Produce 48 EPISODE 4 (2)

The fourth episode of Produce 48 started with the performances of Red Velvet’s Peek-A-Boo. Group One was in early trouble due to Jang Gyu Ri’s throat problems causing her to go out of tune during a big solo moment. Their overall performance was good but Gyu Ri’s condition continued to worsen as the song neared the end causing further vocal flubs.

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Group Two was more consistent despite not having any big vocal powerhouses within their roster. Hong Ye Ji impressed the trainers the most with her vocal dexterity. Their comment about her was that she belonged on stage. The final results saw Group two surprisingly take the win 474 to 348 earning the members of the team 1000 bonus votes.

The next song was AOA’s Short Hair. The trainees performing this song came out in similar SNSD inspired outfits that showed off their legs. Group one had problems in their practice sessions staying in sync with Takahashi Juri as center. Bae Yoon Jung believed she did not belong in the position as she was doing such a bad job that it would cause problems for the rest of her group.

With hard work they proved that that they could work as a unit. The trainers believed Jo Yu Ri was the one from the group who shined the most with her stage presence.

Group two also had a lot of teamwork issues having not practiced together a lot during their early sessions. The Korean trainees decided to practice the choreography while the Japanese ones went with learning the lyrics. Soyou and Cheetah noticed that this particular team was not close at all.

It wasn’t until they all aired out their differences that they started to become a true team. They improved enough to earn compliments from the trainers during dress rehearsal boosting their confidence. In the end they put on a performance that had the trainers thinking they won the battle. The final result was close (73.7 to 68) with Group One just barely squeaking by with 6 extra votes to take the win.

The third song was KARA’s Mamma Mia. Group One’s Min Ji was criticized for singing too pretty which made her sound uneasy as the main vocalist. When it came to pulling off the real thing in front of a live audience she hit a home run.

Group two had conflicts forcing groups of them to practice separately. There was a bit of resentment from the Korean trainees that three AKB members who had already made their debuts were there. For them being eliminated meant going back to nothing.

However, Miyazaki explained that they too were risking a lot just being there and would go back to the obscurity of a low ranked member if they were to not make it to the next round.

With a desperate conviction Group Two put on an enthusiastic performance that had Yoon Jung believing they would take the battle. However it was not meant to be as Group one outscored them 84.4 to 61.3. Min Ji felt redemption for working so hard to be recognized as a vocalist and helping her team earn the extra votes.

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AKB48’s High Tension was the next song featuring the dueling centers of Iwatate Saho (Group One) and Heo Yun Jin. (Group Two) Group one was the first to have their practice evaluated. Iwatate was called out for having no presence as a center. During her solo interview she had a moment of clarity in regards to why she never was chosen for a center role in AKB48. To remedy that problem her team was determined to make her a super center.

Group two also had the same issue with Yun Jin lacking the aura of a center and her team members were also determined to help her as much as possible.

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By the time the next evaluation came around Iwatate had improved her image enough to make her center material. Group two also earned praise. Yun Jin improved her dancing and facial expressions enough to get a pass.

Choi Yong Jun was relieved that both groups had gotten to the point where they were neck and neck. After two high-spirited lives Group Two won in convincing fashion with a score of 101.2 to 46.3. So maybe this was not as close as the rehearsals made it out to be.

The most anticipated battle was the performance of Blackpink’s Boombayah. Group One were the favorites going into this with no one giving Group Two a snowball’s chance in hell of even being able to compete.

With such highly skilled members Group One impressed the trainers during dress rehearsal. Their only criticism was that their center Chan Joo was invisible and not very memorable compared to her fellow members Chae Jeong and Yu Jin who oozed charisma.

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Their live performance was technically flawless as expected with Chan Joo finding that missing swag that made her invisible during the dress rehearsals. Once they were done the trainers praised Chae Jeong again for her stage presence.

