I Am A Singer 나는 가수다 11 December 2011

나는 가수다

This is the big Sanullim special episode. There were some impressive performances here, but they did split our commentators: Indieful ROK/Korean Indie originator, Anna; Ask a Korean!‘s expert, The Korean; and site friend and music enthusiast, Widhi.

Click behind the jump to see what we 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 “12월 11일 방송” to find the performances discussed below.

The Sanullim Special!

A few bits of news before the performances:

  • Yoon Minsoo has gone back to his Vibe-era dreadlocks
  • Gummy has brought her fellow YG Entertainment performer, T.O.P. onto the show to perform with her.
  • Kim Changwan Band will be performing on the show!

rd: I have to say, I’m not fond of allowing as high profile a performer as T.O.P. to perform alongside Gummy, simply because his megawatt star profile might win Gummy many votes in the teens and twenties demographic by his surprise presence alone. Previous notable guests have been rather low profile, with the exception of the duet round and then, it still seemed more of a talent contest over a popularity one.

Anna: It caught me on the wrong side as well. And to make it worse she’s referring to him as TOP-sshi rather than “oppa” as she’s been doing when talking about other YG artists previously, so it’s almost as if he’s been put there to save her from the bottom ranks.

TK: I am okay with it, actually. Like it or not (and I personally fall heavily on “not”,) production companies are the mainstream now and they are here to stay in Korean pop scene. It’s not a bad idea to get an occasional representation of a production company, as long as it keeps up with the theme of the show. (As in, I will lose my shit if Kara comes on this show.) Plus, if there has to be a production company, YG Family is probably the right choice.

Performance Order

  1. Insooni
  2. Kim Kyungho
  3. Jaurim
  4. Yoon Minsoo
  5. Bobby Kim
  6. Juckwoo
  7. Gummy (originally got 2nd, but used Kim Shinyoung’s special card from last episode to pick again)

The New Singer

Next week’s new singer is already revealed: Park Wangyu. He watches this episode from his own room.

rd: I only know that he sang for Boohwal, so we’re adding another rock singer to the show, unless Kim Kyungho is eliminated this round. While that might seem like too many rockers for a Korean music show, with Jaurim and Kim Kyungho still in the mix, there was a time in the 70’s and 80’s where rock was a very popular genre for Korea, so considering that we’re looking mostly at music veterans, I don’t think it’s strange to be drawing from that well, even if today, rock music isn’t as popular as its heyday.

Anna: I used to like his voice a lot, but after seeing select excerpts of him on other shows I can’t help but find him very arrogant. He’ll have to do really good to win my liking next week.

widhi: Just like rd, I knew him from Boohwal. Thankfully, I had a chance to see Boohwal and Park Wangyu in a show back then. Well, he has that voice and appeal as a rocker, but unfortunately I am not a fan of it. That husky voice of his when singing is not really my taste. Maybe the producer of the show wants to go more on the rock side this time.

TK: Boohwal! Finally, a legend-level singer is added. I missed a character like Park Wangyu on the show, the 건달 [hoodlum] character who cannot be trusted in a polite setting. Not since Im Jaebum did we have this kind of character. Looking forward to his performances.

Insooni’s “청춘”

rd: The bluesy arrangement get some punch with horns, giving it a bit more energy, to contrast with Insooni’s torch-song verse with the piano to open. I think this part of the arrangement works well for this song, because the blues taps into a similar sentiment underlining that the original. Insooni does go to please the crowd with a bright and energetic blues-funk arrangement in the second half and while it was a pretty fun arrangement with a lot of energy, I just felt it was too bright for the lyrics.

Anna: I like the first part of this arrangement a lot, but when it starts changing it’s not working for me anymore. There is definitely a musical feeling, as some of the others on the show said, and to me it seems as though after experimenting a bit and ending up last she’s instead opted to show what it is she’s been doing in Cats hoping that’ll bring her more success.

widhi: Musical is not my favorite but I think can enjoy it somehow. But this type of Insooni is not the one that I expect to come out for this song. As usual, Insooni showed her powerful vocal, but it was not exceptional. In the more upbeat part of the song, I felt kind of lost. The arrangement was rather okay for me, it was overshadowed again by her vocal.

