In yet another surprise, “I Am a Singer”‘s second part of its eighth round will take place in Melbourne, Australia! As usual, the second episode follows the singers in their song selection and development process, including some snapshots of the singers in their personal lives, culminating with a mid-week performance where the singers demonstrate what they’ve done so far.
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 “10월 16일 방송” to find the performances discussed below.
rd: Before the songs are assigned, it’s announced that the next performance will be on tour… in Australia! While not competing, some previous “I Am a Singer” performers, like Kim Bumsoo and Yoon Dohyun will also be joining them in performing in Australia. During this time, Cho Kyuchan displays a fantastically straight faced sense of humor, talking about going fishing in Australia and hoping it leads to a chance on a fishing show, which he claims is part of the reason why he came onto “I Am a Singer”. They will be performing in Melbourne for a 2000 member audience.
rd: It turns out because they will be performing before the Australian audience, the singers have selected their own songs as to make sure they can perform it at their best.
rd: Bobby Kim has selected Kim Hyunshik’s “사랑 사랑 사랑”. The song definitely sounds like one that could be redone into Bobby Kim style and has a slightly funky, cool vibe to it.
rd: Kim Kyungho picks Go Hanwoo’s “암연”. Sounds like a rock ballad, so I think it’s definitely something that easily fits Kim.
rd: Yoon Minsoo’s selection is the first traditional song for the song, “아리랑”. I actually think this is a pretty brave choice since it’s such a simple, but widely known song, but I am curious which version he’ll sing and how he’s going to arrange it. I was a fan of YB’s rock interpretation of the song on Why Be?, so there’s definitely some potential here. Yoon might be able to win back my respect here.
Anna: Oh no! I don’t like him going for this song at all, seems like he’s just after cheap points. Although I don’t mind Arirang itself it is always such a sentimental song, and I imagine especially among expats it holds extra sentimental value.
rd: Jaurim chooses Kang Saneh’s “…라구요”. I’m not familiar with this song, but it sounds like a nice rock song. I wonder what Jaurim will do to fill it with their own style as I think a straight interpretation won’t help the band.
Anna: To me it seem like Kang Saneh has gone through some sort of revival, with everybody still talking about him after the release of an EP earlier this year. I think I may have heard the song previously, but can’t say for sure.
rd: Insooni will be performing the second Kim Hyunshik selection of the night, “봄여름가을겨울”. This is a song that’s pretty well known and I actually recognize it, despite its age. It’s a funk-rock song originally and I’m definitely curious to see what Insooni chooses to do with it, since she often does make interesting arrangement choices.
Anna: I could never really like this song. I hope she doesn’t stay too true to the funk-rock beat.
rd: Jang Hyejin is going for Shin Seunghoon’s “미소 속에 비친 그대”. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard this ballad before (and I like it too) and I actually think it might be a good choice for Jang, who has done pretty well with more adventurous ballads originally performed by men.
rd: Cho Kyuchan chooses to sing Choi Sungwon’s “이별이란 없는 거야”. A really soft ballad that I think fits Cho’s voice closely. It’s a soft song, so I think it might be difficult to sway the audience with it and of the choices, I think Cho will have the hardest time keeping his song in the audience’s memory, although I do think the right performance can possibly win them over, as Lee Sora was able to do during the earlier episodes of the show.
Anna: Yet another song I don’t know, but I will continue to trust Cho Kyuchan.
Preparing the Music
rd: Singer/composer Cho Kyuman, a classmate and friend of manager Lee Byungjin, as well as the older brother of Cho, drops by the studio for a friendly visit and to help with the arrangement.
Anna: They’re all singing to together. So nice!
rd: Kim Kyungho’s manager, Jung Sungho visits Kim and gives a little tour around the apartment, resulting in a nervous Kim having to explain various things in the apartment. Kim shows Jung his current work in progress and surprises him with a little change-up mid song, which they keep from the audience.
Anna: It appears Kim Kyungho is big on both soju and make-up.
rd: Yoon Minsoo gets some hair coloring done with his son.
