I Am A Singer 2: October Group A

It’s a new month and another round of I Am A Singer 2. As hinted during last week’s episode, the first episode of October sees Guckkasten and Sinawe face each other in a rock battle – exciting times!  In addition to myself Dahee of Dahee’s Plastic Castle and Fabien of Kimchi Popcorn have contributed their opinions to this post. All performances can be streamed from the official site and if you live in the right country chances are you can watch some of them on YouTube too.


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The One Focus

Anna: He seems so happy. Although I’ve gotten a bit tired hearing that he was the first to qualify so quickly, when there hasn’t really been much opportunity to be so before. And actually, wasn’t Park Wan Kyu the first to do so? He might’ve been competing already during the first season of I Am A Singer, but under the new premises for the show he did “graduate” in just a month. As both Dahee and Fabien expressed last week, I too am quite relieved we won’t have to see any more of him for a while. But “singer king”? No, that’s a title he has yet to deserve.

Fabien: That’s too soon to call him “Singer King”, but I’m afraid they’re right. It seems like the issue of the Super December is already set…

Dahee: Hey, don’t forget, he has to contend with So Hyang and her ear-splitting high notes during Super December! That’s some serious competition for audience favour right there. (Me, grumpy? I don’t know what you’re talking about.)

 

New Singer: Cho Jang Hyuk

Anna: Although I’m familiar with quite a few of his songs, I never listened to Cho Jang Hyuk in any excess. I suppose it’ll be nice to get to know him better through this.

Fabien: Sorry, never heard of him…

Dahee: I pretty much loved his awesome performance of Cho Yong Pil’s “Dream” during the I Am A Singer 2 Auditions, and thought at the time that he deserved to get first instead of So Chan Whee, so it’s nice to see him invited back to the show like this. I’m also very fond of his voice and some of his past hits. Apparently he’s considered to be a “rock balladeer,” which is a title I was unaware of. Hmm…

 

Guckkasten vs. Sinawe

Anna: I’ve been waiting for this all week! So exciting! When it comes down to vocals, I think Ha Hyun Woo does better than Kim Bada, but for the full band effect either band is capable of bringing something outrageously awesome to the stage.

Fabien: I find it so funny how everyone already knows that no other than both of them can come first. But either one is the winner, it’s already like a victory for me to finally see two amazing rock bands compete against each other in I Am A Singer… And especially two bands that have different backgrounds and are of different generations. Seriously, I couldn’t chose one to cheer for more than the other. I just hope that both will get selected for the final stage of the month.

Dahee: BRB, need to jump up and down like a lunatic for the next few minutes.

 

Song Picks

Anna: Another “Gangnam Style” version coming up, though it does sound quite promising from all the clips on Sinawe. And Guckkasten will cover Sistar? Sounds very promising from the clip, but why do we get to see so much of the real deal before the competition really starts? I like the theme this week: 21st century music!

Fabien: When asked which song they prepared, Sinawe’s members answer that it’s a sad song, especially for one who lives in Eunpyeong-gu. I laughed when I realized they were talking of “Gangnam Style”. This association between recent K-pop hit and a legend of heavy metal sounds already interesting, but the bits of their versions sounds even more awesome. Guckkasten are taking another big hit of this year, “Alone”. All the other singers are under the shock of the craziness of this battle, and both bands will be the latter to perform. This is all I expected from this fight. I love the theme as I know most of the singer will go for kpop songs, which is often interesting as covers. But like Anna, I would have preferred discovering their interpretations later instead of having just the surprise spoiled.

Dahee: Yeah, I almost started fast forwarding through those bits of their performances because I was furious that I was being “spoiled” on them. Stupid editors. I wonder whether the covering of K-pop songs will bode well for them – covers of K-pop on this show have been rather hit or miss in the past.

 

Kim Yeon Woo – “중독된 사랑” (Cho Jang Hyuk cover)

Anna: The other singers all start to talk about the Terminator when they see his outfit. It’s definitely not his best style on the show, but I do like that black nailpolish. The arrangement is quite boring with a standard rock ballad feel to it, but Kim Yeon Woo sings well as usual. Nothing particularly engaging and I’m left waiting for something more interesting.

Fabien: Moreover that look doesn’t really fit the song. It’s quite boring while well sung, but the arrangement doesn’t really make the difference. And especially when performing first. This is the kind of song I can think is good, yeah, but about which I cannot find many things else to say.

Dahee: With those shades and that nail polish and that eye makeup, I was expecting him to do something totally crazy…But nah, it’s just a rock ballad. Actually this kind of arrangement is right up my alley, so I’m more or less digging this. Thinking about it, Kim Yeon Woo’s never really done a performance like this on the show before, so it’s nice to watch him try out being a rock balladeer. This was overall an entertaining performance, and he sang very well.

 

Han Young Ae – “바람기억” (Naul cover)

Anna: I’m not at all familiar with the original, but arranger Lee Byung Hun seemed to worry a bit about some very high notes. I’m really enjoying this performance with Han Young Ae and her characteristic vocals in focus. Very beautiful, and it’s lovely just to see her. It’s far from her most interesting performance, but if this doesn’t work on the audience there’s not much more she can do on this show.

