The final part of round seven features an impressive tribute to Cho Yongpil, with each of the singers providing unique takes on his songs. It was also a tense round as one of the singers would be eliminated at the end of the episode and the nervousness did get to some of the singers, while others managed to shake it off once they started performing.
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 2일 방송” to find the performances discussed below.
Before the Show
rd: Jo Kwanwoo, who is never confident about his ability to stay on the show, meets up with Kim Shinyoung prior to the show, to have a cold beverage while they’re both still on together.
rd: Bobby Kim’s gained a bit of confidence since the last round and Kim Taehyun jokes that it’s because Kim Kyungho’s the new king of nervousness. Bobby thanks Kim Kyungho for that jokingly.
rd: Kim Kyungho notes that Jaurim has the potential for a powerful performance this round. They also notice on the set list that Jaurim has recruited a Korean traditional samulnori (percussion) group. Jo Kwanwoo notes that once the samulnori group starts playing, you can’t hear anything else because it’s so loud.
rd: Kim Yuna’s husband, Kim Hyungkyu is visiting for this performance. Everybody seems to believe Jaurim is the group to beat and fears ending up next to them.
Anna: From the look of of it Jaurim’s performance can be something out of the ordinary, traditional drummers whirlwinding on stage and all.
Order Is Picked
rd: First up is team Jang Hyejin. Ji Sangryul is going to toss an object into the bowl to pick the ball and misses the first time. They get the second spot.
rd: Next is team Jo Kwanwoo, with managers and singers all observing. Kim Shinyoung grabs a ball and Jo Kwanwoo is fifth.
rd: Since So Eunee and Yoon Minsoo are already in the same room, So picks a ball too. Yoon Minsoo will be third.
rd: Kim Kyungho is next and he grabs a ball, hoping for sixth or seventh and gets the seventh. And there was much rejoicing.
rd: Kim Hyungkyu is asked to pick for Jaurim and all the other singers are hoping they get the first spot. Kim Hyungkyu collapses to the floor after picking the ball as Jaurim will be up first. Everybody else cheers. This doesn’t bode well for Jang Hyejin as she will be following what everyone believes will be the most explosive act of the night.
rd: Park Myungsoo grabs a ball for Insooni, who wants to get the fourth spot and gives her what she wants.
rd: That leaves Bobby Kim to be the sixth performer.
rd: MC Yoon Jongshin notes that Cho Yongpil was originally planning to observe the show in person, but because he felt that it might be burdensome for the singers to see him watching them, he’s opted to watch from home instead.
rd: Kim Yuna looks like a fairy bride as she walks to the concert stage holding Kim Hyungkyu’s hand. He cutely supports her before she goes up. In the interview, she mentions that she’s always wanted to fuse her music with Korean traditional music.
rd: The song opens with Kim Yuna in higher voice, accompanied by piano, sounding a lot like her solo work, but you can hear the epic strain in the melody even then. Then the band comes in with the driving beat and Kim Yuna drops to her strong voice. It’s an inspiring song and Kim Yuna’s strong voice fits it well. Lee Sungyu gets a guitar solo as a background vocal comes in behind Kim Yuna leading her into a Cranberries-like take on the song’s non-lyrical vocal segment. It builds as Kim Duksoo and his team show up with shouts and samulnori in a circle in the middle of the stage. The music stops with a shout form the samulnori leader and Kim Yuna returns back to how the song started as she approaches the center stage, building back into the verse of the song and then a key change! The song ends with good energy and while the song didn’t quite explode as everyone expected, it was quite rousing.
Anna: Kim Yuna doesn’t just look like a fairy, she sings like one in the beginning too. I like the Cranberries style singing a lot. It is a marvelous performance.
Jang Hyejin’s “모나리자”
rd: Here’s Jang for her take on “모나리자”. I’m hoping she found an arrangement that suits her voice well (or perhaps found her inner rock star). In a rare turn for Jang, the song opens up with a reverberated rock guitar sliding into a piano. It seems to be a similar rock approach as before, very dramatic. Rock guitar hits highlight her vocals as she sings, but I still feel like her voice can’t keep up with the arrangement in terms of power. The music thrusts into the chorus and I’m really like the arrangement; Jang herself leans her mic forward like a rock star and tries to summer her inner Meat Loaf. She’s aided by a background chorus, but I still want more power from her. I really like this song and the arrangement is exciting, although I think some thundering drums would really help sell the drive. The music slows down for another repeat of the chorus and Jang lets out a wail followed by silence as we brace for the return and she returns with excitement, even wailing into hoarseness, which was impressive, although I was hoping for a raising of the stakes with a key change or an added element. I really love that she gave her all, but as fun as it was, I couldn’t help but think that Jaurim would have been able to blow the top off this song.
