(G)I-DLE‘s charismatic leader and main rapper Soyeon has come a long way since ranking outside the top 11 on Produce 101. This was how Jeon Soyeon evolved from that little rapper into the rising star that she is now.
The Beginning: Produce 101
I still remember being utterly unimpressed by Soyeon’s first appearance on Produce 101. The other Cube girls were forgettable, but I remember Soyeon because I was that confused as to why she was graded an A. I gotta be honest, I found her rapping grating and failed to see why exactly Cheetah was so impressed by her. To me, she was just another idol rapper with nothing new to offer and her performances throughout the season did little for me. In a sea of so many other pretty and talented girls, Soyeon didn’t stand out in a good way to me and voters ultimately agreed by the end of the whole thing.
Her Produce 101 stint ended without her making it into the final 11 and I remained unmoved.
In hindsight, Unpretty Rapstar was a slightly more fitting avenue for a girl as sharp-clawed and rough around the edges as Soyeon. But for me, back then, Unpretty Rapstar was just another Korean hip-hop show that had run its course, having lost its novelty and appeal by its third season. It looked like South Korea agreed, too, because none of the songs from the season left much of an impact on them. But, unfortunately, that was how I missed out on Soyeon destroying Coolkid in a diss rap battle.
She was in her element there, ruthless and fierce beyond belief. I actually ended up feeling bad for Coolkid when I finally watched this. The girl looked as if she was on the verge of tears, good god, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone this shaken on national television, ever. Heck, she looked even worse than the one time I accidentally opened a video file of Sadako coming out of the well in Ringu as a kid. Had I actually seen Soyeon do this at the time, I probably would’ve changed my opinion of her right there and then. Alas, I didn’t. And neither did the majority of her country.
Solo Debut ‘Jelly’
And then Soyeon moved on to her solo debut ‘Jelly‘ in November 2017. This was our first glimpse of her songwriting ability but… she did nothing impressive here either. I have to say that ‘Jelly’ was, and still is, one of the most irritating songs I’ve ever had the displeasure of listening to. I could hardly get past the whole song. Even as a fan now, I honestly still loathe everything about it. It’s safe to say that South Korea felt more or less the same way because she never debuted on Gaon with it either.
The Rise of Jeon Soyeon, The Leader of (G)I-DLE
Now comes an era where Soyeon finally gnaws her way into my wallet and everything’s beginning to fall into place. (G)I-DLE’s ‘LATATA‘ took some time to grow on me but when it finally did, god damn. I’m now convinced that it’s the strongest debut we’ve seen in a while and the fact that Soyeon is credited as a songwriter definitely impressed me. Very few idols have anything of this level under their song production belts their entire career. Jeon Soyeon did it upon (G)I-DLE’s debut and finally scored a respectable new peak on Gaon as well as Billboard’s World Digital Songs with it.
By the time ‘Hann‘ rolled around, Soyeon completed her transformation into this confident, charismatic performer whose leadership brings out the best in (G)I-DLE. Just watch her performance on Melon Music Awards 2018. She absolutely owned that stage. It made all her attempts on Produce 101 look like high school pantomimes.
You see, I was wrong to dismiss her. All of her previous flubs didn’t mean that she was never going to amount to anything. Back in Produce 101 era, Soyeon was still just a diamond in the rough. Having to bend and break in order to fit into that perfect I.O.I mould, rather than the reverse, just did nothing to bring out her real potential.
Being in (G)I-DLE meant that Cube Entertainment could capitalise on Soyeon’s improved songwriting ability while her natural fierceness was allowed to flourish and thrive alongside other promising ladies. Now, she has become a genuine force forged through years of sheer determination. Soyeon went from failing audition after audition to playing with the big leagues, scoring a massively successful collaboration with gaming giant League of Legends, along with Miyeon. This little spitfire may not have won the Produce 101 battle but she’s definitely well on her way to winning the war.
Let’s just hope she and (G)I-DLE keep up this momentum.
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