Fabien: Han Young Ae takes a lot of risk too by taking the song that’s hitting first these weeks in Korea. I heard this song already, and I know it has some potential (while I don’t really like Naul’s vocals). Her vocals, on the other hand, are excellent. But nothing really kept my attention, as the arrangement was very close to the original song.

Dahee: The main thought that crossed my mind once this was over: “She’s so beautiful.” Seriously, she looked so lovely at that last moment that I got goosebumps. An excellent arrangement of a song that, crazily enough, came out just a couple of weeks ago. (And since it’s so new, I can readily forgive and understand the fact that they didn’t change it up much.) That beginning was so interesting, and the strings here actually had some use, instead of just being thrown in there for no real reason. And she sang so well, with all her heart, and made me feel those lyrics. I love her.

 

Lee Young Hyun – “가시” (Buzz cover)

Anna: Lee Young Hyun seems so nervous ahead of this performance, and it seems she had some problems getting the vocals right while still just practicing the song. When it’s time for the real thing she sings it well throughout, even the parts that go a bit deeper than we’re use to hearing her. Not bad.

Fabien: I’m disappointed as she was hesitating between three energetic kpop songs (“Good Day” by IU, “Ugly” by 2NE1, and “Gee” by Girls Generation) but finally went for yet another ballad song. Now I’m getting more and more convinced that she cannot do anything else than ballads. But there’s still a lot of improvement: she’s finally singing without having a fan blowing her hair. The vocals are also good, especially in the end after she got back all of her confidence.

Dahee: A very I Am A Singer-esque performance, and a very Lee Young Hyun-esque performance. She’s giving us nothing new really, and she’s singing as well as usual. It’s fun, and it has that no-fail climax she’s so fond of. I’m also very glad she didn’t use the wind thing this time. Still, it fell a little flat for me, maybe because I couldn’t connect with the lyrics, and she seemed a little distracted.

 

Cho Jang Hyuk – “소리쳐” (Lee Seung Chul cover)

Anna: Sweden representing! Wasn’t aware Lee Seung Chul was among the many Korean singers that had songs written by Swedes though. Cho Jang Hyuk’s styling with that carnation instantly makes me think of Rose Motel, which is probably not the effect he was going for. He sings well, husky voice and all, but overall the performance is quite boring. Not a very memorable appearance on the show. Hopefully he’ll be able to do something more exciting next time.

Fabien: The husky voice doesn’t really allow me to judge his vocals’ skills. It sounds good, but nothing impressive or different of any other song made with a husky voice. But the worst thing is that it was really boring from the beginning to the end. How this singer may be any different than the many other singers who performed in I Am A Singer?

Dahee: Maybe it’s because I don’t like this song (or Lee Seung Chul…), but I feel like the song selection was a miss. It’s too repetitive, which makes it a little boring, even if the arrangement tries its best to make it more dramatic. I’m so glad to see Jo Jang Hyuk on the show, though, and he proves once again that he’s a great singer who knows how to hold back instead of exploding all over the place. *cough*SoHyang*cough* I loved that smile on his face while he was singing.

 

Sinawe – “강남 스타일” (Psy cover)

Anna: Noh Hong Chul offers his elevator hip thrusting dance while visiting Sinawe in the rehearsal studio. This was quite the disappointment… Some sort of nu-heavy metal take on “Gangnam Style” that doesn’t flatter the song nor Sinawe. That robotic “Sexy Lady” from Shaun only serves to make it worse. (Has he become a regular member of Sinawe now, being on stage with them every single time?) The audience is doing the horse dance and generally just cheering along. And those outbursts of “Rock style”? More ridiculous than anything. I’m royally disappointed. The only redeeming quality of this performance was when Shin Dae Chul purposely dropped his guitar on the floor after they were done.

Fabien: I guess the hip thrusting by Noh Hong Chul was unavoidable, and I would have liked to see Shin Dae Chul laying between his legs as he suggested. Also disappointed, mainly by the arrangement that sounds really uninspired. It seems just like a layer of electric guitar on the original track. I remember when Jaurim covered another big hit among K-pop songs, “Abracadabra”. They had gone with something very strange and the audience didn’t get it, but that was awesome. Here, this cover sounds just so easy and boring, without build-up or break.

Dahee: I do think the song choice was a miss – maybe because I’m sick and tired of that song, and I don’t think it works very well with a rock arrangement. My overall feeling is…They play their instruments exceedingly well, and Kim Bada’s screams are absolutely delicious. I want to feel that wall of sound, but  I wish it was through a different arrangement. They did manage to make the song more palatable to me, which is saying something, since I do despise that song with all my heart. But I wish they’d done something differently…I don’t know what it is, but SOMETHING. Maybe they just shouldn’t have chosen this song in the first place.

