Big Boss Entertainment says K-pop's the limit, plans to form Asian Pop group

The people behind SKarf, Singapore's first K-pop group, held auditions last weekend for their next big star.

Naturally, most of the 500 people who signed up thought they had been given a shot at the K-pop industry.

But, after two days of auditions at Chinatown Point, those shortlisted were handed news that shocked them.

If they get signed by talent company Big Boss Entertainment (BBE), they will have to perform in at least five languages to break into the K-pop, J-pop, Mandopop, Cantopop and English pop markets.

One of BBE's directors, Mr Alan Chan, said marketing them as a "flexi-group" would ensure they would survive any music trend.

He told The New Paper: "We will call our next group an Asian Pop group. If they can sing and perform in different languages, they can go anywhere and make it everywhere."

Mr Chan said this new strategy came after his experience with SKarf, which was founded in 2010.

The girl group, consisting of Singaporean Natasha Low and South Koreans Jenny, JooA and Hana, has been sold to South Korean entertainment company CJ E&M.

Mr Chan said: "We learned that by making (SKarf) a K-pop group, we were limiting their possibilities. What if K-pop becomes less popular?

"Longevity is the goal and that is what we are striving for now."

Only eight people were shortlisted and five of them were told to perform as a girl group to SKarf's My Love.

After rehearsing together for two hours, Angeline Ng, Melissa Chan, Celeste Eng, Joalina Tan and Nana Wang pulled off a solid dance routine.

But what did they think of being an Asian Pop group?

Big K-pop fans Melissa, Celeste, both 14, and Ms Wang, 23, admitted they were disappointed as they auditioned in the hope of becoming the next SKarf.

Miss Wang said it is her dream to perform at the Mnet Asian Music Awards. She yearns to be like her idol, HyunA, of girl group 4Minute.

The marketing executive, who teaches K-pop dance in her spare time, said: "I was a bit sad when we were told that we could be based anywhere, doing any genre of music.

"I've always wanted to be a K-pop star since I started dance lessons at the age of four.

"I cannot speak Cantonese and my Mandarin is only okay. I think it will be very tough for me as I only listen to K-pop songs."

Melissa, a Greenview Secondary School student, said she was willing to give it a shot.

The thought of learning to perform in five languages is daunting, as is the social aspect of immersing in the different cultures.

"I have insecurities about myself not being good enough and I hate it. I tend to compare myself to the others, especially in dance."

Celeste, also a Greenview Secondary School student, was hesitant about picking up new languages.

"But even though it might be tough, I feel honoured at having the chance to travel around the world and do what I love.

Angeline, a Greendale Secondary School student who has just completed her O levels, relished the challenge.

Angeline, 16, said the news was actually a nice surprise.

"I actually love old songs such as Close To You by The Carpenters and Stevie Wonder's Isn't She Lovely.

"I don't mind performing in any genre of music as long as I get to be a singer.

"If I have to quit school to pursue my singer dream, I would do it and return to my studies when I have achieved success in my career."

For Miss Tan, 18, not shying away from challenges is half the battle won.

"Being courageous is something I struggle with but I always tell myself that I have to overcome that to do something greater.

"There was a time where I had a tough time with my own identity and I am still figuring out who I am.

"But because of this I accidentally hurt and neglected many people around me, especially my parents.

"Which is why I strive to be someone my parents can be proud of."

This article was first published on December 22, 2015.
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