Music remains key to TV success: After struggling to connect with viewers, ‘Hang Out with Yoo’ became a hit with help from a drum set

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Music remains key to TV success: After struggling to connect with viewers, ‘Hang Out with Yoo’ became a hit with help from a drum set


Yoo plays drums as part of the Yoo Plash project, a series of episodes on the TV show “Hang Out with Yoo.” For the project, Yoo learned how to play drums and eventually held his own recital. [MBC]

Television these days is flooded with shows about music. The list of shows goes on and on and not all of them turn out to be a success. Some fall behind with all-too-common formats while others succeed in grabbing the attention of viewers with a new approach.

The MBC show “Hang Out with Yoo,” which airs on Saturdays, is a good example of capitalizing on music in a good way. Until recently, the TV show was criticized for being too ambiguous, despite having A-list celebrity Yoo Jae-suk as its host, and its ratings dwindled quickly.

But as the show began to air episodes featuring Yoo learning how to play drums, it started to generate buzz, largely thanks to the music.

“Hang Out with Yoo” started off with a 4.6 percent of viewership rating in July, but its Nov. 2 episode reached a 7.3 percent rating.


Yoo Jae-suk

The TV show is from the mind of well-known producer Kim Tae-ho. His signature show “Infinite Challenge” came to an end in March 2018 after airing for 12 years. After that, Kim had some time off to work on his next project.

Pairing up with Yoo, Kim returned with “Hang Out with Yoo” in July, but viewers had a lukewarm response.

The show’s format is similar to a relay race. Yoo records himself with a handheld camera and then passes the camera onto another celebrity. They film their life and pass it along as well.

Based on the format, the show tried different experiments. About 70 handheld cameras were used to film ordinary people, from a photographer to firefighters across the country, for some episodes. In other episodes, celebrities got together and filmed their gathering. But all of the attempts failed to intrigue viewers and many said that the show had lost its direction.

But things changed when the show embarked on a music project called Yoo Plash, in which Yoo learns how to play the drums from a drum master.

At first, Yoo was clumsy, but he began to improve episode by episode and eventually became good enough to hold a drum recital of his own.

Yoo’s drum challenge was extended into a grand music project. Based on drum beats created by Yoo, musicians from various genres of music took part in a relay music project.

The drum beats made by Yoo ended up in six tracks, created by 37 musicians, including acclaimed artists such as Lee Seung-hwan, Lee Juck and Yoon Sang and up-and-coming musicians like Paul Kim, Heize and Jukjae.

“Music is a universal topic that can make up for the unusual format [of ‘Hang Out with Yoo’]. Viewers can relate to music easily,” said culture critic Jeong Deok-hyun.

“The show has been expanding its format, but [with the Yoo Plash project] it created a goal for itself, and the goal added more drama. It also completed the show,” Jeong added.

The success of the show is thanks to Yoo’s love of music. He used to host a number of music shows such as “Two Yoo Project Sugar Man” (2015) and the Infinite Challenge Music Festival.

For the biennial Infinite Challenge Music Festival, the show’s cast members teamed up with professional musicians, created their own songs and performed the final product at a music festival.

Once the songs were released, they instantly became some of the most-streamed songs on local music streaming services.

Some musicians even postponed the release of their albums to avoid competing with the music festival.

Along with Yoo’s love for music, the producers of “Hang Out with Yoo” are reportedly music aficionados as well. They knew how to unfold the narrative of the Yoo Plash project and get the audience hooked.

“We have so many TV shows that put a lot of emphasis on music, but none of them describe how music is created in as much detail as ‘Hang Out with Yoo’ does,” said culture critic Seojeong Mingaph.

“I was amazed by the show and the way it gathers a wide range of musicians, from experienced performers to the hottest acts of the moment all together,” the critic added.

But some beg to differ.

“The show is pretty much the same as the Infinite Challenge Music Festival in that it resorts to the clout and talent of famous figures for the show,” said culture critic Kim Gyo-seok.

On Bugs, the music streaming service that sponsors the show, some songs from the Yoo Plash project ranked within the top 30, but they barely made the top 100 on the charts of other music streaming platforms.

