After months of speculation and controversy, “Kara Project” finally hit the airwaves on May 27th. It’s hard and probably a little unfair to make a judgment based on the first episode of "Kara Project" alone. But there are some aspects that are troubling from the start. So...let’s make a judgment anyway.
The seven girls seem down to earth, and are able to compete while being friendly with each other (so far). They all have their own charisma, though it remains to be seen if any of them will be able to mesh with the Kara veterans.
What is strange here is that they’re trying to make Baby Kara seem like its own group but still make it a competition between them. The first episode introduces us to, using the show’s words, lovely Siyun, sexy Youngji, cheerful Chaekyeong, chic Somin, honey voice Chaewon, pretty girl Yuji. They even identify a leader, the elder (at 23), Sojin. Thats all well and good that every member of Baby Kara has their own role, but shouldn’t DSP Media be more concerned with finding the right idols to fit seamlessly into Kara?
Maybe the voting will reflect those needs. When the show ends, the members will be chosen by:
Global Popularity 30%
But what about the remaining members of Kara? Do they get a vote? And shouldn’t their vote matter more?
Baby Kara’s first mission is a performance (and subsequent evaluation) that is strangely joyless instead of celebratory. In many ways, this is their debut. They’re introducing themselves to all the Kara fans, not just this live audience. Speaking of that audience, they take the performance very seriously, so seriously that there is barely a smile in the crowd. Their stone faces do nothing to give fans confidence in the Kara Project. Even the music seems muted, the applause at the end perfunctory. Because of this, the fun has been stripped out of “Step it Up” here. Which is hard to do, really.
The three judges are harsh on the girls, and don’t mince words with their disappointment. They call the girls out for looking like trainees, but isn’t that exactly what they are here? How reasonable is it for anyone to expect them or any new idol to match the skill set of a group that has been around for eight years?
Our point is this: DSP is trying, and having difficulty, in satisfying different narratives here. Narratively, it makes sense for the girls to stumble out of the gate, so they can persevere as the show goes along. But DSP also needs to prove to the fans that Kara is on the right track. With all the fan backlash that’s happened and will continue to happen, showing Baby Kara misfire, even if it’s shown to endear them to the audience, hurts their credibility out of the gate. So, DSP needs to decide. What’s more important here? Getting a quality show with Kara Project or rebuilding Kara? Can DSP really have it both ways?
Project Kara vs. Kara
We wonder what the end game is here. We can’t help but feel, especially with the longevity of Kara and this rush-job of finding suitable replacements, that Project Kara and Kara are at cross purposes here. And though it’s only the first episode, we’re hearing some alarm bells.
We’re worried that the remaining members of Kara (Hara, Gyuri, and Seungyeon), aren’t involved from the very beginning of this “project.” We’re worried that DSP is trying too hard in making Baby Kara work as a pseudo-group (because why not make them their own group then?). We’re also worried that, at eight years, new potential members singing and dancing old Kara songs just seems, somehow, stale.
These are judgments made after just the first episode, and by the second or third many of these fears may be alleviated. But DSP Media should have alleviated these fears with a stronger introduction. They don't seem to understand that the major credibility gap the fans feel isn’t with Baby Kara. The gap is with DSP.