miss from girl group performances, and wish we could see more of.

Elaine: I didn’t really pay attention to Chung-ha after her audition stage, but she caught my eye when I was going through the fancams. Both her dancing and her expressions match so well with the song that her performance looked effortlessly skillful; and given she choreographed the dance on top of that, I’m just so impressed. Their team also seemed to have such great teamwork and a tight bond (from the way they cheered each other on in the second round of eliminations), which was the cherry on top.

Pat: “Bang Bang” was the first time I’ve went “Wow, so Somi can dance.” But then I saw Chung-ha and Yoo-jung kill it. I also loved the “Growl” performance, which was a surprise for me. I’m so sick and tired of the song, but I really liked this performance. It was cleanly done, with clear lines and a certain force in it that I find lacking whenever Exo does “Growl.” I guess I’m just not a fan of Exo doing “Growl.” I attribute me loving this to So-yeon.

20160414_seoulbeats_produce101_kangsiwonElaine: In terms of the episode 8 eliminations, not much came as a surprise. Most of the unknown trainees were unable to break the top 35, although my heart goes out to Kang Si-won, who broke down after finding out she just missed the cutoff. Following Yoo Yeun-jung, the rising stars of the last two episodes proved to be Kang Si-ra and Kim Chung-ha, and deservedly so.

I’m relatively content with the top four being as they are, although Mi-na placing before Somi came as a bit of a surprise to me. Finally, Kim Se-jeong placed first again, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, herself included. As she stated, she got the benefit whereas the other top ranked trainees didn’t, so I don’t think the comments calling her arrogant are justified.

Gaya: Hyeong-eun benefitted the most from the extra votes; she was the only Kconic girl to make it through. But all four trainees made a positive impression on me, and I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for their debut. It was also fun to see the rise of Kang Si-ra and other trainees who shone during this evaluation.

There has been a lot of crying on this show, but Kang Si-won’s reaction to just missing the cut-off is the first time Produce 101 that actually made me feel sad (as opposed to the usual disappointment and occassional rage at Mnet). You could hear her heart break, and the emotion from her hits you with such force. I don’t think there was a single viewer who didn’t feel the crushing disappointment she felt (as opposed to just feeling for her — empathy over sympathy).

Pat: I’d say it was pretty much expected. No real surprises, though I will miss Kang Si-won. Good news is that she’s been picked up by an agency! It’s not Pledis like everyone seemed to have wanted, which I consider a good thing because I wouldn’t wish Pledis’ mismanagement on anybody. Someone pray for the Pledis girls.

Gaya: Speaking of; I know Pinky is this super popular Pledis trainee, but this show is doing her no favours, seriously. First she gets stripped of the centre position; and then when she does get centre and creates all this choreography, people are too busy focusing on Chae-yeon‘s centre-like allure and So-hye‘s ability to remember all the steps.

Pinky turns up in so many of those 101-voted lists, like best visual, but I’m not really seeing what the other ladies on the show are seeing; and that frustrates me because I can’t tell if it’s because if it’s Mnet’s editing, a simple series of unfortunate events, or if Pinky actually is overrated.

Pat: I think that in Pinky’s case, its her being overshined (overshone?) by the rest. If someone were to tell me that she was the perfect center for Pledis Girls, I would believe it, especially since she may just be South Korea’s type. But with all these other girls, her lowkey energy and charisma is overpowered.

I also think that maybe she’s Miss Congeniality in teal life, helps the others willingly with no malice at all, friendly and all that. And Mnet just doesn’t want that at all. They want drama, not someone who’s drama free. Drama brings ratings, good girls get their screentime cut. Pinky, Jellyfish‘s Na-young and Shin are the same in that aspect, I think. Only difference is that Pinky was popular even before all this.

Gaya: So, I got played by Mnet?

Pat: At this point, we all got played by Mnet.

(Mnet, TwitterYouTube)