I Am A Singer 나는 가수다 4 September 2011

나는 가수다

In the third episode of the fifth round, we finally return to a familiar format as the singers are assigned their covers by a spinning wheel. After the official rankings of the last episode, tensions are high for some of the singers as a difficult song might result in going home. However, as usual, this is a mid-point episode and it doesn’t result in a final audience judged performance, but follows the singers as they receive their appointed covers and work to adapt them, also giving us a slice of some of their lives as well, culminating with a mid-week intimate performance of their progress on their songs in front of the other singers and their managers.

All performances can be watched from Bugs Music’s special 나는 가수다. Click the tab saying “9월 4일 방송” to find the performances discussed below.

A Quick Realization

rd: I wasn’t paying very good attention the last two episodes and it turns out that the first episode where they all got to perform their own songs wasn’t a competitive round as the last round was called the first part. I’m not sure if it was a special case since there were three new performers or if it will be a regular feature to have performances of the singers’ original songs on the first week, but that clarifies why nobody was let go in the previous round.

Anna: I kinda hope it’ll continue to be this way. A good way for the singers to show off their own songs while easing new contestants into it while at the same time not letting anybody suffer because his or her back catalogue may not be as strong as that of the others.

Spinning the Wheel

rd: And now we return to the second part of the sixth round where the singers spin the wheel that will determine the song that each singer will have to perform that round. I’m glad they kept this part as this often keeps the singers on their toes and can result in some surprising performances.

rd: The theme of the songs on the wheel is “Masterpieces of the 90’s”. As many of these performers started or had a successful portion of their careers in the 90’s, I think this will be relatively familiar territory for them all. In fact, they start talking about how successful their various songs of the 90’s were. MC Yoon Jongshin and Kim Johan’s manager, Go Youngwook, formerly of RooRa, a popular pop group of the 90’s, also note their successes of the decade.

Anna: I love the theme already. Hadn’t realized Go Youngwook was a former Roo’Ra member!

rd: They now reveal the wheel and one of my favorite parts is seeing if I recognize any of the listed songs and, if I do, thinking about how the given performer might handle it. Unfortunately, I don’t recognize any of the songs for the first draft, although some of the artist names sound familiar. It’s revealed that Insooni’s up first! And she gets the song that she wanted to perform most, Kim Kwangsuk’s “서른 즈음에”! Lucky lady. The play a clip of the song and it’s got a real folksy air about it. I’m excited to see what Insooni will do with it.

rd: The next batch of songs includes two that I recognize, Kim Gunmo’s “아름다운 이별” and one of my favorite Panic tunes, “달팽이”. Kim Johan is the performer for this pick and he also gets his song of choice with the Kim Gunmo song! After watching Kim Johan on this show I started listening to my Solid compilation again and remembered just how much I liked his group, so although I was never a fan of Kim Gunmo, I’m hoping he does well.

Anna: 아름다운 이별 was the first Korean song I ever heard. It’s very dear to me still, and I’m so happy Kim Johan gets to give it a go.

rd: I don’t really know any of the songs in the next batch, but MC Yoon Jongshin’s “너의 결혼식” is in the mix. Kim Taehyun correctly guesses that Bobby Kim fits the songs’ profile and they spin the wheel and, yet another coincidence, Bobby Kim gets assigned our MC’s song. It’s a pretty straightforward ballad, so I think Bobby won’t have a problem adapting it, the only concern is if his style can capture a mainstream Korean audience.

rd: I actually think I recognize *every* artist in the next group and a number of the songs, including Um Junghwa’s “Festival” which was playing on the radio a lot when I was in Korea the summer of ‘99 and Turbo’s “검은 고양이 네로”. I think because of the upbeat selections, this is going to be Jaurim’s pick. And I’m right. I love band representative Lee Sungyu’s reaction. The first unwanted pick of the night is Shin Haechul’s “재즈 카페” (Lee wanted to avoid it because of the rap element, but I think that Jaurim can adapt around the rap). I’m more concerned that the nature of the song doesn’t play to Jaurim’s popular strengths with it’s New Jack Swing influence.

