I Am A Singer 나는 가수다 18 September 2011

나는 가수다

Hi everyone, refresh_daemon here and it’s now the seventh round of “I Am a Singer” (나는 가수다) and indie rock champions Jaurim managed to stay in the competition by blowing away the competition in the second part of the sixth round last week. Of course, a new round means that we have a new singer coming in, so the question arises: who is it? Perhaps another indie singer? Also as usual, the singers get to pick their own songs for the first part and I think Anna and I both found only half of this week’s performances particularly notable.

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 18일 방송” to find the performances discussed below.

The New Singer

rd: It’s Kim Kyungho! I don’t know his music too much, but I know of him as a 1990’s era hard/metal wailer. He talks about how he hasn’t changed his hair except once and he got such badmouthing as a result, what he’s been up to and some of the difficulties he’s faced up until now.

Anna: I had been hoping for Nam Jin after the Chuseok special I Am a Trot Singer (나는 트로트 가수다) since just winning some beef seemed a bit lame to me. That man’s got 45 years of singing career behind him and did an outstanding job. But I do love Kim Kyungho’s 금지된 사랑, which was part of my early introduction to Korean music. Isn’t he a bit too old to be called the “rock prince”?

The Singers Arrive

rd: Insooni’s brought her daughter along for the ride.

rd: Kim Yuna reflects on being number one. Yoon Dohyun was the first person to contact her and congratulate her on the result. She also notes that they don’t want to get 1 and 7 over and over again and then notes that one of their song’s titles is composed only of 1’s and 7’s as well as having their office number be 1717.

rd: Bobby Kim notes that he still hasn’t revealed his true character yet, trying to sound like others. I don’t know if this is true myself.

rd: Yoon Minsoo’s got a new manager, Ahn Youngmi, due to conflicts in schedule with Song Eunee. He mentions that the stress of possibly becoming eliminated resulted in two days of drinking.

rd: Kim Kyungho gets Jung Sungho as a manager. They apparently know each other and Jung quips that this is the first time he’s seen Kim in the daylight.

The Setlist

rd: Looks like the “sing your own song” of the previous round was because there were so many new singers as the setlist is now composed of covers, but we have some good ones that I recognize this time!

Anna: I don’t know about recording schedules, but now I’m thinking perhaps the last round was done like that to make room for the trot special.

Bobby Kim
골목길 by Shinchon Blues
rd: Although I’m not perfectly familiar with a specific song, I definitely ended up spending at least one night flipping through Youtube videos of Shinchon Blues and I love the group. I can definitely see a possibly connection between the blues rock style of Shinchon Blues and Bobby Kim’s soul style, so I’m really looking forward to this.

오늘 같은 밤이면 by Park Jungwoon
rd: I don’t know this song, but it’s got a soft rock vibe to it.
Anna: I love this song! After Shinhwa recorded a cover version of it I spent far too much time with the original on repeat singing along loudly whenever I was home alone. With Insooni singing it this is definitely the one I’m looking forward to the most.

가시나무 by Shieen and Chongjang
rd: Another song that I’m unfamiliar with. Kim Yuna notes that it’s a difficult song for Jaurim and it’s 80’s folk ballad sound is pretty different from anything I’ve heard from Jaurim, so I’m curious.

Jang Hyejin
그대와 영원히 by Lee Moonsae
rd: Strange to get this song as I recently wrote a review of a 1960’s movie by the same name and stumbled across this some while looking for info on the movie. It’s yet another ballad grown from folk origins, but I like this one.

Yoon Minsoo
님은 먼 곳에 by Kim Chooja
rd: This is a classic and I’m a fan of Kim Chooja’s psychedelic vibe so I’m looking forward to this cover too. I hope Yoon’s vocals do it justice.
Anna: A great song, but I can’t help but fear it’s a bit of a waste on him.

Jo Kwanwoo
이름 모를 소녀 by Kim Jungho
rd: Jo goes for a 70’s era folk ballad that he heard with his parents when he was young.

