Top Band 2 Episode 19: Semi-Final

With this season coming closer to an end, the latest episode of KBS2 survival show Top Band 2 saw the Top 4 bands bringing their all to get into the finals. Episode 19 was broadcast live on October 6th with the TV audience able to affect the outcome. KBS offers VOD to anyone with a KBS account if you want to watch the full episode. Daum does not allow video embeds, but if you click the song titles below the full performances are available for viewing.

In addition to myself the Top Band 2 commentary panel consists of Lightinthemind of Korean rock is real, Dahee of Dahee’s Plastic Castle,  Sangha of strangeseasons and Fabien of Kimchi Popcorn, Ranya of K-Underground Sweden and Xtian aka drowningn00b. This week we get to hear the remaining bands do their own songs.


 

Anna: The Rose Motel members are in the audience alongside fans holding Rose Motel banners. Seems points will be the same as in the quarterfinals with a jury able to give each band a maximum of 500 points with the TV audience having 500 points total to share between bands. I wasn’t very fond of this arrangement to begin with, especially after the TV audience has proven exceptionally disappointing in how they scored before, and the jury seems more biased than well informed with only Chun Won Young still holding my respect in this regard..

Dahee: What…is Lee Ji Ae…wearing? O_o Kim Se Hwang and his little wave and stiff smile are SO FREAKY. I’m going to have nightmares of this guy, I just know it.

Fabien: Yeah, the same old jury is back for the semifinals. For me the interest is already over, as the competition seems now totally spoiled by the bias. I’ll have to force myself having something to say about these performances. Thanks to Lee Ji Ae, I can still have fun discovering her clothes trying to fit with the rock atmosphere.

 

Monni

언제까지 내 맘속에서

Anna: I really like this song, but I can’t help but wonder why they picked it. When it finally gets halfway to the instrumental part it’s as awesome as always, but before then it’s just another pretty Monni song that doesn’t do much to really show their real strengths. Hopefully this strong part is what will stuck with the audience. They did very well, but something, although I can’t pinpoint what exactly, was missing for me.

Dahee: This fell a little flat for me. I mean, there were moments when I was engaged, and Kim Sini‘s singing really is wonderful, but once it was over, I felt a little disappointed. It didn’t have that punch that I wanted. It’s a lovely song and a lovely performance overall, but it needed something more dynamic added to the proceedings.

Sangha: I really wished they’d kept “소나기” for the semifinals because that song does everything this song does but way better in every aspect. I really like this song too, and it was a very nice performance, but I have a feeling that it isn’t enough to help them move onto finals…

Fabien: An okay performance as usual coming from Monni, which mean without any thrill for me. The best part was the shoegazing guitar played in middle-course, it could have been a good idea to go from this and rearrange all the music in an atmospheric rock. Easy listened to, easy forgot.

Scores

Kim Jong Seo: 95
Chung Won Young: 85
Song Hong Seob: 85
Jang Hye Jin: 80
Kim Se Hwang: 75
Sub-total: 420

Anna: It’s quite offputting how the judges all have to advertise season two of Mabinogi Heroes with their blatantly exposed coffee cups, but then it was pretty much just Top Band bands on the soundtrack so the trade-off seems good to me anyway. Kim Se Hwang talks about the “overground”. Although that might be the natural opposite to “underground” it’s the first I heard of it. The scores are quite low, yet fair.

Dahee: The judges are talking a lot about how they need to figure out the balance between being mainstream and underground, and how to display a more unique sound. I actually think those scores are pretty damn good.

Sangha: Every time Kim Se Hwang opens his mouth I die a little. Mostly accurate criticisms, except of course, Kim Se Hwang thinks he’s being so intelligent/helpful when he says that Monni should get some help from established composers/producers if they want to appeal to bigger audiences. Have you seen your own musical career, Mr. Kim? Oh, the irony.

Fabien: By reading your summarizes of the judge’s comments, I’m glad I didn’t try to understand what they were saying (especially Kim Se Hwang who never stops to amaze me…).

 

Romantic Punch

Anna: Oh, I would’ve absolutely loved to see Romantic Punch make a full performance out of “내일이 찾아오면”! It’s such a fun and upbeat song!

