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Netflix’s ‘Take 1’ Review: A Showcase of Performances by South Korea’s Most Legendary Music Artists | new university

“What if you only had one chance to put on a perfect performance before you die?” That’s the question a cast of renowned South Korean musicians must answer in Netflix’s new show “Take 1” which premiered on October 14.

The list of musicians involved includes Sumi Jo, Lena Park, girl group MAMAMOO, Jung Ji-hoon, sibling duo AKMU, You Hee-yeol, and Yim Jae-beom. Each episode focuses on a specific artist or group and films the editing operation of their own respective show before presenting the finished product.

Artists have only one requirement: they must do everything in one take. A daunting task indeed, but the seven performers featured in the heartfelt docuseries display their thought processes and emotions to pull off the most important performance of their lives.

To make things even more nerve-wracking, they are given a clock that marks the hours until the show is due to go on. If difficulties arise – such as technical or clothing malfunctions – artists must continue to perform as they are.

For some, it’s an opportunity they’ve been waiting for. For others, it was a career rebirth that had an emotional impact on their mental state.

One of the more eccentric performances was in the second episode, which was about brother-sister duo AKMU. The siblings debuted in 2014 under YG Entertainment and quickly rose to fame. When presented with the challenge, Lee Chan-hyuk – the group’s brother and lyricist – already had a concept in mind. “I had this image as soon as I heard the question,” Lee said. “Two hundred dancers wear sunglasses. Lasers. A Trojan horse. Something like an airplane. He concluded that this concept would be better executed if they performed their hit song “NAKKA,” which was a collaboration with idol IU.

Surprisingly, Lee’s ambitious vision – excluding the horse and the lasers – came to fruition with the help of director Seo Young, choreography director Hong Se-jung, 200 background dancers and a set of paratroopers who were all part of the project. Instead of performing in front of a live audience, AKMU decided to capture their presentation as a music video for a more stylized approach. “To be honest with you, it’s up to me to watch. I don’t care what anyone says about my performance,” Lee said.

Picture from Netflix

Unlike the electronic pop vibes of “NAKKA,” “Take 1” features a variety of musical genres like opera and soft rock. Most notably, Yim Jae-beom – who is revered as South Korea’s best singer due to his powerful ballads – was overcome with tears returning to the stage after a six-year hiatus in the third episode.

After his last performance in 2016 and the death of his wife in 2017, Yim lost motivation to sing.

“Those with similar experiences would understand that it’s not something you can easily overcome,” Yim said. “So I always feel depressed and lonely.”

Yim didn’t have a particular idea in mind, but he knew he wanted his performance to uplift others. It was then that he realized he would invite freelancers and first responders affected by COVID-19 to his show as a gesture of gratitude for their service.

His rendition of his hit “This, Too, Shall Pass” was performed on the roof of an old apartment complex to mimic current tribulations, despite the building being under renovation. Yim wanted it to reflect the intimacy of the performance. However, it may also have been a symbol of rebuilding hardship into prosperity.

“[The song] gave me so much comfort. I’m glad it gave us the strength we needed to keep going,” said an audience member.

“Take 1” is quite different from the usual K-Drama, movies or variety shows Netflix usually produces from South Korea. It’s a breath of fresh air to see the dedication and sincerity the artists put into their performances.

By limiting the number of takes the singers had, it allowed them to think critically about the impression they wanted to leave if they were successful. In interviews with contestants, many of them were less concerned about putting on a huge show. Instead, they focused on creating an experience that reflected who they are as musicians and the obstacles they’ve endured in life.

MAMAMOO used their performance as a reflection of their career. From their humble beginnings on the streets to selling out huge concert halls, the ladies wanted to pay tribute to their fans for being with them since their debut.

When guests arrived at the show, they received a napkin with a special hand-written message and exclusive Polaroids from the band. “We wrapped every gift ourselves,” one member said warmly. “These are photos you can’t get anywhere else. So they mean a lot to us,” another member said.

These musicians showed their passion for music, not for fame or fortune. Although each episode is around 50 minutes or more, viewers understand the days that went into making sure the performances were flawless.

Although there is no clear announcement of a second season yet, “Take 1” is one of those shows that leave viewers wanting more. It’s a great series that makes you think about the positive influence they want to leave behind.

Julissa Ramirez is an Arts and Entertainment Intern for the Fall 2022 term. She can be reached at [email protected].