Kim Kyungho
모두 다 사랑하리 by Songgolmae
rd: Kim appropriately goes for an 80’s rock cover; one of his favorite songs from high school.

The Singers Prepare

rd: In addition to reflecting on their past performance and looking towards their next, Jaurim’s dropping off some Chuseok wine for the other singers. Bobby Kim seems to developing a spot as the “awkward guy” on the show.

rd: Jung Sungho keeps commenting about how nervous he is.

Order Is Picked

rd: Up first is Bobby Kim, who remarks that getting the seventh spot didn’t help him at all, so he’s hoping for the fifth now. Kim Shinyoung keeps remarking that they picked the ball for first, but they open the ball and Bobby got his wish!

rd: Yoon Minsoo lets his arranger and fellow Vibe member, Ryu Jaehyun pick and Ryu grabs the fourth for Yoon.

rd: Jang Hyejin’s team wants the coveted sixth spot, but Ji Sangryul excitedly grabs and ball and picks the first.

rd: Jo Kwanwoo grabs the second spot.

rd: Park Huisoon gets the sixth for Jaurim and Insooni finds the ball for third.

Jang Hyejin’s “그대와 영원히”

rd: A lovely classical guitar intro that sparks a response from the emcees and Bobby as they recognize Ham Choonho, an music veteran. She goes into the not too quietly, but her voice shakes emotively as she sings–it’s a spare arrangement to start, but she’s giving me chills as she leads into the chorus. A flugelhorn is added to go with the guitar before the next first brings in the band. For some reason, the second chorus return doesn’t quite have the same impact with me as the sparer first chorus arrangement, but it’s still a lovely song and a decent outing for Jang.

Anna: The beginning is tranquil and beautiful. Even after the arrangement has been built up a bit it remains strong and tranquil. Another nice performance from Jang Hyejin, albeit not quite as touching as the first time she did something similar.

Jo Kwanwoo’s “이름 모를 소녀”

rd: Jo’s song starts with the usual piano and string arrangement for ballads, which takes my expectations down a notch. He starts out delicately in normal voice–I guess the wait is now to see when the falsetto kicks in. So far it’s nice and he even reaches an emotional point in the song and still doesn’t go into falsetto. And even into the chorus… wow. He’s not bad. There we go, falsetto in the echo of the chorus, but only briefly! He continues singing in normal voice! And there’s the falsetto again as instrumental accompaniment. I’m really impressed that he stepped out of his element again and managed to deliver a good performance. I like the new Jo Kwanwoo!

Anna: He’s doing a lot better than usual, and when he does use his falsetto voice it actually fits pretty good. Best I’ve seen of him so far and the audience seems to enjoy it too.

Insooni’s “오늘 같은 밤이면”

rd: I love Insooni’s hat and white ensemble. In a change of pace, the brass section opens up swinging with the drums as Insooni gets in the groove. It’s a jazzy arrangement, very mellow. There’s something subdued about the arrangement and performance. It’s fun to listen to, but for the first time, Insooni’s not capturing me like she’s usually able to manage. After the takes off her hat and gets more into it, I like it more and Insooni’s still dynamite when she lights up, even going a cappella and still keeping up the energy with her voice. A key change and the return of music keeps things fun. I admit it took a while to warm up to this one, but I liked it in the end–kind of reminds me of how I felt about Bobby Kim’s take on Rain’s “태양을 피하는 방법”.

Anna: She’s getting rave applauds already when entering that stage looking like that. Well deserved. I’m not too fond of the arrangement and not even Insooni’s voice is enough to save it. Pity for such a fantastic song. Only part I could really enjoy was when everybody was singing along.

