Girl idol group BNK48 introduces its second generation of lovely lasses
First introduced to the country early last year with the formation of BNK48, one of the international sister groups of Japanese idol prototype AKB48, the idol pop phenomenon appears to have cemented itself in Thai society. The members’ good girl images have proved seductive in courting commercial success with some or all of BNK 48 presenting a range of products from soy milk to toothpaste and film.
And with the popularity of the all-girl group stronger than ever, what better time than the present to inaugurate a new generation to the idol world? Last week, the 27 second generation members of BNK48 were introduced to more than 1,000 “otaku” or true fans at a special event held at Quartier Gallery of The EmQuartier.
The cheering and screaming, already disconcertingly loud at the start of the event, rose to a crescendo as 16 of the 27 girls were announced as “senbatsu” members – “selected” members who have earned the privilege of representing the group.
Seven of the 16 senbatsu members hail from Bangkok, namely Chanyapuk “New” Numprasop, 15, Khawisara “Myyu” Singplod, 19, Nuttakul “Gygee” Pimtongchaikul, 17, Paweethida “Fifa” Sakunpiphat, 17, Pimnipa “Deenee” Tungsakul, 17, Plearnpichaya “June” Komalarajun, 18, and Tarisa “Stang” Preechatangkit, 15. Three others – Janista “Bamboo” Tansiri, 16, Juthamas “Kheng” Khonta, 18, and Nannaphas “Mewnich” Loetnamchoetsakun, 16 – are residents of neighbouring Samut Prakan while the others come from further afield. Warinrat “Niky” Yolprasong, 13, and Ratah “Ratah” Chinkrajangkit, 16 are from Chiang Mai, Natticha “Fond” Chantaravareelekha, 16, is a Prachuab Khiri Khan native, Jidarpha “Panda” Chamchooy, 21 is from Nakhon Pathom, Kamonthida “View” Rotthawinithi, 14, from Nonthaburi, and Weeraya “Wee” Zhang, 17, from Chonburi.
The remaining 11 are known as “Undergirls” meaning a special group that takes charge of the main B-side of most of the singles. They’re made up of Bangkokians Nawaporn “Cake” Chansuk, Maira Kuyama, Rachaya “Minmin” Tupkunanon, Dusita “Natherine” Kitisarakulchai, and Natcha “Oom” Krisdhasima, plus Punyawee “Aom” Jungcharoen from Chiang Mai, Sumitra “Faii” Duangkaew from Lamphun, Manipa “Khamin” Roopanya from Khon Kaen, Phattharanarin “Nine” Mueanarit from Nakhon Sawan, Pakwan Noijaiboon from Sakon Nakhon, and Sirikarn “Phukkhom” Shinnawatsuwan from Samut Prakan.
What makes their success even more remarkable is that the 27 were chosen from the more than 10,000 girls from all regions of Thailand who applied.
“BNK48’s second generation members obviously have less practice than the first generation and will be under a great deal of pressure to succeed. Their first job is to overcome the wall of popularity enjoyed by the first BNK48 while also having fun doing it,” says Jirat Bawornwatana, executive chairman of BNK48 Office.
The mainly male audience seemed to have accepted them without any problems, whooping and shouting as they came out on stage to perform “Yak Ja Dai Phop Ther - Aitakatta” and “BNK48”. The “Undergirls” then peeled off and left the 16 senbatsu members to sing their debut single, “Rudoo Mai – Tsugino”, the lyrics of which talk about the beginning of their new life and encourage all of us to achieve our goals.
In line with idol group tradition, the second generation members used their self-created catchphrases to introduce themselves to the fans.
Mewnich’s catchphrase is a kind of spoonerism – “Leek Mew Na, Rak Mewnich” – while View’s is somewhat simpler. “Love View, love View” she instructed the fans after adapting the first verse of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” to “we will, we will “love View”. Deenee, Nine, Fifa, and Wee introduced themselves in song while the other girls asked fans to shout out their names.
“I’m so excited to see everybody and thank you all for coming today. We’re now ready to stand by you,” Bamboo told the crowd.
The screams rose another few decibels as Cherprang Areekul, Punsikorn “Pun” Tiyakorn and Rina Izuta, representing BNK48’s first generation, came out onstage and presented flowers to congratulate the rookies represented by Mewnich.
“It reminds us of the day when we were introduced to the public for the first time,” said Cherprang, looking at Pun and Rina, and having a little cry.
“We are very glad that BNK48 is going forward with the second generation.”
“I’m very proud of the second generation members and want to thank all of them for encouraging us. We are all the same family of BNK48, so we will go on together … fighting!,” Pun added.
“Thank you all of you, our seniors. If you hadn’t put in the hard work, we wouldn’t have had our day. We promise not to disappoint you,” replied a tearful Mewnich.
BNK48’s manager Nattaphon “Job” Bawornwatana, the younger brother of chairman Jirat, was next to take the stage and surprised fans by announcing the first and second-generation’s upcoming dates with their adoring public.
These include the participation of BNK48’s second-generation members in the handshake event for BNK48’s third single “Wan Raek – Shonichi” at Hall 98 of Bitec Bangna on August 18 and 19; additional rounds of performances at the BNK48 campus theatre on Friday at 7pm and Sunday at 1pm; and their appearance in the Digital Live Studio.
Nattaphon also announced that BNK48 members would be at the Nippon Haku Bangkok at Siam Paragon on September 2; that the song “Rudoo Mai – Tsugino Season” would appear on BNK48’s fourth single CD and its music video, a joint venture between BNK48 Office and Workpoint Entertainment, will be released this month.
Additionally, BNK48’s first generation members are all set to release their fourth single, “Kimi Wa Melody”. And fans can show off their talents to by taking part in the “BNK48 Fan Solo Campaign” and recording a video clip using any of the musical instruments from “Rudoo Mai” and uploading to Facebook or YouTube. The prize is a guitar pick with the signatures of the 16 Senbatsu members.
The second-generation members closed out their day in the sun with a performance of “365 Nichi no Kamihikouki - 356 Days with Paper Plane” and “Cookie Sieng Thay Koisuru Fortune Cookie”.