최고의 날들은 아직 살지 않은 날들이다 – 나짐 히크메트
The best days are those we still haven’t lived through – Nazim Hikmet
What a great time travel drama this was. This genre is on the rise in Korean dramas these days, with Tomorrow With You, Tunnel (which I still haven’t seen), The Best Hit, and the upcoming Manhole, starring JYJ’s Kim Jae Joong. The fact that I realy enjoyed about The Best Hit was how it served as a complete foil to the kind of intensity of plot I had seen in Tomorrow With You. The story was rather relaxed, didn’t mind throwing in a few jokes here and there, and it seemed much clearer in regards to what it aimed to achieve than the other drama.
Now let’s jump into the story. The first two~four episodes were spent rather lazily, laying the groundwork, so it wasn’t till a week later that the audience thoroughly immersed themselves into the show. It is the year 1993, the decade of popular boy bands, where Yoo Hyun Jae (played by Yoon Shi Yoon) is a successful Korean singer, part of a duo called J2. He is responsible for composing most of the songs for the group, and is famous for his fashion, dance and singing skills. The label he is signed with is World Entertainment, whose CEO is Lee Soon Tae (played by Lee Deok Hwa). Hyun Jae’s manager is Lee Kwang Jae (played by Cha Tae Hyun), and his girlfriend is Hong Bo Hee (Yoon Son Ha), of another famous girl group. Suddenly, Hyun Jae disappears into thin air, leaving no particular trace behind, other than his car, which is why most people assume that he died.
In the current year, 2017, we see that the same World Entertainment is now in a bad shape, affected greatly by the loss of Hyun Jae. They are buried under great debts, and all the people connected to Hyun Jae are living in a single house. Bo Hee has a son, Lee Ji Hoon (played by Kim Min Jae), who is Hyun Jae’s son, but Gwang Jae adopts him since the biological father is missing. Even though Gwang Jae has not married Bo Hee, he has feelings for her so he has put Ji Hoon on his own family register. Ji Hoon, who is 23, is expected to give his civil service examinations by his adoptive father, because he wants him to steer clear of the entertainment business. Yet, Ji Hoon is bent on becoming an idol and is a trainee at Star Punch Entertainment, whose CEO is the other member of the duo, J2, Park Young Jae (played by Hong Kyung Min). On the other hand Choi Woo Seung (played by Lee Se Young), is Ji Hoon’s best friend since childhood. Daughter of Bo Hee’s stylist in the 90’s, she comes from a very broken household, unaware of her own paternity, much like Ji Hoon. While Ji Hoon sneaks around as an idol trainee, Woo Seung studies for the civil service examinations for him, since that is the path she wants to take in life herself. Faced with such an unstable life in her childhood, all Woo Seung wants is to be able to live comfortably without any problems affecting her life.
Back in 1993, on the day of Hyun Jae’s disappearance, a twin typhoon hits South Korea. Hyun Jae slides down the stairs of a building where his management office is located and he goes all the way out of the building. He is almost hit by a car being driven by Woo-Seung, while Ji Hoon and MC Drill (played by Dong Hyun Bae) sit in the car. Hyun Jae has somehow arrived in the year 2017.
With a mystery to solve, regarding his disappearance, to figure out how Young Jae, who did not have any musical skills in the past has made it big, and why his compositions are openly being plagiarized by Star Punch Entertainment, Hyun Jae has a lot on his plate. Nevertheless, we got a lot of amazing hijinks in the show, in terms of the inter-generational love square, between Hyun Jae, Woo Seung, Ji Hoon and Star Punch’s cash cow MJ (played by ASTRO’s Cha Eun Woo).
Added to this was the fact that our fictitious J2 actually took their title song, Say It to KBS’ Music Bank to perform, and got real clips from 1993 showcasing Seo Taiji and the Boys as their opponents. Seeing a younger Yang Hyun Suk from his idol days was interesting, and somehow I felt like Park Young Jae as a character quite possibly must have been inspired from there. Both being idols turned CEOs of companies. Other interesting puns included how much fun MC Drill made of real idols by the way he behaved, making it appear like Dong Hyun Bae was actually making jokes at his baby brother, Dong Young Bae, who we know better as Big Bang’s Taeyang. This was especially felt when we saw Drill singing Taeyang’s Eyes, Nose, Lips while having a shower. Another reference that I caught was how Eun Woo’s character, MJ, had the same name as Eun Woo’s real life group, ASTRO’s eldest member, MJ. I wonder if the character was also inspired from the real life MJ. I am sure there were plenty more references that I might have missed out on, but these were the ones that I caught on.
What I really enjoyed about watching J2’s music video was the fact that being born in the early 1990s, I could relate to the visuals and graphics of the video. Similar music videos were being produced in Pakistan at the time. Hyun Jae’s entire fashion sense seemed to be similar to our very own Fakhar-e-Alam when he had just come out with a rap song in Punjabi. The graphics reminded me of songs by Awaz and Strings shot pretty much the same way. This includes all the camera angles and the kind of attitude these singers used to exude on stage and in their videos. Say It was something I could hands down believe being from the past, proving how immaculately the people behind the camera shot it in 2017.
Lastly, I must commend the soundtrack of this show. From the famous Punch, to classic female singers like Younha, Yoon Mi Rae, and BoA. Other contributions included Park Kyung from Block B, Kyu Hyun from Super Junior, and T-Ara. All of the songs were fabulous, more so because they were sung by such talented people. Younha is one of my staples when it comes to Korean drama OSTs, ever since I heard her sing Can’t Believe It for Lee Min Ho and Son Ye Jin’s Personal Preference. Kyu Hyun, left us with this ballad, before he enlisted in the army. I generally am not fan of ballads, and Kyu Hyun is a balladeer which is why despite his talent, I’ve never paid attention to his solo songs. Yet this one helped build the mood so well in the show that I must say how much I enjoyed it.
Overall, Best Hit was a great watch. I laughed all the way to the end, with a few tears shed here and there, but Yoon Shi Yoon nailed his lead role, while keeping his slight obnoxiousness from his Flower Boys Next Door phase alive. I absolutely enjoyed the Jang Hyuk and Monsta X cameos. Yoo Hyun Jae is an endearing character that I will hold onto for as long as I possibly can, till I await the best days of my life that are yet to come. Cheers for the future!
Note: Such a drama was actually needed at such a time, what amidst all the horrible news of international celebrities committing suicide due to depression. People I remember as I write this are Chris Cornell from Soundgarden and Audioslave, as well as Chester Bennington from Linkin Park. The latter being a band that gave me great strength during my difficult times.