I Am A Singer 2: Singer of September

Time flies quickly and last Sunday was also the last Sunday of September. With that it was time for the singer of the month episode on I Am A Singer 2 with Guckkasten competing to get into Super December. 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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Artists Arrive

Anna: Ha Hyun Woo has a cold? Oh no! This was supposed to be the episode when Guckkasten qualified for Super December!

Dahee: To be fair, it seems that everyone has a cold, including The One, Kim Yeon Woo, Lee Young Hyun

Fabien: Seems like Korea is freezing these days.

 

Lee Young Hyun – “잠시만 안녕” (MC The Max cover)

Anna: Oh! I didn’t remember the Korean version! I love X-Japan’s “Tears” and it’s one of those songs I can be found singing at the noraebang even though I can’t read Japanese… Lee Young Hyun hasn’t been well recently and I’m assuming that’s why she doesn’t bring it like I had expected. This is one song where she could’ve finally gone all out on the drama, but I feel like the arrangement too is holding her back. Such a disappointment.

Dahee: Aww, I didn’t know M.C. The Max had remade this X Japan song! I love that song! (Well, I love X Japan in general, really.) I’m not overly impressed by the Korean lyrics, and I’m missing the rock sound of the original, but this arrangement is pretty. Lee Young Hyun’s showing good emotion, and while I was bored during the first part, as soon as the lights went out and she went into that chorus again, I got into it. A good performance, although she REALLY needs to stop using that wind gimmick…

Fabien: Wow, I also didn’t know there was a Korean version of this song, but by judging how the Korean lyrics don’t have the same meaning than the Japanese one, I don’t feel it was a big loss. Like Anna, I enjoyed doing this song in noraebang (especially with the Japanese spelled in hangeul, it’s absolutely epic!). But as much I love the original song, this cover is VERY too bland for me. For I few, I would say this is an insult to X-Japan’s music as it’s totally washed of all rock sound, which is what makes the song moving and powerful. Here, it just sounds dull and facile. Especially the latter half made me cringe.

 

Younha – “날 울리지마” (Shin Seung Hun cover)

Anna: It was so sweet to see her sing and play acoustic guitar with Guckkasten before the performance. I like how it seems they’re collaborating rather than competing. Playing the piano while singing on stage, even though it’s just one hand much of the time I enjoy seeing it. Her voice is so nice and strong. And that abrupt ending? Great work.

Dahee: Very pretty, and very Younha-esque. It’s a regular ballad, but with a more modern twist to things, at least compared to the other ballads that are usually sung on this show. I love the focus on the piano, and she’s really singing her heart out, isn’t she? I also love that it ends abruptly on that climax. Very nice.

Fabien: Thumbs up to Younha and Guckkasten for the dedication and kindness between each other! I really like that spirit. Also, I like how both of the younger contestants tend to cover older songs, from the 80’s and early 90’s. Dahee is right to point out it’s “Younha-esque”, as I really feel Younha has her own touch in covering that seems to make any ballad song more interesting and powerful. I love some subtle additions, like the electric guitar which sounds perfect with the simple piano score. When watching her playing piano and singing with such vocals, I can only be glad of all the improvement she made since her debuts in Japan. So far she hasn’t disappointed me in I Am A Singer, and would make a good winner for this month.

 

The One – “아시나요” (Jo Sung Mo cover)

Anna: His throat isn’t well either? Couldn’t tell from his singing. Another well performed ballad from The One. It’s not something that excites me a great deal, but nonetheless the arrangement is quite beautiful. But wow, did we ever see that many tears streaming down the faces of the audience before? Surely there must be something with the language barrier that keeps me from appreciating this as much as I should.

Dahee: Man, was it ever hard to focus on this performance. My mind kept drifting. The original song is very pretty, but he’s turned it into this standard, cheesy, saxophone-laced ballad. MEH. And that narration in the middle was such an obvious ploy to squeeze tears out of the audience, along with the sob story about his father. And sadly, it worked. (Okay, okay, it is indeed very sad that his father died and that he’s dedicating this song to him…but the way this show dragged out that story felt manipulative.) Sigh. I’m sorry, he just isn’t my kind of singer…

Fabien: I hate it when singers and editing are trying so much to manipulate the emotions. Does one really need to use such artifices to get the favors of the audience ? Of course the story of his dad is sad, but why the hell does he need to brag about it? I would be ashame to use this kind of personal story for this purpose. The singing is correct without being outstanding, but it’s also very common and sounds exactly like the two other songs he covered this month. Which means that he’ll make the difference only with the sad lyrics about loss and sorrow and his painful interpretation. I just can’t understand his appeal.

