Before facing his fate as an unwitting pop star, Vladislav Ivanov of Vladivostok, Russia was originally working on Produce Camp 2021 as a translator before the program's producers noticed his good looks and asked him if he wanted to participate in the singing competition. “I originally came here to help my two Japanese friends learn Chinese. The director knew that I can speak Chinese and my appearance is OK,” Ivanov recalled to the South China Morning Post. “So he asked me whether I wanted to try living in a new way.”
Although he agreed, telling the show " … I’d like to try a new life,” it seems the new life in question, one of partaking in an intense boy band competition, was apparently not for him, leading Ivanov to quickly regret his decision, The Guardian reported. Considering that quitting was not an option, meaning that if Ivanov, who performed under the name Lelush after his favorite anime character, would be subject to hefty fines if he walked off, the begrudging pop star began pleading with the show's audience to give him the axe, telling fans “don’t love me, you’ll get no results.”
However, it seems this seemingly straightforward approach backfired, with fans finding Ivanov's frustrated and occasionally peeved demeanor a refreshing shift from “the industry's typical cookie-cutter youth idols,” according to South China Morning Post.
“Becoming a member of a boy band is not my dream as I can’t sing and dance,” Ivanov said in Chinese, per the publication. “I hope the judges won’t support me. While the others want to get an A, I want to get an F as it stands for freedom.” Despite clumsily performing what The Guardian described as a “half-hearted" and aggressively autotuned albeit still off-key rap, Ivanov progressed relatively far in the competition before getting his coveted “F”, landing a spot in the top 25. The show's top 11 contestants win the program, going on to comprise an international pop group.
“Please don’t make me go to the finals," he reportedly said. “I'm tired." With his begrudging attitude and copious lack of performance skills, Ivanov has singlehandedly taken over both Chinese and Russian social media, with the hashtag #СвободуЛелушу or #FreeLelush trending in hopes of getting him out of his contract.
Fortunately, Ivanov was eliminated before the show's tense finale, a moment so monumental, The Russian Embassy even commented “Congrats, have a good rest,” on a post regarding him leaving the show, per The Guardian.
So here's to hoping Ivanov finally gets the nice, long nap he has been begging for – he clearly deserves it.