Top spot on music charts immediately after release, line-up of tracks on music charts, continuous first place on music shows—these are not always descriptive of existing groups. It also describes WINNER. It is the story of the release of their debut track, “Empty.” YG Entertainment’s first boy group in nine years since BIGBANG, WINNER is the new monster rookie group currently taking over the music industry.
However, according to local media source EDaily, not everyone views their successes as hundred percent based on WINNER’s skills. Rather, they believe that it’s more of the YG power that lurks in the music industry. Of course a huge, well-maintained company such as YG will have the resources to give them the advantage of better marketing and promotions. But the fact that it took BIGBANG and EXO almost a year for each of them to reach the top dismisses the reasoning that it is completely the resources of a large corporation that support these groups.
In a recent interview with EDaily StarIn, members of WINNER revealed that YG’s training system was comparable to the rigorous training of spies from the 2003 film “Silmido,” with a survival of the fittest principle that exists in the jungles.
Song Minho revealed, “From the outside, YG looks like the company of your dreams with a tight system that has everything you possibly need. You may think there is no other heaven, but once you come in as a trainee and start practicing, it’s essentially like living in the wild. The company supports everything you may need, but it ends at that. Whether a trainee survives or not depends solely on the trainee himself or herself.”
Nam Taehyun added, “They don’t hold back for anyone, whether it is their contracted artists or trainees. If you tell them you need something, they will get it for you. However, they never tell you ‘do it this way.’ You have to get better and advance on your own. That’s the only way you will be able to survive.” Since Song Minho and Nam Taehyun have both experienced being a trainee in other entertainment companies, they seemed to know the differences in the systems. Getting into YG doesn’t necessarily mean a guaranteed debut.
The training period of a trainee is rigorous and difficult. Their system is based upon the system of a school curriculum so they also have a monthly test. Because YG’s leader Yang Hyun Suk is personally present for those tests, it’s been known that these performances are even more nerve-wracking than the debut performance itself. The eldest member Kim Jinwoo is the member with the longest training period among the WINNER members. His training process was so hard on him that there was a time when he had left without notice before returning. He revealed, “I had many slumps along the way.” WINNER’s debut process was similar to Kim Jin Woo’s view of his road to a debut. WINNER was only able to debut after claiming victory over another group of trainees, “WINNER Team B” (they had been “WINNER Team A”), which was aired through a reality show “WIN” last year. Even after their victory, they also had a preparation period of 10 months, which was a longer delay than expected. They gained more stage experience by performing alongside their company seniors, BIGBANG and 2NE1. Through this experience, they were able to debut successfully with an image of “a comeback of an existing group rather than a debut of a rookie group.”
Member Lee Seunghoon revealed, “We tried our best to prepare this album with emotions that everyone would has experienced one way or another. That way, the audience could relate to the tracks through the lyrics. I want to keep doing the kind of honest music that people could relate to.” Kang Seungyoon added, “We get pressured by the general public’s image of YG, as well as the enormous achievements of our company seniors, but I think that’s also what keeps us going without rest. We’re going to persevere and endure all of that pressure thankfully.”
Meanwhile, WINNER swept the charts with their new album, “2014 S/S.” Has everyone listened to the album? What do you think?