“Imitation is the highest form of flattery.” I think this saying best describes KPOP cover groups who honor the artists they are representing.
Fueled by their love for Korean pop music, cover groups re-create the dance moves, costumes, the looks, down to the distinct expressions of the idols they are portraying. Cover groups in the KPOP music scene are not new, even if these cover groups are foreign fans. From posting their videos online to performing and competing on stage, members of KPOP cover groups really put a lot of effort in learning the choreography and finding the exact, if not similar outfits to the groups they are covering. They dedicate a lot of time to recreate the image of the KPOP groups they are trying to depict.
I have seen numerous videos of cover groups on YouTube from different countries but it was my first time to watch cover groups in person last June 28. This was at the K-Wave Festival which was organized by KFEST Manila Events Management.
Here in the Philippines, more and more organizations are holding events and contests that primarily focus on cover groups and cosplayers. This just goes to show how they are garnering popularity.
The K-Wave Festival showcased some of the things that Korea is famous for like cosmetics, food and music. Different booths featured Korean make-up, ramen, snacks, desserts, café, etc. Everyone was definitely delighted during the three day exhibition. Brave souls participated in the K-POP singing and eating contests. However, the highlight of the exhibit was the K-POP Dance Fever wherein various KPOP cover groups danced their hearts out during the dance battle.
I anticipated a lot as it was my first time to watch cover groups do their own renditions of their favorite idols hit songs. I have to say, the reality met and even went beyond my expectations.
In my opinion, if you can’t watch the real deal then cover groups are the way to go! You get the same vibe and even hear the same cheers that fans shout when the original artists perform.
2Cool 4Skool, a cover group that consisted of women, yet covered the powerful choreography of hip hop boy group BTS, pumped up the crowd and won the hearts of the judges, thus making them the grand champion in the KPOP dance competition.
Cover group Pixies charmed the audience with their medley of A Pink’s songs. According to the members, their love for dance & Kpop led them to where they are now. Despite being only created this year, they were awarded as 1st-runner up in the dance competition.
Exotix, a group who covers EXO was a crowd favorite in the event and placed 2nd runner up. The fans got up on their feet the moment they heard to first beat of Exo’s songs, proving just how popular the idol group is. Chris, the leader of Exotix, who takes on the role of Kyungsoo, told me that they make it a point to practice every weekend. The group was formed in 2012 and since then they have been active in competing in dance battles like this.
In the beginning, the group of friends just wanted to submit an entry for an online dance contest. They started to practice Shinee’s choreography but eventually became bigger fans of EXO, thus Exotix was formed and as they say, the rest is ‘history’. (Get it? *wink*)
“We agreed to create an EXO covergroup so that we could have the honor of covering our idols.” Chris stated over our online interview.
I can sense the importance of teamwork from the way he explained his answers. Majority, if not all of the members have to agree before they can make a decision to join certain contests or events.
“As an EXO cover group, we just want to be recognized on what we do and that is to perform and dance on stage as our idols, EXO. We wanted to break the barriers of the typical cover group which gets to be recognized because they’re good-looking, even if they don’t dance well. We focused more on the talent aspect so we really make it a point to practice for our performance and try to at least perfect how we perform on stage.” Chris said when I asked him on what they planned to achieve as a cover group. “Words can never really express how grateful we are with the recognition that we are getting. It really inspires us to always give our very best when we perform. Our dream now for our group is to be the Philippine representative to a cover dance competition in South Korea. It would really be an honor if that will happen.”
Austin Lee, a rising Korean artist based here in Manila gave a special opening performance at K-Wave Fest. He hasn’t ‘officially’ debuted, yet he already has a growing fanbase in the Philippines since he actively performs at similar Korean related events.
Despite having to balancing being a busy college student and a musician (finishing his album), Austin Lee granted me some of his precious time for an online interview. I wanted to know how cover groups are perceived from a Korean’s point of view and I felt like he was the perfect person to ask.
“I’m really proud of them. I feel proud whenever I see people who love Korea.” Mr. Lee had this to say when I asked about his opinion regarding foreigners creating KPOP cover groups. He also stated that he thinks Korean events like these and cover groups are one of the best ways to promote KPOP.
Austin Lee has been staying in the Philippines for almost 3 years but he has only recently started performing. Even though he just started April of this year, he has already won the hearts of many and he is thankful for everyone who is supporting him.
“I compose hip hop music so I want to be known as a Korean hip hop musician.” Although he does covers of songs he doesn’t want people to remember him as just a ‘cover singer’. “I guess ‘creative artist’ is the right term for me.”
It really is so amusing seeing cover groups so in-sync and do such an amazing job copying, or rather paying tribute to their idols. I take my hat off to them, their hard work surely pays off. Believe it or not, a lot of cover groups and cosplayers already have their own fanclubs! After the event, I witnessed how a lot of people from the audience got up from their seats and lined up to get their photos taken with the members of the cover groups…just like how fans truly react to Hallyu stars.
K-POP Festival, a big annual event held in Korea, gives cover singers and groups from different parts of the globe their fifteen minutes of fame. They get a chance to live their dreams as they compete and perform their hearts out on a big stage in the motherland of K-POP.
Good news to cover groups who want to take part in this amazing event! They are currently holding their online preliminaries so head on over to http://www.kpopfestival.org/en/index.asp for more details.
The 2014 K-POP Festival will be held in Incheon later this year. It is hosted by the Visit Korea Committee and is also sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Incheon Metropolitan City and the 2014 Incheon Asian Games Organizing Committee.
I think these kinds of occasions are certainly a great way to help promote Korean pop culture.