미드나잇 신데렐라 (Midnight Cinderella)

Anna: A Romantic Punch standard! That they could be on this show for so long before performing it. It’s not one of my own favorites, but it might be the best way to show the audience and jury who they really are. Bae In Hyuk full of energy as always, the rest of the band also bringing it with the two brief guitar solos giving the guitarists a chance to show their worth. If they don’t make it to the final at least it’s not for not trying.

Dahee: This was fun! It felt just a tad messy, but the energy made everything worth watching. After Bae In Hyuk’s listlessness during their last performance, it’s good to see him ramping up the craziness again. If I were in that audience, I’d be going crazy! I can’t say I’m a fan of this song, though.

Sangha: Love it! I love them so much, always such great energy. It sounded a bit messy at times but the band plays so well together! Don’t think this is the perfect song choice but to play an 18+ song on air!

Fabien: That was energetic and fun, far closer of my conception of a “top band”. But maybe the could have gone further into the craziness. I would also have prefered seeing them trying again to have fun on a cover.

Scores

Kim Jong Seo: 95
Chung Won Young: 70
Song Hong Seob: 75
Jang Hye Jin: 87
Kim Se Hwang: 99
Sub-total: 426

Anna: Kim Se Hwang overdoes it again. I was more with Salt Songand Chung Won Young on this one, but I’m still glad to see the other judges held a different opinion.

Dahee: Hmm, the judges don’t like their song choice. I think I agree – they were better when they did covers, oddly enough. Maybe because the covers allowed them to play around more with arrangements and be creative. WHOA at Kim Se Hwang’s score! This man is like an alien or something. I can’t figure him out.

Sangha: I concur, I still can’t get over their “Purple Rain” cover and “Carnival Amour” cover, this was no way comparable to those performances. And I was so scared for Kim Se Hwang’s score after all that criticisms he gave the guitarists, but look at that score!

Fabien: Kim Se Hwang’s scores are so random that they seem to be decided by throwing dices. And yet he has such an influence on the final outcome. Romantic Punch’s performance was good but not without flaws.

 

Transfixion

Anna: They got 50,000 won after their first gig back in 1995? That actually sounds pretty good to me… I really enjoy seeing all of these old band photos

너를 원해

Anna: I never heard this song before and all I can think of in the beginning is Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation”. Hae Rang isn’t singing as well as usual and though the song is remarkably catchy it’s not really doing anything for me. Until the guitar solo that is! That was very nice!! But as soon as the vocals start coming again I’m lost. They’re doing a good job, but it’s very clear that I can no longer be considered a part of Transfixion’s target audience.

Dahee: This was…boring. My mind kept drifting during this entire performance. It probably didn’t help that I’m not a fan of the song to start with. I don’t know, they played well, and Hae Rang showed good stage presence, but I just…wasn’t…engaged. Sigh. Maybe Transfixion just aren’t for me.

Sangha: I’ve heard them perform this song and their performance of the song on the show was definitely not their best. Haerang didn’t sound so hot. I get that they chose one of their most mainstream songs to appeal to the audience but at this point… I don’t think that’ll do them any good. This is average at best.

Fabien: Seriously, had I not knowm that this song was from one of their albums, I would have thought it was a bland K-pop song, based on the stupid and repetitive lyrics. This song left me on the side of the rock while the audience seemed to enjoy it. Despite what Kim Do Kyun says afterwards, this didn’t really sound rock’n roll to me. (Don’t worry, Kim Do Kyun, I still like you!)

Scores

Kim Jong Seo: 75
Chung Won Young: 80
Song Hong Seob: 75
Jang Hye Jin: 85
Kim Se Hwang: 90
Sub-total: 405

Anna: Kim Se Hwang continues to favor his friends.

Dahee: “Rocking and Rolling!” HAHAHAHAHA! Oh, Kim Do Kyun. There are no limits to my love for you. Also, I don’t get how Kim Se Hwang can spout so much criticism and then give them a 90.

Sangha: I know right?! Same with Romantic Punch, Kim Se Hwang spitted out so much criticism and yet he gave them such a high score.