Group Two on the other hand were comprised of members who just didn’t want to put the effort in to even try practicing the song. A lot of the burden was put on Han Cho Won to motivate her team. During the lessons Soyou called out the Japanese members for their obvious lack of drive and discontent and asked them to leave if they didn’t want to be there. That appeared to be enough of a wake up call and after their scolding they all started to get on the same page to prove to everyone that they could perform the song.

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For their live the trainers were rooting so hard for this group to do well. So much that they would cry if they could even remotely pull their performance off without a hitch. They surprised everyone by putting on a very good show. Han Cho Won was applauded by the trainers and was called a dark horse in the competition. Kang Hye Won on the other hand was admired for being very photogenic.

The trainers debated over who would win this battle and begged to see the results once it was over.

In the head to head votes it looked like Group One would walk away with the victory but their number of votes kept dropping after the first two head to head numbers were announced. In what can only be described as a Festivus miracle the underdogs of Group Two managed to take the win by a score of 74.7 to 65.2.

The result brought up the question what exactly do the national producers want? Is it technical proficiency or is it the feeling of connection with the performers on stage?

Up next was the Japanese version of Twice’s Like Ooh-Aah. Group One seemed to have their teamwork together except for one hiccup. Goto Moe was a beat or two ahead of the rest of the group in regards to dancing and singing. With the help of her team she managed to get her timing corrected and they put on an energetic live performance that the trainers called the best so far.

Group Two had major communication issues leading up to their performance. It was obvious that they did not really gel and lacked strong leadership. They held a team meeting to express their frustrations. Once everyone was able to vent they worked hard to become a cohesive unit. Their efforts paid off with a charming live.

The votes for both teams went back and forth until the final two members went head to head. Goto Moe secured the win for Group One with 172 votes for a final score of 442 to 342.

The final song of the show was I.O.I.’s Very Very Very. It showcased the Avengers team formed by Miyawaki Sakura. Given the make up of her team Group One (Probably call them The Defenders for comparisons sake) was in for an uphill climb on paper. Yet rehearsals showed that they had better chemistry and the perfect center for the song.

The Avengers didn’t fare so well with Crazy Eyes going a little overboard with the facial expressions which distracted a lot from the actual dancing and singing. So much that Yoon Jung was a little creeped out.

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They decided to switch the center from Crazy Eyes to Sakura. That decision failed them as she was much worse and brought the group down by mumbling the lyrics and forgetting the words. They switched back to Crazy Eyes for the actual live after Sakura realized that her in front was not best for business. That worked out much better for them in the end earning compliments from the trainers. Especially Chae Yeon who was stable at everything.

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Group One put on a very cute performance and were much more suited to the song than the Avengers in almost every aspect. After both lives ended the trainers felt this one was going to be close match. The final results told a different story as Group One dominated the votes with the exception of supporting vocalist 2 where Miyawaki Sakura got the highest vote count of all the competitors with 164.

Otherwise the Avengers were taken down by The Defenders losing 440 to 356.

After the performances were over the trainees were gathered around the stage to see the final results of the on site voting. The top 10 after the 1000 bonus votes had Yabuki Nako in first place with 1330. Many of the favorites in the show tumbled down the rankings showing just how important those bonus votes were. The real results after online voting will be revealed in the next episode.

With the second assignment completed I can say that there was a lot of urgency to make sure every performance as close to perfect as possible. With the bonus votes hanging over the trainees as bait it was not hard to understand why there was that kind of atmosphere.

The importance of leadership, teamwork and not going into business for yourself were important themes over the two episodes that covered the group battles. These will probably continue to be things to watch out for after the cuts and the next assignment starts.

For the Korean trainees much of the practice and rehearsal time allowed for others to get the spotlight to share their story of chasing the dream outside of the heavy hitters or those from bigger agencies. There are many pretty girls on this side of the trainee pool and it will be a shame to see some of them go. But looks can only get you so far in this type of competition.

When it came to the 48 members there were those who started to blossom in the Korean training system and there were those who needed to be pushed hard to realize some of their hidden potential. It would be nice if a majority of them could stay and continue learn more but the reality is that is not possible. The odds are against many of the the low ranked Japanese trainees making it past the first round of cuts.