 

Guckkasten – “잊혀진 계절” (Lee Yong cover)

Anna: Ha Hyun Woo is not letting his sore throat stop him from singing as usual. At least in the beginning the arrangement feels a bit more timid than what we’re used to hearing from Guckkasten, but I like the feeling of it anyway. And that dreamy line on the electric guitar just before the arrangement gets a darker feeling? So super nice! I’m not as sold on this as I usually am on Guckkasten’s performances on this show, but as far as vocal abilities go as always Ha Hyun Woo still brings an impressive display of control with his characteristic style.

Dahee: Oh, I love that opening, and I like that they’re experimenting again with a more acoustic sound. As always, they got the lyrics across very well, and I like the constant little shifts in the arrangement. Still, I don’t think this is enough to get them Singer of September – maybe if they had made a complete shift to harder rock after the acoustic opening, they could have done it. But not like this. It’s still a good performance, but not really earth shattering.

Fabien: The original song is already beautiful, and I like the acoustic take on the beginning. I wish I had the same ability as Ha Hyun Woo has to reach hit high notes even with a sore throat. There are a bit of psychedelic sound appearing sparsely before the arrangement goes for a heavier bass (and hell how do I like these basses). But in the end, it also felt a bit boring due to a lack of pace in the different arrangement (maybe it needed one more shift in the end). I like this cover more because I like the original song than for their own talent.

 

So Chan Whee – “어떤가요” (Lee Jung Bong cover)

Anna: This was dull. The arrangement, the singing, even her dress. And that saxophone isn’t making it any better. Is it just me or is she even slightly off some of those notes right after the saxophone stops playing the first time?

Dahee: BO-RING. Seriously, I don’t think it’s possible for this performance to have been any MORE boring. There’s nothing interesting or outstanding about it whatsoever. So Chan Whee, I know you’re trying to prove that you can do more than hit high notes, but this is not proving anything except maybe that you’re unimaginative. Also, don’t wear prom dresses on stage in future. YAWN.

Fabien: Seriously, does she really hope to get high rank with this cover, not even winning this month? I’m not sure she’s even trying, I wouldn’t be surprised if she had just decided to let it go against stronger contestants. At least she could have tried to do anything daring so that the audience can remember her by the end of all the performances.

 

Kim Yeon Woo – “그대 내 품에” (Yoo Jae Ha cover)

Anna: Yiruma by the piano! Combined with those strings and the song pick this already seems like one of the most promising performances of the evening. The arrangement is fairly toned down and low key, really putting Kim Yeon Woo’s vocals first.

Dahee: Oh wow, I didn’t really think about it before, but Kim Yeon Woo sure is busy, what with filming for his sitcom, MBC Star Audition, and I Am A Singer. No wonder he hasn’t done too many creative things on this show. -_- Anyway, I like that he doesn’t go over the top with this song, because its strength is really in its gentleness. I love that Yiruma is playing with him, but I think the strings were unnecessary. This could have been a lot stronger with just him singing along to the piano. A nice, soothing performance, even if it’s not particularly exciting.

Fabien: I really liked the beginning with solely the discussion between the vocals and the piano (played by Yiruma moreover), but the strings really sounded gimmicky and were more spoiling than enhancing the vocals. But beside this problem in arrangement, this is a very good performance.

 

So Hyang & Park Wan Kyu – “Beauty And The Beast” (Celine Dion & Peabo Bryson cover)

Anna: Aw, this song! I remember being so excited for this movie when it first came out and I thought the soundtrack was so beautiful. I’m a bit surprised they’d go for the English version instead of the Korean version though. And I can’t really appreciate So Hyang showing off her vocal range either, since to me it doesn’t really fit with the song. The arrangement isn’t all that either, but it’s still pretty enough. Now I need to find out who did sing this for the original Korean dubbing!

Dahee: I find it hilarious that after me calling her Disney for so long, she actually comes out and sings a Disney song. I guess it was inevitable. The only thing stopping me from rolling my eyes is the fact that Park Wan Kyu is singing with her. He is so cute, pointing to himself at the end as the beast. As always, she oversings a bit, but it’s a cute performance. Hey, if you’re going to be a Disney princess, you’d might as well go all the way, right?

