Home-grown artists make the shortlist for K-pop festival

Soloist singer Akif Halqi (back) and dance crew H.I.M at the Singapore selection round for the KBS K-pop World Festival, to be held next month.
Soloist singer Akif Halqi (back) and dance crew H.I.M at the Singapore selection round for the KBS K-pop World Festival, to be held next month.PHOTO: JEREMY LIU

South Korean broadcaster KBS is on the hunt for international talents to perform at a music festival alongside popular K-pop acts such as Twice and BTS.

Gender-bending proved to be a winning card for contestants at the local leg of the selections held last Saturday at Our Tampines Hub.

The victorious "boyband" H.I.M is made up of six androgynous women.

H.I.M's leader and financial consultant Inez Goh, 25, said: "It is very common for girls to do covers of girl groups, and boys to do covers of boy groups. We wanted to take it a step further and look like boyband Vixx."

The only child was cheered on by her housewife mother, 58, and businessman dad, 61, who were in the audience.

Performing dance covers of Vixx, H.I.M certainly looked the part with their slick dance moves, coloured cropped hairdos and white pantsuits.

The unique concept earned the seal of approval from judge Kim Hae Ryong, a producer with KBS.

He said: "They have incredible talent. Their outfits are very professional, they look like what real K-pop idols would wear."

He was part of the judging panel which also included K-pop star Lee Jung Shin of rock band CNBlue.

The final goal for contestants is to do well enough to reach the stage at KBS K-pop World Festival in Changwon next month.

Preliminary selections are held in about 70 countries, including Singapore.

The chosen ones will have their performance video evaluated by KBS, who will pick 12 to 14 acts to include in the festival's line-up.

The Singapore preliminary selection, the fourth here, is organised by the South Korean embassy in Singapore.

This year's session had 16 finalists vying for the titles of Best Performance and Best Vocal.

Dance crew H.I.M came up tops in the performance category, while soloist singer Akif Halqi won the vocal category.

Full-time national serviceman Akif, 21, wowed judges with his singing and dancing to Korean- American singer Ailee's break-up anthem, I Will Show You.

"I wanted to challenge myself to sing a song by a female singer. It is a way to showcase my capabilities in vocal techniques," said Akif, who is the youngest of four sons of a housewife mother, 57, and an engineer father, 55.

KBS producer Kim was impressed by the amount of talent found at the competition.

He said: "I want to bring all the groups to Korea. I'm sad I can pick only two winners.

"I heard Singapore has never made it to the festival in Changwon. I hope at least one Singapore representative makes it to the stage this year."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2017, with the headline 'Home-grown artists make the shortlist for K-pop festival'. Print Edition | Subscribe