I Am A Singer 나는 가수다 25 September 2011

나는 가수다

It’s a particularly special episode of “I Am a Singer” this week, because not only do we have a special theme for the second round focusing on the music of the legendary Cho Yongpil, but Cho Yongpil himself is on the show for not only the interviews, but to hear the singers give perform their mid-round renditions and get Cho’s advice!

Click behind the jump to see what Anna and I have to say about the show and leave your thoughts and picks in the comments!

All performances can be watched from Bugs Music’s special 나는 가수다 site. Click the tab saying “9월 25일 방송” to find the performances discussed below.

Special Round 7 Part 2

rd: An extra special theme permeates the choices for the second part of I Am a Singer this time, as it revolves around veteran singer Cho Yongpil, who has been performing since 1969.

Anna: I think this is an excellent theme. Cho Yongpil is actually one of my favorite singers and so many songs of his are classics.

Song Assignments

rd: Before the songs are assigned, the various singers relate stories of when they encountered Cho. Kim Kyungho was invited to meet him and got to see him in pajamas, Jang Hyejin performed background vocals for him, Insooni failed to get his attention in concert but then got a call from him, Yoon Jongshin had him once on a radio show and Bobby Kim was once invited to eat with him with other younger singers.

rd: Cho has selected thirty songs which are placed on the roulette wheel.

rd: Jang Hyejin will spin first, but it appears as tho the singers and their managers can try to stop the wheel at the song they want to sing. So the pair stop the wheel at “모나리자”. It’s a high energy dance song, so I think it will be an interesting song for Jang, since her last attempt, which was a take on idol group Kara’s “Mister” resulted in a last place rank for her, although she managed to rock a pretty impressive style and even danced part of the song’s choreography.

Anna: This saddens me a bit. I had hoped they would let the wheel spin so there would be at least a slight chance of any song from his eighteenth album had been picked. Not that I could spot any such titles, but since I was kinda late to the game it is my favorite.

rd: Jo Kwanwoo is next and they pick “단발머리”, or, rather Kim Shinyoung does, whereas Jo wanted its neighbor, “창 밖의 여자”. Oops! This will be another interesting one for Jo, since it’s an mid-tempo dance rock song. However, Jo’s last foray into higher energy territory gave him a third place ranking, keeping him alive on the show, so perhaps we’ll see something interesting from him.

rd: Yoon Minsoo isn’t that familiar with Cho’s body of work, only knowing three or four songs. Choosing among them, Yoon picks Jo’s desired “창 밖의 여자”! This is apparently manager Song Eunee’s recommendation (and she’s back, her schedule no longer in conflict). This one’s the first slow burn ballad of the night and therefore not going to be much of a stretch for Yoon. I don’t imagine I’ll be surprised by this performance.

rd: Kim Kyungho is next and he thinks that these songs will be difficult, but he picks “못찾겠다 꾀꼬리”. It sounds like of like a rock version of a children’s song. The melody is a little playful, so I’m curious as to how the hard rocker balladeer will handle that.

rd: Lee Sunkyu is representing Jaurim at the wheel this time and it appears that he was initially interested in first “모나리자” and second “못찾겠다 꾀꼬리”, both faster songs, already picked by previous singers. They end up stopping the wheel at “꿈”, picked because he thinks it will fit Kim Yuna’s voice well. The song itself has a bit of a late 80’s vibe to it, but since it’s Jaurim, they could really take the song many ways. Of course, I’ve got my hopes up for the unit.

rd: Insooni herself likes many options, but ends up picking “그 겨울의 찻집”, which definitely has that classic Korean ballad sound. Not sure if there’s going to be much of a mystery to the arrangement and interpretation, but this is Insooni we’re talking about so she’s likely to have an interesting plan in her hat.

rd: Bobby Kim is last and Yoon Jongshin mentions that since Bobby’s from the US, he might not know Cho’s music that well, but Bobby says he knows enough to choose. And with that, Bobby chooses “추억속의 재회”, to do a slower song in contrast with his high energy choice in the first part of round seven. Yet another ballad, although it has some interesting elements to it in the singing that I think will fit Bobby’s style.

Developing and Practicing

rd: Kim Yunwoo, who was eliminated the first time he showed up on I Am a Singer, visits Kim Kyungho during an early practice session to give some advice to his friend. He suggests changing away from the shuffling sound of the original arrangement to a more paced rock rhythm at start.

rd: Jang Hyejin’s arranger notes that it’s a difficult song to work on thanks to its upbeat tempo. They trio decide that the fast tempo has to be avoided and seem to be moving towards a rock ballad approach.