Yoon Minsoo’s “님은 먼 곳에”

rd: Another piano led quiet start, but his husky voice makes him unique. The song is pretty dramatic even in the quieter intro. Eventually it goes into the song adding lots of chorus and even a brass section. I’m not sure I’m convinced by this arrangement, the groove does help drive it, but it seems a bit of a clash and Yoon’s not quite selling it to me for all of his emotive singing. Not a bad performance and it’s an interesting take on the song, but it didn’t quite connect with me, despite Yoon letting it out at the song’s climax.

Anna: His singing style sorta ruins the beginning for me, but I do like the piano arrangement. His voice sounds better when there’s more to support him. I would’ve rather seen somebody else do this song, but he does it well when he puts more into it.

Bobby Kim’s “골목길”

rd: I’m really curious about this one. He opens up with a jazzy piano intro and his Bobby Kim styled vocals, a much cleaner singing style than Shinchon Blues and here comes the horns leading a kind of funky jazz undertone complete with scratch guitar. Bobby’s playful and a nice reggae beat sets up the song’s build. There’s a real hip hop underscore to the rhythm too. Oh! Bobby gets into a faster paced quasi-rap bridge, a new sound for the show altogether and very Bobby Kim/Buga Kingz. I wasn’t entirely convinced of this take on the song, but I really like this turnabout which also engages the audience more. After a short falsetto break, we slow back down and then quiet down even more for the verse reprise before finishing with a big finale. I have to say, like Insooni’s song, I wasn’t captured until partway through, but I really loved how Bobby put all sorts of elements of what he does into this performance and even though it’s a bit of a change from the original, it really stands out amongst the other performers. Bobby Kim smiles as he heads off stage and it suits him well.

Anna: He’s talking reggae and rap before the song starts, and the song shows it’s not just talk. Finally some real Bobby Kim! It’s great to hear it. He should’ve done it this way all along. Really hope the audience rewards him well for his performance. It was his best yet.

Jaurim’s “가시나무”

rd: Kim Yuna notes that the lyrics of the song really help make it. Ooh, she begins a cappella and then the strings slowly fill in with a piano as the song builds. Kim Yuna is singing beautifully and the song itself has a change as the drums quietly come in. Then as she quiets to a seeming close, the band explodes into action. It’s quite majestic. Then she straps on a guitar herself and sings even more passionately. Ah, this is the Jaurim I was hoping would show up on the show and I’m so very glad they did. A beautiful rendition that quiets just as it began with a chorus echo closing out the song. Loved it.

Anna: A solemn intro with piano, strings and drum. I really, really like the turn towards a Jaurim sound midway.

Kim Kyungho’s “모두 다 사랑하리”

rd: Kim draws screams from the crowd as he shows himself. A dramatic piano opens the song, which very much sounds like a product of its times. Kim is singing without great effort, but quickly shows a touch of his range. However, despite the hard chorus, I’m not quite taken by his performance yet, as it seems a touch reserved. He does have a rock presence tho. As the chorus comes in to help fill the back of the song, he does seem to become more engaged and the arrangement build helps, really capturing the kind of hard rock ballads he was championing. And it’s also nice to have some unapologetic rock on the show with Yoon Dohyun gone and Jaurim more eclectically oriented. Quite dramatic and also unique on the show too. I just hope that Kim is able to stretch a little with later performances to keep challenging himself.

Anna: He’s been looking nervous all night, as if he didn’t know what he was doing there. The reaction from the audience indicates he shouldn’t have been and now it’s turn for everybody else to look nervous. He’s got a good contact with the camera from the start and he’s doing better than most of the other singers. It really does sound like Kim Kyungho. He seems comfortable and continues to perform well. Very Kim Kyungho, and very good.