Anna: Suits him better than the brighter blond he’s gone with before.
rd: Bobby Kim’s father, Kim Younggeum, a trumpet playing musician himself, drops by from the US for a visit. He performs briefly and Bobby relates how he studied trumpet when he was younger, but his father ended it, hoping that Bobby would become a doctor or a lawyer.
rd: Insooni won’t be available to perform this time because she’s performing at Carnegie Hall.
rd: Before the revelations begin, Cho Kyuchan performs his own original song, “믿어지지 않는 얘기” from his fourth album. It’s a lovely, but mellow pop ballad.
Anna: I don’t know the song but love it nonetheless. I think I really do have to start collecting his back catalogue.
rd: Bobby Kim’s up first and the music starts a bit more upbeat than the original, with some disco and samba added in. It’s a pretty fun arrangement and as imagined, it fits Bobby’s voice well.
Anna. There’s a bit of a Chang Kiha feeling initially. After it changes the arrangement is something different for Bobby Kim, and to me it doesn’t sound like it’s really him singing either.
rd: Kim Kyungho’s arrangement adds a lot more layers to the song, which was originally performed with just a guitar, with piano and strings, giving it a pop ballad vibe. He starts out quiet and then builds into the chorus. He’s quite the singer and even if this is a pretty straightforward pop ballad arrangement, Kim’s definitely got the singing ability to make it work. He doesn’t expose the shift that happens in the second verse.
Anna: The intro is very pretty, makes me hope for a typical Kim Kyungho rock ballad. As the song continues it does sound like it could be one too. I’m sensing great things to happen during the real performance.
rd: Yoon Minsoo exposes only a little of his song, but it starts with an interesting pentatonic run on the piano. It’s a very quiet and sensitive performance at first and he definitely deviates a little from the melody. Then he gets everyone to sing along for the chorus. It’s definitely the Vibe-esque sound that he was talking about, but the arrangement is interesting. Still, we don’t hear the later secrets of the song and I really like what I’ve heard. I’m curious to see how the second half will go.
Anna: It’s a very pretentious start, then he waves to his audience, and they sing along… This is even worse than I had feared. To me it sounds like the odd worship tune on an otherwise perfectly fine pop/rock album.
rd: Kim Yuna explains that this song should appeal to Koreans in particular. Jaurim’s performance starts with a soul-type piano and Kim Yuna provides a lovely quiet take and when the and comes in, it’s clear they’re playing a classic. Kim Yuna really belts it out in the song and I think it would help if she held back just a little more, but I instantly like the song and its take.
Anna: I would’ve loved to hear more right away. Sounds like a potential super song for Jaurim.
rd: Jang Hyejin notes that she didn’t really change up the song. She actually opens up the song right away and has a pretty cool rock band hit at the start. It’s a pretty forceful arrangement, the rhythm section adding a lot menace to the verse. I’m not sure it works for me, as well as the forceful start, but there are times during her singing that Jang wins me over. I don’t know if it’s consistent enough yet for me though.
Anna: I like the strong beginning, and it sounds like this could my favorite this round. Not sure what happens then. It becomes a bit boring, even.
rd: While few people might not know this song, Cho picked it in part so that he can share it. As a result, he’s going to sing the first part of the song straight. His arrangement is already a little bit more lively at the top, but it goes into just him and the piano afterwards. It’s a pretty clean rendition and I like his performance of the chorus. I feel like he’s still working out the performance a little though, but I’m definitely curious about the second half.
Anna: The intro sounds very welcoming. The arrangement too, but his voice doesn’t sound at all as cozy as I prefer it.