Fabien: Oh no, I was expecting a much more fancier dress from So Hyang, as the true princess she is. They score good point for going for the English version of the song, adding difficulty to themselves, but they managed to make a good performance. There is just the right amount of cheesiness needed for a Disney song.

 

Personal Picks

Anna: 1) Guckkasten, 2) Younha, 3) Kim Yeon Woo, 4) The One, 5) Lee Young Hyun, 6) So Chan Whee

So to be perfectly honest I didn’t really think Guckkasten was that much better than the other singers this time, but they still offered the most interesting performance and that’s gotta count for something. Younha gets second because I was the most impressed by her performance. The remaining four all pretty much did the same thing to me, but Kim Yeon Woo did so with more grace than the rest. I would like to put Lee Young Hyun next, but I’m a bit harsher on her going after one of my favorites songs and all (albeit in a different language) so The One gets to place before her. So Chan Whee was just so uninteresting this time I could hardly consider putting her any higher than the bottom.

 
Dahee: 1) Guckkasten 2) Younha 3) Lee Young Hyun 4) Kim Yeon Woo 5) The One 6) So Chan Whee

I agree with Anna, Guckkasten weren’t spectacular this week, but theirs was still the most interesting performance, so they get first. Younha’s performance was really engaging, and I enjoyed the arrangement, so she gets second. I feel more or less the same about Lee Young Hyun and Kim Yeon Woo’s performances, but Lee’s was a tad more entertaining, so she gets the upper hand. As for The One, while I recognize that he sings very well, I just can’t stand his arrangements, and, quite frankly, his voice and singing mannerisms as well. So this is a very biased ranking. And do I really need to explain why So Chan Whee is last?

 
Fabien: 1) Guckkasten 2) Younha 3) Kim Yeon Woo 4) The One 5) So Chan Whee 6) Lee Young Hyun

This time I really felt there were two different competitions: one for the best cover, and the other one for the most boring performance. I enjoyed Guckkasten’s performance more than the other ones this week, but not as much as their previous ones. Younha would have totally deserved to rank first and is actually in all objectivity on par with Guckkasten, with perfect vocals and all, but it’s only because I had to make a choice that I arbitrarily put her second. I’m sorry, Younha, I’ll be better to you next time. As for the bottom tier, there was a fierce competition. The One’s manipulation of emotions was offensive, So Chan Whee’s performance was as boring as hell. But Lee Young Hyun wins for having wrecked a legendary power ballad. I cannot forgive her for this.

 

The Results

Fabien: This time the guests were the Korean Male Choir’s members. For the first time, the production invited people who have some link to singing. Interesting enough, they favoured male voices, with The One convincing 43% of them, and Kim Yeon Woo (27%) and Guckkasten (13.3%) completing the podium.

No. 6: So Chan Whee

Anna: I’m glad the audience agreed with me. Hopefully this will encourage her to do something more fun next month.

Dahee: Good choice. She was so boring that this performance might as well go under the definition of boredom in the dictionary.

Fabien: I wonder if she even got a single vote for her. Glad that the audience still has some critical mind.

No. 1: The One

Anna: I don’t mind this too much. Although it would’ve been nice to see Lee Young Hyun in Super December, judging only by today’s performances The One deserved it more. But I still feel like this should’ve been Guckkasten’s episode. There’s only two more chances to go, and they’ll have to share them with Sinawe.

Dahee: I wanted Lee Young Hyun to win, but on the other hand, this is a good way of not being subjected to The One’s performances for the next couple of months. I’m fine with that. (Man, I sound like such a bitch, don’t I?) But yeah, I REALLY hope Guckkasten get Singer of October or November. It would just be so wrong if they didn’t.But how exciting does next week look?? Guckkasten versus Sinawe!! I’m already wetting my pants with anticipation.

Fabien: I think we could make stats about the chances of success based on thematic of the lyrics. I hate watching The One so glad for having rushed in I Am A Singer and stolen the victory from other more interesting singers. But this feeling completely disappears as soon as I saw what is expected for next week. The battle of the titans, Guckkasten versus Sinawe, may become the true highlight of this season. We can expect from them to push back their limits to amaze the audience. Only for this reason am I content with the results.

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