TK: I liked the old school style beginning a lot more, where Insooni really seemed to be in her element, from her heydays in the late 1970s. The running finish was awesome. But in the middle part, Insooni’s singing felt hurried. Fun performance, but I have seen better from her.

Kim Kyungho’s “찻잔”

rd: I really like the harmonia, acoustic rock intro to the song. The resulting rock song that results is quite nice and Kim does believable translate the song, but it isn’t until the rock explosion in the the middle that he plays to his strengths and makes a proper rock ballad of it. It was a really solid performance, but it wasn’t quite as special as his better performances.

Anna: For once wouldn’t have mind if he didn’t do the Kim Kyungho rock ballad thing, but it all turned out well. Indeed a believable translation of the song. I liked it all the way.

widhi: In this kind of song, I could see that Kim Kyungho sang well. I also liked the arrangement of the song, especially the mixed of fantasy-like sound in the middle. However, the whispering type of voice was not my favorite at the beginning. I think I got too much entertained with his cheerful side, so I always feel I have been missing out something.

TK: Kim Kyungho came out did Kim Kyungho things. It was a fine performance, but somehow it did not connect with me. Park Wangyu’s comment was right on the money — this is not what Kim Kyungho really wants to do, and it showed a little.

Jaurim’s “내 마음에 주단을 깔고”

rd: It’s a really interesting opening to the song with the hand drums, choir and Kim Yuna’s bluesy vocals, naturally blending Jaurim’s style with the original. The bridge is a great build and the chorus adds a lot to strength to the song. The second tempo-building title echo is impressive and powerful and I think is perhaps the strongest interpretation of a Sanullim song so far, really hitting the song on the head while transforming it into their own, a sound you can find nowhere else.

Anna: Jaurim bring out the Soundholic All Stars! We’ve seen them play with the drummer of DOT on stage many times before, but this time we also have other DOT members alongside AshGray, Monni and Chung Hee Joo. In a sense it is as wrong for Jaurim to promote artists from their label on the show as it is for Gummy to rely on her YGE backing, but in front of a mainstream audience I suspect the eventual impact doesn’t even begin to compare. It is a strong performance that if I hadn’t known better could’ve easily convinced me that it was in fact one of Jaurim’s own trademark songs.

widhi: Jaurim rocks! They got me hooked since the very beginning of the song. The percussion and the voices from the very beginning brought a very grand feeling to the song. I even have to pause my player just to check out who were there from Soundholic, just to make sure that I didn’t miss someone. Kim Yuna’s voice was so strong yet delicate at the same time. I have never listened to the original before, so I really liked this one. The music and the voices blend very well. I tried to listen to the original after I watched ths performance, well I could feel that the psychedelic sound was represented by Jaurim in a lighter version.

TK: What a perfectly fitted song, and the execution of Jaurim’s vision was flawless. My only quibble is the same quibble as I have been having with Jaurim’s past few performances — why wouldn’t they just end in a high note? Why bring it down? The deliriously fast last few bars were great because it felt like I spinning faster and faster, closer to being out of control. Why not let it go all the way instead of bringing it back in?

Yoon Minsoo’s “나 어떻게”

rd: You know, I’m kind of glad that Yoon Minsoo picked this song as the lyrics do fit his musical leanings. I think the spoken/rapped parts were actually well placed with the song, but Yoon Minsoo goes for a blunt emotional interpretation. Still, I have to say that his song choice was good and interprets the song well, so even despite my usual reservations towards Yoon, he won me over with this attempt.

Anna: Yoon Minsoo has really picked himself up. Although not quite as remarkable as his Add4 stunt, it is a good effort. Very emotional, but when it’s done this way apparently I don’t mind even if it’s Yoon.

widhi: It was very emotional and teary. The conversation-like singing like this really brought the best out of the song lyrics. Even the vibration of Yoon Minsoo sounded nice here.

TK: I hated this one really badly. This is a typical 2000s K-pop in its worst form. The narration was just narration. It felt like I was watching a trailer for a Korean drama with a soundtrack. It was not music.