rd: 1) Jaurim, 2) Bobby Kim, 3) Yoon Minsoo, 4) Kim Kyungho, 5) Jang Hyejin, 6) Cho Kyuchan
It’s always hard to gauge how hearing the rest of the song will change my perception of it, so I’m trying to stick with just what I’ve heard while thinking of the song. Kim Yuna and Jaurim impress me again, because while the arrangement itself isn’t wild, Kim Yuna’s own vocal take on the melody really did capture it and make it her own and the band’s arrangement gives the song a bit more heft, which I appreciated. Bobby Kim again turned the song into his own and the energy that the arrangement gives to the song is definitely a crowd pleaser. I’m giving Yoon Minsoo the third spot because it was a very curious performance and the changes and additions to the original really colored and flavored the song in a very memorable way. Kim takes fourth on strength of his vocal performance and strength of the ballad, but it was not easy to rank the final three. Jang’s arrangement didn’t entirely win me over and I feel like the dynamics definitely need some adjustment, but there’s something interesting going on, which gives it a better ranking for me than Cho. And Cho, he performs it cleanly, his voice does stand out, and the original song is quite nice, but it was a bit plain as it was shown–I have no doubt that the second half will transform it, but I have to leave him last for now.
Anna: 1) Jaurim, 2) Kim Kyungho, 3) Jang Hyejin, 4) Cho Kyuchan, 5) Bobby Kim, 6) Yoon Minsoo
This week I find it obvious which two to put in the top and which one to put in the bottom, though I am very surprised that not all of the singers went for the classics recognizable among twenty year olds and fifty year olds alike knowing where they’ll be performing next time. Although Kim Kyungho did give a hint of what to come, Kim Yuna’s vocals are convincing enough already without the full performance. Yoon Minsoo with his usually so sentimental vocals milked the song for all it was worth in the worst manner possible. The remaining three were fairly equal now and I expect them all to sound quite differently on the actual stage. If Jang Hyejin can keep the feeling from the intro a bit longer it’ll be wonderful. As for Cho Kyuchan and Bobby Kim, neither which sounded the way I’d expected of them, I simply liked Cho Kyuchan’s arrangement more.
2) Yoon Minsoo
3) Bobby Kim
4) Kim Kyungho
5) Cho Kyuchan
6) Jang Hyejin
rd: This is actually not very far from my own rankings, but again, this is hardly hearing the whole performance and everyone seems to have packed secret weapons into their second verses. I think that Jang Hyejin probably most needs to work on her arrangement and coordinating performance, so seeing her last doesn’t surprise me. I feel like with the original song, it doesn’t need too strong of a change, but Jang definitely needs to find a way to add her character better into it and smooth the arrangement a bit. I think Bobby is a guaranteed good time, being the only fast song of the bunch and I’m most curious as to how the songs will turn out for Yoon, Kim and Cho.
Anna: Although my own rankings were a bit off I can’t say I’m surprised by the outcome. Although I feel for Jang Hyejin it’s somewhat comforting not to see Cho Kyuchan place at the very bottom among his peers this time.
Going to Australia
rd: The ending of the episode is extended a little by following the artists and managers at the airports. The managers and Yoon Jongshin comment on the singers airport fashion and also take a look at the passport photos of all the singers to rank them. Jang Hyejin wins the silly photo contest and gets some vitamins as a result.
Anna: I wasn’t aware Bobby Kim would show up with a US passport. And his real name is Robert! I was hoping to see the passport photos of Kim Kyungho and Kim Yuna as well, but I suppose they were both looking as good as could be expected of them.
rd: Other “I Am a Singer” artists join at the airport: Lena Park, Kim Bumsoo, YB, Kim Yeonwoo, Kim Johan. Park Myungsoo suggests that the returning artists also compete amongst themselves for elimination as well, including the graduated Lena Park and Kim Bumsoo, and Kim Yeonwoo says they should go for it. So it looks like another competition is on! JK Kim Dongwook joins a little later and discovers he’s competing to his surprise.
Anna: It’s so good to see Lena Park again. I hope we get to see all of their performances and not just from the ones competing.
rd: With so many performers, it looks like the second part of this round might end up spanning two episodes, considering they’re having twice the number of performers. I have to say that I do appreciate how the production team is keeping things interesting with these twists, but I hope that not every part of every episode is going to be like this, because it gets dizzying and the show feels like it doesn’t have a center. Anyway, I hope the Australian audience enjoyed the show! Perhaps a trip to Los Angeles will happen? I imagine the tickets would cost a fortune, but it might be fun to see if I could get into a show and recap it for you live from within the show for Indieful ROK and Init_Music. Looking forward to next week!