Singaporean's last shot at K-pop stardom

Singaporean Natasha Low, also known as Tasha, is enrolled in Idol School, a South Korean survival reality show where the top nine trainees, decided by public voting, will form a new girl group.
Singaporean Natasha Low, also known as Tasha, is enrolled in Idol School, a South Korean survival reality show where the top nine trainees, decided by public voting, will form a new girl group.PHOTO: MNET IDOL SCHOOL FACEBOOK

Singaporean entertainer Natasha Low, leader of defunct South Korean pop girl band SKarf, is taking what could be her last shot at K-pop stardom.

The 23-year-old, known in show business as Tasha, is among 41 trainees enrolled in Idol School, a South Korean survival reality show where the top nine, decided by public voting, will form a new girl group.

A trainee withdrew from the contest in the first episode, which aired last month. Eight candidates with the lowest votes were eliminated in last week's episode, but were given the option to continue appearing on the programme.

Tasha's mother, Madam Lucy Wang, 51, says: "She is working very hard and wants to make it a success. She has been there for five years and thinks this may be her last opportunity."

SKarf released a self-titled album in 2012 and an EP, Luv Virus, in 2013. The band's line-up went through multiple changes, but past members include Singaporean Ferlyn Wong, Koreans and a Japanese.

After that, Tasha's fortunes waned. She had a brief stint on televised dance contest Dancing 9 and an occasional hosting gig on Pops In Seoul, an Englishlanguage music show on Arirang TV. In 2015, news surfaced that SKarf was sold to South Korean entertainment company CJ E&M.

Madam Wang, who is a dance instructor, is heartened by local fans' continued support of her daughter. While they are unable to contribute to the popularity votes on Idol School, they are working hard to raise her profile among viewers in South Korea.

Ms Lydia Wong is canvassing votes among the network of friends in South Korea she built when she studied there for a year in 2015.

The 25-year-old, who works in the media industry, says: "The show's mentors recognise Tasha for her singing, dancing and leadership. Unfortunately, she loses out in terms of popularity because the South Korean contestants can count on friends and family to vote."

Undergraduate Grace Tan, 25, has highlighted Tasha's participation on the show by writing in to news outlets, including The Straits Times and Korean entertainment news sites Koreaboo and allkpop.

She says: "Tasha has scored highly for her dancing and singing, but has not fared well in the popularity polls. It's too bad I can't vote using a Singapore phone number."

A Facebook page titled Tasha Low, run by Singaporeans, has been providing regular updates on the singer since 2011.

One of the site's administrators, student Looi Jia En, 20, says: "Tasha's perseverance is admirable. I hope she will get a second chance to debut in a new group. Tashians will support her all the way."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 13, 2017, with the headline 'Singaporean's last shot at K-pop stardom'. Print Edition | Subscribe