. Tyana's Blog: Top Combine's History ~Chinese Boy Band~

Top Combine's History ~Chinese Boy Band~

Top Combine is a Mandopop boy band. The group consists of the members Bird Zhang, Caesar Li, Mars Ma, Kenny Liu, and Tanas Kim [from South Korea]. All were professionally trained in singing, dancing, modeling, and language. With the exception of Kim, the other four members of Top Combine were all 2007 contestants from China's top singing competition Super Boy (simplified Chinese: 快乐男声), the male counterpart of Super Girl (simplified Chinese: 超级女声). They debuted in October 2008 with a performance of their first single, "Arrival" (降临).

History

The Super Boy competition and formation

Due to the success of the predecessor Super Girl, Hunan TV and record label EE Media decided to produce a male counterpart of the contest. Deemed China's version of American Idol, Super Boy's first broadcast was on May 25, 2007. Zhang Yuan, representing Nanjing, snatched ninth place in the contest overall, successfully entering the top ten of the finalists round. Although Li Mao of Nanjing, Ma Xueyang of Chengdu, Liu Zhoucheng of Guangzhou, and Gao Wei of Changsha were all eliminated before the final round, it had already been proposed by EE Media for these four contestants to unite as one vocal group. Contestant Yang Fan of Jinan was to join the group as well, but was soon removed from the group. After a few test recordings with the four potential members, EE Media signed them to record contracts, temporarily being added to a group named "Happy Boy Group". Originally, finalist Zhang Yuan was to debut in a thirteen-member vocal touring group called "Happy Top 13", along with the other top thirteen finalists of Super Boy. However, the plan sounded tedious and hence was discarded. Instead, Zhang Yuan was placed as the fifth and last member of the "Happy Boy Group". That same month, the five of them recorded their pre-debut single "Kiss", and performed it at the Super Boy concert in Shanghai.

With the support of South Korea's DoReMi Media, the group was sent in October 2007 to South Korea to undergo vigorous vocal and dance training.  Fascinated by the Korean music industry, it was rumored that EE Media would replace a member from the "Happy Boy Group" with a Korean member, hoping for the group to make a future debut in Korea. For a while, the Chinese media speculated that Zhang Yuan was to be replaced due to his late addition to the group in September 2007. Later, EE Media announced that the rumors of a line-up change were true, and Gao Wei was to be replaced with an anonymous member in early 2008.

The "Happy Boy Group" returned to China in April 2008 with the announcement of the new member Kim Eun-sung, a Korean trainee under DoReMi Media who had replaced Gao Wei. The mysterious addition of Kim caused the Chinese media to assume that they were trying to compete against Super Junior-M, causing Korean fans to label Kim as the Korean version of Han Geng. However, EE Media claims that Kim was added to the group due to his special voice and the bond he had formed with the existing members. The addition of Kim in the group caused the group's popularity to rise in Korea, even accepting interviews from Korea's KBS channel.

Right before they recorded their debut single, the group decided on the name Zhi Shang Li He (simplified Chinese: 至上励合), literally meaning "supreme combination". The group's English name was finalized to Top Combine and the members also chose English stage names for themselves. Zhang Yuan became Bird, Li Mao became Caesar, Ma Xueyang became Mars, Liu Zhoucheng became Kenny, and Kim Eun-sung became Tanas. Nonetheless, all five members kept the characters of their birth names as their Chinese stage names. Jin Ensheng, the Chinese counterpart to Kim Eun-sung's name in hanja, became his Chinese stage name.

Musical career

Promoted as "China's Number One Motivational Boy Band" (simplified Chinese: 中国第一励志天团), Top Combine's debut was both successful and controversial. The group's first single "Arrival" (降临) made its debut global broadcast in Music Radio: China's Top 10 Charts on September 8, 2008, just six days after their official debut. The single peaked at #3 on the charts. While the single was received with much success, the release of the single's corresponding music video on September 20, 2008 earned some ire the first few months of their debut.[16] The color, style, and material seen in "Arrival" is similar to that of the "O" and "Purple Line" music videos by Korean boy band.TVXQ Top Combine were henceforth labeled as copiers by TVXQ fans. Later, it was clarified that the reasons for their similarities were because the two groups used the same director, Chun Hyuk-jin.

On October 9, 2008, Top Combine officially debuted on the program Up Every Day (simplified Chinese: 天天向上), performing "Arrival". Their debut EP, Arrival (EP), was released in different provinces of China starting from October 26, 2008. The EP sold very well in China, and the group held their first fan meeting with their fan club "Seraphim" on November 16, 2008.

