Take One (stylized Take 1) is a South Korean docuseries where renowned musical artists have been asked to create one perfect performance in one take. The docuseries and Netflix Original is also directed by Hak Min Kim. Take One is seven episodes long and includes a performance from Sumi Jo, AKMU, Yim Jae-beum, RAIN, You Hee-yul, Lena Park, and MAMAMOO. Each revered for their own unique style, the task seems simple but packs an emotional punch. “What if you had only one chance to present a perfect performance before you died?” and adds one condition, it must be shot in one uninterrupted take. Oh, and they only have 32 days to put on their performance.
While this approach seems simple, and the diversity of genres is large, from the first episode that opens with Sumi Jo to the last that features MAMAMOO, it’s clear that performance isn’t just a simple moment. For artists, performance is a moment that captures who they are, what they mean, and what they want to inspire in the audience. It is packed with emotion and vulnerability no matter how upbeat the song is.
Another element that Take 1 captures is the absolute chaos that can happen when one moment doesn’t go as planned. Performances, at any scale take planning, care, and coordination to execute. When you add in the pressure of having only one take with no cuts, the artists have to get creative, while also not sacrificing their creative visions. The tension and the pressure is atmospheric as we watch the artists move through rehearsals.
This series also has an incredible emotional weight given that the performances were sometimes the first time the artists have been able to be with their fans in years because of COVID-19. This is especially true for MAMAMOO whose rehearsal is held as a group of Moomoos, MAMAMOO’s fan name, cheer them on. With fans coming both internationally and from around South Korea, there is a connection captured i the series that is hard to explain. With the finale, we get to see MAMAMOO Try to capture their entire journey in performance, moving from an outdoor stage with only a handful of people watching to replicate their early days performing on the street when no one knew they were before transition into a packed stage with lightsticks waving them on. Take 1 highlight that every performance is a story, artfully executed and carefully thought of before it’s done.
The diversity of musical genres is present and so is the scale of the performance. Some are intimate reassurances of skill like Lena Park’s where tackles a song she once thought was too difficult, or You Hee-yul returning to the small venue where his band first got their start. Others are spectacles that push boundaries like AKMU including skydivers or RAIN being the first solo concert to perform at The Blue House, the now public park that formerly served as the executive office and official residence of the president of South Korea. And others still spilt the difference, to tell stories of their journies across their entire careers in a mixture of large and small venues at one time.
In crafting their performances, the artists also chronicle how they choose their one song to perform, and Rain’s choice of Rainism showcases the struggles he had in his first world tour when K-pop wasn’t admired and welcomed by the West. There is an intimacy in the process that feels in one way visceral, what one song immediately speaks to you from your career, but in another, it causes each artist to investigate what their choices mean to them. That said, while we see these moments sporadically, and in some episodes more than others, I would have loved for each episode to have a slightly longer runtime in order to investigate the emotional process even more than what we already get, especially with how much time the actual performance takes, particularly how it intersects with the physical toll performance takes on your body as an artist.
There is a love for music and art that comes from each artist, but beyond that, a reverence for how their careers have created who each artist is individually. Every episode is gorgeously edited, exemplifying emotion as much as technical skill. While I knew and listened to about half the artists featured in this docuseries, Take One has opened my eyes to those I hadn’t heard in the past. While their quality of music is proof of their success and admiration by fans, it’s also the way that each and every artist allowed each performance to speak volumes for their careers, life experiences, and relationships with bandmates and the music industry that struck me. With each episode running just under an hour, this a great series to add to your weekend binge list.
Take 1 is available now exclusively on Netflix.
There is a love for music and art that comes from each artist in Take 1, but beyond that, a reverence for how their careers have created who each artist is individually. Every episode is gorgeously edited, exemplifying emotion as much as technical skill. While I knew and listened to about half the artists featured in this docuseries, Take One has opened my eyes to those I hadn’t heard in the past.