Anna: Perhaps not super obvious, but the moment I saw those titles I was hoping it’d be for Jaurim. I wish they could’ve done 검은 고양이 네로 – another of my early encounters with Korean music. I could never get into 재즈 카페.

rd: I only recognize a couple singers in the next batch and none of the songs, but only balladeers remain. Yoon Minsoo spins the wheel and gets the song that the other MC’s and singers thought would be a good match, Yang Heeeun’s “사랑 쓸쓸함에 대하여”. I think it’s going to be a rather straightforward adaptation.

rd: Again, being more pop ballad oriented, I only recognize a couple singers and none of the songs. And this set belongs to Jang Hyejin, who spins the wheel and gets Park Sangmin’s “멀어져간 사람아”. I actually like the original after hearing a little bit and I think Jang will probably do well with it.

rd: Naturally, Jo Kwanwoo is left and I recognize more singers in his pick as well as Im Changjung’s “그때 또 다시” and now Lee Sora’s “난 행복해”. A spin results in Jo getting Kim Hyunchul’s “달의 몰락”. A mid-tempo song, it might be an interesting change of pace for the slow burn ballad singing of Jo or it might bury him if he can’t adapt as he got last place in the previous round.

The Singers Find Their Arrangements

rd: This includes a visit from Jang Hyejin to Park Sangmin, who greets her by singing a rendition of her 1st place winning song from the last round. She notes that because of the similarities between Park’s song and her previous performance, she might need to change it up somehow. It seems like the two actually have a history of working together. Heh, and he claims to have made “voodoo dolls” of the other singers to help her along.

rd: Yoon Minsoo also meets up with Yang Heeeun. Yang’s got a strong ajumma personality and forces Yoon to sing and then lectures him on gut-singing. There’s an amusing clip of Yoon practicing the song while at the gym. He comes out with a lesson about singing from his heart.

Anna: Seeing Yang Heeeun now makes me want to see her as one of the singers on the show.

rd: Jo also visits Kim for some advice, who has previously appeared on the show before when Kim Bumsoo sang one of his songs. It looks like he’s been encourage to approach the song via Barry Gibb’s falsetto style, but I’m not convinced. I think Jo might do well to approach it without a falsetto this time.

Anna: I’d rather hear him take it on BeeGees style than going at it his usual falsetto style though. But of course I’d prefer if he could just sing it without ruining it too much.

rd: Kim Johan chats with his arranger and then approaches the music. I like the different approaches taken.

rd: Bobby Kim sits with the MC and talks about the song and I like what he’s coming up with as well.

rd: Insooni is seen narrating a story over the music and she seems to be considering telling a story over the song. She’s very philosophical when it comes to what she wants to convey with her music and who she wants to convey it to, telling 30-somethings of what’s to come through this song.

The Singers Prepare their Songs

rd: It appears that Insooni is simultaneously in the show Cats and we get to see a little behind the scenes of that. Yoon Minsoo gives a little tour of his office and introduces his rambunctious dog. Jo is growing a beard.

rd: Bobby Kim gives a little tour of his house. He wants to find a girlfriend to help him with his interior decorating.

Anna: It’s cute to get a look at his house like that.

Midround Performances

rd: Looks like they’re squeezing in two weeks into one with the mid round performance. Kim Yuna’s back representing the band too. Good to see she’s better. Park Myungsoo’s taken over MC duties in MC Yoon’s absence.

rd: Jo explains that he’s not had good luck on the show when he’s shaved off his mustache.

rd: When Yoon shows up, he asks for the MC note cards back and Park tells Yoon to sing a song first, which the singers and managers cheer on and he obliges, singing his hit from 17 years ago, “부디”. This results in a comic critical scoring from the managers.

rd: Jang Hyejin is up first. Not having been able to meet with her arranger, she just sings it straight, but I like the song regardless. Kim Yuna suggests trying a rock sound since Jang likes rock music and Jang also considers taking a rock approach as well.

Anna: Even so I think it sounds very promising. My expectations on her have certainly grown since last week’s win.

rd: Yoon Minsoo is not even sure what key to sing it in as the different keys result in different impressions. His take isn’t bad either.