Anna: Jang Hyejin seems to have a more bombastic arrangement in mind. After hearing her I can definitely understand why Jaurim had wanted it. It would’ve been a better fit for them.

rd: Yoon Minsoo’s at the hospital, getting fixed up so he can perform.

rd: Kim Taehyun gets busy putting lyrics for the song all over Bobby’s apartment as KTH doesn’t seem to believe that Bobby’s on the job. Bobby feeds KTH some ramen and KTH suggests adding some dramatic elements. Bobby chases KTH out and proceeds to take down all the lyrics, getting caught in the act as KTH returns. I suspect that KTH was tipped off by the producers or perhaps the bit here was scripted.

Anna: He’s talking “Bobby Kim style” over the cup ramen. Should bode well for his next performance.

Mid-Round Performance

rd: The singers anticipate Cho’s arrival as he will be witnessing their mid-round performances. Apparently, Cho hasn’t appeared on a TV program in fifteen years.

rd: Before Cho arrives, Kim Kyungho is asked to perform one of his originals for the group and he sings “나를 슬프게 하는 사람들”, doing his mic drop move. Kim’s voice is surprisingly clean for his hair metal rock ballad sound.

Anna: It’s a full on rock performance. Didn’t expect it in that informal environment.

rd: Cho notes that he once had a special on MBC called “I Am Cho Yongpil” and came on the show because he heard they were dedicating a special for his music. He immediately suggests that the singers not be so nervous for their performances. Kim Taehyun, formerly Lena Park’s manager, asks what Cho thought of her first place winning performance of his song and he says she did well. Cho also mentions that he’s only interested in watching “I Am a Singer” as he prefers performing in concerts. They then go and verify whether or not the singers’ recounting of times they met Cho were true or not. Finally, Cho guesses who might be singing which of his songs, after which the actual singer will perform.

rd: Yoon Minsoo’s up first with “창 밖의 여자”. He mentions he’s approaching it a rock style. The arrangement is definitely rock ballad and Yoon’s performance is pretty much in the same vein as his usual emotional explosiveness and husky voice. Cho is concerned that Yoon overloads the emotion in the song as Cho found when he was performing the song himself, that overloading his own emotion causes the audience to receive less. Not bad advice, as far as I’m concerned.

Anna: His voice doesn’t really go well with the rock ballad style, unfortunately.

rd: Jo Kwanwoo’s up next with “단발머리”, which Cho actually guesses correctly. Jo opens with jazzy mid-tempo flare and his signature falsetto, although its’ appropriately considering that Cho also utilized falsetto on his original. And he actually sings in regular voice for the verse and chorus, only highlighting with his falsetto. Cho says that the tempo adaptation was good for Jo and using the falsetto when he did fit well too and just warms to keep the arrangement simple so he can adlib.

Anna: Somehow I couldn’t help but feel like he stripped the song out of its energy.

rd: Kim Kyungho’s “못찾겠다 꾀꼬리” is up next, but Cho guesses Bobby Kim. The arrangement’s got a jazzy rock sound and Kim seems to have decided to stick with the shuffling pacing of the melody on the chorus, but he really wails well on the “얘들아”. Cho suggests slightly taking down the vibrato.

Anna: I’m feeling so-so about the title part of the song, but at least it has a rock feeling to it still.

rd: Cho picks Jang Hyejin for “그 겨울의 찻집”, but it’s Insooni’s so she’s up. She’s singing it pretty straight, but surprisingly misses on a note bend. Cho suggests that the opening to the song could be stronger.

rd: “모나리자” gets guessed as Bobby Kim again and then to Kim Yuna. It surprises Cho that it’s Jang Hyejin, so she’s got to sing anyway. And it’s a good rock arrangement too, but I think Jang’s voice doesn’t quite the power for the song. Love the arrangement though. Cho thinks that the performance is too sad and that Jang should reduce the heaviness of the emotion, as he suggested to Yoon, by the time the second verse rolls around.

Anna: The arrangement gives a good idea of what it could’ve sounded like with Jaurim, I think. I’m not really sure how well it actually works for Jang Hyejin.

rd: With a 50/50 chance, Cho correctly guesses “추억속의 재회” as Bobby Kim’s although Cho thinks both final songs would fit him well. Bobby brings in a nice gospel/soul element to the arrangement. It’s definitely a Bobby Kim performance. Cho seems to like what he hears and hopes that there will be something impressive to follow it up.

