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Voices that travel

Updated: 2012-12-31 10:24
By Chen Nan ( China Daily)
Voices that travel

TimeZ is a made-in-China and trained-in-Korea group consisting of four Chinese and two South Korean members. Zou Hong / China Daily

Made-in-China and trained-in-Korea, TimeZ is the latest cross boundary boy band to make the headlines. Chen Nan finds out the rationale behind the formation of such idol groups.

Loud chattering and screams fill a live music venue in Beijing on a cold winter afternoon. The wild cheers reach practically hysterical tones as TimeZ emerges.

The made-in-China and trained-in-Korea group consists of six young and good-looking men.

When the two South Korean members greet the crowds with, "Ni hao (hello in Mandarin)!", the hysteria reaches a crescendo.

The name TimeZ, which is a combination of the words Time and Zoom, is made up of four Chinese members, namely Mao Ruoyi, Liu Guanxi, Tian Yichen and Kong Shuhang, and two Koreans - Lee Hyeong-joo and Kim Seong-hwan.

They are the result of the combined forces of Chinese agency Super Jet Entertainment and CJ Entertainment & Media, the largest entertainment company in South Korea.

Their debut performance on M! Countdown, a weekly South Korean music TV show, was viewed by more than 100,000 viewers on TV.

Their first EP, including a Chinese single Hooray for Idols, became an instant hit with listeners in both countries when it was released in South Korea and China on Oct 18, 2012.

"The idea of TimeZ is to further mix the efforts of the two countries, which share similar culture and market," says Si Jie, who is the founder and CEO of Super Jet Entertainment.

"People can share, distribute and consume foreign pop culture much more easily these days."

TimeZ is the latest brainchild of Si, who is considered "the godfather of idol groups" in China.

The 36-year-old had worked for South Korea's DR Music and SM Entertainment since 1997. He has also brought K-pop singers and groups including H.O.T., Baby Vox and BoA to China, and produced Chinese songs for them.

"When H.O.T. came to China a decade ago, it was a novelty. Fans in China had never seen a group with synthesized bubble-gum pop sound, flashy outfits and video art," Si says.

"What fans need now is a group with a variety of cultures."

He produced the first album for Beautiful Girls, China's first idol group founded in 1996 and established the four-man idol group Top Combine in 2007.

"I brought South Korean singers and groups to China. So why not do it the other way - to promote Chinese culture in South Korea," says Si, who mapped out a plan for TimeZ to start its career in South Korea and then move to China.

"What the audiences want today is more than lyrics they can understand."

The idea of having both Chinese and South Korean guys form a group emerged last year when Si left EE Media, a subsidiary company under Hunan Satellite Television, which successfully created the Super Girl and Happy Boy singing competitions.

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