October 25th, 2014: Winnerversary i.e. Thank You For Being Winner!

The Winner IS Team A

A year ago on the 25th of October, a team of five boys paved their way with sweat, blood and lots and lots of tears to earn the title of WINNER. It was one hell of a ride and the world was there to witness just about everything.

Did I ever think I’d dedicate write-ups after write-ups, even an anniversary one that I’m writing now, for them? Hell no. But here I am with my heart full to the brim for Kang Seung Yoon, Nam Tae Hyun, Song Minho, Lee Seung Hoon and Kim Jin Woo who I tend to fondly call ‘the boys’. Quite frankly I realize and believe I’m getting too old for this KPop scene – just because I grew up with boy bands doesn’t mean I need to carry this through into my twenties, you know? Last year’s summer just as my fatigue reached its peak, on a whim I decided to watch WIN: Who Is Next.

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Big mistake? I’ve no idea. I watched it during the last month of my summer break when my life was going well, so well, that this show was simply empty entertainment. Then grad school started and my life turned upside down and at the same time, the stakes on this show grew higher and higher.

As I felt myself being pulled further away from my own dreams, on another realm of reality, these five boys were working so friggin’ hard to chase after and realize theirs. This paradox was both painful and uplifting and perhaps because of my own emotional limbo, before I realized it I was onboard and embarrassingly extremely emotionally invested that the boys win their opportunity to début.

This obsession interest led to a Tumblr account, counting down the days to Friday, and laughing and sobbing uncontrollably over five boys I don’t even personally know in my life. A year later, uh – I just created a Twitter account primarily to spazz about them and my love towards them just keeps growing.

It was an eventful ten weeks and I remember not being able to sleep the night before the grand finale, aired live in Korea, and I’m pretty sure I held my breath during classes and rushed home the moment I could to watch it. I was legitimately so friggin’ anxious that these boys wouldn’t be able to realize their dreams, especially so because back then I was convinced their CEO was blatantly displaying disgusting favoritism (okay, I still think so) and knew that if the boys didn’t win the title, there was never going to be any future for them as Team A. That much I was certain and obviously, I wasn’t alone – it’s the reason why the fandom, now officially known as the Inner Circle, bandied and rallied together oh-so-protectively until now to make sure that these boys’ dreams continue to soar forevermore despite the shitty favoritism by their agency.

The wait though, was excruciating. I kid you not. The feeling of uncertainty lingered so magnanimously during that waiting period and frankly, until now the cynic in me continues to side-eye their agency skeptically but I will hold back this once. The KPop world is unfortunately excessively manufactured and sometimes known for all the wrong reasons, but with these five boys, it feels… different.

From Day 1, I think it’s their sincerity and passion towards music that got me right in the heart. Gutted, over and over with each drooped shoulder and defeated sigh by them as they kept losing before eventually finding their footing. During the WIN era, what affected me most and thus had me rooting for them so damn passionately was because I felt and echo their desperation; I’ve been there, we’ve all been there. It’s not about coming out as the grand winner of a competition that’s conveniently publicized on national TV and accessible to international audience – no, it was the hunger and thirst of an unfulfilled dream and theirs was to create and share their music, that thing in which their hearts and minds live and breathe for.

Team A 2There’s a lot to be said about the not-so-pretty aspects of their journey to become WINNER and the aftermath that follows before their long-anticipated début and even beyond the explosive début to present-day. In fact, I am certain this is only the beginning of a challenging road to stardom, but on this special day of theirs I choose to maintain an optimistic voice and keep the good faith about their future. I could write what would sound like an eulogy for these boys and all the things they’ve achieved thus far – it’s hilarious and embarrassing to admit out loud, but I swear I feel strangely protective and overtly proud of them like a mother would – but I will sum it up in just five words, that which trended on Twitter yesterday at midnight Korean time:

Thank You for Being Winner! 

Thank you for pouring your all – sweat, tears, blood, and spirit – into that 100 days of emotionally abusive and pointless reality show. Thank you for never giving up on your love for music, letting that be your anchor and motivation when the journey felt impossible and that light at the end of the tunnel seemed bleak. Thank you for holding on to and learning to lean on each other, and not forsake the group for individual pursuits. Thank you for patiently enduring the waiting phase of an uncertain début. Thank you above all, for being true to yourselves and your passion for music. Your love, passion, and spirit are deeply felt; they resonate and move hearts, I promise.

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With super stardom comes lots of ups and downs including the inevitable rough patches and losing oneself, later on if not now, and I hope when that happens each of you will look back at the past year and realize how far you’ve come. I hope you remember you have each other to depend on but if for whatever reason even that doesn’t do it, I hope you remember that your backs are covered by us, your Inner Circle, who’s been with you every step of the way from countless firsts – win, radio show, live performance, concert, interview, airport photos… you name it, we’ve been there.

We’ll keep being there and this is a promise.

I heart these boys so much in a way that I never have for other musicians I fancy and as always, I wish only the best for them!

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3 thoughts on “October 25th, 2014: Winnerversary i.e. Thank You For Being Winner!

  1. “I swear I feel strangely protective and overtly proud of them like a mother would” – Me too. I think it’s funny how involved we get in these boys lives and their futures, and it’s why i hate YG for doing these kind of survival shows but also respect him for it because he knows exactly what he’s doing. We love these boys as much as we do because we watched them struggle to obtain their success (or at least, the start of their success) now. I do admit to forgetting about them occasionally when they’re not actually in my face promoting (Mix & Match took my attention away from them a bit), but i follow enough fan accounts on Twitter that they are never far from my view. That ‘Thank You For Being Winner’ campaign was really cute, and I hope the boys noticed it and appreciated that they have a very solid fanbase behind them.

    1. UGH YG and his obsession for reality shows. Seriously I can’t anymore. Can’t even bring myself to watch M&M anymore because it is so hellaaaaaa intense with cattiness on Twitter and Tumblr! It’s insanely immature so I’m just following your thoughts splurge on your blog about it haha. I do feel like YG was hoping for the same kind of explosive and cult-like response for M&M that he saw with WIN, but alas it wasn’t as impacting? So the episodes got cut short. That’s my take anyway, cos until now I’m super confused what/how do you know who are the confirmed members if the final battle has taken place but it’s supposed to be a public voting thing? I digress OOOPS. Anyways. That Twitter trend was super duper cute yup yup, I hope they saw it too! In fact, I feel like they probably secretly have Twitter accounts hahaha, okay at least I hope so :p

      1. The cattiness, oh my god! The forum that I stumbled upon frustrated me so much that I just had to get out of there after a day.

        I think people are a bit over YG, lol. But, they had a huge response from the fanmeets, same as they did last year. Just watching the fans go nuts at the airport was pretty funny. Like, these kids haven’t even debuted yet, but they’ve already got crazy fans following them in vans! B.I’s face when they were attempting to walk through the mob of Chinese fans was a “I have to keep smiling but holy crap get me out of here” face, lol. It boggles my mind that that doesn’t put them off debuting entirely.

        I don’t think the show got cut short, I think it was always meant to be 8 or 9 episodes. The final battle was filmed last week but it’s not airing until this Thursday, and then fans have an hour to vote for their boys after that episode finishes. And then I think the results will air the following week. I’m glad, because I thought only the Japanese, Chinese and Korean fans could vote. And I want to vote!

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