Anna: I like the soul feeling. He does it well.

rd: Cho can’t miss introducing Kim Yuna as the singer for “꿈”. Kim Yuna mentions that the song seemed more suited for a male singer, so Jaurim is trying to see it as a song befitting a movie or a musical about a girl in the country with big dreams. When the rest of Jaurim shows up, they all do a deep bow for Cho. A pretty epic rhythm arrangement and Kim Yuna gives a good performance. I like this rendition. Cho only reminds Jaurim not to drag things on when they need to be cut short and vice versa.

Anna: This sounds like it really is an updated Cho Yong Pil song. I like it a lot.

Personal Picks

rd: 1) Jaurim, 2) Bobby Kim, 3) Jang Hyejin, 4) Jo Kwanwoo, 5) Insooni, 6) Kim Kyungho, 7) Yoon Minsoo
Jaurim’s rendition easily caught that building excitement in the song, so I loved it and I think it could turn out as well as their first cover. I liked Bobby’s performance too, I think it had some potential for a build, just as Cho was suggesting. Although I think Jang needs to work on her rock ballad singing, I really liked where the arrangement was going and if she could hit the vocals, I think it could be a knockout. Jo, I picked because he’s trying something different yet again and there’s some sensitivity that appears when he’s reaching that I like–despite the fact that his performance might have been technically shakey. Insooni did fine and did manage to color her singing with some element that was interesting, but I don’t think it was entirely developed yet–but she’s wily and I expect her to find more within the song when she performs it. As for Kim Kyungho, he’s very talented and I actually think his take was quite good, but there’s something off about his singing in this performance and I couldn’t figure out what it was. Yoon Minsoo is quite simply not reaching here and staying in his comfort zone, as good as he might be within it, does not inspire me.

Anna: 1) Jaurim, 2) Bobby Kim, 3) Jang Hyejin, 4) Insooni, 5) Kim Kyungho, 6) Yoon Minsoo, 7) Jo Kwanwoo
Only Jaurim, Bobby Kim and Jang Hyejin made something interesting out of the songs whereas the others did not or simply failed in their attempts to do so. Nevertheless I’m excited about seeing the “real” performances.

The Singers Vote Their Predictions

rd: Although the singers haven’t usually been able to predict with great accuracy who comes in at all the ranks, they vote again here.

The Results

1st Place
Jaurim
rd: Yes.
Anna: I’m glad the singers agree.

2nd Place
Insooni
rd: Insooni is an accomplished, talented and respected performer so no surprise here.
Anna: Agreed, but sometimes I feel like she’s getting a free pass just because she is who she is.

3rd Place
Kim Kyungho
rd: It might just be me that’s not quite satisfied with his vocal take here, but that might also be because of his attempted fidelity towards the original’s signature melody. I also find the timbre of his voice a touch too smooth.
Anna: Through this show I’ve learned that many of the things I find off putting actually hold great appeal to Korean ears. The 못찾겠다 꾀꼬리 part aside though I suppose it wasn’t really all that bad and I actually quite enjoyed that 얘들아 wailing.

4th Place
Bobby Kim
rd: I was actually bracing for Bobby to fall much lower than this, so it seems like other people see the same potential in him that I do.
Anna: The singers did think well of him last time they were in the same room, so I suspect he didn’t make it higher simple because others did better.

5th Place
Jo Kwanwoo
rd: It was admittedly not his strongest performance, but I guess he managed to provide something interesting here.
Anna: Again, I could not see any appeal whatsoever in his performance but by now I’ve come to accept that others do.

6th Place
Yoon Minsoo
rd: Yep. I actually want Yoon Minsoo to pull out something new and surprise me. I would like to see him grow on the show and prove he should be here.
Anna: Hopefully he can take the clue and step it up till the elimination.

7th Place
Jang Hyejin
rd: Poor Jang. It’s true that maybe the arrangement wasn’t complete, but I like that Jang was taking on a rock ballad–but it is also true that Jang’s vocals didn’t pack enough of a punch to go with the music. This is the song that Lena Park’s vocals would have knocked out of the park with this approach and perhaps Jang needs to find an arrangement that better compliments her voice.
Anna: What was in place of the arrangement I liked quite a lot, but indeed her vocals didn’t work as well.

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