fromis_ is a nine-membered girl group formed through Idol School, Mnet’s newest girl group survival program that aired starting July of this year. They are set to debut in the coming months under CJ E&M, with production and training work led by Pledis Entertainment CEO, Han Sungsoo.
Idol School’s difference from Produce 101
The anticipation for Idol School was very high when it was first announced. After the survival show trend intensified with the first two seasons of Produce 101, people grew curious about how things were going to work out with Idol School, especially when at first glance its system looked identical to Produce 101’s. The show also boasted an impressive list of trainers, from industry senior S.E.S’s Bada, to SM Entertainment vocal trainer Jang Jinyoung, which added more anticipation.
Concept-wise, the two shows are very different. Produce 101 enlists idol trainees from different companies as participants; however, Idol School only recruits independent trainees or regular students with no training experience. This allows the 41 students to be trained entirely from the start and to be taught and judged equally. Similar to Produce 101, however, is the show’s voting system where the resulting girl group is composed of the most popular girls on the show.
Get to know the ladies set to debut!
Finishing in ninth place is Jang Gyuri, a ‘97-liner with a killer smile and the vocal chops to back it up. One of the many reasons people took notice of her is her beautiful eye smile and upbeat personality. Because of this, she consistently went up in the rankings as the show progressed—starting at #28 during the first episode, to finally breaking and remaining at #9 during the last two weeks. She is also one of the most stable vocalists on the show, and I won’t be surprised if she becomes the lead vocalist for the group when they debut.
The maknae of the group, Baek Jiheon, was voted eighth in the finale. She was born in 2003, and is one of the most consistently popular contestants, being in the debut group for nine out of ten weeks of voting. Before appearing in the show, she was one of the contestants in Finding The Next Hani where she lost to APRIL’s Jinsol. She is one of the few contestants that consistently performed innocent and bright concepts, but she shined the brightest when she performed S.E.S’s “I’m Your Girl” in the third evaluation period.
The girl with the best swag, Lee Seoyeon, was voted seventh on the finale. She was a YG Entertainment trainee for six years and was first introduced to the public through a trainee video. She is one of the most well-rounded contestants on the show, being skilled in all three major idol skills: vocal, rap, and dance. She didn’t appear in the top nine rankings until the third episode of the show, where she clearly captivated the audience through her performance of BLACKPINK’s “Whistle.”
Probably one of the earliest fan favorites and one of the most familiar faces is Park Jiwon, who ranked sixth during the finale. She is a former JYP Entertainment trainee that participated in SIXTEEN, where she was eliminated and unable to to debut in TWICE. Jiwon is one of the most 4D in character out of the 41 contestants on the show, but don’t be fooled as she has some of the best vocal chops out of them too. While she wasn’t able to debut in one of today’s most popular K-Pop girl groups, we got to slightly see what could have been when she performed TWICE’s debut track “Like OOH-AHH.”
Lee Nakyung is one of the youngest members of the group and was voted fifth during the finale. She was first known by Idol School audiences as TWICE’s Tzuyu’s look-alike, but she was able to prove later on that she was more than just a pretty face. Just like Jiheon, she is also one of the few contestants that consistently performed bright and colorful concepts in all the evaluation rounds of the show.
Lee Chaeyoung, another hyper 4D character, was voted fourth overall during the finale. She was another former JYP Entertainment trainee and was rumored to have left the agency right before SIXTEEN began filming. Though she may be very wacky, she is also a shy character at times. She is very similar to fellow group member Seoyeon in terms of skill set as she also excels greatly in rap and performance. I personally love her rap tone, which she showcased in her performance of TWICE’s “Like OOH-AHH”
Known to the people as little Han Chaeyoung because of their similar facial features, Lee Saerom was voted third in the overall rankings. She has amazing visuals which go well with her stage presence, and it’s hard not to fall for her (especially when she looks straight into the camera). Being the oldest member in fromis_, she excels greatly in more mature concepts, but she also has the skills to pull off a bright and fun performance.
Song Hayoung was voted second during the finale, which came as a shock to many as she was voted first in five of the show’s ten voting weeks. In my opinion, she is the most well-rounded contestant on the show, and she is very deserving of her high ranking. She has amazing command of the stage, and can successfully execute any type of performance. She also possesses great songwriting skills, as showcased in the show’s final episodes where she composed a track for her fellow contestants in their MT trip.
The overall center and winner of Idol School is Noh Jisun, who was voted first in the show’s final episode. She was considered a dark horse of the competition early on as she started ranking in the 20s, and didn’t make an appearance in the top nine before the fifth episode. She skyrocketed to the top of the pack after her captivating performance of Lovelyz’s “Ah-Choo” was aired, and she was able to take #1 in four of the show’s ten voting weeks. While she garnered great attention through a brighter and more innocent concept, she proved that she is able to blend well with a different concept as she tried a sexier image the following evaluation with miss A’s “Hush.”
Why They Are Worth Looking Forward To
fromis_, I’d like to believe, is very similar to I.O.I, especially with the fact that both groups have a very high visual average. The advantage of this group, however, is that they aren’t temporary like I.O.I which enables them to utilize their prior exposure through the show, while growing as artists in the long run. The group literally consists of nine visuals that are very hard to ignore, but it doesn’t drive people from forgetting that they all are talented as well. Being taught and trained for a continuous three months, the girls were able to grow in aspects that they lacked, and they have nowhere else to go but up with their existing skill sets, both individually and as a group.
The real challenges are still on their way as they are yet to debut, but one thing’s for sure: with a group composition as strong as this one, they would be very hard to pass on.