Bobby Kim’s “회상”

rd: Of all the performances, I was looking forward to this the most, because of Bobby’s ability to capture the emotion of the song in the mid-round performance. Hearing Bobby sing it again reminds me just how much I love this song and I think this is a supurb interpretation of this song, perfecting capturing both the delivery of the poetry and the underlying emotion in the song. Even with the introduction of the band and the choir in the second half, the musical and emotion spotlight is right on Bobby Kim, the balladeer and I think he delivers in a way that sits among the strongest ballad interpretations on the show. I think Bobby might have finally won over the audience with a ballad–he certainly won me over. I got chills. Chills!

Anna: To me this was just a boring soul number that never really took off. What’s worse it made me feel like “회상” instead of being the brilliant song it really is, is tacky and cheesy. Perhaps it was just one cover too many of this song for me, but I simply couldn’t stand it.

widhi: I like the arrangement of the song. The delicate opening from the flute hooked me. This song was actually very simple but through its simplicity I can feel the emotional feeling of the song. It matched quite well with Bobby Kim’s voice too.

TK: Such divergent opinions! I, for one, thought this was extremely strong. Bobby Kim tried several slow numbers, but this one was truly genuine. A moving performance.

Juckwoo’s “나 홀로 뜰 앞에서”

rd: Juckwoo’s voice is straining too much in the start and hits limits too obviously during the round. However, the disco rock interpretation here is much better than the straight interpretation in the mid-round and the rap inclusion actually works thanks to the modern genre shift. It wasn’t an unbearable performance and I’m glad Juckwoo didn’t disgrace herself entirely, but I feel like the song was still a poor pick for Juckwoo and it really felt she was struggling to keep up with it.

Anna: I’m not sure what to think about this arrangement, since her voice really doesn’t fit. The longer the performance progresses the more painful it is to watch. May be that she didn’t disgrace herself entirely, but she did poorly enough for all of her new anti-fans to have even better reason want her off the show.

widhi: I did not like it since the very beginning. The song and the arrangement did not fit her vocal style. I was wondering why she chose this song. The original was difficult to beat in my opinion. The only person who could succeed singing the original singer’s song with a whole different taste was BMK. I though Juckwoo tried it too hard to change her image. The rap part also did not help at all.

TK: Oh my god, this was a train wreck. This was probably the worst performance in 나는 가수다 history, right down there with Kim Gunmo’s “립스틱 짙게 바르고”. Juckwoo was straining, and was at times off pitch. The rap was better off not there. There is no other way to put this — she was technically deficient. What was even more amazing was that the advisor panel was openly criticizing her. This show never criticizes anyone!

Gummy’s “개구장이”

rd: Her whisper-song at the start sounded a little off, but her voice recovered in the verses. Her performance was actually surprisingly good for the song, pulling off an energy I didn’t expect from her, even if her voice was wobbly from all the bouncing and dancing. As for T.O.P., I don’t think he really added much to the performance, besides star power, but the call and response was a good idea given the sing-along element of the song. The audience at it up and I thought the arrangement was great and I take back that the song was a terrible pick for Gummy as she delivered far beyond what I expected from her. But, I wasn’t as impressed as the audience–it was a decent performance of a great song.

Anna: Gummy did better than I had expected with this song, but it didn’t do much to wow me. It was a silly dance and a silly choir, the latter I assume a product of Teddy’s arrangement. I’m not familiar with T.O.P besides the headlines, but he did nothing that’d make me want to give any of his music a listen.

widhi: It was fun, it was stylish but it was just plain. I have to admit I am a fan of T.O.P, but he did not add anything to the music other than his presence. Gummy’s voice was also weak here and there. What was good was the arrangement. This made the audience followed the song quite well.

TK: Wow really guys? I thought T.O.P. made the show! Gummy still has a long way to go as a performer — even her kiddish act was not as convincing as it could have been. (Kim Yuna would have played it perfectly.) T.O.P.’s rap lyrics actually made sense, and it was fitting with the overall song. I am the last guy in the world to be starstruck by T.O.P., but I gave high marks for his presence. YG baby!