The Yoo Plash project recently wrapped and “Hang Out with Yoo” immediately began another music project titled Bbong for You.

Bbong comes from bbongjjak, the onomatopoeic nickname for trot. Trot is a decades-old music genre that has long been adored by older people but has recently enjoyed popularity from a broader audience.

“Hang Out with Yoo” began the Bbong for You project after Yoo met with Park Hyun-wu, a trot composer, in an episode that aired in September as part of the Yoo Plash project.

Park composed a song titled “Hapjeong Station, Exit No. 5” in 15 minutes based on drum beats created by Yoo. Since the song was partially unveiled during the show, there has been many requests for the whole song to become available on music streaming platforms.

The producers of “Hang Out with Yoo” did not want to miss out on the chance. Soon after, Yoo created the stage name Yoo San-seul, which he will use for his future performances as a trot singer.

The new music project enabled the show to feature lesser-known musicians working in the music industry.

“Many celebrities appear on multiple shows at the same time, and viewers quickly grow tired of seeing them on TV,” said culture critic Jeong.

But the musicians working in the trot music industry are new faces to many viewers looking for something new from the small screen, according to Jeong.

Kim, the producer of “Hang Out with Yoo,” said, “We’re seeking out all the possibilities of the relay format.

“We had to explain why we’re doing some projects in the past but we didn’t have to do that when we did the music project, maybe because music is something that anyone, regardless of age or gender, can understand instantly,” Kim added.


트로트 가수 유산슬 탄생…예능 살리는 음악

“유산슬 씨도 나중에 디너쇼 하실 거예요. 메뉴는 유산슬이고.”

유재석이 곧 새 앨범 발매와 함께 단독 콘서트를 여는 송가인을 부러워하자 MBC ‘놀면 뭐하니?’ 제작진은 이를 놓치지 않고 새 임무를 부여했다. 드럼 영재로서 8비트 씨앗을 뿌려 릴레이로 음원을 완성해 나가는 ‘유플래쉬’의 드럼 독주회가 끝나기가 무섭게 신인 트로트 가수 유산슬로 데뷔를 준비하고 있는 ‘뽕포유’의 목표를 못박은 것이다. 덕분에 예능인 유재석의 스케줄은 음악 일정으로 더 바빠졌다.

연이은 음악 프로젝트는 ‘무한도전’(2006~2018) 이후 김태호 PD의 새 도전을 지켜보던 시청자들도 한결 편안하게 만들어줬다. 지난 7월 프로그램 론칭 이후 ‘릴레이 카메라’ ‘조의 아파트’ ‘대한민국 라이브’ 등을 이어 오는 동안 계속됐던 “대체 뭐하는 프로냐”는 궁금증을 해소해줬기 때문이다. 정덕현 대중문화평론가는 “음악은 형식의 낯섦을 상쇄시켜줄 수 있는 소재이자 ‘무도 가요제’ 등을 통해 익숙하게 접해온 소재”라며 “옆으로만 넓어지던 확장이 목표가 생기면서 기승전결의 드라마가 생기는 것은 물론 완결성도 높아졌다”고 분석했다.

이번에도 중심엔 유재석이 있었다. “평소 음원 차트 ‘톱 10’만 듣던” 유재석은 한 회가 다르게 쑥쑥 커나갔다. 2011년 ‘처진 달팽이’를 결성해 댄스곡 ‘압구정 날라리’와 발라드 ‘말하는 대로’ 등을 나란히 히트시킨 이적이 “성장판이 닫히지 않는다”고 칭찬한 것처럼 그동안 ‘해피투게더-쟁반노래방’ ‘투유 프로젝트-슈가맨’ 등 음악 예능에서 다져온 역량을 십분 발휘했다. 체리필터의 드러머 손스타에게 사사 받은 ‘비트 조물주’로서 협업에 참여한 뮤지션들의 녹음실을 일일이 찾아다니며 귀동냥을 하고 연습을 거듭한 결과 자칭 비틀스의 드러머 링고 스타에 필적할 만한 천재 드러머 ‘유고스타’로 거듭났다.

