YG Treasure Box season 1 has finally come to an end and YG Entertainment now has new boy band in preparations to debut for the New Year. We are now given the chance to look at YG Treasure Box production as a whole. Factors to take note of are the final lineup, arrangement of screen time and the treasure maker’s votes as the survival show wants viewers to know they have a choice. But do they really?

By now we’re very familiar that YG Entertainment is a favorite buzz word (and not often for good reasons). With YG Treasure Box we saw possibly what was an attempt to reconnect with the fans by going back to the basics and opening the doors of YG headquarters open; however, as a program controlled by YG, the content is controlled to show what YG only wants you to see.  

There is something to be said about the power of choice. You do have a choice, but as we saw from the first 7 episodes the camera seems to favor some trainees over the others. Our choices in the end may only from the trainees YG really wants us to choose from.

Episode Eight: Unit Eliminations

The duo units were my favorite competition out of all the other missions because in a duo we get to see the trainees’ skills as a team member but also as an individual. In larger groups it makes it easier for someone to get overshadowed by many others (although you could argue a trainee’s star power to stand out in a crowd). Duo units seem to place everyone on a fair playing field and we’re given a chance to view talents we haven’t seen before or understand why they are being kept hidden. If the duo units were done at the beginning of YG Treasure Box this survival show might not have felt as biased.

Take for instance Kim Jongseob, one half of the winning duo Boyfriend of K-Pop Star 6. Jongseob signed into YG Entertainment the previous year and is frequently complimented for his tone and rap skill. In episode three we saw his skill against other Treasure C member Jung Junhyuk; however because most of the screen time was focused on Junhyuk there wasn’t much time to acknowledge Jongseob as an equally skilled rapper. Same thing applies to his partner, Treasure J member, Kotaru.

Despite their skill ranking being higher, they were chosen last to be a unit giving them a disadvantage from the start. Kotaru and Jeongseob are like oil and water, they don’t mix. Even though both give an impressive performance in singing and rapping, their stage presence was lacking with their backs constantly turned from each other.

There are a few other unit battles but the most anticipated one was between the only rapping duo Treasure A, Choi Hyunsuk and Treasure C, Junhyuk with the self-made nickname ‘Lil-Bunny Duo’. They perform “A$AP Ferg” by Yammy Gang and prove why they were so anticipated with Papa YG exclaiming “Don’t do this show, make a rap duo!” Hyunsuk ultimately wins this competition though. What a difficult feeling, joy in being able to make it the next step towards your dream but guilt in separating from the connections that made your journey so enjoyable. The trainees sent back gives their encouraging messages and a new mission begins: 5 member teams.

Episode Nine: Open the Treasure Box! (Take Notes!)

First off, a shout out to MC Jang Sungkyu for being so dynamic when starting off each part of the competition, “Open the Treasure Box!” The new Treasure 5 opens this episode with their version of “Going Crazy” and it is as pleasurable to listen to as the first rendition. Kim Seunghun makes a wonderful addition with his smoother vocals and please take note Keita is the only Treasure 5 member not shown performing.

The team competition was opened to 300 fans chosen from V Live to actively watch and participate in the live performances. Also note, up to this point the 300 Treasure Makers were exposed to the same content as you and I. After each live performance the Treasure Makers are allowed to vote for their favorite trainees on the team and the points determine the team’s ranking in terms of elimination.

The songs sung by the teams were picked by YG, “Boomerang” by Wanna One, “Growl” by Exo, “Dumb & Dumber” by iKon, and “DNA” by BTS. The performances of the songs were strange, except for “Dumb & Dumber” and I think it’s because the other songs did not fit with an YG boy group image.

Team Boomerang is led by Hyunsuk, who up to this point was only shown as a charismatic rapper but really shines as a cheerful and patient leader. Even Papa YG loved the performance and compliments Hyunsuk for his leadership skills. Team Boomerang comes in with 647 points.

Team Growl is second and is grouped by the trainees that were not chosen to be in a team. Third note, screen time is given to Junghwan and Yoon Jaehyuk. I wonder if the reasoning behind seeing all of  Jaehyuk’s struggles is to empathize with him or to agree his skill level is not up to par with the other trainees. On stage, team Growl actually delivers a fun performance and Jaehyuk transforms to a different person on stage throwing out every charisma tactic possible. Team Growl receives 607 points.

