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Prior to Music Bank, Top 10 Songs (가요톱10) debuted in 1981 airing live at 6:30 (KST) on Fridays and aired until 1998. For the first few months of 1998, Bravo New Generation took its place, but due to low ratings, it was quickly replaced by Music Bank on June 18, 1998. The chart format that was used since Top 10 Songs was abandoned in late 2001 due to controversy and was changed into a request format.
In 2005, the show was moved to Sunday afternoons at 12:45 (KST) and became a recorded broadcast. Due to sinking ratings, in September 2007, the show returned to its original time slot of Fridays evenings at 6:30 (KST) and returned to a live format. The charts were revived as category-based charts.
In January 2008, the category-based charts were combined into the K-Chart which is the familiar countdown chart and the only program to do so. In June 2008, the show extended to 70 minutes, airing from 6:30 (KST) to 7:40 (KST) making it the longest music program on air. In November 2008, as part of the Autumn format changes, the show began airing from 6:40 (KST) to 8:00 (KST) for 80 minutes. In May 2010, as part of the Spring format changes, the show began airing from 5:50 (KST) to 7:10 (KST) for 80 minutes.
On August 27, 2010, Music Bank began airing live to 54 different countries around the world through KBS World, and included new interactive features for international viewers through Twitter.
On November 11, 2011, as part of the autumn format changes, the show began airing for 105 minutes from 6:10 (KST) to 7:55 (KST), following KBS News 6.
In August 2012, Asian American cable network Myx TV began airing the first English dubbed version of Music Bank.
Since October 25, 2013, the show began airing for 80 minutes from 6:30 (KST) to 7:50 (KST), following KBS Global 24, which was transferred from KBS1 with effect from October 21, 2013.
K-Chart is the countdown charts of Music Bank. The charts are calculated by combining the Digital Music Charts (65%), Album Sales (5%), Number of times broadcast on KBS TV only (20%), and Viewers Choice Charts (10%).. This charts tracking from Monday to Sunday (11 days prior to 5 days prior), and the Top 50 songs of the week are featured on the show, where the Top 50–21 songs are shown via marquee and the Top 20–3 songs are featured by the hosts. The hosts showcase the Top Two songs in beginning of show and announce who will be the winner of the week. The Number 1 song on the chart is the winner of that week's chart and receives an award.
During the last week of June, the most popular song of the first half of the year is awarded the Music Bank First Half 1st Place award. During the last week of December, the Music Bank 1st Place award (or Music Bank MVP in 2008) is awarded to the most popular song of the entire year.
Prior to the combined K-Charts, category-based charts were used. From September to December 2007, every week a different category (Digital Music Charts, Karaoke Charts, Viewers Choice Charts, Album Sales Charts) was featured. Technically, each category would only be featured once a month. It was similar to K-Chart except the results each week could only be based on a specific chart, and not all the charts combined. From January 2008 to April 2009, two charts were used. Every week, the Digital Music Charts and Album Sales Charts were used, and at the end of the month were the combined charts (Album Sales Charts (20%) + Digital Music Charts (50%) + Viewers Choice Charts (30%)). In May 2009, this was abandoned for the combined charts featured every week. Note that the Music Bank ranking system is different from other previous and current televised K-Pop music shows, in that an artist can win an unlimited number of times for the same song (other shows generally remove it from the charts after three wins, for Music Core it's after five wins or two months since release). While other music chart shows have a full score of 10,000 or 11,000, Music Bank's full score is 200,000, meaning Digital Music Charts category have 130,000 score as full score, 40,000 for Broadcast, 20,000 for Viewers' Choice and finally 10,000 for Album Sales.
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Music Bank, as one of oldest music shows, had more controversies than Show! Music Core and Inkigayo.
About Laboum got the top of the chart
On April 28, 2017; Laboum got to top of the K-Chart and IU got second place in that chart. However, viewers have started to demand and ask for explanations and fairness. Viewers think that IU songs are very good and therefore deserved to be at the top of the chart. Music Bank producers then explained:
As IU is a very popular singer, and there has been a very positive reaction to her song, we were also surprised with the results of the winner. However, as the winner was selected according to our criteria, we can't doing anything but accept that result.
— Music Bank producer
Kim Jun Su did not appear at Music Bank
Kim Jun Su made a comeback on November 10 with the album "Pit a Pat". However, due to Kim Jun Su's lack of appearance; fans in Music Bank viewer opinions have asked Music Bank producers for explanations and fairness. A chief producer of Music Bank has responded:
Thank you to all the viewers who have shown interest and love in KBS’s programs.
As a producer of “Music Bank,” this is my response for this cases.
First, “Music Bank” is a program that to feature most popular artist and decide the ranking based on our criteria
“Music Bank” casts singers who are promoting within the required time period and want to appear. We cannot reveal the condition of whether to cast someone or not, especially if that artist did not reveal their desire to promote.
It would be difficult for us to explain our reasons for not casting some artist and cast another instead. Casting for “Music Bank” is inevitably a process of inclusion and exclusion. If we explained our reasons for excluding an artist, the artist or their fans might take it as a denunciation. There is no broadcaster who explains why they don’t cast one artist over another on music shows. KBS will continue to give a fair chance to a wide range of artists. We ask for the support. Thanks.