Anna: He sounds a bit fragile, but it kinda fits the song.

rd: Insooni provides a nice rendition of her song. She seems to have moved both Jang Hyejin and Kim Shinyoung to near tears.

Anna: For her it’s quite a modest performance though. She impressed more while sitting down during the preparations.

rd: Kim Johan’s performance actually makes me realize that both he and Kim Gunmo share a similar vocal timbre, making him perhaps too natural a fit for his song.

Anna: As much as I love the song and Kim Gunmo, Kim Johan’s vocals are smoother and in a way more fitting for a song this beautiful. Makes me really look forward to next week.

rd: Bobby and Yoon have a discussion of how Yoon’s age when singing the song and Bobby’s older age now approaching it changes the perception of the sadness embedded in the song. He’s taking it more softly than the original, even if it won’t match the audience’s taste. It’s really a different take on the song–Bobby’s really made it his own.

Anna: He’s got a bit of a nasal singing style going on here, doesn’t he? Weakest one so far to me, but part of that could be that this is the one song I don’t know this round.

rd: Jaurim is having difficulties with adapting the song, unsurprisingly. I like the jazzy-bluesy take that they band takes on the song tho. I think this might work for Jaurim as it resembles some of the popular jazzy tunes like “욕” and “마론인형”, albeit a bit slower like some of Kim Yuna’s songs from her first solo album. Kim Yuna notes that she’s hoping to find someone to help with the rap element of the song.

Anna: I don’t like the original song and the whole “groove with a bit of blues” arrangement isn’t really something I care for Kim Yuna sounds strong and good though.

rd: Jo admits that he’s never sung a faster song before. He doesn’t seem especially comfortable going into it, but he sings at normal register, is a rather nice change of pace. But he doesn’t actually get into the meat of the song which I think disappoints the other singers and the audience.

Anna: He’s going for a bit of a disco funk style. Sounds better than usual.

The Singers Vote

rd: Now the singers themselves get to vote who will take #1 and who will get #7 and then the managers will get texted with the results.

Personal Picks

rd: 1) Bobby Kim, 2) Jaurim, 3) Jang Hyejin, 4) Insooni, 5) Kim Johan, 6) Yoon Minsoo, 7) Jo Kwanwoo
I felt that Bobby Kim carefully thought out the song and made it his own and while I know his understated approach might not be as popular with the mainstream audience, I liked it. Jaurim also really approached the song in a way unique to themselves and while they haven’t finished the arrangement, I found it rather refreshing. Jang and Insooni both provided strong performances and while I think Insooni is clearly the stronger performer, I have a preference for Jang’s song. Kim Johan and Yoon Minsoo both performed their songs well and Yoon especially had an interesting take on his, but I think my familiarity with Kim’s song drives me to like it better. Jo, well, he didn’t really provide much to get excited about as he teased us with the opening of the song but never got into it.

Anna: 1) Jang Hyejin, 2) Kim Johan, 3) Yoon Minsoo, 4) Jaurim, 5) Insooni, 6) Jo Kwanwoo, 7) Bobby Kim
Really it’s a bit early to judge since arrangements are not complete (far from it in some cases) and performances quite modest compared to the usual show. All did well, but I suspect my ratings may be a bit too biased depending on my affection towards the original songs.

The Results

  1. Bobby Kim
  2. Insooni
  3. Jaurim
  4. Yoon Minsoo
  5. Kim Johan
  6. Jang Hyejin
  7. Jo Kwanwoo

rd: I was surprised that Bobby got #1 because his take is so different, but the rest don’t seem far off from what I expected. I don’t think Jo is comfortable with his song, so unless he can really pull out an amazing performance, a la Kim Bumsoo’s transformation when he went to funkytown, this will really be the end of him on the show. I’m actually hoping that he gets the daring to make that kind of transformation, because Kim Gunmo managed to really impress me on the final episode before the long break and I think this will be his final chance to really try something different.

Anna: I was surprised too since I’d put Bobby Kim in the bottom, but then this is the artists voting among themselves and it’s far from the final product. Was enough to make me very curious about what they’ll all do during the upcoming Sunday’s performances. The 90’s theme may have something to do with it as well.