Personal Picks

rd: 1) Jaurim, 2) Bobby Kim, 3) Insooni, 4) Kim Kyungho, 5) Jo Kwanwoo, 6) Jang Hyejin, 7) Yoon Minsoo
For me, the top picks were easy. Jaurim did everything that I love about the band and Kim Yuna’s singing was very passionate. Bobby Kim also put on a great show and did what he does best as well. I think Insooni’s performance was strongest of the remaining bunch, even if it took some time to warm up to it and next to the diversity and character of Bobby Kim, it did pale a little since it was of a similar temperament. As for Kim Kyungho, I picked him fourth because he performed well and differentiated himself quickly. The rest were not easy to pick. Jang Hyejin’s arrangement stood out in my mind as well, but it was really close between her and Jo Kwanwoo, as Jo’s normal voice resulting in perhaps my favorite performance from him yet. Unfortunately for the two balladeers, when placed next to the sheer power of Kim Yuna and Kim Kyungho, it’s hard to compare. Yoon Minsoo tried and did visibly put in a lot of effort into his take on Kim Chooja, but it didn’t convince me. I’m not sure if it was the arrangement or a lack of understanding of why the song works, but he was clearly last for me.

Anna: 1) Jaurim, 2) Kim Kyungho, 3) Bobby Kim, 4) Yoon Minsoo, 5) Jang Hyejin, 6) Jo Kwanwoo, 7) Insooni
Jaurim were fantastic and for me they didn’t have much competition for the top spot. I thought it was great to see Kim Kyungho, and Bobby Kim came out unusually strong as well. Although there were so many good songs today, the rest of the performances didn’t really appeal to me. I never had expected to put Insooni last, but with such a good song she should’ve been able to do much better. Even if part of that is due to the arrangement not giving her a chance to actually do the song justice, there’s no way of it not reflecting on her since she should’ve had more than a little say in that as well.

The Results

1st Place (with 20.7% of the vote)
Bobby Kim
rd: And I wouldn’t have wanted him to get it for any performances before, but he earned it this time, putting on every musical hat he had for his strongest performance yet. Bobby takes a little time to reflect on how his father would react and remember how his parents opposed him at first and how he wanted to be like his musician father.
Anna: It was well deserved. I hope this will encourage him to bring more of his style into performances from now on.

2nd Place
rd: I guess you can’t keep a great performer down.
Anna: She is Insooni, after all, so I’m not surprised. Yet I cannot see this is a fair position after a performance where the most striking part was her outfit.

3rd Place
rd: Job well done.
Anna: Indeed.

4th Place
Kim Kyungho
rd: I actually thought he’d get first place after closing out the performances with such a dramatic rocking song. While he’s a very accomplished singer in his chosen genre, I wonder if he’ll struggle like the balladeers to reach outside of it and keep himself dynamic.
Anna: I had expected first place for him as well. It’s been a while since I last listened to him so I was very happy to hear Songgolmae turned into something unmistakably Kim Kyungho, but the audience perhaps thought differently.

5th Place
Yoon Minsoo
rd: I know he’s a crowd pleaser because of his explosive emotional performances, so I’m not surprised here, but unlike the audience, I want to see something more out of him. This leaves the longest lived of the bunch, Jo and Jang in the lowest spots, which, curiously, they occupied on their debut on the show as well.
Anna: To me he was just the better out of the people that didn’t do too well. Although after the next round I’d much rather see him go than Jang .

6th Place
Jo Kwanwoo
rd: I really applaud him for trying something different yet again and I do think it was one of his strongest, most genuine, ballad performances. I wished that he would’ve done better to continue exploring his own range, because he might not be well practiced in it, but I think he has potential here. Kim Shinyoung, on the other hand, wants to avoid another repeat and go back to his falsetto style, which I think will only serve to make his performances more stale as he performs too comfortably.
Anna: Even though this is where I’d placed him as well I had hoped the audience would reward him better for doing some actual singing. This was the one performance where his falsetto didn’t make me cringe even once.

7th Place
Jang Hyejin
rd: Like Jo, I think Jang’s style is very much a straightforward balladeer and so she distinguishes herself best when challenged. In today’s set, her song was quite pretty, but I don’t think she pushed herself quite as much as she needed to.
Anna: It was a pretty song, well performed in a pretty arrangement. I suppose the audience has just gotten bored of hearing her doing the same thing time and time again.

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