Anna: I’m getting a slight ABBA in minor feeling, reminiscing a couple of my favorites from the group. There’s a retro sense to the rock arrangement that quite appeals to me. She’s putting a lot of strength into her vocals and I actually think she does it pretty well. There’s a lot of power here, and I like it. Though yeah, I’d rather have seen Jaurim take on this song too.
Yoon Minsoo’s “창 밖의 여자”
rd: Yoon starts out sitting to another interesting opening: drums and harmonic electric guitar. Very atmospheric and moody. That dies away and we’re back to a piano to really open up the song. Yoon’s vocal approach is quite similar to his take mid-round. It’s quiet, husky and fades into the orchestra, leading to bumping up a key with orchestra/band hits and chorus fills as he stands to let out his expected emotional vocals while Kim Sehwang rocks out in the background. I can’t help but feel there’s a slight misfit between the arrangement and his vocal approach as he goes into falsetto screams and guttural growls, but I have to say I am impressed that Yoon keeps pouring such heavy emotion into all of his performances. The music quiets back to the piano as Yoon returns to a quiet verse, the song finishing as quietly as it started. After all that, it feels just a little anti-climactic, but considering that Yoon’s performance (and past performances) are so heavy in outpouring, I guess there wasn’t anywhere else to go. Not a bad performance; the rock element is a mild stretch for Yoon and I think that this performance will go over quite well with the audience. For me, it was fine, but I want to see something more from Yoon.
Anna: I was quite surprised to see Kim Sehwang waiting on stage, but he doesn’t get much camera love after Yoon has arrived. I think I’ve heard enough of Yoon’s singing now, but the arrangement was powerful and appealing nonetheless. He was weak, the song was good.
Insooni’s “그 져울의 찻집”
rd: Insooni comes out looking quite the dame. Another quiet piano to open the song, but it quickly builds with synthesizers and orchestra. Insooni takes a moment before she begins softly in the first voice, but quickly shows dynamics even within phrases and doesn’t hide her capacity for power, but doesn’t blow out just yet. Going into the chorus, she’s still only accompanied by the piano, with the band and orchestra adding in. I have to say, this is the most “Korean ballad” of all the Korean ballads I’ve heard on “I Am a Singer” yet in terms of composition and melody. Insooni manages to capture a lot of emotion in ballad and seems like a pro at these songs, even as straightforward as the performance is. Going into a strong vocal section, she quiets, letting the band hit a couple times before raising the key. A powerfully voiced close to the song. This is perhaps the most straightforward performance in this round and straightforward arrangement of this song and yet, because of Insooni’s skill, it just seems to have a stronger bite than the previous performers. However, it is also the least interesting in terms of approach, but I think it’s going to capture a portion of the audience for its strength, dynamics, and careful expression of the lyrics. Insooni herself mentions after the fact that she struggled in this song as she wasn’t fully at ease while performing and I could definitely see that she wasn’t her usually confident self this time around.
Anna: Insooni is usually a treat and after being faced with the rich arrangements of the previous songs she is probably the only one that can get away with this style of ballad. It definitely wasn’t her best performance on the show, but she did good.
Jo Kwanwoo’s “단발머리”
rd: I’m really curious as to how this song is going to turn out as his mid-round take was different from his usual approach. Piano opens but goes quickly into a swinging beat as Jo starts with a falsetto “ooh baby” backed by choir vocals. In comes a saxophone, giving the song a soft rock feel. He opts to continue singing in his normal voice and like before, it’s a sensitive take, but it sounds like he flubs slightly and you can see that on his face, but he recovers and continues. I think he’s going to benefit right now because his song is just so different from previous songs by being so easygoing and pleasant. The wind section joins in, giving the arrangement some flourish and then he goes into a clapping section, getting the audience to clap along as the sax fades, leaving just the claps as Jo comes in for another Barry Gibb falsetto style, which interestingly gets accompanied by an acoustic guitar, before pausing to go into a disco groove, returning him to the style of “달의 몰락” that worked for him before. I admit, it’s kind of fun, but seems a little bit like an echo of that past performance and the falsetto just a touch grating. But! He goes back into his regular voice and actually sings the chorus well on this mid-tempo arrangement. I don’t know if I’ve seen him so at ease doing something doing something new and I’m proud of him for stretching himself yet again. He continues adlibbing in falsetto to a groovy out and ends up with a band hit and a smile on his face. I’m still not sure that he fully pulled this one off, but again, I’m glad to see him really try new things.
Anna: At this point I’m wondering if there’s ever anything Jo Kwanwoo can do to appeal to me. At least he’s been trying new things lately, but even so I can’t be bothered to care. I’m almost feeling a bit sorry because of it. There must be something I’m missing.