The music video of "Cotton Candy", the group's second promotional single, was released in early December 2008. "Cotton Candy" was composed and written by Mars, who composed the piece with his electric guitar and violin. The single charted within then top ten of over five different music charts, peaking at #2, and achieving more popularity than their first single.

Top Combine was invited to perform the opening act of the Southeast Explosive Music Awards on November 15, 2008. On November 17, they received their first award at the 9+2 Music Awards.

Members

Bird
  • Birth name: Zhang Yuan (simplified Chinese: 张远; traditional Chinese: 張遠; pinyin: Zhāng Yuǎn)
  • Date of birth: June 2, 1985
  • Place of birth: Chuzhou, Anhui, China
  • Position: Leader, Main Vocal
Caesar
  • Birth name: Li Mao (Chinese: 李茂; pinyin: Lǐ Mào)
  • Date of birth: June 2, 1986
  • Place of birth: Hefei, Anhui, China
  • Position: Rapper, Vocal , dancer
Mars
  • Birth name: Ma Xueyang (simplified Chinese: 马雪阳; traditional Chinese: 馬雪陽; pinyin: Mǎ Xuěyáng)
  • Date of birth: September 30, 1986
  • Place of birth: Chengdu, Sichuan, China
  • Position: Vocal
Kenny
  • Birth name: Liu Zhoucheng (traditional Chinese: 劉洲成; simplified Chinese: 刘洲成; pinyin: Liú Zhōuchéng; Cantonese Yale: Lau4 Jau1sing4)
  • Date of birth: February 28, 1988
  • Place of birth: Zhongshan, Guangdong, China
  • Position: Vocal
Tanas
  • Name: Jin Ensheng (simplified Chinese: 金恩圣; traditional Chinese: 金恩聖; pinyin: Jīn Ēnshèng)
  • Birth name: Kim Eun-sung (Hangul: 김은성)
  • Date of birth: September 17, 1988
  •  Place of birth: South Korea
  • Position: Vocal
Discography

Albums

Arrival (EP)
  • Released: October 26, 2008
  • Format: CD
  • Label: EE Media, Doremi Media
Track Listing
  1. Arrival (Jiang Lin / 降临)
  2. Cotton Candy (Mian Hua Tang / 棉花糖)
  3. Next Stop, Forever (Xia Yi Zhan Yong Yuan / 下一站永远)
  4. Clown (Xiao Chou / 小丑)
  5. Kiss
Grandness Equal to Heaven
  • Released: December 13, 2009
  • Format: CD
  • Label: EE Media, Doremi Media
Track Listing
  1. Grandness Equal To Heaven (Qi Tian Da Sheng / 齐天大盛)
  2. Star-Studded Sky (Fan Xing / 繁星)
  3. Radiance (Guang Mang / 光芒)
  4. Love Live
  5. Sweetheart (Tian Xin / 甜心)
  6. Summit of Longing (Si Nian Zhi Dian / 思念之巅)
  7. Goodbye My Love (Zai Jian Le Wo De Ai / 再见了我的爱)
  8. Party Time
  9. Child Who Speaks With The Wind (He Feng Shuo Hua De Hai Zi / 和风说话的孩子)
  10. End The Fight (Jin Zhan / 禁战)
Lucky Boys (EP)
  • Released: April 28, 2011
  • Format: CD
  • Label: EE Media, Doremi Media
Track Listing
  1. Lucky Boys
  2. 咬耳朵 (Yao Er Duo)
  3. Darling
  4. 主角 (Zhu Jue)
  5. 在路上 (Zai Lu Shang)
Solos

Bird Zhang - "City of Sadness"
  • Release Date: May 29, 2007
Other Units
  1. E.E. Media Stars - 红星闪闪 (Hong Xing Shan Shan/"Red Star Glimmering"). Release Date: July 2009.
  2. E.E. Media Stars - OPEN新年 (OPEN Xin Nian/"OPEN New Year"). Release Date: December 2008.
  3. Super Boys (feat. Bird/Zhang Yuan) - 我最闪亮 (Wo Zui Shan Liang/"I'm The Brightest"). Release Date: September 2007
Awards

2008    
  1. Best Dance Group, 9+2 Music Awards
  2. Most Popular Group Online, 9+2 Music Awards
  3. Most Popular Newcomer Band, 9+2 Music Awards
2009    
  1. Golden Hit 2008, Beijing Pop Music Awards: "Cotton Candy"
  2. Baidu Most Searched New Group Award

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