MTV's Top Pop Group is Cheesy, but Empowering?

September 5, 2008

Like the diverse legacy left by "Dance Crew," "Top Pop Group" has contestants of all colors and with a significant representation of Asian American singing talent, most noticeably the four Chinese American sisters (biological, not colloquial) from the group Jazmin.  


They read as part Asian stereotype (strict parents!) and part anomaly (they were allowed to draw on the walls at home as an encouragement of artistic expression). Judge Taboo talked about the significance of Jazmin possibly being the first all-Asian American pop group to have mainstream success. 
Other contestants include Filipina Chelsea Emata from the group 3 Daze:   
Troy Dolendo from Mosaic:


and Thailand-born Samoeun from the group Ju-Tuan:


[photos from MTV]
I caught the casting special and it looked predictably cheeseball. But it's a singing competition, so cheesiness and matching outfits are to be expected. I hope that MTV's reach with young audiences will help these singers gain a fan base. 
Asian Americans have suffered quite the fall-out when it comes to reality TV singing competitions (William Hung, Harlemm Lee, Sanjaya Malakar), so hopefully these folks will be remembered for singing ability, and not the lack thereof. Besides, if MTV can make those "Super Sweet Sixteen" kids celebrities, then these singers have a pretty good shot.

Sylvie Kim

contributing editor & blogger

Sylvie Kim is a contributing editor at Hyphen. She previously served as Hyphen's blog coeditor with erin Khue Ninh, film editor, and blog columnist.

She writes about gender, race, class and privilege in pop culture and media (fun fun fun!) at and at SF Weekly's The Exhibitionist blog. Her work has also appeared on Racialicious and Salon.



I don't know if anyone recognizes Chelsea Emata (now Chelsea E) from the reality TV show "Paradise Hotel 2". Chelsea started her career in the girl group SX4. George Brown & "Kool & the Gang" produced SX4's first album which lead to a 3 song release by BMG on the "Gangland" compilation album.This was quite a compliment. When you work with Kool & the Gang, you better know what you're doing.Good luck to Chelsea and her new group "3 Daze" on the MTV series, "Top Pop Group". Don't forget to vote- 3 Daze.