Two and a half decades ago The KPN Award was a completely new idea. Today, the Award is something that awakens aspirations in all Thai popular singers. The Award has worldwide recognition and has helped to bring Thai singers to international level.
Twenty-six years ago, in a bid to promote Thailand, its people and its talents, Dr. Kasem Narongdej and his wife Khun Pornthip Narongdej of the company KPN, wanted to showcase the talents of young Thais.
They thought long and hard about what format this should take. Khun Pornthip wanted something that had not been done before in Thailand, something for the people to enjoy. And then it came to her – a singing contest.
The Beginning of The KPN AWARD
In the early days the competition was a much smaller affair and only the final round was presented on TV. Now, for nine weeks of primetime TV the contestants sing their hearts out while a panel of 3 judges (one a past KPN Award winner) and one guest judge confer. Before that, the four major regions of Thailand hold auditions for the best singers to go forward to the eliminating rounds of this KPN Award.
This year there were 2319 contestants aged 18-28, from all regions of Thailand, and the judges had to end up with only 12 of the best. A tough call as they said. And then there were two, the overall winner and the popular winner.
The Lineup of the Judges for the KPN AWARDS?Unlike Britain’s Got Talent and American Idol the KPN Award does not take viewers’ votes into consideration for the main prize. It is felt that this can sometimes skew the results and lead to a bias. The panel judges, and only they, make the decision. Viewers are, however, given a vote and the winner of this vote receives the “Popular Vote” prize.
For the final, a panel of 17 experts sit in judgement to award the First Prize of H.M. the King’s Cup, along with 1 million Baht in prize money (approximately £20,000 or $30,000), and a contract for a music video and a CD album. The singer who wins the Popular Vote also gets to make a video and CD Album and wins 200,000 Baht (approximately £4,000 or $5742), while the final five get a Blackberry each and varying cash prizes.
Other prizes were motor-cycles, two tickets to Hong Kong, and money.
The Future of the KPN Award
Executive Producer Korn Narongdej, aged 31, and his 40-year old brother Kris who handles the financial end of the business, see this talent show as a way to open up a career path for the many young people who take part. The TV exposure it affords plus the media excitement that surrounds the contest is a boost to a career – even if some of these careers have to be postponed while they finish their University education.
This Thai talent contest is shown in over 10 countries and is the only one in Thailand that is for singers who are ready to hit the career path. It has a professional air about it. There are other contests for beginners, or for those who just think they might make it but this is the only one for singers who have already proved themselves.
The KPN Award is the fulfilment of the dream that Pornthip Narongdej had 26 years ago and an assured stairway to the stars for a lot of young hopefuls with stars in their eyes.