Bobby Kim’s “추억속의 채회”
rd: I’m also looking forward to this as Bobby’s got his game hat on and I had no idea where he might go after seeing the mid-round performance, but I thought it had a lot of promise. Ooh, it opens with a guitar and synths. A slightly weak first couple notes, he catches on quickly and captures an inspiring spirit in the verse, with simple accompaniment, moving into the chorus, building just a little more. It’s a lovely performance in the chorus, easily a Bobby Kim take. Then the tom toms come in and Bobby gets out from behind the stand for the second verse, dancing with a little swing as a gospel chorus helps fill in the background. Strings fill in for the second chorus, it’s all quite warm. Then the music takes a more drum-centric approach as he gets the audience clapping after a “ho!” and begins scatting and moving into a speak-singing section backed by “Yeah”’s from the choir. Then back into the chorus with Bobby really seeming to get into the song. It’s such a warm and soulful take on the song and ends with a strong call at the end (props to the background singer who wails it out at the end).
Anna: I like the slight soul take on the song. It sounds good, and though I haven’t really listened much to Bobby Kim myself but from what little I’ve heard before I could easily be fooled into thinking this was one of his songs. Nice work.
Kim Kyungho’s “못찻겠다 꾀고리”
rd: While I loved his metal wail on the mid-round performance, I found his track title call just a little incongruent to his arrangement, so I’m looking to if that’s been adjusted at all. The song starts with some moody synths and Kim’s quiet title call. Very dramatic. After some chimes, the dramatic piano comes in with almost whispered vocals from Kim. You know right away that this is going to build to some crazy rock out later, but it’s a great theatrical way to keep the audience on the edge of their seat. Then, after the intro, a tiny moment of quiet before the metal guitars crunch in. Time to rock and roll! He seems to be performing the title call just as the original, but backed with a metal riff arrangement and backing vocals, it magically sounds metal and sells it well. A guitar solo with some headbanging is followed by an awesome metal verse from Kim and the backing vocals really help fill. The “얘들아” part is sung by the choir, with wail fills from Kim, but he joins in for the last pair, wailing well, but not quite at the top. Then his signature mic drop follows leading into the guitar solo. The second return to the chorus suggests that Kim had nothing to nervous about, because they are really rocking it out well. Metal wail to finish it off. That was a lot of fun. Good job, Kim Kyungho!
Anna: There’s headbanging! The beginning is good and builds anticipation for what’s next. I love the metal feeling and even the 꾀고리 part that I felt so-so about in the previous episode seems to fit. A stellar rock achievement from Kim Kyungho. A good job indeed.
rd: 1) Kim Kyungho, 2) Jaurim, 3) Bobby Kim, 4) Insooni, 5) Jo Kwanwoo, 6) Jang Hyejin, 7) Yoon Minsoo
Both Jang and Jo are uneasy about where they stood after the performances and the managers have seemed to have largely placed both of them at the end of their rankings as well. With good reason, because as interesting as their particular performances were, especially considering that both were pretty much just balladeers when they started on this show and have both really stretched out, neither were quite as strong as everyone else on the show. Yoon Minsoo will probably continue to get by on his very emotional performances, but it just doesn’t convince me since that’s the only shade I’ve seen from him and while his performance might have been more technically powerful than either Jang or Jo, I found the courage of both to be more impressive. I ended up ranking Jo above Jang this time, because Jang still tried to push forward the rock-style despite that her voice just didn’t have enough power to go with the admittedly fun arrangement of the song, whereas Jo seemed to have a good time, despite his flub at the top of the song. Insooni’s performance this time was not her strongest and I wasn’t even that impressed by her song and arrangement, but her command of music is so strong, she knocks down the back three artists on my lists by just strength of performance alone. That leaves my top three, all of whom I really liked. Bobby Kim, while not performing quite at the level as the first part of the round, still really made this song his own and added some rather interesting elements, leading to an inspiring performance. Jaurim, while also a touch limited by the song, which doesn’t have a climax for them to take advantage of, managed to incorporate well samulnori into an inspiring and rousing rendition of their song. And Kim Kyungho, well, he was the one performer this round that blew up his song and won me over by rocking out and especially wailing like no one has yet done on the show. All said and done, I believe either Jang or Jo will be leaving the show this round and I’ll be sad to see either go, because although they’ve never been my favorites on the show, I will say that both have grown the most, dared the most, and because of that, survived such a long time.