참여 뮤지션도 쟁쟁했다. 이적의 기타는 정동환·폴킴·헤이즈·픽보이 등 음원 강자 11팀이 참여한 ‘눈치’가 됐고, 유희열의 건반은 윤상·이상순·적재·그레이·다이나믹 듀오·리듬파워·마미손·크러쉬 등 12팀의 힙합 라인을 거쳐 ‘놀면 뭐해?’가 됐다. 같은 유재석의 비트에서 출발했지만 전혀 다른 장르의 곡이 탄생한 것이다.
여기에다 유희열 팀의 중간 작업물을 콜드·김이나·자이언티 등 3팀을 거쳐 ‘헷갈려’로 뻗어 나갔고, 선우정아의 또 다른 작업물은 황소윤·닥스킴 등 6팀을 거쳐 ‘날 괴롭혀줘+못한 게 아니고’라는 곡이 됐다. 또 유튜브에 공개된 오픈 비트를 보고 참여한 UV가 어반자카파와 함께 만든 ‘디스 이즈 뮤직’이나 신해철의 미공개곡 ‘아버지와 나 파트 3’에 이승환과 하현우가 참여해 만든 ‘스타맨’까지 총 37팀이 참여해 6곡을 만들었다.

유재석의 드럼 독주회까지 음악의 확장성을 한눈에 보여주면서 해외 제작사들의 관심도 뜨겁다. 현재 포맷 수출 및 공동 제작 방안을 논의 중이다. 오디션 ‘언더나인틴’ 등을 연출한 임경식 PD나 넥스트 멤버들로부터 악기를 배운 장우성 PD 등 음악에 조예가 깊은 제작진의 역할도 컸다. 서정민갑 대중음악평론가는 “그동안 숱한 음악 예능이 있었지만 음악이 만들어지는 과정을 이토록 섬세하게 보여준 프로는 없었다”며 “이태윤·한상원 같은 관록 있는 선배들부터 지금 핫한 수민·윤석철 등 후배들까지 한자리로 모을 수 있다는 것이 놀랍다”고 평했다.

반면 김교석 대중문화평론가는 “유명인의 영향력과 재능을 활용한다는 측면에서 ‘무도 가요제’와 별 다를 바가 없는 기획으로 그 이상의 성과를 보여주진 못했다”고 짚었다. 방송 제작을 지원한 벅스에서는 상위권에 안착했지만 멜론 등 다른 음원 차트 성적은 100위권 안팎으로 예전만 못한 상황이다.

두 달 반 동안 진행된 ‘유플래쉬’가 지난주 막을 내리면서 ‘뽕포유’가 어떻게 그 바통을 이어받을지도 관심사다. 제작진이 드럼 비트를 들고 ‘박토벤’ 박현우 작곡가를 찾아갔다가 트로트 가수 데뷔 프로젝트로 급선회된 9회 방송이 프로그램 최고 시청률(6.6%)을 기록한 만큼 파급력도 더 클 것으로 보인다. 이들이 15분 만에 만든 ‘합정역 5번 출구’는 벌써부터 음원 공개 요구가 빗발치고 있고, 태진아·김연자·진성 등 선배 가수들도 ‘트로트 진흥회’를 결성해 물심양면으로 밀어주고 있다.

‘작사의 신’ 이건우, ‘정짜르트’ 정경천 편곡가 등 여태껏 TV에서 보지 못한 새로운 얼굴이 잇따라 등장하는 것도 흥미로운 부분. 정덕현 평론가는 “몇몇 연예인들의 겹치기 출연으로 시청자들의 피로도가 누적된 상황에서 이를 해소해주는 효과도 있다”고 덧붙였다.

‘유플래쉬’가 유재석이 제작진에게 하프를 건네받는 장면으로 끝나는 등 또 다른 음악 프로젝트가 시작될 가능성도 있다. 김태호 PD는 “릴레이라는 큰 틀 안에서 다양한 가능성을 검토 중”이라며 “‘조의 아파트’는 인물, ‘대한민국 라이브’는 교통수단으로 확장된 것인데 부연 설명이 필요했다. 반면 음악은 남녀노소를 불문하고 모두 즉각적으로 받아들일 수 있었던 것 같다”고 말했다.

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