The Finale Heard Around the World
Friday, June 16 will forever be remembered as the day that a Korean competition show based on forming the nation's next ultra-popular boy group aired its live finale. Boy, was it a spectacle! After ten full episodes, Produce 101 Season 2 officially named the 11 contestants that would debut as Wanna One (sounds like 101 if you say it right). Like with any competition show, there was some celebrating and some heartbreak. None of it went unheard.
The finale started off strong, showing plenty of behind-the-scenes content, as well as a reunion version of the show's signature "Nayana" performance with almost all of the original 101 contestants returning to the stage. There was a theme of closeness and joy as the show progressed, emphasizing exactly how close all of the remaining 20 have gotten since they first joined the show.
It then went on to show the two final performance groups - the top 20 contestants split into 2 teams of 10 - going through recording, rehearsal, and choosing their center. Each trainee had to record a center evaluation video, which the groups then all watched and voted on. The center has the greatest potential for the most screen time during the performance, making it a highly-sought position in both teams.
With the final evaluation stages complete, there was one more performance to be shown before live voting ended and the final results were announced. In the first season of Produce 101, all the remaining eligible trainees performed a song together titled "When the Cherry Blossoms Fade", which was a sweet song meant to calm the mood before the storm that were results announcements. This year, they did a similar thing, putting all 20 remaining contenders together for a song titled "Always".
Which finale performance was your favorite? Leave your answer in the comments!
Then came the part that caused the most stress. Within the final hour and a half of the broadcast (talk about drawing out the news!), the official members of Wanna One were announced. The final lineup was announced as follows:
- Kang Daniel (MMO)
- Park Jihoon (Maroo)
- Lee Daehwi (Brand New Music)
- Kim Jaehwan (Independent trainee)
- Ong Seongwoo (Fantagio)
- Park Woojin (Brand New Music)
- Lai Guanlin (Cube)
- Yoon Jisung (MMO)
- Hwang Minhyun (Pledis)
- Bae Jinyoung (C9)
- Ha Sungwoon (Adore & Able)
This left the remaining nine trainees as the last eliminated contestants, some of which caused a lot of controversy among fans.
After the final announcements were made, Twitter was echoing with both happy and upset emotions. Of the 20 top trends worldwide, 10 of them were related to the show. Some were just trainees' names or #Produce101Final, while others were more pointed like "Cheating" and "Nu'est".
But why those terms? Well, Nu'est is pretty simple to explain. A handful of the contestants had actually already debuted in different groups before the show, all with less than stellar success. Four of the five members of established group Nu'est joined the program in hopes of seeing more success than what they'd gotten recently with their group. They were by far the most notable group to come on the show (their debut music video from 2012 currently has over 62 million views), so it should come as no surprise that all four managed to make the final 20.
Many Nu'est fans expected at least two of the members (leader Jonghyun and one other) to make the final group, mainly due to their fairly consistent placement throughout the show. However, since the final episode voting switched to a pick 1 contestant voting system instead of the pick 2 it had been the week before, it seems like many fans assumed Jonghyun would be safe and instead focused their voting power on Minhyun. This assumption landed Jonghyun in the fourteenth spot, leaving Minhyun as the only Nu'est member to make the final group.
This outraged a lot of fans, some claiming that MNET, the show's producing company, rigged the votes, which others called for Minhyun to leave the group entirely. Lots of drama. Lots of negative thoughts instead of celebrating those who did make it.
Kim Samuel also topped the trending lists in multiple countries after he finished in eighteenth place. Samuel, an almost-member of popular boy group SEVENTEEN, proved his talent throughout the course of the show, earning him a large international fanbase. However, he saw inconsistent results week after week. Many say this is because Korean voters didn't like that he had such a large international fanbase while domestic favorites like Park Jihoon were less popular.
Others claimed that he lost results because Korean voters didn't like how he looked. They backed this up by citing how a popular Korean nickname for Samuel was "Nosemuel", making fun of his larger nose and suggesting he get a nose job. Some voters also expressed their dislike for the fact that Samuel was mixed race, an issue that stems from Korean ethnic nationalism.
Either way, fans from all over were furious that Jonghyun and Samuel had been left out of the final lineup and took to Twitter to find an outlet for their emotions.
The final 35 contestants will all be part of a two-day concert event in South Korea, where favorite performances will be brought back to the stage. No doubt the final Wanna One lineup will also perform as just the eleven of them, giving fans a sneak peak at the final group before they officially debut in late July/early August.