ENTERTAINMENT

New pan-Asian girl group gearing up for global launch

By Jean Oh
  • Published : Jan 19, 2011 - 10:56
  • Updated : Jan 19, 2011 - 10:56

The results are in.

After a six-week training-and-elimination process, “Project Lotus” ― the pan-Asian girl group enterprise that kicked off last summer ― has whittled contestants down to the final five.

A mere three to four months remain till the world meets Blush ― the appropriately girly moniker of the upcoming quintet of singing-and-dancing talent hailing from the Philippines, China, India, Japan, and South Korea.

According to Project Lotus executive producer Jon Niermann ― whose Asia-based production company, FarWest Entertainment, is heading the endeavor ― Blush’s first single will be released in May right after a TV special detailing the search and formation of the group.

“Blush’s main target is girls and young women globally, with a core target of 10 to 30 year olds,” the former Walt Disney Company (Asia Pacific) president said via e-mail. “We think they will have broad appeal in the West and Asia.”

“If we do it right, we’ll hit the diversity of the Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga-type of audiences for this group,” he elaborated. “In terms of Asia marketing, we are primarily an English-singing group, which will be unique, considering the girls and (the) mix we have.”

The finalists, according to Niermann, are Angeli Flores from the Philippines, Victoria Chan from China, Alisha Budhrani from India, Natsuko Danjo from Japan, and Lee Ji-hae from South Korea. 
Blush, a five-member Pan-Asian girl group (FarWest Entertainment)

The final five survived an intense selection process that started with two rounds of auditions where 25 girls from the five countries were picked to attend six weeks of training in Hong Kong.

Every week, one girl from each country was eliminated. Flores, Chan, Budhrani, Danjo and Lee were the lucky five who made it.

Now that the results are in, what kind of band will Blush be?

If Korean finalist Lee serves as any indication of their collective talent, then Blush may have what it takes to become one of the first globally successful pan-Asian girl groups.

Sporting honey-hued tresses, a sun-kissed tan and feline features, Lee had the pop idol glow down pat, but it was her voice ― rich, deep and soulful ― that confirmed she not only looked the part, but had the vocals to back it up.

“I remember Ji-hae clearly from the auditions we held in Seoul last August,” Niermann recalled. “She was wearing a shirt with green sleeves and we kept calling her ‘greensleeves’ since she really stood out with such a unique voice and beautiful presence.”

“At the time of course, we had no idea she would be the finalist chosen to represent Korea,” he continued. “At the finale, it was her uniqueness, stage presence and distinctive voice that complimented our other members of the group which won her the spot.”

The 25-year-old Lee ― who started dreaming of becoming a singer after high school but went on to major in law in college ― auditioned for “Project Lotus” at her younger sister’s behest.

“She saw an article in the paper and told me about it,” Lee said in an interview with The Korea Herald. “I wanted to do it, but I was worried I wouldn’t make it through.”

“I was beside myself and felt completely numb,” Lee remembered of how she felt when she found out she would be part of Blush. “My heart was beating very fast.”

Lee returned to Korea after making the final cut to polish up on her English language and dancing skills.

Lee and the other band members, all of whom are currently in Hong Kong, will fly out to Los Angeles soon to work with Hollywood producers, says Project Lotus Korea producing partner Won Lee.

“They are working with multiple producers,” Niermann detailed, adding that said producers are “all ‘A’ players in their field,” including one who was nominated for several Grammy Awards this year.

“There will also be some high profile collaborations that will be announced shortly,” he added.

According to Grammy Award-winning producer Eliot Kennedy ― who is the creative director-producer for Project Lotus ― Blush’s upcoming tracks will not feature any Auto-Tune (the vocal pitch-adjusting program popularized by artists like Kanye West) or “too many ballads.”

For the Korean market, said Niermann, “Ji-hae will take lead in some songs and sing them in Korean versions while girls support her. The beautiful thing about Blush, and why we spent so much time looking and planning, is that each of our girls is capable of being the lead singer, and they will all have that chance.”

CJ Media-owned cable channel tvN covered the Project Lotus experience for a four-part documentary on hallyu. The air date and title of the upcoming documentary have yet to be decided.

According to Niermann, Project Lotus’ own making-of-the-band TV special will “air regionally across Asia in April and May.”

By Jean Oh (oh_jean@heraldcorp.com)


<한글 요약>

지난 여름 시작된 범아시아 걸그룹 프로젝트가 최종 5인을 가려냈다.
그들의 그룹명은 “블러시.” 

필리핀, 중국, 일본, 인도, 한국 출신인 5인조 걸 그룹은 다양한 국적을 나타낸다. 

파웨스트 엔터테인먼트의 사장인 존 니어먼에 따르면 블러시의 첫 싱글은 그룹 결성 TV방송 직후 5월에 발매될 예정이다.

그는 “블러시의 주요 타겟은 10-30세의 젊은 여성.” “동서양에 두루 어필할 것이라 생각한다,”라고 밝혔다.