Team Dumb & Dumber is led by Lee Byounggon and is described as the Avengers team consisting of all the previous Treasure members. This was the most exciting performance to watch and the most natural as it has original YG flavor as their advantage. Team Dumb & Dumber receives 864 points.

Last is our Treasure 5 team as team DNA. Bang Yedam is shown missing most of his practices due to his studies but that doesn’t matter as Yedam was able to pick up the dance within an hour. Yedam is truly a genius. Team DNA delivers a great performance eliciting many compliments but even with all the love, they came in at second place with 812 votes.

All members from team Dumber & Dumber are saved from elimination. From team DNA Keita (note #1) and Seunghun are eliminated. From team Boomerang Hyunsuk and Park Jihoon are saved from elimination. And from team Growl Junghwan is saved from elimination.

Then it is finally announced, 7 trainees will make the final debut team.

Episode 10: The Final Treasure 7

Ladies and gentlemen we’ve finally made it to our final episode.

Papa YG is full of constant twists and brings 2 more trainees in the final competition, Seunghun and, introduced with a dramatic entrance, Jaehyuk. Even though I’m not a fan of large groups, the 13 member version of “Going Crazy” was also an enjoyable watch. Hyunsuk gives a really good rap and Mashiho really stands out with his dance.

The final competition is a genre competition (Rap, dance and vocal) with the 1st place of each genre gets the place to debut. It was pretty funny how all the finalist avoided the vocals like the black plague because of Yedam because he is just that good.

The finalist gets chosen out of a total 1000 points, Papa YG gets 50% of those points with his choice and the general public gets 20% in pre-online votes and 30% through a live audience. The winner of the online votes is shown first and then the live audience is factored in. Ultimately at the end its Papa YG’s votes that can change the outcome of the first place trainee.

The last performances were definitely matched to each of the team’s flavor. The rap team performed “Hit Me” by MOBB (feat. Kush) with honestly not one of them stand out from each other because the 4 finalist are difficult to pick from. There were 6 members in the dance team performing “Earned It” by The Weekend and “Goosebumps” by Travis Scott making an equally sexy and powerful performance. Seunghun stood out in the sexy portion with his body waves and fangirl shirt lifts (that was not awkward to watch) and Mashiho, who I can’t really explain why looks so good dancing. Mashiho has consistently very sharp moves.

The vocal team consists of the strongest vocals of the competition, Yedam, Kim Junkyu and Park Jeongwoo performing “Last Dance” by seniors Big Bang. Throughout this series Jeongwoo has been stealing screen time with his antics and it is pretty funny watching his expressions towards Yedam choosing the vocal team. He is proof that was doesn’t kill you makes you stronger as the vocal trainer notes Jeongwoo’s vocal growth just throughout this competition compared to his 11 months of training.

With the last of Papa YG’s votes the debut members are revealed. From the rap team, Haruto is given the first spot and I’m not going to deny his talent, but remember the power of choice? Straight from the introduction of Treasure J Haruto was the only member given a background story. From the vocal team, Yedam is given the second spot of the debut team. This comes as no surprise as Yedam was known before this competition, was the introduction to YG Treasure Box, and the YG genius everyone was waiting for. From the dance team Junghwan is surprisingly chosen. He was placed 2nd to last in rankings and constantly is not picked by the other trainees but from episode 2 we’ve seen him play in Papa YG’s favor.

The last member revealed on the show through the vote rankings overall is Junkyu, who also from the start was followed in his journey. YG revealed the next 3 members one by one over the course of the next week with Jeongwoo, Jaehyuk and Hyunsuk completing our new YG group lineup.

Were you surprised? Jeongwoo was highlighted from episode one as Yedam’s contender, Jaehyuk was oddly highlighted throughout this series as well despite him lacking in skill and placing last place amongst all the trainees, and Hyunsuk was given a background from the beginning as well. This leaves many fans realizing, Papa YG got the lineup he wanted from the beginning. Even though Mashiho was given the popular choice where was his background?

Overall, YG Treasure Box left a strange taste in the mouth as we are only being fed what YG likes. As a powerhouse, they are unafraid of bad or good news and YG Entertainment’s true colors remain apparent.

(Youtube. Images via YG Entertainment.)