Fabien: Except for Kim Se Hwang, the scores seem correct and fair.

 

Pia

Anna: They’re gonna do another second album song! I’m glad Pia too are aware which album was their strongest. I got  three copies of it back in the days, trying my very best to spread the love for k-rock among my friends…

Pipe Boy

Anna: I’m feeling so-so about the synth in the beginning, but after that the performance lifts immensely. Good energy and a well executed performance throughout.  I particularly enjoy Yohan’s screaming towards the end of it all. Not the best we’ve seen from them on the show, but then I thought all the other bands too offered rather underwhelming performances tonight so this was actually my favorite.

Dahee: Yay, a song I actually like this time! This was pretty hot. Yohan sounds really great to me today, and he looks more confident, which is so nice to see. Love that headbanging near the end! I want to be there headbanging tooooo!

Sangha: Ah, lovely performance from Pia. Not my favourite song by them, but they pulled it off quite wonderfully. Yohan sounded pretty good, too!

Fabien: Better than expected, except the voice that I still can’t enjoy. It sounds like myself in a noraebang when I desperately try to catch the higher notes  of a female voice’s song. I was not a fan of the song, but the band played so well and gave so much energy compared to some of the other performances tonight that it’s my favorite one of the semifinals.

Scores

Kim Jong Seo: 98
Chung Won Young: 85
Song Hong Seob: 70
Jang Hye Jin: 90
Kim Se Hwang: 60
Sub-total: 403

Anna: Kim Se Hwang takes another dig at Yohan’s vocals, even though he actually did quite well tonight. I simply can’t stand that man anymore, and not just because he single handedly caused Pia to get the lowest score of the evening.

Dahee: Kim Se Hwang: “I’m giving you 60 points because I’m your fan. Everyone, please quickly vote for Pia!” Uh…..Yeah. I don’t even know how to respond to that. And aww, all the judges are criticizing Yohan. But he did better this week! Poor guy, he can’t catch a break.

Sangha: I’m not even going to comment on Kim Se Hwang anymore because that man is just a mystery to me. He makes this show so uncomfortable to watch.

Fabien: But for this time I think the same as the judges, there is still a problem with the vocals that I can’t go past. But this doesn’t prevent me of complaining again of Kim Se Hwang’s score. Even with this vocal problem, the drums and the guitars were so good that you cannot condemn the whole band for Yohan’s flaw.

 

Special Stage: HarryBigButton with Top Vocal – “Everything Is Fine Except Money

Anna: Now here’s one band that really should’ve made it to the semi-final.  The Top Vocal are Mobetteradio of Fellas, Super Kidd’s Her Check, Siberian Husky’s Yoo Soo Yeon and Rose Motel’s Yook Joong Wan. Aha! Seems HarryBigButton will have their first full-length out this month! Although I must say I’ve liked this song more in the past when hearing it with just Lee Sung Soo…  Meanwhile photos of all the bands that made the Top 99 are shown over the screens on stage. That’s actually quite lovely!

Dahee: YAY for Harry Big Button!! God, this is making me angry all over again that they didn’t make the Top 8. They are SO HOT. And awww at the vocalists of other Top Band 2 bands joining them on stage! Yook Joong Wan is cracking me up with his air guitar and hip thrusting. This is so cute.

Sangha: Yes, the Button hyungs! Although I dont’ know how Her Check qualifies as a “Top Vocal” but that’s all done and over with, so let’s just leave it at that. Lovely performance!

Fabien: HarryBigButton is proving again that they would deserve as much, if not more, to be competing at this stage than the other 4 bands we just watched. And having these other singers joining them and giving tribute to all the bands seen during Top Band 2 was a very nice touch.

 

The Results

Anna: This time the number of televotes ticked past 31,500 before it was over. Better than last time, but still not as good as the show’s first attempt at getting the TV audience involved.

 

Monni vs. Romantic Punch

Monni
Jury: 420
Audience: 110
Total: 530
Romantic Punch
Jury: 426
Audience: 120
Total: 546

Anna: Oh the suspense! Personally I like Monni more, but I’d rather see Romantic Punch make the final. I’m quite satisfied with the outcome. But it makes me worry that the audience votes weren’t as fair as it might seem at first glance, with Monni finishing third.