Anna: 1) Jaurim, 2) Kim Kyungho, 3) Bobby Kim, 4) Insooni, 5) Jang Hyejin, 6) Yoon Minsoo, 7) Jo Kwanwoo
This was my favorite round yet. So many good performances and great arrangements! Whether to put Jaurim or Kim Kyungho on top was a tough decision as I was very fond of both performances. I did react a tad bit stronger to Jaurim’s performance though, so they place accordingly. Bobby Kim was great, but I didn’t react as emotionally to his performance as to Jaurim and Kim Kyungho. I really wish I could’ve placed Jang Hyejin higher, but even though Insooni wasn’t as striking as usual her charisma and skill still shine. Yoon Minsoo had a good arrangement, but now I feel myself starting to get annoyed with his vocals the same as I’ve always been with Jo Kwanwoo.
rd: It’s hard not to get first after rocking so hard. Congrats, Kim Kyungho! Rock and roll!
Anna: Well deserved. It’s been a lot of fun seeing the clips of a nervous Kim, but hopefully this will gain him a bit more confidence.
rd: I knew he was set for top three after such a free, inspiring performance and it was much deserved.
Anna: After meeting success doing his own thing a couple of times now I hope it’ll inspire him to keep following that path. He’s a lot more fun to watch now than when he first came on.
rd: Another inspiring performance leads to another strong placing for our indie favorite. I’m glad to see Jaurim find their voice on the show.
Anna: It must be a lot of fun for Kim Yuna to be able to do what she’s always wanted to do. Even more so when the audience approves.
rd: Insooni, even when playing it relatively safe and at her weakest performance, still is a very powerful performer, although this is her first time placing out of the top three. Even as I’d want the more daring performers of Jo and Jang to be placed here, Insooni’s strength as a performer will likely guarantee her relative safety in this competition. Part of this might just be because she’s Insooni, but she has her reputation for a proven reason.
Anna: Even when not at her best she is good, no doubt about it.
rd: When it comes to Jang, I really adore her personality from the moment she decided she was going to be the performer to do Kara’s “Mister” and thought she was wonderfully bold, but I’ve always worried she didn’t have the vocal chops to last to graduate. Getting fifth place here means that she’s got a shot at surviving for another round. We did see this performance that her power level doesn’t quite match the dynamics of Insooni or Kim Yuna, but I do think that her boldness is part of why she’s stayed on the show so long. And I think that this boldness she’s developed on the show could continue to serve her should she remain.
Anna: Her vocals and performance may not be as strong as that of the other female competitors, but there’s something about her that still makes me very sympathetic towards her. I would’ve wished to see her all safe, but at least I can now continue to hope for one of the singers I don’t like so much to take the fall instead.
rd: I’m especially surprised by my support of Jo, who I could not warm up to previously because of his one-trick approach to music until he was forced to try something new and over the last three rounds, I’ve particularly appreciated his sudden boldness in trying new things. I still am not fond of much of his falsetto use, but since his disco-makeover, I feel like he’s been much better at figuring out where to use it and I think that, like Jang, he would be able to further develop this in his performances on the show should he stay.
Anna: As long as he’s not singing I actually quite like him, but placing sixth I’m still fearing for Jang Hyejin’s position on the show.
rd: I’m actually surprised that the audience placed him last, because I’d think that the mainstream audience would appreciate his consistent brand of emotional release more than Jang and Jo’s more diverse musical approaches. With this kind of low ranking, I hope that if he should survive, he’d take it to heart that he needs to do more than just spill his emotions in the performance, but really try to find the heart of his music and stretch his performances more.
Anna: I can’t help but agree with what you’re saying about the need for him to stretch his performances. Even though I didn’t like his performance this time very much, I think the audience placed him last simply because the others were so good rather than for any fault of Yoon’s.
rd: This is really difficult because the last ranked trio got inverted rankings this time, meaning that all three are likely very close in votes and any one of them could be the one to leave. Of them, like I said earlier, I prefer keeping the duo that keep trying new things and want to keep them together because they started on the show together (also in the last two spots), but if staying on another round means that Yoon will try pushing himself to new places in his music, then I am ready to bid farewell to either, as I think they’ve both learned a lot from this show and can apply that to their future careers. I’m actually impressed that they managed to stay on the show as long as they have considering where they started and who they were sometimes up against.
Anna: After the performances today I just care to keep Jang. In a way I’ve already come to terms with me being the only one not enjoying seeing Jo’s performances week after week so I guess I could manage another round.
Eliminated: Jo Kwanwoo
rd: Poor Jo. But, I’m really proud of the growth he’s shown on the show in the last few rounds and he developed quite the character on the show, being Mr. Self Deprecation. I hope what he’s learned of himself on the show, he will take into his career and continue to dare in the future.
Anna: I wish I could be more supportive, but regardless of transition I doubt I’ll find my self listen voluntarily to either past or future works from Jo Kwanwoo. I’m already looking forward to hear what his successor will manage.