Kim Changwan Band’s “가지마오”

rd: Oh, Kim Changwan, at your age, you still have have such power in your voice. They rock their own song fantastically.

widhi: Very impressive for a man at his age. He still has the mojo.

Personal Picks

rd: 1) Bobby Kim, 2) Jaurim, 3) Yoon Minsoo, 4) Gummy, 5) Kim Kyungho, 6) Insooni, 7) Juckwoo
Bobby Kim, Bobby Kim, Bobby Kim. I love how he laid that song right out there. Easily the first for me. Jaurim holds second for me with the second strongest overall interpretation of their song and Yoon Minsoo surprised me. I’ll admit, he wasn’t necessarily the strongest singer tonight, but I thought his interpretation of the song struck well. Gummy’s good energy and straightforward interpretation was fun and in keeping with the music, so I ended up liking it more than I thought I was going to. Kim Kyungho also went for a somewhat straightforward performance, but I didn’t feel him as into his song as Gummy. Insooni, I think, after last week’s musically experimental performance, tried to please the crowd, but I really thought that it strayed too far from the original song in tone and the tonal clash didn’t work for me. And Juckwoo, well, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be (it was almost there), but she certainly isn’t going to win this round on that poor song choice and strained performance.

Anna: 1) Jaurim, 2) Kim Kyungho, 3) Yoon Minsoo, 4) Gummy, 5) Insooni, 6) Bobby Kim, 7) Juckwoo
This round had so much potential with the Sanullim theme, but to me this was more of an average episode. Jaurim were clearly on top, Juckwoo clearly in the bottom. Bobby Kim and Insooni ruined their respective songs as well, but unlike Juckwoo at least they pulled off the vocals which in the end is what being a singer is primarily about. Kim Kyungho was himself and with a song like this that’s certainly enough for a second place. I was surprised myself to find that I had placed Yoon Minsoo as high as third, but he did very well and does belong in the top 3. That leaves Gummy the middle spot.

widhi: 1) Jaurim, 2) Yoon Minsoo, 3) Bobby Kim, 4) Kim Kyungho, 5) Gummy, 6) Insooni, 7) Gummy
It was a refreshing episode for me. I had a hard time following the show these days because I was becoming less familiar to the songs that they brought to the show. Maybe it is because it is Sanullim, which makes the sound sounds familiar to my ears. Though I have never heard the original before, I could feel that the songs were delivered quite well. I can never argue Jaurim’s breakthrough and experiment always won me over. I just hope that they will be the next singer to graduate happily from the show. I will be more than happy, I will be thrilled.

TK: 1) Bobby Kim, 2) Jaurim, 3) Gummy, 4) Insooni, 5) Kim Kyungho, 6) Yoon Minsoo, 7) Juckwoo
This time, the top tier was Bobby Kim, Jaurim and Gummy. Mid tier was Insooni and Kim Kyungho, and bottom tier was Yoon Minsoo. I wish I could eliminate Juckwoo right now. It was that bad.

The Results

1st Place (with 20.9% of the vote)
Gummy

rd: Oh, the cynic in me thought this would happen. “개구장이” is one of those songs that can win over a crowd even if performed merely adequately and I thought this mainstream crowd in particular would lap up the high energy danceable song like they often do, especially with a popular guest star like T.O.P. in the mix. *sigh*

Anna: It wasn’t really a bad performance, but I doubt that she would’ve ended up with that many votes if it wasn’t for T.O.P.

widhi: The power of the arrangement. When you make people dance, they are happy.

TK: It was not only T.O.P., but also singing the last spot. I tell ya, that last spot is powerful. But I still thought it was a top tier performance, so I’m ok with it.

2nd Place
Jaurim

rd: If Jaurim wasn’t in the top three with that marvelous interpretation, I wouldn’t be able to understand it.

Anna: They’re only second because Gummy brought in T.O.P…

widhi: Jaurim rocks! You are number 1 for me.

TK: Until Jaurim drops the habit of ending on a low note, I would rather not see them at number 1.