 

Guckkasten – “나 혼자” (Sistar cover)

Anna: Now this is how you do a proper cover honoring both the original song and your band. Not as much Guckkasten as usual, but a good and strong band performance throughout even with the new session guitarist. Very good vocal performance from Ha Hyun Woo as usual. And a few interesting turns in the arrangement to keep things interesting all the way. Excellent!

Fabien: Ha Hyun Woo says that today it ain’t I Am A Singer, but a rock festival. So they’ll give everything they have. I almost hate the original song because of my aversion for Sistar, but it turns out to be very good. Ha Hyun Woo’s vocals never stop to amaze me, he has no problem reaching the same high notes than in the original song. Compared to Sinawe, they made a better work on arrangement to make it sound more like a Guckkasten’s song. And that guitar in the end, wow! This is something I would listen again.

Dahee: This song is kind of perfect for Guckkasten. I loved that soft little break in the middle, and the way Ha Hyun Woo almost whispered those lyrics. They’re definitely worried about Sinawe and putting 300% into the proceedings. I still kind of wish these two bands hadn’t covered K-pop songs, though. It feels a little off, mostly in terms of lyrics and rhythm. Still, this was pretty amazing. Guckkasten forevaaaaa!

 

Personal Picks

Anna: 1) Guckkasten, 2) Han Young Ae, 3) Lee Young Hyun, 4) Cho Jang Hyuk, 5) Kim Yeon Woo, 6) Sinawe

I thought for sure I’d get to put all of Han Young Ae, Sinawe and Guckkasten in the top 3, alas Sinawe disappointed me so much with their hideous arrangement I couldn’t possibly justify putting them anywhere but last. As a consequence Guckkasten, as usual, have no competition for the first spot with Han Young Ae following right after. Lee Young Hyun, Cho Jang Hyuk and Kim Yeon Woo all did the same thing, but I liked that Lee Young Hyun was challenging herself a bit so that’s why I put her ahead of the other two. And Cho Jang Hyuk is new to this thing, so he may be excused more easily than Kim Yeon Woo for being boring.

 
Dahee: 1) Guckkasten 2) Han Young Ae 3) Sinawe 4) Kim Yeon Woo 5) Cho Jang Hyuk 6) Lee Young Hyun

I’m very conflicted about these rankings. Guckkasten is first…but I kind of feel like maybe Han Young Ae deserves to be first, too. Still, I’m a rocker at heart, so Guckkasten won out in the end. And yes, Sinawe was disappointing, but I still thought their performance was more interesting than the other three. Plus I’m just biased and can’t stand the idea of putting them anywhere near the bottom. Kim Yeon Woo gets fourth just because I enjoyed his performance more than the other two (his nail polish and shades may or may not have something to do with this). Cho Jang Hyuk and Lee Young Hyun were both kinda boring, but Cho gets the upper hand for being new, and besides, Lee didn’t really do as well as she usually does this week. I want her to start experimenting.

 
Fabien: 1) Guckkasten 2) Sinawe 3) Han Young Ae 4) Cho Jang Hyuk 5) Lee Young Hyun 6) Kim Yeon Woo

I go all rock this week by ranking Guckkasten and Sinawe in the higher places. Guckkasten again did a very good job and made me keep interest for this episode. And while the execution was far from perfect, Sinawe have still tried to do something completely unexpected coming from them and made me all excited for a moment (this is absolutely non-objective). Han Young Ae would have deserved to be second only for her vocals, but I wasn’t really catched by the song in first place. Cho Jang Hyuk brang an honest performance for his first appearance. The two last ones were easy forgettable.

 

Aftertalk

Anna: Only Lee Young Hyun thinks Guckkasten has anything against Sinawe this time. I’d venture to say that if Sinawe indeed goes winning out of this it is because of the song pick and little else.

 

The Results

Top 3: Guckkasten, Sinawe, Lee Young Hyun

Anna: When Kim Yeon Woo sneaked in to Sinawe’s dressing room as their new member after learning that he was in the bottom three this week, he was just too adorable. Han Young Ae really should’ve been in the top 3 this week.

Dahee: Kim Yeon Woo’s pretty hilarious this episode. So cute. And poor Han Young Ae. I don’t even have the energy to be outraged for her anymore. I am fed up with this audience that simply doesn’t understand her charms.

Fabien: I also got used to see her ending up in the bottom 3. Lee Young Hyun has actually an unbelievable record. It seems like every month, she makes it to the final stage. I’m of course happy to see Guckkasten and Sinawe being selected together, as it sets another much-expected meeting in the end of this month. But I feel also puzzled as I’m sure this result is more thanks to song picks than to their actual performances.

 

No.1: Guckkasten

Anna: It really was the battle of Guckkasten vs. Sinawe. And Guckkasten came out on top!!! Very well deserved this time. And they’ll have to face each other again in the October finale. Hopefully Sinawe will bring something more worthy of their legend then.

Dahee: YAY! I’m sure Sinawe will do better next time, as long as they stay away from bad songs. I am totally ready for the next round in this rivalry!

Fabien: Good! Now the battle really started. Sinawe has a reputation to defend, and I whish they will go all metal!

 

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