Music Chart Shows

Music chart shows are a big part of Kpop fandoms and for someone new to Kpop the details can be a little daunting.
Music shows themselves are a familiar concept for most of us. Those of us in the U.K will remember the end of an era when Top of the Pops ended (at least those of us old enough). Some of you will also remember the protests over the years about bands not being able to perform live and the somewhat fakeness to the premise.
Well, in many ways, Korean music shows are no exception. There is an emphasis on the end production of a live performance, especially for bands with instruments. Live vocal performances are a hot topic for music shows who have faced criticism for the lack of live performances. As most Kpop is in the Idol format, live instruments are still pretty much a non-entity anyway.
‘Live’ performances
Part of the reason for less live performances is the pace of the show recording. Plugging instruments in, sound checks, etc. takes time and time is not an abundant commodity for the directors of these shows.
Another reason is the cost vs quality. Once you get into the shows, you will notice that things such as microphone quality vary greatly and shelling out for the top-notch equipment required to get a high quality live feed is avoidable by using heavy prerecord. This means that when someone does sing truly live, they may sound terrible regardless of talent, which neither the show director/producer nor the record label want.
On top of all of this, as Kpop Choreography gets more and more intense, the ability for the weaker singers and dancers to do both at once decreases. Kpop is most definitely a performance medium and this trade-off probably isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
There are of course different levels/types of pre-record you may come across including:

  • Pre-recorded live vocal (They sing live, then perform along to what they just sang).
  • Pre-recorded studio vocal (stereotypical lip sync – they record it in a studio then just mouth along as they dance. Usually the most noticeable and increasingly rare for large chunks of a performance to be this).
  • Pre-recorded backing vocal (The most common you will find and can be recorded live but most commonly is studio pre-recoded. Sometimes this is just to save other group members having to sing backing vocals as well as their main parts, although often it is the actual singer’s part and is designed to ‘boost’ their live voice. Often you will hear groups accused of having the backing vocals really loud so you can’t hear the true live vocal).

In 2014, in response to a swell in negative feeling towards pre-recorded vocals, MBC’s Music Core introduced rules regarding singing live on their show. The rules are designed to preserve the idea that at least 50% of the performance should be live. Since the rule change, many people have argued that Kpop is more than just about the singing now and they would rather a quality lip sync performance than a mediocre live performance (although others would argue with those being our only choices) while others argue that a lack of live performance lets down the fans and sets unrealistic expectations. Some people have even argued that lip sync allows labels to overwork idols without thought to their health.
Despite this promise, many people believe that, especially for the bigger artists, Lip sync is still prevalent and unfortunately this is just making the smaller groups who are abiding by the rules look worse by comparison.
MR removed
Often online you will find performances labelled ‘MR removed’ as fans attempt to compare vocal talent of their favourite stars and often to defend their idols. We will cover this more in its own post but I’ll explain briefly now too.

In theory, MR removed clips should just be the idols’ live vocal track, however as fans rarely have access to the separated tracks these are often badly done manual attempts at separation and can be very misleading or (in the case of complete lip sync or extra loud live MR) often completely wrong.
Debut stage – A group’s first performance on that show.
Comeback stage – A group’s first performance of a new song on that show.
Hot stage – Different shows use these differently, but it generally refers to songs close to or in contention.
Frontrunner stage – Performances by high chart performers.
First place nominee – stages from the first place contenders for the show.
Encore stage/performance – The end of show semi-performance from the show’s winners.
Special stages – Special performances often with a theme, including things like covers of artists as tributes, remixes or one of the ‘super group’ performances.


The Shows

For this post we have stuck to the typical music chart shows, as music shows with a different format will have their own post. In all the shows, a chart is produced based on various criteria before the show and the top artists are picked as ‘first place nominees’, some kind of live voting system is then used to decide the ‘winner’ of the show, who usually accepts the award and performs a short encore stage.
The shows highlighted are the perhaps less referenced shows but are growing in popularity, in part due to the showcasing of acts who may be less popular in Korea but more popular internationally.
Inkigayo is also known for its cute PSAs, ranging from safe driving to drinking milk performed by stars.

Show name Network (Channel) Day and time Chart criteria Current hosts
The Show SBS (SBS MTV) Tuesday 20:00 Pre-score: Total 70% [Album sales+Digital sales+SNS (Korea) (35%) + Tudou music video views+pay vote items (China) (35%)].                   
Live voting (for The Show choice nominees only): Total 30% [Text votes (Korea)(15%)+Tudou votes (China)(15%)]
Somi (I.O.I)
Wooshin (Up10tion)
Show Champion MBC (MBC music) Wednesday 18:00 50% Digital Sales (streaming + downloads)
15% Online Voting (MelOn)
20% Physical Sales (Hanteo)
15% Ranking from professionals & expert judges (MBC Music)
Kim Shin Young
Guest MC
M!Countdown Mnet (Mnet) Thursday 18:00 Digital Single Sales (50%)
Album Sales (10%)
Social Media Points (YouTube official music video views + SNS buzz) (10%)
Preference Points (global fan votes through Mwave, Mnet Japan and Mnet America + age range preference)
(10%) Mnet Broadcast Points (10%)
SMS Votes (10%)
Guest MC
Music Bank KBS(KBS2TV) Friday 18:30 Digital Music Charts (65%)
Album Sales (5%)
Number of times broadcast on KBS TV only (20%)
Viewers Choice Charts (10%)
Kang Min Hyuk (CNBlue)
Solbin (LABOUM)
Show! Music Core MBC(MBC) Saturday 16:00 No Ranking system*
 Kim Sae Ron
Cha Eun Woo
Lee Soo Min
Inkigayo SBS(SBS) Sunday 15:40 Digital Single Sales (55%)
SNS (Youtube Views)(35%)
Album Sales (5%)
Advance Viewer Votes (5%)
Live Votes (10%) (for 1st place candidates only)
Kim Min Seok
Yoo Jeong Yeon
Gong Seung Yeon

SNS = Social networks
*Show Music core had a chart system from 2013-November 2015. The least ranking system was as below until they removed it.

Show! Music Core MBC(MBC) Saturday 16:00 Physical Album + Digital Sales 60%
Music Video Views 10%
Viewers Committee Pre-voting (by 2000 people) 15%
Live Voting 15% (for 1st place nominees only)