3rd Place
Yoon Minsoo

rd: Okay, I get a higher ranking for him. I gave it to him myself. But… above Bobby Kim?? How?

Anna: He did his thing, but re-invented himself doing it. Of course the audience approves.

widhi: I am happy that the audience agreed with me.

TK: Unbelievable. Young kids are ruining Korean pop music. Get off my lawn!!

4th Place
Kim Kyungho

rd: It was a good performance, it was. But… there is a singer who I thought should have been ranked higher.

Anna: With a performance like this he could’ve ranked higher, but not today.

widhi: It should be fine.

TK: Come on, really? Higher than Bobby Kim? I’m with you rd.

5th Place
Insooni

rd: Insooni fell below yet again, but I thought her arrangement and performance was below her best as well.

Anna: A fair placement.

widhi: Another fair rank.

TK: No argument here.

6th Place
Bobby Kim

rd: This is wrong. I think Bobby Kim unquestionably had the best performance of the night and for him to fall to sixth place is absolutely criminal. I knew the Korean audience wasn’t fond of him performing ballads, but I have to question if they even heard the same set of songs.

Anna: Perhaps the Korean audience have just heard so many different versions of this song they’ve already found their favorite. That doesn’t leave much room for a new cover.

widhi: Won over me for the emotion, but looks like the audience just got bored of ballads already.

TK: Ugh. Ugh. This is difficult to accept.

7th Place
Juckwoo

rd: No contest from me here.

Anna: Anything else and the audience would lose any trust I ever gave them.

widhi: if she was ranked higher than this, I’d cry.

TK: Thank GOD, at least people have ears.

Elimination

rd: This leaves Insooni and Bobby Kim as the likely ones to be eliminated and seeing either eliminated would be awful, considering that Juckwoo didn’t quite prove herself and Gummy has been uneven at best. I’d even prefer seeing Yoon Minsoo out, since he’s too close to Gummy and well, with Park Wangyu coming in, seeing Kim Kyungho go wouldn’t bother me either. However, Bobby is special–there is no one on the show (and all of Korean entertainment) like him and seeing him cut on the back of one of his most outstanding performances would be a crime. Insooni? She’s actually a legend and proves it every week. How could I want either to go?

Anna: After this episode I already want to see Park Wangyu eliminated…

widhi: This is actually bad when you hope that somebody should be eliminated. I think Juckwoo should be the one who got eliminated, but considering she got higher rank last time, it was impossible. So, it has to be between Insooni or Bobby Kim here.

TK: Such hateration from Anna! If I can’t eliminate Juckwoo, my overall choice based on the last two rounds would be Kim Kyungho. Shocking for someone who had such strong earlier rounds, but I always felt that Kim Kyungho was a two-trick pony, and he just ran out of tricks.

Eliminated
Insooni

rd: I can’t be happy with this, when she’s easily the most charismatic performer on the show and manages to put on an impressive show every round. Having her eliminated could even be a knock against the legitimacy of the show and certainly a wonder about the voting audiences.

Anna: The audiences have just been doing their job. Insooni is a magnificent performer, but somehow she decided that her already wide range was not enough and decided to experiment with styles that the average Korean audience simply couldn’t appreciate. Though the avant-garde performance that put her in this poor spot to begin with should’ve gotten her more credit… I’m sad to see her go, but it has been many weeks since she’s done a truly stellar performance.

widhi: I was not happy with this but to see her performances in the last few weeks, somehow her powerful performance has no longer awed people. She is powerful and charismatic as what rd and Anna said but maybe it is better for her to leave the show for now. It will be better for her to graduate but what can I say powerful vocal alone will not save anybody here.

TK: It’s tough to accept, but I really did think her last week’s performance was just too far out, and she only gave an okay performance this week. It’s a fair outcome, and a reminder that this show really can be merciless — which is why we keep coming back to watch it.

Indieful ROK’s Recap News

Next round, the show’s eleventh after the reboot, will be Jaurim’s final round on the show as they either graduate or get eliminated and will bring this recap series to a close in its wake, barring another entry from the indie world onto the show.

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