Dahee: I was sad when I saw that Monni and Romantic Punch were going up against each other, but still, I’m glad Romantic Punch moved on. They’ve always shown more creativity and taken more risks than Monni did, and their performance really was the more engaging of the two. Well-deserved!

Sangha: I’m so glad Romantic Punch is moving onto finals. I’ve had my money on this band since… pretty much the beginning and I really want them to win!

Fabien: That was quite close, but in the end, Romantic Punch makes it to the final, and judging from what each band presented tonight, I think it’s well deserved. They will make the final more interesting than what I was fearing.

 

Transfixion vs. Pia

Transfixion
Jury: 405
Audience: 88
Total: 493
Pia
Jury: 403
Audience: 181
Total: 584

Anna: This is the real battle of top bands! Pia and Transfixion were the giants coming into this and I’ve been so curious to find out how the audience really ranks them. After the quarter finals I had thought Transfixion had the larger fan base with all their past mainstream success, but Pia prevailed.Dahee: Seriously, what was the point of Transfixion getting eliminated, then making the Top 8, then getting eliminated again at the Top 4? This is giving me a headache. Thank god Pia moved on, they definitely deserve it more than Transfixion.

Sangha: Yup, happy Pia gets to move on instead of Transfixion because let’s be real, Transfixion didn’t really impress anyone on the show. I’m just hoping that Pia does something completely mind-blowing for the final round.

Fabien: I’m glad that this time the audience corrected the biased scores given by the jury. But I’m even happier to see that one of the big favorites is finally leaving for good. Transfixion vs Pia as a final would have been boring. But with Romantic Punch and Pia going to the final, it looks like the only obvious choice tonight, the one that could still bring surprises next week.

 

Thoughts on the Coming Top Band 2 Final

Sangha: I think I’ve mentioned it numerous times throughout the commentary series that I really want Romantic Punch to win, and that still applies, but… I don’t know. I felt like at the beginning of the show I was so hopeful that this show was going to be awesome, and whoever wins will break into the mainstream market with a bang but now that we’ve all seen how mediocre the ratings and the overall interest has been… I guess it really doesn’t matter much who wins. But I’m still cheering for Romantic Punch.

Dahee: Yeah, looking back, there have been more disappointments than highlights during this show, which is such a shame. But yeah, I definitely want Romantic Punch to win, not so much because I’m a huge fan of theirs or anything, but because I think that, objectively, they’ve done better over the course of the show than Pia has, and they deserve it. And at least they’ve gained more fans through this, which is always a plus. I hope both bands come out with amazing performances next week!

Fabien: I just don’t want Pia to win. They’re already among the big names in Korean rock history. I would have never expected them to compete here in first place. Romantic Punch really rose since their first appearance in Top Band 2 and proved to be versatile and full of will. But the final victory will not be a good one. The true losers with this season of Top Band 2 are the audience, who missed what could have been more interesting and exciting performances, and also the true rookie bands, who were constantly despised throughout all these weeks. They were looking for indie bands, but they had to be on stage since long ago. As for me, I’ll remember the fallen ones, like Exit No. 4, YaYa, Frenzy, Ironic Hue, Magna Fall, MetallateM Plus, Fantastic Drugstore, Vending Machine, Frida Kahlo, Rose Motel, No Respect For Beauty, Siberian Husky, and HarryBigButton. Also, is it really what I think having read ? The final stage will be outdoor, in Hongdae?

 

Rose Motel – “Band Style” (Psy “Gangnam Style” cover)

Anna: Like most people that heard “Gangnam Style” back in July I’m starting to feel like this meme has gotten quite old, but I still find this one fairly amusing. Especially seeing the Pia members jump after the Monni bassist

Dahee: Only Rose Motel could make me sit through yet another “Gangnam Style” parody without throwing something. Love the glimpses of the other bands!

Fabien: I loved seeing them dancing in such a symbol thank the Hongdae’s playground!