Jackie's chance

JJCC, a boy band created by Jackie Chan.

There is a new K-pop boy band generating buzz that is unprecedented for showbiz rookies.

Earlier this month, fresh-faced quintet JJCC (pronounced Double JC) made headlines in every prominent entertainment news outlet you can name even before releasing a song proper.

The five - SimBa, E.co, San Cheong, Prince Mak and Eddy - who are in their early 20s, have since performed their debut single, At First, on South Korea's top music variety shows M! Countdown and Inkigayo.

From The Hollywood Reporter to Billboard, interest in JJCC seems to be high.

A large part of the media hype stems from the fact that the group's founder-cum-manager is revered Hong Kong action superstar Jackie Chan.

If you haven't noticed, the group's name is a play on Chan's initials.

According to UK's The Guardian, the 59-year-old martial arts screen legend reportedly spent several years grooming the lads and will "personally oversee their activities".

Ahead of JJCC's yet-to-be-titled full-length album release on May 24, M gives you three reasons they are headed for the big time.

The Hunks

It is hard to find a boy band that is uniformly excellent in the looks department.

Most groups have a member or two who come up short. But the best thing about JJCC is how good-looking they are.

They boast an average height of 1.8m and they can sing, dance and rap, says Ms Sha-sha Lee, CEO of the Jackie Chan Group South Korea, the boys' artist management company.

It also helps that at least two in the team are not entirely new to TV audiences.

Long-haired Eddy, whose real name is Oh Jong Suk, was a contestant on popular cooking reality series MasterChef Korea in 2012. Back then, he had already displayed his flair for music and was nicknamed the "Cooking Rapper".

JJCC's sole non-Korean member Prince Mak (real name Henry Mak) was reportedly noticed by Chan after appearing on Chinese television station Dragon TV's reality dance series So You Think You Can Dance.

The Australian-Chinese's sharp moves had impressed the panel of judges, including Hong Kong actor-singer Jordan Chan.

And if you're wondering why the boys have no problems pulling off their suave poses and cool stares in publicity photos, SimBa and E.co are former models.

 

The Boss

It's no secret that Chan is an encouraging mentor to many younger artists in the Asian entertainment scene.

His A-list protégés include California-born Hong Kong-based actor Daniel Wu and American-Taiwanese star Wang Lee Hom, whom Chan once effusively praised: "He's too perfect and super hardworking. The only weakness he has is that he has no weaknesses at all."

In preparation for his newest protégés' foray into the K-pop world, Chan was reportedly very hands-on and gave them "individual training on their personality and stunts", reported news wire agency Xinhua.

And with his experience in the Mandopop scene - Chan released several Mandarin albums in the 90s and is good friends with veteran singer-songwriters Jonathan Lee and Wakin Chau - he could help open doors for JJCC in the Chinese and Taiwanese music industry.

The Song

JJCC's first single At First is a surprisingly understated, mellow R&B ballad, which sets them apart from other boy bands churning out the usual electrodance and club banger schtick.

Standout moments include Eddy's mesmerising voice - he has a vocal range of three octaves - and leader SimBa's baritone rapping (sounding a tad like Big Bang's T.O.P., though).

The music video for At First, released on YouTube on Sunday, has garnered overwhelmingly positive comments, including "good choreography", "it's a bang", "absolutely gorgeous" and "finally something in K-pop that is not boring".

Most fans, however, lamented that Prince Mak was absent from the video.

He apparently could not make it for the filming due to an accident, reported Korean news site Soompi.


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